Customer success management is an emerging business function, and as such, its role and the structure of its execution within an organization are still evolving. However, the important thing for MSPs to understand up front is its focus is on building on the relationships you have with your customers in order to retain and grow their business.
Wikipedia’s definition expands on this, citing customer success management as the “function at a company responsible for managing the relationship between a vendor and its customers. The goal of customer success is to make the customer as successful as possible, which in turn improves customer lifetime value for the vendor.”
In other words, it is how you can keep (and grow) your customers by making them as successful as possible in using your product, with the ultimate goal of creating sustainable corporate profitability and growth.
If your business depends upon continuing income streams from its customers, which is the case with all managed service providers (MSPs) as well as most technology providers, you face a straightforward choice: either you need to actively manage your customer relationships, or hand control over your corporate destiny to the customer and the competition.
The reality for any business today is that winning new customers is only the first step in what needs to be a long-term, scientifically managed and directed strategy.
Customer success management provides a framework for this long-term strategy by focusing on the core issue of how to effectively manage the retention and expansion of your existing customer base. To do this, it draws on other functions and activities from around the organization, such as marketing, sales, professional services, training, and support—and pulls them together in a way that meets the needs of the recurring revenue model.
The success of customer success management hangs on three key building blocks: an in-depth knowledge of your customers, effective knowledge of your products, and extensive expertise within your field.
Through onboarding and training, customer success management ensures all customers are fully engaged and getting the value they expect from your product and/or services. You may feel you are doing some of this already, but customer success management is about collecting and analyzing data at every touch point and using that data to make the customers’ experience of your company a seamless, consistent whole.
Customer success management is something we have been working on for the past year or so, and this is how we have set out our own vision of exactly what it means to us: “Customer success will contribute to the SolarWinds MSP growth story by helping customers achieve value with our products, resolving retention barriers in a timely fashion, and ensuring customers are on the right platform for their business.” Or as we like to say a little less formally… “saving the world, one customer at a time!”
Because ultimately, if you grow, we grow! This mantra can be applied to your MSP business as much as it can to ours; manage your own customer satisfaction and you will see your own company grow. Over the coming series of blogs, we’ll help you understand how we have been building out our customer success strategy. We’ll share some of things we’ve implemented, so you can see parallels with your own business and experiences.
Hopefully, you can draw on our experiences, and it will help you shorten the runway to getting your own customer-success-management strategy off the ground.
Kevin Kirkpatrick is senior director, customer success, SolarWinds MSP.
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