Your business success is now forever linked to the success of your customers Customer Success is the groundbreaking guide to the exciting new model of customer management. Business relationships are fundamentally changing. In the world B.C. (Before Cloud), companies could focus totally on sales and marketing because customers were often 'stuck' after purchasing. Therefore, all of the 'post-sale' experience was a cost center in most companies. In the world A.B. (After Benioff), with granular per-year, per-month or per-use pricing models, cloud deployments and many competitive options, customers now have the power. As such, B2B vendors must deliver success for their clients to achieve success for their own businesses.
Customer success teams are being created in companies to quarterback the customer lifecycle and drive adoption, renewals, up-sell and advocacy. The Customer Success philosophy is invading the boardroom and impacting the way CEOs think about their business. Today, Customer Success is the hottest B2B movement since the advent of the subscription business model, and this book is the one-of-a-kind guide that shows you how to make it work in your company.
From the initial planning stages through execution, you'll have expert guidance to help you:
- Understand the context that led to the start of the Customer Success movement
- Build a Customer Success strategy proven by the most competitive companies in the world
- Implement an action plan for structuring the Customer Success organization, tiering your customers, and developing the right cross-functional playbooks
Customers want products that help them achieve their own business outcomes. By enabling your customers to realize value in your products, you're protecting recurring revenue and creating a customer for life. Customer Success shows you how to kick start your customer-centric revolution, and make it stick for the long term.
The Book in 3 Sentences
- Customer Success was born through the bifurcation between Before Cloud and After Cloud. This shift has had a ripple effect on almost every aspect of the way that software companies work; mostly through the importance of the customer’s influence. This is because the way customers purchase software is very different and their associated lifetime value (LTV) is realized over time, not immediately, to the vendor.
Excerpt from book 👇🏼
The risk of switching is now owned almost exclusively by the software vendor. Customers no longer bear the burden of huge upfront costs (usually).
- “Acquiring customers is expensive. Really expensive. That makes keeping them a necessity, no matter how big your market might be”.
- Customer Success is a philosophy that should be embodied by your entire organization. EVERYONE must be customer obsessed. Additionally, every part of the organization should be equally committed to and incentivized by the success of your customers. This comes from a cross-functional agreement and buy-in from sales, product, data, marketing, and executives alike.
With the increased pressure and risk on the vendor as well as the stretched LTV realization, customer retention is more important than ever. The graph below is meant to represent the realization of $$$ that comes from a growing and compounding customer base through expansion and upsells.
Impact on Sales
Impact on Product
A new focus on marketing and selling only to customers who can be successful long-term with your product
Building return on investment (ROI) measurements into your product
Less emphasis on maximizing the initial deal, especially if it's at the expense of LTV
Making your product easier to implement
Overall awareness of renewals
Designing for ease of adoption, not just functionality
Improved expectation-setting with prospects
Stickiness is more important than features
Much more attention paid to knowledge-transfer and post-sales prep to ensure onboarding and ongoing success for the customer
Performance is more valuable than demo quality
Incentives around renewals and/or LTV
Creating modules that can be upsold rather than integrating all features into the base package
Making customer self-sufficiency easier to attain
I found myself constantly saying “EXACTLY” in my head. There are so many passages from this book that I’ve already considered as a CSM myself, many of which I have been going crazy trying to advocate for. This book provided me with a wonderful structure to all of the thoughts that I have had over the past couple years - I’m actually glad I waited a little while before reading this, as it has allowed me to experience, without bias, the ups and downs of what it means to be in CS.
The book breaks down each of the 10 Laws of Customer Success by high touch, low touch, and tech touch customers, which is useful if you are actually building out a CSM department and the surrounding processes. If you’re just reading this for an understanding on what Customer Success is, I would recommend reading Part I and the first section of each chapter in Part II - the commentary for each law.
It wasn’t necessarily as much of a ‘textbook’ of Customer Success as Inspired by Marty Cagan was for Product Management; it was mostly focused on communicating the history, current state, and how to generally be successful running a CS focused organization. Still highly valuable across reader personas mentioned below though!
Who Should Read It❓
It’s a must read for every & all CSMs and their managers. I’ve noticed through creeping through LinkedIn that many directors or managers of CSMs actually end up in that role even though they have never been a CSM. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as with every position, there are granularities to the day-to-day job that are important for the leader of a CSM team/department to understand. This book is an amazing outline of all the important things that a manager of CSMs should be actively thinking about every single day. The rest of the granularities can be surfaced by the CSMs themselves in team meetings & 1:1s.
I would also highly encourage any founder/C-suite at scaling companies (not just technology companies) to read this as well. Even if you don’t decide to build a Customer Success department, you will at the very least learn the importance of retention and the chain-reaction of value that it can provide your organization.
Product managers should also read this book. I’m a big believer that product managers and CSMs should understand each other’s workflows in great depth. In my opinion, CSMs are customer facing product managers and the more of a feedback loop that exists between CSMs and PM’s, the more successful the organization will be.
How the Book Changed Me 💯
Because I’ve been in a CSM role for the past 2+ years, the way I think about Customer Success and my thoughts on it didn’t change that much. I was however, able to extract several immediate action items I can take in my current role. Here are some things that I immediately took away and was motivated to tackle with my current company:
- CS, marketing, sales, and community should also be working together REGULARLY to create a consistent experience. Personalized KPI/milestone triggers and feedback loop expansion is what I’m focused on.
- Answering the question of “who is our ‘right’ customer”? We currently have customers in very different industries asking for very different things, so this has led me to be more aggressive in probing my executive stakeholders for deep clarification of our product & organizational visions.
- I’ve been doing a lot of personalized outbound work to end users to schedule 1:1 user discovery interviews. Although I have my template questions below, I allow the conversation to be free flowing. If you want to learn more about user discovery sessions, I recommend taking a look at Marty Cagan’s, Inspired.
- Currently working on building other processes across the revenue organization: creating and maintaining referenceable contacts (through Salesforce), creating a more useful analytics dashboard with relevant KPIs, creating ROI estimates based on in-product activities, and establishing customer health metrics that we can consistently report on.
- Lastly and probably most importantly:
“Any activities your customer success team undertakes that aren’t designed to drive customer health scores up are activities they should probably stop doing”.
I’ve found that being a CSM at a smaller/scaling organization has led me to get a little more distracted with other things that are outside my scope of responsibilities. I’m continuously reminding myself of the quote above.
My Top 5 Quotes 🗣
“When done well, every single day is spent with a relentless focus on their success, not yours.”
“It is my belief that, when done right, Customer Success needs little justification at all. It preserves the company's book of business, opens up doors for additional opportunities, and creates lifelong advocates in our customers. When optimized, Customer Success is the best sales and marketing engine possible.
“Churn. A luxury afforded to customers in a recurring revenue business.”
“Ninety percent of all churn happens at the time of sale.”
“In a recurring revenue business, there's no such thing as post-sales. Every single activity is a pre-sales activity.”