How customer success can bring your business to the next level

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Customer success has been trending over the past few years.

Need some convincing? Just look at Google Trends and you’ll see interest, and searches, in the term “customer success” is consistently rising.

But the term might confuse someone who’s not working in customer success. Is it just another term for customer support? Is it a synonym for sales? As it turns out, it’s neither. Customer success managers are tasked with managing the relationship with your clients.

To give you a better idea of what this means, we’ll review the department’s responsibilities in more depth. We’ll also cover the role of the customer success manager and how they deliver value to your organization.

If you’re new to customer success or want to learn more about the role, you’ve come to the right place.

Customer success overview

As you can imagine—and might know firsthand—organizations have different types of clients.

Clients vary in their level of independence, the products/services they use, and how much they spend on your services. More often than not, your customer success team will focus on those clients that either pay above a certain amount on your product or service or have the potential to do so.

They act as the point person to these clients, managing the day-to-day relationship with a focus on delivering long-term business outcomes. This involves understanding what each client is looking for, and then offering the right guidance so that the client uses your services in a way that meets their goals.

Customer success is ultimately graded on a few areas, including their retention rate, the level of upselling and cross-selling, and the clients’ overall satisfaction. Are you confused yet? Don’t worry, here’s a breakdown of each term:

Retention rate: The percentage of customers that stay on over a period of time.

Upsell: When a customer upgrades to a better, higher-cost service.

Cross-sell: When a customer buys a different type of service from you.

Overall satisfaction: How content the customer is in their overall experience with your services. This type of feedback is often collected through surveys that ask the Net Promoter question, in addition to other important, relationship and product-specific type questions.

Interested in seeing what a customer satisfaction survey looks like? We’ve got dozens of templates developed by our survey methodologists.

Now that you know what customer success is and what the department cares about, you might be wondering, “Who are the people that lead the relationship with clients?”

The customer success manager: the backbone of customer success

It’s the customer success manager.

They manage the day-to-day engagement with clients. This includes conducting your clients’ “onboarding”, quarterly check-ins, and for many organizations, pursuing renewals and additional sales opportunities.

The customer success manager’s responsibilities vary across organizations and industries.

Here are a couple things to consider when defining their role:

Whether to segment customer success managers into specializations: If each customer success manager has to learn a ton of information and works with clients of all shapes and sizes, their job quickly becomes overwhelming.

To prevent this from happening, management could designate areas of focus for groups of customer success managers. This can range from the information they’d need to become fluent in to the types of clients they work with.

If each customer success manager is responsible for securing revenue: In other words, deciding whether to let them close renewals and pursue additional sales opportunities from their customers (i.e. upsell and cross-sell).

Should the revenue stakes be relatively significant or the sales cycle complex, colleagues from other teams would step in to help customer success. This includes account managers or enterprise sales reps.

How customer success delivers value to your organization

Each customer success manager is looking to keep their clients engaged. Why is this their focus? Because engaged customers are more likely to renew and spend more.

From an organizational standpoint, this focus benefits you immensely.

By improving customer retention merely 5%, for example, your company’s profits can go up by as much as 95%. When you consider that acquiring a new customer is up to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, the strong correlation between retention and profitability seems all the more realistic.

Customer success managers also influence your organization’s reputation. A negative customer experience gets shared with an average of 16 people. With peer-to-peer recommendations becoming key to securing a sale (e.g. 94% of B2B buyers depend on peer recommendations), a worsening reputation can be hard to recover from.

Customer success is a business function that’s here to stay. They deliver value not only to your clients, but also to your business’ bottom line. So if you work in a role in customer success, give yourself a pat on the back. And if you don’t? Buy a customer success manager some coffee. After all, they play a hand in your success and that of your organization’s.