May 11, 2016

Customer Success – Yeah and Nay

We recently attended a customer success event. Lots of great people came to hear speakers and network about customer success and the customer experience.

We took away some great (yeah) and not so great (nay) observations so here they are for your consumption:

1) Yeah 🙂 Customer success is a growing field with great opportunities for passionate professionals with interpersonal and project management skills to make a difference in their roles and their clients. I can also say the same is true for Supplier Relationship Managers too. Lots of great professionals looking to make a difference.

2) Nay 🙁 There is increased emphasis on making customer success into a sales or money making machine. The original value that the customer success role embraced was an advocate for the customer both to the customer directly and within the vendor organization. The more pressure there is on this role to grow revenue the less of an advocate for the customer they become.

3) Yeah 🙂 Data is here to stay. The use of data that relationship managers can use in small chunks to make positive, actionable change for the relationship is refreshing to hear vs. the Big Data complexities heard over the last few years. There is appreciation for both lagging measures like account retention but also new value in leading indicators such as Net Promoter Score and a relationship health score.

4) Nay 🙁 A big problem in buyer/supplier relationships today is how CRM and SRM processes may at times be in conflict with one another vs. collaborative and aligned. If a client wants the vendor to show an ROI or complete an implementation or project by a desired time frame or the vendor wants to show value through training or accomplishing key milestones, the other party shouldn’t frown on these outcomes but rather embrace them when successful and fix them when they fail. All too often one party seems to think of the others desired outcomes as ‘soft’ or ‘unrealistic’ and even frown upon them if not to the other party then within their own organizations and it can create an unvoiced tension in the relationship that can become something bigger over time.

Overall, it is really great to see the field of customer success growing as it has in the past few years. What would be really great is a place where both buyers and suppliers could go to get excited about the work they’re doing together. To hear speakers talk of transparency and relationships where everyone gets a voice. Maybe someday we’ll see this and it would be the ultimate display of customer success.

About ClientLoyalty: We use data to measure the ongoing experience of the client and supplier interaction (i.e. 360 feedback) and we measure meaningful and quantifiable performance measures (leading and lagging). We also identify supplier reputation through market and news sentiment. These convert to a relationship health score based on Net Promoter System methodology and can be viewed by relationship or benchmarked in groups of relationships. It changes the paradigm of what CRM and SRM mean to the relationship and creates a sense of trust, collaboration and empowerment.

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