Answering that question: What IS Customer Success?


With over 5500 jobs currently open in Customer Success, can you concisely define what it is? Does your explanation include how it is different from account management, technical support, or professional services? Can you communicate the value of the role and importance of your team to get the backing of the initiatives and resources for your group? 

Going back to basics is key here so work on your Customer Success Elevator Pitch to convey your scope, function & key metrics within 30 to 60 seconds through 4 to 6 well-crafted sentences. More guidance from The Success League's CEO, Kristen Hayer available here

When explaining it to your customers, remember that new technologies are invading the work environment at an accelerating rate. Jobs that we are doing today often didn’t exist five years ago, or they've evolved. Want to test out your explanation? Hello, parents. Steve Blakeman recently wrote the piece that inspired me - My parents have no idea what I do for a job. Do yours?

Lastly, I completed a critical step in anyone doing some level of research...I Googled "What is Customer Success?". Here is what I found on page 1 with most all of them tying back to either the definitions provided by The Customer Success Association or Sixteen Ventures

1. The Customer Success Association – Definition: An integration of functions and activities of Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Training, and Support to meet the needs of a recurring revenue model. Mission: Build more proven value faster for both your customers and your company.

2. Sixteen Ventures – A growth engine beyond retention. Customer Success is when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company (closing, onboarding, the complete life cycle). The desired outcome being a combination of the required outcome (goals to achieve) and appropriate experience (how they do it). 

3. Gainsight - Ensuring your customers achieve their desired outcome while using your product and pulling this off with people, processes, and data. Customer Success being of being proactive and pinpointing opportunities vs. Customer Support being proactive and pinpointing problems.  CS is the successor of Account Management, and it is evolutionarily superior. Improve renewals, reduce churn, drive revenue.


4. Wikipedia – Managing the relationship between a vendor & it’s customers. Make the customer as successful as possible which improves the Customer Lifetime Value for the vendor. CS responsible for: Technical Enablement (onboarding & initial engagement). I noticed one of the points stated "on-going support" and had to correct that promptly! 

5. ClientSuccess – Proactive, real-time sales approach consisting of building relationships w/ existing customers, understanding their company & product goals, helping customers meet these through day to day contact. Be their champion throughout the entire Customer Journey. An important role in creating revenue predictability.

6. Forrester – The article featured their attendance at Gainsight's Pulse which most likely impacted their definition of CS. Manage customer relationships to reduce churn, increase existing revenue, and influence new sales.

7. Mindtouch – Interviewed The Customer Success Association's Mikael Blaisdell. Build more value faster for the client’s company and our own and we can prove it. Authentically accountable for producing value in the customer’s eyes. It’s not enough to build it; the customer has to recognize their gain.

8. ForbesAlex McClafferty interviewed Sixteen Venture's Lincoln Murphy. Help them achieve their desired outcome. Your customers evolve and we also need to recognize these changes and adapt.

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