New Year’s Resolutions – either you love them or you hate them. But, if you’ve got a goal-setting mindset, they can be a useful tool. Whether you are one of those hit-the-gym, reorganize-your-life, use the New Year to envision a new you types, or simply the type to harness the calendar shift to plan ahead, it’s time to build your 2021 strategy. In the spirit of resolutions and leaving 2020 behind (we all know how we feel about that, right?), I’ve compiled seven Customer Success goals to kick-start your CS prosperity and expansion in 2021.
What commitments will you make in the new year?
1. I will…love my customers
The great slowdown in 2020 gave a lot of companies the opportunity to pause and reflect on everything that was working with their business and everything that wasn’t. Many took the time to refocus their time and attention on their current customers, fostering those relationships and learning more about what makes them happy and successful. As things return to “normal” (whatever that means), it will be easy to jump right back into an old mentality of “new sales are king,” especially if your growth stalled in 2020. But CS leaders know that if new customers are coming in the door, but old ones are headed right back out, then those sales numbers are for naught. Develop a 2021 CS resolution that emphasizes loving your customers, and you’re sure to go far.
2. I will…not get overwhelmed
As the old saying goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When tackling your CS strategy, a big, meaty task, it can be very easy to fall into an all or nothing approach. There is a lot of work to be done, especially if you are in the early stages of the Customer Success Maturity Model. Things get overwhelming in a hurry. What should you prioritize? What metrics are most important? Where do you even start?
Fortunately, the answer is simple – start somewhere. Just begin. Don’t let indecision paralyze you into inaction. If you aren’t already proactively communicating with your customers, figure out how to take that action, even if it’s just a small step. Overwhelmingly, we’ve found that it is better to have a little CS activity than none at all. Even small changes can make a big difference, and you can utilize strategies like a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach or take your team through a Vision to Measurements exercise to help break down the work ahead into digestible chunks. You can worry about collecting consumption data, personalizing every outreach, and automation (to name a few things in your CS toolbox) down the line.
Bonus points for this Customer Success New Year’s resolution – you’ve succeeded as long as you’re doing something!
3. I will…envision the end game
When you’ve got big plans, sometimes it takes working backward from your end goal in order to land on the right strategy. For example, if your goal is to monetize Customer Success by the end of 2022, envision that outcome. Stop and take the time to truly understand what monetizing CS will look like for you. Then, work backward to discover the steps you need to take to get there.
In the wise words of our CEO, Michael Harnum, “Like any other gap analysis, find out what is preventing you from getting to the next level of Customer Success, and the answer to that question becomes your list of priorities for 2021.”
4. I will…have realistic expectation for my Customer Success tools
Too many CS leaders get excited about their investments in a robust tech stack and then assume that everything else will fall into place. Technology and automation are critical elements of scaling CS. But, if you don’t put in the work to properly prepare for, integrate, and utilize these technologies, you aren’t setting your tools (or your team) up for success. Using Customer Success tools to their greatest advantage means having realistic expectations of capabilities and limitations, and the level of effort required to customize the tool for your specific needs. On its own, technology cannot solve all of your problems. The right expectations, time, and elbow grease will go a long way to ensuring that your tech stack serves as invaluable assets in your overall CS strategy.
5. I will…make Digital Customer Success a centerpiece of my strategy
In the same vein as your tool stack, Digital Customer Success (aka automation, tech-touch, or whatever term you prefer) is a requirement to scale. Resolve to put it at center stage in 2021 and watch your CS capabilities grow significantly. Digital CS allows you to scale your organization quickly and efficiently, taking ‘busywork’ off of your CSMs’ plates and increasing the number of accounts each CSM can manage. It expands the number of possible touchpoints you can have with each customer, and it delivers practical data intelligence you can use to analyze trends and make better business decisions overall.
6. I will…embrace the revenue
More and more, Customer Success organizations are taking on revenue targets as part of their purview. If you haven’t done so already, aligning your CS goals to your company’s strategic growth is an excellent New Year’s resolution for Customer Success in 2021. It’s a great way to demonstrate the tangible value of CS to your company’s leadership and influence bigger picture business decisions. There are many avenues to integrate revenue goals into the CSM role that don’t necessarily involve direct monetization. Familiarize yourself with all the options available and work towards the one that fits your organization the best.
7. I will…remember that Customer Success is not support
Customer Success Managers naturally want to take care of their customers. It’s a big part of the job! However, too often, CSMs get so inundated with requests and issues from their customers that they fall into a reactionary mindset. Break through this self-sabotaging barrier in 2021 by resolving to let support be support and elevate the CSM role to the proactive, revenue-driving machine you know it can be.
2020 may not have gone the way many of us expected or hoped, but with a new year comes new possibilities. By aligning your strategic goals to these seven New Year’s resolutions for Customer Success in 2021, you’ll be one step ahead of whatever the universe has in store for us this year.