Implementing Customer Success


Once the right approvals are gained and questions considered as outlined in Part Two of this blog series, creating the Customer Success Organization is fairly simple. The next big challenge is rolling out the function to the organization and to the customer base.

Find the change management expert in the company and create a plan. Part of the plan should be talking with every functional leader and framing the cause for them. Ask about their concerns. If they can’t be alleviated, start with what is known: the organization won’t be entirely correct to start, but being committed to solving the problems as they occur is the right attitude to kick it off.

Both leadership and Human Resources have to be aligned in favor of the organization. It’s like any good change management process: it requires leadership, middle-management and the culture to buy in, along with continual framing, problem-solving and ten times more communication than deemed necessary. Expect skepticism, especially when jostling the groups that own account management. And always be transparent and forthcoming with information, the good and the bad.

For new customers, the Customer Success role will simply be how you do business. Current customers may require convincing. If they have close sales or account management relationships, they may not be interested in the CSM’s help immediately. Ask the sales rep to open the door with the customer and let the customer know – with a no-pressure approach – when you’ll be reaching out.

Similarly, keep the account manager or sales rep informed of expansion opportunities spotted during user interactions. And never, ever try to sell to the end user.

Once implemented, all of the loopholes that weren’t thought of at the time and the assumptions that proved false will stare you in the face. And that’s okay. Assess them, communicate them and try a different approach.

Producing Results
This is where success metrics, along with the adopters and influencers outside of the Customer Success organization, will demonstrate ongoing value of the CSM role. Results might not be immediately apparent, but in time, show a causal relationship between Customer Success and improvement in resolving the problems used to justify the program in the first place.

We’re all in Customer Success Together

As long as the business has customers, everyone in it is in Customer Success. From the programmer who really wants to know how her feature is being used, to the person processing customer orders: each employee has a stake. In large organizations, there are ‘Voice of the Customer’ steering committees or Customer Journey Masters who know the customer lifecycle inside-out. If the organization is smaller, the need to understand customers is no less, there are just fewer resources. Consider recruiting volunteers to help the cause.

A Customer Experience Ambassador Program (CXAP) made up of employees throughout an organization can help when it comes to better understanding customers’ lifecycles and pain points. If your business has been service-driven but not success-oriented, a CXAP can help build some customer-focused momentum. Some employees may be much removed from customer interactions, but need direct feedback no less than front-line employees. Encourage volunteers who represent discrete functional areas, particularly those in non-customer-facing roles, to be part of the cause.

The early adopters and influencers in the program can exert tremendous pressure on their peers, making customer success an expectation and not just a role. Over time, the CXAP will become more influential to the business and possibly (hopefully!) even employee-driven. That’s when it will become completely apparent that end users really do reign supreme.