Customer Success activities are maturing. I have been doing the job since at least 2012 and have seen the profession go through fundamental changes to the point where, to succeed now, you need to be innovating.
Last week I created a new cover for the next eBook / trend report I am working on where customer success is a focus. Admittedly I was doing it as a remedy to some challenges I have getting the work done on this project. But there were other motives.
I started writing and set out my stall on the work almost 18 months ago in this post: Customer experience, the subscription economy and 10 ways success teams will make you win.
Just in the time since that post things have changed. I felt the need to update my thinking as well as refocus. I’ve decided innovation will be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak and the new title reflects that.
The iceberg is not just a turn of phrase. It will play a prominent role in my new work. I’ve already captured other elements using the analogy of an iceberg: The customer success and experience iceberg. These focus on the relationship between customer success and customer experience. They also focus more on the input and output of the two activities.
The iceberg is a useful pictorial metaphor and so I am reusing it around 3 important elements in the eBook / Trend Report I will still focus on: growing, building and innovating your customer success practice and activities. I’m going to explain how customer success as a practice and overarching philosophy should be built and grown to a point where you are mature enough that constant innovation becomes the standard.
Innovation has always been a part of the equation and if you read the post I wrote 18 months ago, you will see that. Here is the section covering that and below are the three subsections that still hold true and I will explore.
- Automation and AI
- As a Service
- SaaS 2.0
Innovation is also at the apex of the maturity model I developed so its fitting to be doubling down on it: The Customer Success Team Maturity Model. The growing and building aspects remain important as they also form the basis for my mentoring.
Outside of the maturity model which relates to activities within the organisation, the profession has reached a point of maturity that means doing customer success well is not enough to differentiate you.
And as all industries face the growing power of the customer and all companies focus on meeting customer demands better, so innovation that drives better customer experiences becomes key.
The As a Service part will get an expanded section. This refers to industries outside of those that traditionally have been adopting customer success practices – like Software as a Service businesses.
I’ve written about how the auto industry could learn from the Software industry and I’m not the only person to think so: SaaS beyond Software – Automakers.
Geoffrey Moore who I refer to above, coined the phrase “Crossing the Chasm” and this covers classic innovation thinking where early adoption of technology starts going mainstream.
I’m referring to it here where a practice that is successful in one industry that is an early adopter of it goes mainstream and it is adopted by other industries.
Lots going on in this space and I will be covering this in great detail. I have started documenting some good examples and will continue that too – first summary update here: Update on As a Service trends
Innovation will be a key focus area but in the time since I first set out the eBook / trend report outline, other things have struck me as important. I will cover these in some detail. Here they are briefly:
- Employee Experience. Addressing this leads to good customer experience – there is a powerful connection, see my daneldoodle below. I see the impact of the connection in the work I do and mentor on every day.
- Role of Leadership. This is critical in setting the tone in terms of mindset and culture which is so necessary for success with customers and creating great experiences. I will also cover trends in the creation of the Chief Customer Officer or other senior roles like it that indicate the growing importance of and focus on the customer.