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The customer success and experience iceberg

I’ve just started working on my new eBook / trend report and I got to thinking about the cover. A little back to front but it’s often a catalyst for thinking about any other major concepts I want to cover, or ways of explaining existing concepts (sense making in other words).

I have already largely defined the chapters, yet thinking about the cover got me fired up to come up with some new thinking. I also had fun thinking about the cover, it’s a great way to inspire you for the slog of writing a long piece like this.

I started out thinking about a cover through a crowdsourcing exercise which was also fun (part 1 and 2). At some stage past the first few iterations an iceberg came to mind. I think it had to do with the three major themes of the eBook / trend report: the subscription economy, customer experience and customer success. The iceberg easily covered all three with a submerged part, the visible part and the sea in which they are naturally found.

So here is the result in a quick doodle, a video and a few lightly detailed bullets below of the main elements of the iceberg. I’m just working out loud so this is far from final. I’ve already thought of improvements but I’ll include those in the final work and if you have any input I’d love to hear it. I’ll also be digging into any research around some of my hypotheses that these building blocks essentially are so if you have any please send my way.

customer success and experience iceberg


The ultimate point of a great customer experience and a customer success manager’s efforts is a customer that is highly satisfied. Most measures will lead up to this. In a subscription economy company but in general too, if a customer is sufficiently satisfied they will likely stay loyal which is also the ultimate point.


I main driver of satisfaction is when you get value from something. There will be a myriad ways of quantifying value but as long as a customer is deriving some material, financial or emotional reward for using a product or service, they should logically be satisfied.


When you unpack value you’ll likely find that that there are contributing factors that influence the eventual quantification of value. These can hopefully be defined as clearly articulated outcomes. This is not easy, especially when it comes to the softer type of outcomes like status or emotional wellbeing. Outcomes are ideally something a good customer success manager has identified and quantified (with solid metrics) upfront, and not realised unintentionally at the end of the journey. But there maybe be some element of backward engineering for some outcomes.

Method / Process / Tech

A good customer success manager will have a robust approach that can be applied as a set of key building blocks of activity which lead to the intended end points above. A repeatable and measurable process and methodology that drive intended outcomes. One thing I have added consequently and is not in the diagram, is technology. That is, a platform or combination of platforms that will facilitate the journey of delivering the intended end points.


success and impactYou have to be able to understand (through careful reporting and analysis) what is driving the intended end points. That has to be a well tracked and represented set of activities that lead to understanding. It is typically centred on user activity (of your product and/or service). The understanding will allow you to work with your approach to see what is working and what isn’t. The holy grail of customer success management is when your planned interventions (made up of the approach covered above) can be materially tracked and tied back to impacts on usage – see rough doodle for example. The way to connect these two is through insights on usage data.


Raw data primarily around how your product or service is being used is what I mean here. This often will stem from a key source which is the product or service being used. But sometimes there will be other sources of data that require integration into a single funnel which is then reported on and analysed for insight. For example you may want to take raw usage data and combine it with transactional data around the customer from a CRM system and together they enrich the meaning.


It’s a given I’m talking about a tangible product like a technology platform but it need not only be that. Service delivery around a product should also be considered. Even just a service in its own right. The key thing is that you have a product or service that is made up of interactions with customers and technology plays a role in either fundamentally driving the interactions or in the means of digitising them.

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