Introduction

Thus far you focused on the individual users who benefit from your awesome solution. You created a deployment framework and the nurturing environment to provide continued support and help to keep your users productive. In this final step across the Chasm, we focus on the decision makers. The better you demonstrate business gains, the more willing these executives are to approve the renewal.

Value

This pillar demonstrates your value to your customer. This is not a single person, but the pool of end users, the stakeholders, the commercial buyer, and the sponsor. How and when you engage determines in the end if your customer will stay with you for another year.

Undeveloped: If you initiate an engagement with your customer only when the contract is up for renewal, you are at the lowest level of engagement. The engagement is typically limited to the commercial buyer, leaving the other audiences untouched.

Emerging: At this level, your CSMs are connecting with the customer on an annual basis. The contact is limited to a stakeholder and the commercial buyer, and you present key findings of the past years analytics.

Expanding: Once you move to the Expanding stage, you are increasing the frequency to quarterly meetings and identify end users, stakeholders, the commercial buyer, and the sponsor. You explicitly identify your champions among the end-users and stakeholders. Productivity measurement becomes a valuable data point, as well as the engagement with users to discover these champions. Champions receive specially tailored messaging from your marketing automation drip, and are identified to the customer sponsor.

Conquering: At this stage, you are conducting a full-fledged Executive Business Review (EBR) for the sponsor, commercial buyer, and stakeholders to proactively communicate your value.

1. Present your Productivity measurements
2. Compare your customer to your Benchmark Reference
3. Receive updates on new and existing strategic initiatives
4. Introduce new capabilities
5. Identify the internal champions
6. Set goals for the next EBR

Alignment

This new and holistic engagement with your customers is supported by several functions and organizations. In the traditional model, you have four distinct organizations:

1.) Marketing is responsible for LeadGen

2.) Sales, which may be split into Hunters and Farmers. The hunters close new logos, whereas the Farmers maintain the relationship and expand the footprint into additional users in the same division and across divisions within the same customer.

3.) With a Sales event, ProServ takes over and deploys the solution which is then transitioned to…

4.) Support, who interacts with the customer only opportunistically

While there is some coordination between them, a customer is handed off from one team to the next, and may fall through the transition cracks.

In the subscription economy you cannot afford to lose customers because of self-inflicted fumbles. The cost of rescuing a lost customer is too high if the root cause is a faulty process. Therefore, your internal teams should all be working towards the same goal under the Customer Success umbrella, and share the same data and metrics, action plans, and MBOs. The Customer Success team is engaged early on and provides the cohesive experience, as other functions and experts are fading in and out throughout the customer lifecycle.

With a cohesive experience across the entire customer lifecycle, and teams that share the same data and have the same objectives, you avoid customer churn caused by frustration or incomplete transitions. Without alignment, the previous efforts are nullified by internal goal incongruence.

Undeveloped: You are still in the traditional model with air gaps between departments.

Emerging: At this stage, you have some process alignment between departments, but the KPIs for each function are still more different than more the same.

Expanding: Customer Renewals is a dominant KPI for each department’s success and is actively measured.

Conquering: A CSM becomes the cohesive experience for each customer. Like a conductor, they orchestrate the engagement of various other functions to achieve the common Customer Renewals goal:

1.) Marketing is responsible for LeadGen and adaptive messaging to end-users, stakeholders, sponsors and economic buyers.

2.) Sales, which may be split into Hunters and Farmers. The hunters close new logos, whereas the Farmers maintain the relationship and expand the footprint into additional users in the same division and across divisions within the same customer. Both Hunters and Farmers participate in QBRs and leverage the productivity measurements.

3.) With a Sales event, ProServ takes over and deploys the solution in coordination with the CSM and hands over the customer deployment to the CSM.

4.) Support, who interacts with the customer not only opportunistically, but initiates proactive rescue missions for struggling customers.

How Ready Are You to Cross the Chasm?

Now that you have learned about the five pillars and the organizational alignment, you can take a short self-assessment to measure your Customer Success Maturity Index ™. For each pillar, mark the stage you believe you have achieved, and summarize the number of checkmarks in each column:

If your CSRI is:

< 15: Undeveloped – Start to strengthen at least one category to the next level of maturity
< 30: Emerging – You have placed the seeds to success, now develop them flourish
< 45: Expanding – You have a great infrastructure in place, now optimize it
> 45: Conquering: You are a segment leader, envied by your competition

You Crossed the Chasm!

Congratulations! After adopting the six pillars of Playbook, Onboarding, Community, Productivity and ROI, and aligning your organization to the Customer-centric model, your customers made it successfully through the deployment and beyond. You demonstrated your commitment and assisted when needed.

You gathered quantitative data for the decision makers and discussed the appropriate and relevant plan going forward. It can be a renewal, expansion, or honest discussion about the struggles a customer is facing.

You transformed your organization to provide the Full Service experience to thrive in a subscription-based economy.

Looking back, perhaps the three steps were not that difficult after all!

Andreas Knoeful

Director of Services, NextLabs

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