The Currency of Communication / by Joseph Palumbo

Customer Success is one of the fastest growing disciplines in tech, as well as many other industries. In no small part because it has proven to reduce churn, increase revenue and enhance the overall customer experience. 

But how does it do this?

When you get past the complex algorithms for determining customer health, the MBA-level math for determining a customer's lifetime value (LTV) and the cross-functional strategies for install base nurturing, you come down to one thing - communication. 

Customer Success is an economy of communication.  

Customer Success is built on the simple assumption that people buy your product or service to solve a real problem or to achieve a specific outcome.

Regardless of what your Product Marketing team thinks, nobody buys solely because of feature set. Despite what your marketing team thinks, nobody buys your product solely because of your last marketing campaign. And regardless what your design team thinks, a cool logo and flashy UI will only get you so far.

Nope, business, and thus Customer Success, is all about effective problem solving.

Sales is initially responsible for understanding the need of the customer, but Customer Success is responsible for determining what long-term success looks like, how the customer is measuring their progress and working with them to achieve the desired business outcome in the shortest amount of time possible using your company's technology.  

A Customer Success team that can efficiently solve problems and rapidly connect your customers to their desired outcomes using your product ensures your customers will stay, grow and are happy about it.

Rinse. Repeat. Profit. Renewals. You get it.

So what's the catch? 

That sounds great. Why aren’t we all using Customer Success?

Because it’s easier said than done.

The successful outcomes promised by Customer Success rely almost exclusively on the currency of communication. And in today’s hyper-connect world, communication is in short supply.

We live in a world where connecting with people is paradoxically easy and difficult at the same time. Between office phone, mobile phone, text, social media, email, etc, there are more channels than ever to try to connect with somebody. But all of these new channels compete for our attention, leaving less bandwidth to actually utilize them for effective communication. Try to have a meaningful, in-depth conversation about something complex. Good luck with that.

We live in a world where connecting with people is paradoxically easy and difficult at the same time.

Customer Success requires clear communication between the customer and partner, especially when it comes to defining success and how to get there. 

Before a Customer Success Manager can put together a strategy that enables the quick wins that allows the customer to report immediate progress back to leadership, a practice commonly referred to as reducing Time To Value, they need to first understand what those wins look like, how are they going to be measured and what has been preventing those wins until now.

This means asking the right questions, doing a lot of listening and documenting the right information - a process that relies heavily on input from our customers.

What's in it for you, the customer? 

The bad news is that Customer Success, to happen correctly, requires not only the initial financial commitment of purchasing our products and services, but also the time commitment of working with Customer Success team to implement the solution and learn how to use it.

The good news is that over the last few years, there is overwhelming evidence that organizations heavily invested in this kind of customer journey consistently have higher Net Promoter Scores and lower customer attrition - two hallmark metrics that indicate customers are successful and happy with the partnership.

While today’s noisy world has cultivated an almost Pavlovian response to immediately delete unrecognizable emails and ignore unknown callers, there is something to be gained by customers and vendors alike by taking part in the growing adoption of Customer Success strategy.

Tech companies, don’t be afraid to ask your customers what problems they are trying to solve and what outcomes they want. Consumers, don’t be shy about proactively reaching out to all of your partners with a clearly defined criteria for success. The data behind Customer Success overwhelmingly suggests that this kind of communication is the fulcrum upon which favorable outcomes rest.