Customer Success: Are You Going to Dodge or Ride the Coming Meteor Called 2020?
Have you inadvertently wasted an hour or two enjoying 2019 retrospectives and then feeling guilty? This post will help you get 2020 back on track, and help you as a Customer Success leader navigate the onslaught of changes hurtling straight for your career. Better yet, sign up and join us for the first Customer Success Leadership Network (CSLN) event of the year and join Omid Razavi and Boaz Maor as they engage participants in a discussion of the state of Customer Success today and changes coming. The theme for 2020 is clear vision. As Customer Success leaders our bias is to be proactive. We warmly invite you to visit our website, attend our events, enjoy our blogs, and join the conversation.
LinkedIn also likes to look ahead and publishes yearly emerging jobs reports. For the 3rd straight year, Customer Success, and the core skills needed by its practitioners, figure prominently. In short, the discipline isn’t going away, but where is it going?
Tectonic Shifts Might Change the Landscape of Customer Success and Make You King of the Hill or Extinct!
Smart professionals embrace big-picture thinking as a preservation strategy. The speed of change continually accelerates. As Customer Success Leaders, being mindful of major shifts in business practice, technology, and other changes seems like a smart endeavor for creatures with massive prefrontal cortexes, opposable thumbs, and a desire to thrive professionally. The only constant is change and 2020 will be no different.
Remember when every manager had their own office and working remotely was synonymous with “non-essential”? That kind of thinking is so last decade. What “bell bottom” practices are we following today that will quickly disappear?
Some 2020 Thoughts and Predictions from CSLN Governing Council Members
The ongoing rise in investment for Customer Success:
When is the right time to invest in Customer Success? It is never too early or optional to invest in Customer Success! There was a time that companies considered hiring for Customer Success only after reaching scaling thresholds or starting to experience churn.
Forward-looking startups consider Customer Success because retention is the best way to determine product-market fit. Jason Lemkin of SaaStr suggests startups to hire Customer Success ahead of Sales and Marketing.
Also, Customer Success is being deployed beyond SaaS and software companies! In many industries, business leaders explore Customer Success not separately, but as part of their overall digital transformation strategy. In 2020, Customer Success expands faster outside of North America, in Europe, Brazil and Japan too.
There will be greater investment in Customer Success technology and tools:
With the growth of Customer Success as both a culture and a function, greater investment in Customer Success technology and tools will follow. The time elapsed between the formation of Customer Success function and deployment of tools will shrink. This will be due to the increased standardization of Customer Success goals and processes.
Customer Success Platform leaders and new entrants will both benefit. You might even begin to see some specialization across the Customer Success platforms with a different focus for different products. The medium-term impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies will be that you won’t need CSMs to scale.
Customer Success is becoming multi-touch:
Customer Success has evolved from direct touch (1-on-1 with high/ medium/ low frequency or intensity) to include tech touch (one-to-many) and most recently we are seeing more about in-product touch too. These 3 success motions require greater collaboration between Customer Success and Sales, Customer Success and Marketing and Customer Success and Product, respectively.
In-product touch or Product Success encompasses the following. Look for more of this in 2020.
- Product Analytics and Insights
- Customer Communications (survey, feedback, conversational messaging, etc.)
- Product Guidance for onboarding and/or customer support
Companies will add more embedded messaging into their products:
Everyone is talking about it. How will it evolve this year to decrease the distance between vendor/customer? Will more companies find ways to include useful interactive messaging in their products to provide guidance and support on demand? Seems like we’re making progress but how far away are we from having that trusted advisor available on-demand 24X7 who can help pick the right set of tasks to achieve an optimal outcome?
Customer Success shouldn’t be afraid to own a number or two:
There are differing opinions on whether Customer Success should own renewal/up-sell numbers or whether or not to charge for Customer Success services. The debate will continue in 2020, but there are some best practices emerging that we will discuss in the meetup. Stay tuned for more on this topic!
Customer Success and Customer Support will overlap:
As Customer Success becomes more technical and Customer Support becomes more proactive, where do you draw the line between them, or do you? This is an area that is continuing to evolve.
Customer Success is increasingly being asked to focus on results – The question is what kind of results? Internal results or customer results?
Torn between delivering outcomes and increasing ROI for customers and themselves, is there a balance to be achieved? What do you think about the focus – will focus on customer results drive good business outcomes for your company?
Segmentation will provide the basis for maximizing the use of your resources:
This will drive the need for different journeys, processes, and plays to meet the needs of your most valuable customers. It will also help you provide data-driven insights into what customers you may want to stop pursuing in the sales cycle.
There will be greater investment in Customer Marketing:
Customer Marketing is a relatively lesser-known discipline compared with Customer Success, Sales and Marketing, and other functions. The time for Customer Marketing to help drive expansion and retention may be dawning. The modern SaaS revenue team ought to include customer marketers sitting next to Success and Sales, to help drive mindshare and leads from existing customers leveraging their own Customer Success Marketing stack built around customer engagement and activity.
Customer Journeys will become more integrated:
The integration of the customer journey into the product UI is taking longer than expected but it is still progressing. Watch for B2B SaaS products that go beyond “Getting Started” and start including “How am I doing” data to guide your usage.
Customer Success and Training will become integrated:
More than the Customer Success training programs, which continue to thrive and grow and offer lots of valuable training for Customer Success Professionals, companies will be focused on how they can offer appropriate training experiences to their customers to ensure onboarding and adoption are well accepted by their customers. Content in the form of “just in time” specific information and content and materials that used to be delivered in classroom training will find their way into the Customer Success activities.
So what does this all mean?!
Customer Success as a function is going to thrive — With everything we have discussed, and lots more, it’s clear that the Customer Success function is going to have another great year. Consultants are all keeping busy, Customer Success Executives are landing and the job market for Customer Success practitioners continues to grow and thrive.
Being aware of and watching industry trends is a proactive habit any smart Customer Success executive should adopt. Join us for our January event, and every event this year to stay on top of the changes and to build your own network of forward-thinking leaders.
Let us know what you think and use the comments box below to post your thoughts/views.
VP Customer Success & Services at SupportLogic
Results-oriented customer success executive thriving on building and running global organizations from the ground up, as well as transforming existing ones. Focused on customer on-boarding, adoption, value realization, advocacy, renewal and growth in SaaS environment and creating data-driven engagements and programs for superior customer experience, time to value and business outcome attainment.
VP Customer Success at ShotSpotter
Paul Reeves is the VP of Customer Success at ShotSpotter. Previously, he was the CEO of Customer Kaizen, a consulting company that specializes in helping companies launch or rebuild scalable, and profitable customer success. As VP of Customer Success for high growth B2B enterprise SaaS companies.
For the past 2 years, Paul has been honored by the CS community to be voted a Top 100 Customer Success Influencer by his peers. Paul is a founding member of the Customer Success Network, and the Customer Success Standards Initiative.