During a session on “The At-Risk Customer Success Group” at a Customer SuccessCon event, a panelist noted: “Mikael said some time back that the mission of Customer Success was that ‘We build more value faster for our customers and our companies — and we can prove it!’ Well, our Customer Success department couldn’t prove it, and so it got wiped out in a stroke and dozens of people were eventually laid off.” The audience was clearly shaken. The cost of not having “value provability” can be steep.
What is Value Provability?
While the Customer Success Mission Statement has been modified a bit to specify sustainable value for both customer and company, the essential element of being able to prove that value in both ways is still the key aspect. Increasing user adoption is of course a vital objective for CS teams, but the true goal is getting the decision-makers at both the customers and our company to acknowledge and confirm receipt of the tangible value that we deliver. It’s about money. That’s the proof of value that counts.
Value for the Customers
In the customer direction, as hard as it may be to do, CSMs need to zero in on the monetary ROI of the continuing relationship. The typically fuzzy “QBR” or “Executive Business Review” just isn’t enough to serve as proof of value to the customer. Get with the Sales team to learn how they successfully made the sale in the first place, and adapt their ROI pitch to take the relationship forward. The sale is never final these days, and it’s past time we starting acting on that reality.
Value for the Company
For your “other” customers, your company’s Senior Management team, the same imperative applies. The Customer Value Review for them and the Board needs to be every bit as focused on provable ROI. You may personally be very clear on the effect of your work to increase adoption and communication, but can you make a necessary connection between your activities and a strategically significant contribution to the corporate bottom line? Does the CFO agree?
The “provability” topic will be the focus of the program at the upcoming Customer SuccessCon events in 2019, and will be part of a webinar I’m doing with Craig Soules, CEO of Natero on February 7th 2019. I’m also putting together a working group to build some resources for the Customer Success Library. Let me know if you’d like to participate.