Transforming customer relationships from one of customer service to one of customer success can lift revenues as much as 20-30%.

For one client, that meant moving from 85% share of wallet to 100% share – a very nice $6 million lift – in less than 6 months.

As our clients embark on the journey from being a company committed to service to a company committed to customer success, we receive a lot of questions.

Question 1: What is customer success and why?

Success differs from service or satisfaction because it focuses a company’s attention on the result. That means that a company first needs to understand how their customers define success. We’ve found that definitions of success are as varied as our clients. In some cases, success is specific: tell me when you’re shipping my order and then stick to the plan. In other cases, success is embodied in an innovative co-developed product solution that addresses an unmet need.

Question 2: How does a company achieve customer success?

The first step in truly understanding what customer success looks like is to ASK! Customer success for salespeople usually means another sale, but real success is built around identifying and solving customer problems with your company’s unique set of tools. This is a critical step, particularly with accounts that drive the bulk of your revenue.

Begin by understanding your data. Find the path to customer success using both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

A polarizing truth: Not every customer can achieve success – usually for a variety of reasons.

But, the top 25% of your accounts who are responsible for 89% of your revenue absolutely deserve customer success. Find out what success means to them immediately. In some cases, through our 80/20 analysis, we’ve found less than 50 accounts (or fewer) are driving 50% of your revenue. First, focus on these top accounts’ needs. Determine what success looks like – for them and for your company.

Question #3: How do we understand what success looks like to our clients?

Invest in an in-depth understanding of your top accounts.

We hear it all the time: “We survey our customers all the time; they just don’t reply.”

Survey fatigue is real. Do not send out surveys to everyone the company touches – the response rate likely will be less than 5%. Identify the top accounts that matter the most and ask them to participate in in-depth interviews. Their high revenue means they are essential to your organization. And their importance means they deserve far more than an online survey!

When we interview our clients’ top accounts, we document how well the company contributes to their customers’ success. We seek to understand:

  1. Have business opportunities been awarded to competitors and if so, why?
  2. What’s the company’s rank in preference for the customer – do they like working with your company? If you’re in the third or fourth position in rank or preference, the odds of your increasing share of wallet are dim. Companies like to work with companies – and people – they like.
  3. What does your customer fear most about the future?
  4. What value is your company delivering to your top accounts to justify the price you are asking them to pay? How do your prices compare competitively?
  5. What must you do to earn their unquestionable loyalty?

Question #4: How do I implement a customer success program at my organization?

The best clients systematically and consistently use customer success as a central point of focus. Being “customer-centric” is everyone’s responsibility – even though that centricity takes different shapes for different roles.

Three steps to building a customer success program in your organization:

  1. Build a culture of customer-centricity throughout your entire company – from operations to shipping, from sales to administrative roles.
  2. Structure customer touchpoints that are both streamlined and engaged – regularly ask what more can you do to help the customer succeed?
  3. Determine which customer needs are most aligned with your solutions – stop selling and start driving towards solutions: what is the customer’s most pressing problem and how can you help solve it?

Final Thoughts

Customer success is vital in today’s world. Stresses abound (think how many times the word “disruption” has been used lately). We are faced with supply chain crisis, employee resignations, unfilled jobs, company strategies for onshoring, nearshoring, and now the inevitable inflationary pressures.

Customer success doesn’t come easily. But customer success can be achieved with alignment, focus, and the constant drive to help your customers win in their world.