The Importance of Customer Success in Service Operations

Terms like SLA, TAT, helpdesk, c-SAT are no strangers to the world of enterprise ITSM. While the terms themselves define the existence of a customer-centric process, the abbreviations usually end up being thrown around as jargon while neglecting the most important criteria of service excellence – that of customer success.

In this article, we talk about what customer success is and its importance in the overall service operations.

Customer Success vs Customer Satisfaction

The most obvious question is – how is customer success different from customer satisfaction? Simple answer, while customer satisfaction primarily deals with meeting SLA requirements and ensuring timely service delivery, customer success holds the responsibility of augmenting existing business and creating revenue maximisation opportunities. In other words, customer satisfaction is concerned more with day-to-day operational tasks whereas customer success is a strategic approach to delighting customers and, at the same time, increasing revenues from existing customers.

Bottom line – if the customer grows, you grow with them! And customer success provides that catalyst to the business.

A Techno-Commercial Function

Customer success lies in the overlap of technical and commercial functions. A customer success executive is not expected to make a sale; nor is s/he expected to build technology. Instead, being techno-commercial, a customer success executive takes a much broader playing field and builds a much deeper connection with end customers. For example, a potential stack upgrade opportunity might require educating the customer rather than a sales pitch. This needs a deep understanding of the stack that is currently running, its consumption rate, future expansion inputs, marketing plan, any bottlenecks or any pertinent question(s) that the customer could keep asking in their context.

The customer success role, therefore, acts as an external advisor on all infrastructure upgrades, new product or service introduction, even pre-sales support, and of course the 1st level management level escalation for the end customer.

Internally, on the other hand, this function builds on people management and empathy in order to manage complexities around processes and human behaviour in manpower-intensive support operations.

A Bridge to Senior Management

One of the key responsibilities of the customer success role is also to ensure that the management and technology groups speak the same language, thereby acting as a bridge between the two. Being a techno-commercial function also equips customer success with strategic, financial and commercial viewpoints while support services.

As the path to scaling entirely centres around finding new business (hunting) while expanding revenue from existing business (farming), the customer success role is best suited to directly impact farming opportunities and, at the same time, generate a substantial amount of insights for hunting opportunities.

The Holy Grail? To be able to preempt potential upgrades before the customer asks or realises about it.

The next step, naturally, will be to understand how to implement a customer success process within the organisation.