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(De)Constructing Customer Success for Consumer Brands – Is it More Than a Buzzword and does it Really Apply to Us?

Dan Feuer
Director of Outbound Product Management

Customer
Success…is this just another buzzword, the new must have, a simple checkbox, or
does it actually mean something?   I
think we all know that big buzzwords (big data anyone?) can lose their impact
and meaning but I am here to tell you that when you strip everything away, ‘customer
success’ is really at the cornerstone of creating successful consumer businesses. 

Let’s look
at the two words separately. Customers—every business wants to maximize the
number of customers they have to grow revenues and spread out revenue
risk. Success—achieving or exceeding
ones goals, can be measured in revenues and metrics around growth, retention
and adoption.

It’s
interesting that when we put the words together, they tak
e on a variety of
meanings:

Customer
Success = Superior Customer Experience = Part Process / Part Relationship =
Doing whatever it takes to make the customer successful/happy.
A few well-known examples: Zappos, Nordstroms, Chick-fil-A.

Customer
Success = Helping the Customer Achieve their Goals
= Driving their Success = Pro-active Engagement. A few examples: free nutrition classes at Whole Foods, the
Genius Bar inside Apple Stores, pool maintenance courses at my local pool
store, coffee shops offering lessons on coffee and brewing techniques, outdoor
retailers such as Rock Creek utilizing ambassadors to introduce people to
particular sports.

These two
definitions are very distinct and have varying levels of adoption.
The interesting part is that when one combines
them, something really magical starts to occur.
From the eyes of the business, they clearly want their customers to have
a great experience and feel like they receive superior service, be it when they
walk into a store, order something online or when they call.
The reality is that, unless you are a
monopoly, if your customer is not happy because of how they are treated, at
some point they will leave you (about 68% of customers leave for this reason).
On top of that, Forrester Research has conducted
studies across 13 different industries and has shown that perceptions of
customer experience are highly correlated to considerations of future
purchases, willingness to recommend to a friend and defection rates to
competitors (“The Business Impact Of Customer Experience, 2014, Forrester
Research, March 2014”).
For some
businesses, shifts in customer perception equates to multiple, sometimes
hundreds of millions of dollars, gained or lost.

But rather
than just delighting them with great experiences, what if all businesses also started
to say to their customers—we recognize that the experience doesn’t stop when
you buy our product, we want to help you achieve your goals, help you
succeed. The reality is, up until
recently, few and far between would ever say such a thing to a consumer. At a
very high level, telling someone is much easier than showing and helping someone. As an example, a health food store might say
that eating xyz food will make you feel healthier but not everyone would show their
customers how to make a food plan to actually make you healthier.

When one
thinks about it, superior customer experiences + engagement is really a double
whammy, a value proposition that is nearly impossible to beat. Let me put it this way—how many consumer
businesses can you think of that focus both on delivering superior customer experiences
and proactively help the customer achieve their goals? Those that do clearly know that underneath
this catchall phrase of customer success is the pathway to creating successful
businesses. Going back to the individual
definition of each word, businesses obtain and keep servicing their customers
to ensure their own long-term success.

So, where
does this leave all of us? Great
question. As you can guess, I am a big
believer in customer success, from both an experience and engagement
perspective. I also recognize that saying you have a consumer focused customer
success program and actually implementing one (hint: sometimes simple actions
go a long way) are two very different things. A first step forward is the recognition that customer success is not
just a checklist item but also a way to grow your business, perhaps even developing
into a viable competitive differentiator.

I plan to
write more about the topic, using my professional and personal experiences to
highlight ways to bring the various components of customer success to consumer
businesses. Next up: A Tale of Two Interactions, Enabling the
Customer Experience.

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