An organisation can no longer consider job-done when sales closes a deal. The customer success team needs to ensure the customer is satisfied, that the product or service meets their expectations – and preferably, exceeds their expectations.
Businesses need to partner with the customer throughout the buyer-seller relationship. They need to invest in the success of the customer, understanding their business needs and what’s going to drive future success for them – and ensure ongoing satisfaction with the business’s products and/or services.
With our day and age demanding a huge focus on the customer, creating a true customer-centric culture within an organisation is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have.
Nurturing a Customer-Centric Culture
I’ve been working in customer success-type roles for the past 25 years. But, of course, it wasn’t always called ‘customer success’, it was ‘customer support’ and really very reactive in nature. A service ticket would come in, you’d open the ticket, you’d action it and eventually it’d be closed. That was considered a good experience. The concept of great customer service has definitely changed – it’s had to.
Once upon a time you could be forgiven for momentary lapses in customer service, but that kind of brand loyalty just no longer exists. The internet has given customers more choice than ever before; it’s much easier for customers to switch brands – recent Salesforce research found that 70% of consumers agree technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. Two-thirds of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if they’re treated like a number instead of an individual, and half say they’ll switch if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.
Because of this, businesses have to be intently focused on customer-centricity, ensuring customer success and offering exceptional customer experience.
The research also stresses the importance of not only needing to listen to customers everyday but of building a dialogue with customers and throughout an organisation. There is a need to connect sales, marketing and service in particular, to enable insight into evolving customer needs and opportunities.
The Role of Service in Customer-Centricity
Service is transitioning away from its position as a necessary cost center. In today’s customer-centric business landscape, service’s role has been elevated to one of an additional growth engine, generating new sales opportunities and improved brand experiences.
According to the State of Service report, 70% of service teams say their strategic vision over the past 12 to 18 months has become more focused on creating customer-centric relationships. This represents a widespread pivot towards a mandate of customer success, and away from a cost centre function, where the mentality was to close as many cases in the least amount of time possible.
Reflective of this customer-centric mindset, key performance indicators (KPIs) are likewise changing. The report identified that 66% of service teams have implemented more traditional customer-centric KPIs (such as net promoter score and customer satisfaction) to measure performance.
Yet, creating a customer-centric culture doesn’t lie in the hands of service alone – the only way to cultivate true customer-centricity is through the presence of customer success teams and having long-term customer success prioritised at every layer of the organisation.
With the concept of customer-centricity filtering through businesses in varying degrees, businesses need to understand the value and loyalty that customer success drives. Then, everybody needs to be rewarded based on customer-centric KPIs, championed from the top down.
At the moment, there’s a disconnect between those paid to sell and those paid to retain – that needs to change. Everybody – sales, marketing and service – should be responsible for acquisition and retention.
Another area that needs work is the creation of bespoke customer journeys – at scale – that are relevant and timely throughout the lifecycle of the customer. This is complicated when you have a diverse customer base but is important if you want to continuously drive value and loyalty for your brand. As your organisation evolves and the customer’s organisation evolves, you need to take that customer on a journey that’s constantly evolving too.
In a marketplace that’s changing and evolving at a speed we’ve never seen before, customer-centricity – an acute focus on customer success – is the key to a prosperous future.
Discover the emerging KPIs necessary to build a customer-centric culture. Download the State of Service report today.
About the Author
Delicia Cordeaux is the Asia-Pacific Senior Vice-President of Customer Success at Salesforce, a role she has been in for more than a year. Prior to joining Salesforce, Delicia worked at ABB as its Asia-Pacific Vice-President of Services.
Delicia also has a strong history in leading services, support, education and managed/Cloud services teams, as well as in driving change and improvement, business development, operations management, partner management, go-to-market strategy and customer relationship management.