At Salesforce World Tour last week we heard all about how technology is radically transforming our economies, societies and lives, and tipping us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this era of heightened customer expectations and fickle brand loyalty, it’s not enough to have a good product or service. Having a team in charge of customer success is critical to a business’s own success.
An organisation can no longer consider job-done when sales closes a deal. Now, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, once the sale has taken place, the customer success team needs to come in and ensure the customer is satisfied, that the product or service meets their expectations – and preferably exceeds their expectations.
On top of that, businesses need to be partnering with the customer throughout the lifetime of the buyer-seller relationship. They need to be investing in the success of the customer, understanding their business needs and what’s going to drive future success for them – and ensuring ongoing satisfaction with the business’s products and/or services.
I’ve been working in customer success-type roles for the past 25 years. But, of course, it was not 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 – and it’s had to.
We’re operating in a world where the internet has given customers more choice than ever before; a world where it’s much easier for customers to switch brands. Because of this, businesses have to be intently focused on ensuring customer success and offering an exceptional customer experience.
Once upon a time you could be forgiven for momentary lapses in customer service, but that kind of brand loyalty just no longer exists – customers are now willing to walk. In fact, Salesforce research found that 70% of consumers agree technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. While 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.
According to the State of Service report, 70% of service teams say their strategic vision over the past 12–18 months has become more focused on creating deeper customer 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.
Yet, customer success is not service’s responsibility alone. The only way to cultivate true customer loyalty in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is through the presence of customer success teams, and having customer success bred throughout every layer of the organisation. Every single person within an organisation should be focused on the long-term success of customers.
While the concept of customer success is filtering through the business landscape (to varying degrees), with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it needs to be elevated and invested in. The whole business needs to understand the value and loyalty that customer success drives, and then everybody needs to be rewarded based on customer success KPIs – this is something that needs to be 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 should be responsible for both customer acquisition and customer retention – sales, marketing and service.
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. Yes, this is a complicated thing to do when you have a diverse customer base, but so important if you want to be continuously driving value and loyalty for your brand. As your organisation evolves and the customer’s organisation evolves, you need to be taking that customer on a journey that's constantly evolving too.
In a marketplace that’s changing and evolving at a speed like we’ve never seen before, customer-centricity and an acute focus on customer success is the key to a prosperous future.
Discover the emerging KPIs that show customer service teams are increasingly focused on customer success. Download the State of Service report today.