The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

In the course of The SaaS & Support Project research, I began asking companies about two related roles that have been popping up in organizational charts of all sized firms for some time:  Customer Retention and Customer Success.  I’ve found that Customer Retention managers tend for the most part to be “firefighter” positions, called in when a customer is known to be at-risk or has actually announced plans to depart.  Customer Success, on the other hand, is something different — with intriguing possibilities.

Towards a Definition of Customer Success Management

The Customer Success management (CSM) role is a developing one in the SaaS/Cloud sector.  In a few companies, the title has been used for or within the Implementation team, with staff members acting as technical account managers to see that all goes well with the project.

In other companies, however, the CSM role is much more senior — it’s the actual owner of the ongoing customer relationship.  In such cases, it’s more than an Account Manager role, for it also includes insuring that the customer is getting real economic value from their investment — and that they know it.  The CSM maps out the customer relationship, and is responsible for moving the customer along and up the profitability chain for both parties.

Does your company have a Customer Success Management team?  If so, what responsibilities/authorities do they have?  What performance metrics are in use? What were the driving factors that brought the group into being?   What do you look for in recruiting CSM staff?

The Mission of the Customer Success Group

In a previous article about the need to change the role of Support to being about much more than just Break/Fix, I suggested that the new mission for the group in the SaaS/Cloud era should be:

“We directly contribute to making more sustainable profitability faster/better for your company and ours, and we can prove it! “

That’s not  a bad starting place for developing a mission statement for the Customer Success Management team, but it needs to go even further.  If you have a CSM team, I’d like to talk directly to you about it — off the record, or on.  Please use the message form on the contact page, or send me an email directly.  If you’d like to be kept informed about progress on this subject, please join the mailing list and also consider becoming an Associate or Research member of The HotLine Magazine.  There is no cost for an Associate Membership.

You may also be interested in joining the conversations in The Customer Success Management Forum on LinkedIn.com, or in the monthly gatherings of The Forum in various cities.  If you’re a member of The HotLine Magazine, you can see a list of current discussion topics of the TCSMF here.

Recommended Reading for Customer Success Management

June 23, 2011