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Episode 81: Your Customer Success is Failing - What You Need to do to Fix it

by Hannah Rose | Feb 14, 2024 10:00:00 AM

It’s often thought that customer success is all sunshine and rainbows and that nothing can go wrong in this role. That’s not the case. Customer success is failing us right now and there has to be something we can do about it. This is what Doug and Jess dive deeper into in this episode of The RevOps Show.



Additional Resources:

Show Notes:

Pre-Show Banter: 

  • Doug is wearing a Cincinnati Reds hat today which he thought would surprise Jess, but she had already seen it earlier that day. 
  • Jess’s texted her dad to see what his top three infielders for The Reds are. His top three include: Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, and Barry Larkin (Doug is shocked that Pete Rose didn’t make this list.)
  • Doug and Jess are seeing each other in San Antonio for the first time, and Doug is salty that it’s going to be cold when he gets to Texas and when he gets back.
  • There is a pet peeve of sports announcers using the phrase “very unique” to describe a player.

Disclaimer from Doug: Everything said in this episode is about the process and not the people involved. This episode may not make Doug many friends, but it’s an important topic to talk about.

Customer success is failing to deliver. Customer success is the experience that a company provides to its customers and today this has turned into a department or role within a company. Customer success today is a combination of customer service and sales, servicing and supporting customers while also maintaining a relationship and trying to upsell additional products or services. 

The term customer success has started being used over customer service because it sounds better. This term is most dominant in recurring revenue businesses, particularly subscription businesses. 

The intent behind customer success is to be proactive, whereas the intent for customer service is to be passive and reactive. The customer success role is considered the worst thing that has happened to customer experience according to Doug because the underlying structure and incentives of customer success contribute to its failure. 

The role of customer success should be to ensure the customer’s success, but the metrics that get used focus on what is good for the organization, not the customers. These metrics tend to be focused on efficiency, which conflicts with keeping customer relationships.

The customer success role has become prevalent in SaaS companies where they prioritize product and sales over services. In these companies customer success is often focused on selling more rather than serving the customer, which doesn’t provide any value to the customer. To these companies churn is generally seen as a negative, but churn is necessary and natural to have. Sometimes customers outgrow the product, leading to the decision to part ways. 

There is a level of frustration and dissatisfaction when customers don’t achieve the expected success with a product or service, and in most cases success teams often have to maintain a facade that everything is wonderful. This leads to setting unrealistic expectations for customers. Rather, success teams should let their customer understand that not everything will always go smoothly and they should be prepared and comfortable with customer frustrations and concerns. The bigger the problem, the calmer your reaction should be. Customer have the right to express their frustrations and shouldn’t be told to be happy with the outcome. Acknowledging and validating their frustrations can go a long way with improving their experience and relationship.

It’s also important to note that customer success doesn’t necessarily lead to greater customer retention. Building a good relationship with your customer can make them less uncomfortable with sharing problems. 

“Partner led growth” is a term that makes Doug sad because partner programs were originally created to help with tech company implementations. To Doug partner programs have gone wrong. If you have a partner program, trust your partners. That’s why you have them. Use your partners to identify and address problems because they’ve build the relationship with the customer. 

Customer success is not just about solving problems, but also about helping customers achieve their goals and objectives. Here’s some things to think about with customer success: 

  • Being clear on your value proposition and effectively communicating that to your customers is important.  
  • Don’t gaslight your customer
  • Treat feedback, even negative feedback, as an opportunity for improvement and growth.
  • Make it easy for customers to provide feedback.
  • Make it really clear that you’re there when needed.
  • Make it clear if you have a success program and make it clear that if the customer wants proactive contact it’s there. Don’t push it though.
  • Keep sales involved.
  • Align your metrics to the customer.
  • Remember what you fear. You get what you fear.

Jess’s Takeaways:

  • If it’s important, resource it.
  • What’s the proposition of your success plan?
  • Having an open and honest feedback loop is so important. The customer needs to be honest with us and we have to be honest with them. That’s the only way you can continue to have trust and grow the relationship.

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