Customer Success Is the Key to Digital Transformation
3 Min Read

Customer Success is the Key to Digital Transformation

Make Customer Success a cornerstone of your go-to-market plan.

"Move fast and break things." Facebook's old motto has become an unintended slogan for the burgeoning tech culture and economy. One need look no further than the scandals swirling around so many truly innovative and disruptive companies to see how fast we've moved and how much we've broken. That's why at Gainsight our motto is "human-first." We make software for customer success.

Customer Success is a growing global movement in business—and not just software. It's not specifically an organization, department or job function, although many companies have "Customer Success Teams," "Customer Success Managers (CSMs)" and even "Chief Customer Officers (CCOs)." Many companies have sophisticated processes and tools for customer success. But all companies understand that the only way to keep your customers, expand their relationships with your company and attract new ones is to make sure they're getting what they pay for.

In other words, customer success is about ensuring your clients achieve their desired outcome with your product or service.

No digital transformation effort will be successful if it doesn't include that principle at its core.

Digital Transformation and the Subscription Economy

The global economy is in the middle stages of a fundamental shift away from one-time purchasing and perpetual licensing. Software is being infused into industries like manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, services - everywhere. That's the basis for the digital transformation imperative causing upheaval in so many companies. And software is predominantly sold on a subscription basis.

But it's not just software. The subscription economy has come for our food, our clothes, even our shaving cream.

Why, though? It isn't as if there's a growing global demand for recurring payments. It's because, for the first time in the history of the modern economy, supply is greater than demand.

Supply > Demand

Throughout the 20th century, limitations in natural resources, means of production and other fundamental restrictions on how much stuff you can make and sell at maximum capacity created a natural balance between supply and demand. People want n widgets, Company A is capable of producing x widgets. The scarcest resource determines the cost and the supply.

But what happens when the fundamental unit of economic production is infinitely replicable? What happens when the widget is digital?

In the age of digital transformation, subscription economy and supply > demand, the scarcest resource isn't any raw material or finished goods. The scarcest resource is the customer.

And that means the key to success in the 21st century is protecting, nurturing, and growing your customer base. In other words, the key to your success is your customer's success.

Customer Success = Customer Outcomes + Customer Experience

Customers do not renew, expand or advocate if they are not achieving their desired outcome. But the quality of their interactions with your company will affect their level of success—and therefore their retention as well.

If customers are happy, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll renew. That's why it's called "customer success" and not "customer delight." But we do know that sentiment and satisfaction are correlated to the lifetime value of the customer. The economic imperative for maximizing that value is clear and was probably the impetus for your company's digital transformation.

But without a unified strategy for ensuring every customer a) achieves their desired outcome and b) has a great experience with your company, your customers' lifetime value will be limited.

Customer Success Is a Company-wide Imperative.

When you think about your customer's journey with your product or service, they interact constantly with different stakeholders throughout your organization. They'll have several "touchpoints" with marketers before they ever make a transaction. There will be interactions with salespeople, consultants, trainers, technical support, maybe even a CSM and a host of other people depending on the amount of touch you use with a typical client or segment of clients. And then there's the interaction with the product itself!

Your company has an opportunity to contribute to a customer's success at every touchpoint and every time they login to your product. But you can't leave the consistency or quality of those touchpoints up to chance. Read more in Gainsight's Guide to Company-Wide Customer Success.

The Periodic Table of Customer Success Elements

There's a science to customer success. Gainsight has implemented customer success people, process and technology at more than 500 companies, and we've learned a lot over the years about the best ways to make sure customers are successful.

There's too much to get into in this one blog, but we've identified 16 elements of a functional, company-wide customer success strategy. Now that you know the "why" of customer success, it's time to learn the "how."

Human-First Business

At the beginning of this blog, I said, "disruption needs disrupting." The word "disruption" has become synonymous with a software solution to a human problem. And humans do have weaknesses that technology can fix or make stronger. Most of us aren't great drivers. A lot of us could use some help with dating. The Hyperloop looks awesome.

But business? Business is about people. As you complete your digital transformation, your business will still be about people—only even more so. Your customers are your scarcest resource, and they are entirely comprised of humans!

If there's one mission-critical axiom for digital transformation, it's this: make customer success a cornerstone of your go-to-market plan.

But if there's two, then: never forget that underneath the data points and predictive algorithms are human beings—and that's what's at the heart of customer success.

Leverage Technology to Drive Customer Engagement

Existing customers are cheaper to market to than new ones and spend significantly more on products and services. Yet they often fall by the wayside as companies look to add new logos. Understand how to build deeper relationships with your existing customers and drive brand loyalty by leveraging new technologies in analytics and digital experience.

Read “Engage Existing Customers: Four Key Strategies” 
Originally published
June 13, 2018
 last updated
August 13, 2019
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