The Customer Success Roadshow and You: Why CS Leaders Need to Go on Tour

February 26, 2023

Kate McBee

Category: Customer Adoption, Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Strategy, Digital Customer Success, Monetizing Customer Success

Customer Success leaders have a lot in common with rockstars. We’re all excellent storytellers. We are energetic about our work. We aim to deliver the absolute best experiences imaginable. We do well in front of crowds (i.e., customers). And we both go on tour. As a CS leader, you might not be as familiar with that last quality, but I can promise you that going on tour is an extremely valuable exercise that more of us can – and should – take advantage of.

At ESG, we call it the CS roadshow. It involves informing and educating people across your organization about your vision for Customer Success and what it can do for the business. Often, our counterparts in other departments, like Marketing, Sales, and Product, don’t have a clear idea of what Customer Success actually is, or worse, they do have an idea but it’s wrong. A Customer Success roadshow gives you the opportunity to raise awareness around the purpose of your organization, what your mission is, and how CS can benefit the business in the short and long term. By opening up a dialogue with your colleagues and executive leadership in this way, you can build momentum behind your charter and win over allies who will support your mission going forward.

Why do I need to do a CS roadshow?

The mission of Customer Success has always been to retain customers and grow the customer base over time. To do this, we have an even greater mission to rally everyone within the company around a common purpose – making the customer successful. CS can’t do this on its own. We know this. In order to enable our customers to realize the full value of their investment in us, we need a lot of other elements to come together. Many of those elements are owned by other organizations. So, CS leadership must educate other organizations and raise awareness of that larger purpose so we can all work together toward a common goal.

When I say purpose, I use that word very intentionally because I think it’s our calling to drive cross-organizational change so we can operate more seamlessly as we orchestrate success for our customers through the entire lifecycle. Getting in front of other teams across the company lays the seeds of collaboration and helps us break through siloed thinking. In this day and age, where business is shifting so dynamically and our environment and people change so quickly, companies need to figure out how to bring forces together to continuously support our customers so we can keep growing the business.

When should I consider putting on a CS roadshow?

Putting on a CS roadshow is particularly critical in the early stages of Customer Success. CS leaders like Carlos Quezada, Head of Customer Success at Aruba, have leveraged the CS roadshow to secure buy-in from his executive leadership when he was just starting to develop his CS organization. But the Customer Success roadshow is a tool in your toolbox that you can go back to over and over again. One of our clients has a well-established CS organization, and we are working with them to plan a year-long Customer Success roadshow to bolster internal support for their CS initiatives.

It’s all part of managing change in your organization. Customer Success benefits tremendously from leveraging change management principles, and the CS roadshow can help with the “R” in ADKAR: reinforcement to sustain the change. This is something CS leaders can be doing continuously, in cycles – educating and then coming back later to show the progress Customer Success is making and the concrete results of the interdepartmental collaboration.

How do I put on a CS roadshow?

Now that I’ve convinced you what a great idea a Customer Success roadshow is, you’re probably wondering how to get started. The first thing you need to do is map out your needs. Look at the customer lifecycle and identify the gaps where other organizations are involved and/or need to become more involved. If you’re in the early stages of Customer Success, you can start by formulating the ‘why’ of Customer Success. Why does your business need Customer Success, and what will it mean for your business and your customers if you are successful in evangelizing your CS plan? The answers to these questions will help you formulate your Customer Success charter.

Once you have a clearly defined problem and pitch for a solution, you can start making appointments with senior executives. These meetings usually involve short pitches where you want to focus on the value your proposal could bring to the company as a whole, the value for your customers, and – crucially – the revenue opportunities that progress in your plan will open up. Once you have buy-in from the C-suite, you make your way down through the organization all the way to the team level. It’s best to take this top-down approach as you facilitate buy-in down the chain.

In all these meetings, it’s really important to communicate your agenda clearly and concisely in as compelling a way as possible. You should tie your proposal to corporate goals so everyone can get behind the potential benefits of your plan. Then, everyone gets the opportunity to air their concerns and feel heard. It’s also a good idea to go bearing gifts. Collaboration is a two-way street. Yes, you’re asking for help, but you can offer something in return. Customer Success knows the customer better than any other organization. Highlight the fact that, as you work more closely together on these initiatives, they will gain insights into their customers they could not have accessed before. Frame your roadshow meetings as an ask and a give, and you’ll have a much easier time building those bridges.