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Practicing profitable customer success

Years ago it was a debate: should Customer Success charge for services? Now, launching premium services that generate additional revenue is a required competency for Customer Success teams. This is the first post in a series that will help you launch premium services in 5 steps:

  • Step 1: Understand your business goals
  • Step 2: Design your premium services
  • Step 3: Package your premium services
  • Step 4: Launch your premium services
  • Step 5: Assess the success of your premium services

Step 1: Understanding your business goals

The first step in launching a successful premium service is to explicitly define the problems you’re trying to solve for your customers. For each problem or opportunity, define one or more measurable goals that solve the problem. To make this step more efficient, record KPIs you may use to measure goal achievement. Here’s a link to a shared Google sheet that can help you get started.

We recommend you state broadly the problems to solve so we don’t miss any opportunities. For example, consider the problems that can be solved for not only for your customers and your company, but your team as well.

While beyond the scope of this post, consider using the SMART Criteria to create specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timebound goals. This will help you as you build support around developing the service. Which goal do you think the CEO, CFO, and other leaders will more readily support?

Measurable Goals Ambiguous Goals
Increase customer satisfaction by 20%. Make customers happy.
Activate a new user within 30 days. Help new users.

Also, your CEO and other leaders may not understand just how many benefits there are to providing a premium service. You have to spell them out. A useful approach is to list out per goal category, the goal, KPIs you can use to track goal status and values for the KPI pre and post service launch.

Customer Goals

Your customers have goals when selecting a solution vendor. Understanding what your customers are trying to achieve in measurable terms will help you design the right services. Customers of B2B SaaS solutions usually have goals like:

  • Realize measurable value within the first year of the agreement (ROI)
  • Reduce total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Have peace of mind
Problem/Opportunity Category Goal KPIs
It takes too long to do X* ROI Reduce time to do X from N1 to N2 Days to launch
It takes too many people and too much time to do X TCO Minimize time and number of people required to do X from N1 to N2 Headcount needed
Man/hours
We don’t do X well and it would cost too much to hire/retain someone who can TCO Minimize expertise required Skills/experience required?
We can’t do X well enough ROI Access to expertise Lifeline when needed

*X is the thing your product or service does; measuring ROI is beyond the scope of this article.

Company Goals

For any business in the subscription economy, having a team that can profitably deliver services that benefit customers and generate incremental revenue is critical to long-term success of the business, especially when those services demonstrably improve customer renewal and expansion rates. At the company level, the measurable benefits are:

  • Increased revenue
  • Reduce cost to achieve revenue
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Increased employee engagement
Problem/Opportunity Category Goal KPIs
CAC is higher than LTV Revenue Increase LTV by 10% within 3 years LTV
Expansion revenue doesn’t happen or happens too slowly and risk of attrition stays high Revenue Increase expansion revenue Expansion Revenue
Customers churn because they don’t understand the value of the product fast enough Churn Reduce time to first value by 50% Time to value
NPS score is lower than desired Customer satisfaction Improve NPS for a given segment by 10% NPS
Customers are not satisfied with service Customer satisfaction Achieve CSAT target CSAT
Sales doesn’t have enough references to help win new business Customer satisfaction Have referencable executives/users at 90% of targeted segments Number of referencable executives
Per survey, CS team members are not sufficiently engaged Employee engagement Improve employee engagement Employee engagement
Regrettable attrition for CS team is too high Employee engagement Reduce regrettable attrition by 5% Regrettable attrition/transfers
Unable to hire top CS talent Employee engagement Improve reputation with job seekers Glassdoor/social media scores

Team Goals

Customer Success teams that are successful in contributing to the company’s top line revenue growth, walk taller and suffer less from second-class syndrome than teams that are focused solely on customer retention, thus viewed as a cost-function.

There are other benefits directly to the team that can provide premium services. You will probably invest in additional skills and experiences that are more tied to the industry and domain of the customer business.

The key goals for your team are:

  • Increase funding for talent and resource investments
  • Improve team brand in company
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Provide more diverse career paths
Problem/Opportunity Category Goal KPIs
You don’t have budget to hire the best talent Talent and resources Increase talent budget Budget size
Your team does not like the tools you use Talent and resources Minimize complaints related to tools # of complaints/team member/day
Involuntary attrition is unacceptably high Employee engagement Reduce involuntary attrition Voluntary attrition/transfers
The cost of hiring is too high; takes too long; quality is unknown Employee engagement Increase hires from references Hires by Reference
Team member transfer out for more opportunity Career Paths Increased career paths provided

In Conclusion

Understanding your goals in delivering a revenue generating premium success offering will help you gain support in designing and launching the offering. Ensuring you can articulate the goals in measurable terms using KPIs understood by executives will make the effort much easier. In the next post we’ll cover the services you need to achieve your stated goals. In subsequent posts, we’ll explain how to package and launch the services to ensure they’re successful.

About the Co-Author

Omid Razavi is an industry consultant to SaaS CXOs on customer success and revenue growth. Omid is passionate about leading, aligning, scaling, and transforming customer success, renewal/account management, professional services and support teams, with clear accountabilities to consistently deliver superior customer experience and exceptional business results. His work is focused on helping organizations develop and execute strategies to improve customer outcomes, and applying data-driven algorithms and processes to engage customers for superior experience.

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