This is a “Big Idea” post — with my proposal for a maturity model for the customer success/account management function.
Level 0 – asleep
We don’t have any formal customer success management, We just wait for customers to contact us with questions and issues.
Level 1 – random
Some important or troubled customers have a customer success manager (CSM). The role of the CSMs vary by account; some are essentially glorified escalation managers. The main task of CSMs is to get, cajole, and harass various individuals in the organization to accomplish tasks for their customers. We have not gotten around to formal goals and objectives for the CSMs.
Level 2 – tactical
We have customer success managers, at least for larger customers. The CSMs contact customers regularly on a proactive basis, share product blueprints, train customers on using the product and new features, and serve as a single point of contact for any issues customers may have. The CSMs work closely with the account reps and forward leads to them. The CSMs’ main metric is customer satisfaction or NPS.
Level 3 – support-centric
The Customer Success Managers delve into their customers’ internal processes, above and beyond the use of the product. They are also expected to share their expertise and experience with others on the team, thereby creating best practice models that can be reused by other CSMs and other customers. Their main goal is to reduce churn and increase adoption.
Level 4 – strategic
The Customer Success team works in concert with the Marketing and Sales teams to maximize adoption, reduce churn, and create success models for new and existing customers. The organization systematically analyzes the information collected throughout the CSMs’ interactions with customers (along with other data from social media and standard support interactions) to define repeatable success paths for prospects.
Anyone out there at level 4? Please share!
(And please contact us if you’d like to move up to the next level — nothing wrong with level 3 or even level 2 if you are currently sitting at level 0!)