Happy Customers vs. Successful Customers

Happy customers do not equal successful customers.  My response to this statement early in my career would have been, “What?!”  “Happy customers do not equal successful customers” is a concept I’ve  heard and read a lot about as a Customer Success professional.  This concept is of course not my own, however I have plenty of experience with it.  Lincoln Murphy’s article explains the thesis much better than I can.

Since our Customer Success team was built, we’ve focused (successfully) on hiring likable people that can form relationships with customers and get them to renew and expand year over year.  This is a good but not great formula for success.  We’ve learned that while it’s incredibly important to have the respect of and even a friendship with customers, it doesn’t always translate to successful outcomes.  Does this conversation sound familiar? “We like (insert customer success or support rep here) a lot, and he/she has been very helpful,” followed by the 3 letter word that should be a four letter word…”BUT.”

Fortunately I’ve only had this conversation a few times at InviteManager but it was more prevalent in my former life.  In the sports world you can get away with blaming a suite or season ticket cancellation on the team’s performance, the poor service by the concessions/catering vendor, the bad parking experience, and a number of many other factors.  In reality, they were all excuses that weren’t often learned from.

At InviteManager we don’t have excuses to lean on.  Each Customer Success teammate autonomously owns the account relationship and is responsible for being the one throat to choke, the trusted adviser, the advocate, and the strategist.  If internal teams aren’t supporting the account well enough or fast enough, the rep owns the change and makes it happen.

Building relationships is one of my favorite parts of the gig and is a key part of maintaining successful partnerships.  However the work does not end there.  Customers must continually see specific results in order to justify the dollars they are sending our way.   When we show them the return they’re getting on their investment, i.e. the measurable value, we’re showing them success.  And thus a successful customer is one that renews, grows, and provides references and referrals…whether or not they’re happy.

Matt Huff is Vice-President of Customer Success at InviteManager.