A CMO’s Secret: 5 Stages for Fast-tracking Customer Success
These days, the term “customer success” seems like the holy grail for determining a CMO's (and his or her team’s) contribution to a company — and for good reason. If a company can achieve true customer success, and continue improving the customer’s experience with its brand, there lies the key to long-term profitability and growth. So how do you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and quickly? Orchestration.
Orchestration is the ability to use applications throughout a company to improve the customer journey. While this may sound simple, it means connecting all processes throughout the customer journey (not just marketing and sales, but product, support, services, etc.), making data available across all engagement channels, and notifying the right departments at the right time. Whether a company is just starting its customer success initiative or are several stages in, orchestration provides a fast-track to improving the customer journey and creating customer for life.
To understand the fast-track, let’s look at the typical stages of customer success within a company.
Stage 1: Interested
In the first stage, a company begins to believe that customer success is an important part of its business. The company starts undertaking a number of different efforts without making any major investments, attempting to get a handle on the current situation. A burst of uncoordinated activity happens with no real leadership over the customer success effort. While there are individual success stories, no real increase in customer retention or satisfaction has occurred, and no operational efficiencies have been achieved.
Stage 2: Invested
A company moves to the second stage after leadership recognizes that customer success requires investment in both capital and key personnel. So, the approach to customer success becomes more organized with an intensified focus on operationalizing the customer journey. The company formalizes a customer success department and creates processes for onboarding, adoption and retention. Improvements in retention rates begin to show, but core issues remain unresolved and fire-fighting is common.
Stage 3: Committed
By Stage 3, a company is embracing customer success because it understands the specific impact it has on profitability and valuation. The effort is no longer isolated to the customer success department as retention becomes a major transformational effort across the company.
Instead of just trying to fix problems, the focus turns to redesigning processes. Retention rates have improved, but there is a diminishing ROI in the current process optimizations to make more improvement.
Matt Shanahan is the CMO at Seattle, Wash.-based Azuqua. He has nearly 30 years of experience in the technology industry, ranging from Accenture to startups. He is a proven entrepreneur as the VP of product marketing and management for Documentum from startup through initial public offering and most recently as co-founder and SVP of strategy for Scout Analytics.