Customer Success can’t fit into Existing Frameworks
2017 felt like a fight.
I felt I was battling more and more misconceptions when it came to Customer Success than the fewer that I expected.
I assumed as Customer Success became more well-received, moved more into the mainstream, and simply became more common that we’d all agree more on things… not fewer.
I was wrong.
I was WAY wrong.
The “Customer Success” universe has become more fragmented.
When you say “Customer Success” the frame that’s invoked may be one of Account Management, something that’s software-focused, a world view based solely on customer delight, or it may fit with what I’ve defined Customer Success to be.
Or it may be a mix of all of those things combined together in some Frankenstein way that works for you but no one else… or for everyone. Who knows.
In my self-reflective quest to break out of this “fight” I took a step back and tried to examine the source of all of these different understandings of Customer Success.
While I found many reasons for these varying views on Customer Success (not the least of which is that the leading voices on the subject are still software vendors trying to sell a product), one thing really stood out.
In fact, this is one piece of advice that may just completely change your Customer Success world view.
Stop trying to fit Customer Success into existing frameworks.
Let’s level-set quickly.
Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.
Customer Success is an Operating Philosophy for your company.
Customer Success Management is an Operating Model for your company.
Customer Success is a Growth Engine if you operationalize accordingly.
Desired Outcome is what your customer needs to achieve (Required Outcome, RO) and the way they need to achieve that (Appropriate Experience, or AX).
But… so much of the confusion around Customer Success is people not actually trying to understand it, but rather trying to force it into a box created by their existing biases and/or agenda.
- When it comes to Customer Success, you can…
- visualize responsibility using RACI, RAM, or LRC
- prioritize using RICE, SSCC, etc.
- use BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model to discover AX (or use mine, if you want)
- use JTBD to discover the customer’s RO (just RO)
- use Agile and Scrum methodologies to improve collaboration and flexibility
- repurpose other frameworks like ITIL or COBIT for process engineering
- run a SWOT, Red Team, or other “Pen Test” methods to spot weakness
- apply Strategic Selling, Challenger Sale, or SPIN Selling to renewals and upsells
- leverage AIDA or PAS for writing better engagement copy
And I’m sure there are many, many other frameworks you can apply to Customer Success.
And you absolutely can and should use existing frameworks and methodologies WITH Customer Success.
But you can’t go the other way and try to shove this huge, business-changing concept into any existing framework.
It doesn’t work like that.
It won’t work like that.
It literally can’t work like that.
Customer Success is too big of a concept, it permeates too much of the company, and it is far too important to try to fit into some existing framework.
Remember this when you see people who are already fully-invested in existing frameworks (or who created said frameworks) jumping on the Customer Success bandwagon.
Many of them have good intentions (some are just a bullshit money grab), but their lack of broad vision when it comes to Customer Success could cause you to go down the wrong path if you’re not careful.
Maybe – just maybe – this can help you avoid some of the confusion around Customer Success going into 2018.
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