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Maybe you should blow up customer success and start over

By Jay Nathan

Customer success begins with a recognition that customer retention and growth is critically important to a SaaS business.

“It didn’t work for us”

I had the opportunity to meet with the CRO a SaaS company this week who is rebuilding the Customer Success function from scratch. His predecessor deployed a CS team which, in his words, was a complete failure.

And it was.

The team devolved into a glorified support team. The benefit of customer success was impossible to identify. To make a long story short they “blew it up,” and completely disbanded the team.

For this CRO who came from the world of pharmaceutical and medical supply sales, customer success should have been a completely new concept.

But it wasn’t.

As he began to describe to me the stop-gap solutions they had put in place, it became evident that he intuitively understood customer success. He deployed account managers to connect with groups of accounts. The primary objective for account managers was to upsell additional services to existing clients.

But that wasn’t all.

He asked these account managers to proactively engage with their customers and assess their needs before trying to sell anything.

I assured him that he was already implementing “customer success.”

You see, customer success begins with a recognition that customer retention and growth is critically important to a SaaS business. This astute CRO started from scratch and assigned a number (i.e. a quota) and installed a basic strategy against his customer base.

With this mentality in place, it’s easy to layer on additional concepts such as segmentation, leading and lagging metrics, account coverage, roles and responsibilities, customer journey, organizational alignment and playbook design.

Customer success has to be aligned and contributing to the goals of the company in a measurable way.

If this isn’t the case in your company, maybe you should blow up customer success and start over, too.

Published January 23, 2019
About the Author

I've spent my career working in technology companies to build customer-centric teams, processes and technology platforms. In 2017, I founded Customer Imperative, a consulting firm that helps fast-growing B2B SaaS companies improve renewals, increase expansion sales and scale customer engagement. See full bio ›

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