What Makes For a Great Customer Success Plan?

June 21, 2017 Perry Monaco

What makes for a great Customer Success Plan?​A customer success plan is a blueprint by which both you and your customer can achieve mutual success. Are they really necessary? I mean, a lot of times, success is pretty obvious. If I have a Gmail account, isn’t success sending and receiving emails? How much more can it be? Maybe I chose Gmail because it was a light SaaS platform, or I have an Android phone, or because it's free vs. other options? Sometimes, the reason for investing in a platform is not as obvious as we think it is. The reason for investing (time and/or money), is the WHY.

A customer success plan should define the why. Namely, why did they invest and why would they invest again?

First and foremost, a customer success plan should be written down. More on that in a future post. The key elements of a great customer success plan are:

1.    Mutual Ownership

Every successful partnership has at least two willing participants who have the same goal, understand the goal and are committed (not involved) to success. If you or your customer can't agree upon the goal and you both do not own the outcome, your plan has an increased likelihood of failure. You and your partners need to be at the table in the creation of your plan and both parties need to own the outcomes.

2.    Measurable Goals

Without measurable goals, success may never be realised, even if it actually occurred. A good customer success plan should have clearly defined goals that are measurable. You can use the plan over the course of the quarter, half-year or year to determine what's working, what's not working and more importantly, the opportunity to demonstrate ROI. Often, we use our gut feeling to measure ROI where in reality, it's the data that will always win. While you may feel fantastic after your recent accomplishment of a 5km race, is it truly successful if you did not improve upon your personal best time?

3.    Transparency

Your customer should know and subscribe to the customer success plan. It should be virtually the same plan they are following day-to-day internally. How transparent should it be? They should have a copy; the same copy you have internally. Once the plan becomes mutual, measurable and transparent the agenda for every call has a framework. Every conversation should (re)validate the plan form the basis for ongoing success and ROI demonstration.

4.    Learning

Unless your customer is already an expert (and not just one who thinks they are), all customer success plans should include a form of education requirements. Depending on how your Learning Team is configured, this could be virtual learning, video learning, webinar learning, one-to-one learning, in-class learning or other. There is no correct or incorrect amount of training but every plan should include some.

5.    Dynamic

Do not be afraid to adjust your customer success plan in mid-cycle. Think about how many times your new year's resolutions have materialized come the turn of the new year. Likely few, if any. Business is an ever-changing, dynamic world and so should be our plans. Do not be afraid to flex your plans as your customer's needs evolve. In fact, you should be seeking out the opportunity to modify your success plans. The closer your plan comes to the reality of your customer's business, the greater likelihood success will be measurable and the success your customer is looking for.

Customer Success Plans can indeed be an exhaustive exercise but it's the recipe for a long, meaningful relationship. If you, and your customer, invest the time with each other to build a mutual, transparent and dynamic success plan that enables your customer to become smarter with your platform and see a measurable ROI, you are well on your way to being successful. That's #customersuccess.

NB: I first spoke about these at the Customer Success Meetup in Toronto. If you're a #customersuccesshero, you should consider attending their next meetup.

This post was originally published on Perry's LinkedIn.

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About the Author

Perry Monaco

Perry Monaco leads the Customer Success Organisation in Canada for LinkedIn, as well as a team of CSMs focused on CS activity in a pre-sales function in the USA. His teams focus on the end user to manage retention, customer experience, and account growth through customer success planning. Perry was one of the first 4.5 million members of LinkedIn and was previously a recruiter before helping to build the CS practice at LinkedIn.

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