Making The Business Case For Customer Success

June 27, 2016 Paul Philp

Business Case For Customer Success

The fast growing recognition of Customer Success is a survival tactic for most SaaS companies today. However, with Customer Success, the customer is the beneficiary of an exceptional customer experience and is extracting the maximum value from the product or service they have purchased from you. In the end, it will be a win/win for all.

Despite the obvious, if a SaaS company has not started with a customer-centric philosophy, there is often a challenge in demonstrating the need to introduce a new organization – it is a major investment decision in the strategic direction of your company, and one that will require more than a casual conversation. More often than not, you will only have one shot at getting the attention of the key stakeholders and decision makers. 

What your business case is up against

Often, executives will make investment decisions based on immediate and tangible results they are most comfortable and familiar with --- those with obvious measurable results attributed to a single department. For example, money spent on marketing programs results in leads, or spent on content results in tangible items like presentations, videos, infographics and white papers – which in turn can be used to generate more leads. But how do you describe – specifically – what you get from a Customer Success program?

This is your challenge and here’s why: Beyond jockeying for budget, it’s a bit more difficult than say, making a case for marketing automation.

Customer Success is hard to measure – It definitely is if you are sifting through siloed customer data that doesn’t provide context to the role. Recognize that your investment may also entail the need for technology that will guide your team, support your Customer Success process, as well as deliver the necessary metrics to demonstrate the impact Customer Success has on your customers, throughout their lifecycle and eventually the bottom line.

A Customer Success program has many beneficiaries – and that’s a good thing because you are going to increase adoption, retain more customers, capitalize on growth opportunities, and generate referrals…. which might make things harder because these benefits can be attributed to different departments. You need to break the traditional mindset of what a good business case consists of – simple justifications with a compelling return to an individual department – to show the big picture benefit to the entire business.

So how are the champions of Customer Success building their business case?

With other departments in your organization vying for executive sponsorship, raising their hand as a corporate priority and identifying budget allocations, you need to build a business case that is simple, straightforward and clearly identifies the decision to be taken. It doesn’t need to be 100 pages; it just needs to be effective at convincing your management team that your proposal for a Customer Success mandate should be prioritized against the other 50 urgent needs they have in their inbox.

Creating a business case for Customer Success is all about addressing concerns that may arise and demonstrating to executives that their investment will drive meaningful results. Furthermore, you have to show that you understand the risks involved and you have taken steps to mitigate those risks.

To show your executive team how Customer Success can ultimately help your business see results, you will want to be prepared to answer a 360º business view of your proposal including questions such as:

  • What is the opportunity or challenge to be addressed?
  • How will this contribute to our current business goals, targets, and 1/3/5 year business plans
  • How does this make us more innovative, competitive, and cost-effective?
  • What is the investment and resources required?
  • Who will benefit or be impacted and how?​
  • What is the ROI?
  • Why now or why this sense of urgency, can’t we defer this investment?
  • Are there other options?
  • What are the risks and how will they be mitigated?

The role of a business case is that of a communication tool, composed in a language that the target audience understands and with enough clear detail to facilitate decision-making.

Targeting your audience is key. Your proposal will be looked at with different sets of eyes and background. If your stakeholder lacks knowledge of Customer Success, you might need to go into more detail, or in some cases, less. Some executives are incredibly detailed, and others are completely bottom line driven… adapt and adjust to their language.

Ultimately, your decision-makers want to know this: what can you impact with Customer Success?

Formalized Customer Success programs have been proven effective time and time again. Armed with the right business case, you can make your Customer Success mandate succeed.

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About the Author

Paul Philp

Paul Philp is a leading innovator in SaaS and Customer Success. As Founder and CEO of Amity, Paul has spoken with Customer Success professionals from over 1,000 SaaS providers. Paul has a lifelong passion for helping business put customers first.

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