Customer success is your product. Your product is customer success. Period, end of story.
It’s time to change the culture of expectation for customer success.
Having worked with products that had incredible product-market fit (PMF) and products that didn’t, I can tell you that perfectly executed customer success plays do not make or break a product. What makes or breaks a product is how good it is, and how the size of the total addressable market (TAM) is for that product.
Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.Mark Andreesen
What customer success can’t do
No amount of customer success brute force can convince customers to adopt a product they don’t want, need and find valuable. No customer success intervention can get a customer to use a product they don’t find easy and useful. Customer success can’t be held accountable for:
- Getting a customer to adopt your product.
- Getting a customer to use your product.
- Getting a customer to renew their subscription if they haven’t been using your product and receiving value leading up to the renewal term.
What customer success can do
Assuming product-market fit exists, what can customer success influence?
- A customer’s relationship with, and affinity for, your company and brand.
- A customer’s strategy for successfully using your product to meet their business needs.
- A customer’s vision for how and where your product can be used, leading to deeper adoption and organic expansion.
- Your customer’s willingness to renew their subscription, assuming the customer has been using the product and receiving value from it.
Customer success as a push or pull function
Customer success follows a fairly standard playbook, especially in SaaS. The motions are onboarding, adoption, engagement, expansion, and renewal. 80% of these apply to any SaaS company, with the 20% being specific to the company and product.
As you think about the strategy of your customer success, consider how push/pull it is (using the rudimentary chart included in this article). If you need a “push” customer success strategy, you will need more customer success staff and resources, because it’s more effort. You may even want to consider shifts in overall market and product strategy to help move it up and to the right on the chart. That’s not easy, but it is what’s required to reap the rewards of a more “pull” customer success strategy which is considerably less effort.
Don’t get me wrong—customer success motions are rarely effortless. But as you move up and to the right, they do become easier and the strain on customer success as a function is lifted.