It’s become cliche’ to talk these days about Customer Success. As companies scale beyond the first 50-100 customers, they often shift from a simple support mindset to a customer success one. They implement technology, appoint a VP or Director of Customer Success, and often with a broad remit stretching from pre-sales to support to renewals. And rightfully so. SaaS delivery and it’s accompanying subscription business model puts a high bar to vendors to satisfy and retain customers.
But wait a minute. Is satisfaction the bar we should be setting? Or is there a higher one or two to be aiming at? And if so, what are they? Should the whole concept of Customer Success be re-framed?
answer to the last question is a resounding YES. Especially in
competitive, highly technical and innovative markets like Security.
Like Maslov’s Hierarchy, we can think of a value hierarchy too. In their 2018 article in the HBR, The B2B Elements of Value
Bain Consultants Almquist, Cleghorn and Sherer takes this to the nth
degree, idenitfying FORTY different types of value that they say
“B2B Buyers Really Care About”. For me, this level of complexity is way too hard to operationalize, so I simplified this from 40 to 4 and wrote about it here in my short blog entitled:
In this blog I describe how our message must contain all four layers. Starting from the bottom:
- Method, or how we do things, ie WHAT features and capabilities the customer buys.
- Prototypical “embodiment” – “The Datasheet”
- Money, or the unique business value we promise is our business value, WHY the customer should buy.
- Prototypical “embodiment” – “The ROI or Business Case”
- Magic, or our transformational customer journey, WHY THE CUSTOMER SHOULD CARE and make us a STRATEGIC PRIORITY
- Prototypical “embodiment” – “The Hero’s Journey/Viewpoint Story“
or why WE (the customer and us) MATTER TOGETHER. The mark we will
leave on the world and the way we experience it together.
- Prototypical “embodiment” – Brand Vision And FULL Lifecycle Customer Experience
Not only is this a great way to build your breakthrough messaging, but it ends up, this is also a great lighthouse to use to go beyond customer success, to what I call Customer Nirvana. Customer Nirvana is composed of three layers.
Layer 1 – Customer Satisfaction – Delivering what is promised capability and value. Dependent on Method and Money messaging.
Layer 2 – Customer Happiness – Making your buying team’s heros because they are not just delivering the promised value, but they are delivering strategic transformational change to the business outcomes of their organization. Dependent on Magic Messaging.
Layer 3 – Customer Belonging – The customer understands and shares a mission and big destination with the your brand. It becomes part of how they identify their value not just to the organization but to the broader society. Dependent on Brand Mythos.
Layering your method, money, magic and mythos messaging into your customer success management approach and mindset can dramatically accelerate value delivery, retention and loyalty.
Customer satisfaction without happiness and belonging is fleeting. We may enjoy the dance together, but our customers are always searching for the next better partner. But when customers achieve happiness and belonging, we reach new levels of engagement and alignment.
Marketing has a great responsibility to articulate, communicate and embed the value, the magic and the mythos that the brand promises. Without this, customer satisfaction will end there, and we will miss the amazing opportunity to reach the pinnacle of customer nirvana.