A CMO’s Secret: 5 Stages for Fast-tracking Customer Success
Stage: 4 Engaged
At Stage 4, customer success is a critical to everything the company does. Instead of re-engineering processes, the focus turns to designing breakthroughs in product and processes as well as solidifying the culture. There’s significant emphasis on employee engagement and companies become much less dependent on one department for success and more on the operations as a whole. Retention rates become industry-leading and profitability of customer relationships substantially improve.
Stage 5: Embedded
It can take a company several years to achieve stage five where customer success is thoroughly ingrained throughout the organization. Just about every employee has a role, knows their role, and executes their responsibilities at just the right time. The executive team no longer focuses on retention but focuses on creating growth in customer lifetime value.
Acceleration from Stage 1 to Stage 4 or 5 is becoming critical to profitability and valuation. According to Bessemer Venture Partners, retention is the No. 2 factor to SaaS company valuations — so customer success is not just a nice to have, it is a strategic imperative. So how can you skip past Stages 1 through 3? The answer is to use orchestration as a foundation to customer success.
By Stage 4, orchestration is critical to ensuring each step in the customer journey meet the expectations of the customer.
- Sales is in sync with professional services.
- Professional services are in sync with account management.
- Account management is in sync with support.
In other words, the company works as a whole to deliver on a customer promise to deliver value. A recent post by Lincoln Murphy at Gainsight highlights the need for a change away from “hand-offs” to orchestration. A new concept of “customer success orchestration” allows Stage 4 and Stage 5 customer success initiatives to connect applications and teams of customer success management, sales, services, marketing and support to optimize the customer journey.
Today, there are new technologies and best practices that can fast-track your customer success to Stages 4 and 5. For example, solutions such as Gainsight give you an ability to quickly establish customer health-scoring and provide proven playbooks for customer success managers. Others provide workflows between applications to orchestrate processes in sales, marketing, support, and services based on the playbooks and health scores. From onboarding to adoption to retention to growth, orchestration connects your applications, automates business-critical workflows, and lets you take control of the customer journey.
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.