As more and more B2B SaaS companies start building their customer success division and being customer success focussed, customer success has expanded to become large and complex like other departments.
Customer success department’s responsibilities are slowly increasing to encompass several things like increasing LTV of customer base, reducing churn, providing references, case studies, customer stories to sales and marketing, providing feedback to product team, creating upsell opportunities, facilitating renewals, etc!
All the above responsibilities cannot be handled by the Customer Success team from the start.
As the customer success team keeps on maturing, the CS team takes on more challenges.
But what should be the ideal order in which the CS team should take the challenges?
This is where Customer Success Maturity levels come into the picture.
The list of customer success maturity levels that will help companies upgrade and improve their customer success processes and goals to provide a better customer experience in a structured way.
1. Separate Customer Success & Support Team
As mentioned previously in several of our blogs, this is a non negotiable demand if you want to have any of the benefits of customer success.
Customer success and customer support are as different from each other as is the sales department from the engineering department and have totally different goals, metrics and KPIs.
Don’t expect any results if you can’t put your foot where your mouth is.
You can start small but make sure you hire customer success guys to do customer success.
2. Separate Onboarding & CS Team
As your customer success team expands, create a separate onboarding team.
Onboarding is one of the most crucial parts that decides the customer experience. Without an effective onboarding process, there is a low chance that the customer will renew no matter how awesome your product is.
Depending on whether you want to reduce the onboarding duration, time to value or increase the number of milestones achieved, the strategies required are quite different.
Onboarding is quite a specialised process and has its own separate metrics and hence deserves a separate department.
3. Customer Success Organization
This point focuses on the customer success organization’s division. Like with any other department, proper division needs to be done to make sure all the different goals of the department are achieved.
Important decisions like should each Customer Success Manager have his/her own portfolio of accounts, what different designations should the Customer Success team have, etc need to be taken at this level.
It helps each member of the team to have their own responsibilities and goals.
4. Customer Segmentation
The fourth level talks about customer segmentation.
We all know that all customers are NOT equal.
But, as each customer cannot be given individual attention, customers need to be segmented into different buckets based on some similar features.
You can segment the customers based on recurring revenue, plans, demographic, use cases or some other ways as per your requirement.
But make sure you segment your customers so that the customer success resources can be utilised effectively.
5. Customer Success KPIs
KPIs are essential for any department to succeed. To measure the effectiveness of customer success practice, it is critical to have KPIs.
Customer success department can have KPIs like MRR Retention Rate, account retention rate, referrals, onboarding time, lower number of support tickets, increase in product adoption etc.
Decide on the KPIs based on the goals that need to be achieved. Don’t choose too many KPIs as that would lead to chaos in the organization.
6. Basic Processes in Place
There has to be a method in madness. To get consistent results, processes have to be put in place which should be regularly improved.
Processes not only save the customer success manager’s time but also help the customer follow a step by step path that is bound to solve their problems.
Processes like onboarding playbook, risk prevention process should be put in place before expanding the customer success team.
7. Prescriptive Customer Success
What exactly is prescriptive customer success?
Prescriptive customer success means that if your customer faces, say roadblock A, does the CS team have a tested and tried fixed process that can fix the roadblock?
Or does the Customer Success Manager have to make a unique strategy to tackle the problem?
Of course, for every problem you cannot be prepared with fixed processes but for at least the common problems, you have to have set processes.
Having set processes makes the processes scalable and repeatable. Even if one of your CSM quits, the fixed processes make sure that the customer experience is not affected in anyway.
Some risks require a unique solution but you should try to make your customer success as prescriptive as possible.
8. Customer Success Automation
Automation is slowly perforating every department. The same is true with the customer success department too.
Automation is a tool that increases the effectiveness of the customer success team drastically.
But, not every task can be automated. But whichever tasks can be automated, those must be automated.
Don’t make the customer success team waste time doing mundane tasks which can be easily automated.
The time saved using automation can be utilized to achieve the goals faster.
9. Predictable Renewals
In the subscription economy if the customer doesn’t renew his/her contract, it is a loss for the company as the CAC is higher than the LTV.
After all this maturity, if you are still unable to predict churn, then what is the point?
This won’t happen if you start caring about the customer one month before renewal. It has to be a consistent effort so that the customer gets regular value. That is why it is a SaaS product and not a one-time purchase!
The customer success team has to make sure that not only the customer is able to achieve all his/her goals by using the product but also the customer experience is fabulous. The product should be made indispensable so that you get consistent revenue through regular renewals.
10. Predictable Upsells
This is the next level of the previous point. Can the customer success team upsell the product to their portfolio so that they are able to achieve 110% MRR growth or the nirvana 130% MRR growth?
For that the CSM will have to understand the customers and figure out what other problems can your product solve for them. An upsell playbook will help better upsell to the customers.
Make sure you upsell to the right customers at the right time.
11. CS Dashboard for the CEO
This is one of the key steps that helps make the customer success more efficient.
The CEO should have access to their own CS Dashboard on a weekly, monthly or in a fixed periodic timeline.
A dashboard makes it easier for the CEO to be aware of the benefits of customer success along with providing feedback which will make the processes more effective.
It also allows the CEO to be more involved without putting any additional efforts. Access to dashboard allows you to set up meetings with the CEO and take decisions faster which need the approval of top management.
These are the 11 Customer Success Maturity levels. How many levels have you achieved?
The more levels you achieve the more benefits you will get out of your Customer Success team.
But you don’t have to achieve all the levels simultaneously. You should up your level one after another but make sure you are consistently upping your game.