I have been honored to participate in the workshop taught by the “Pope” of Customer Success – Lincoln Murphy – along with the the Resultados Digitais Customer Success Team.
Out of that experience, I’ve learned three important lessons that I intend to share in this post.
Some lessons already in practiced here at RD; others under experimentation or to be validated so we keep increasing our value generation for our customers.
Before getting started, I want to make sure you really understand of how rare this opportunity has been.
Lincoln haven’t spoken at the Pulse Europe – the “RD Summit” version for Customer Success in Europe, promoted by the company he works for (Gainsight) – so to keep his word to be with us here in Brazil.
Did you get the hang of how important the situation was? A similar situation would be André Siqueira in a lecture in another country with less business opportunities for RD than Brazil.
Another interesting thing to me happened too.
I have got to know afterwards from our VP of CS Gui Lopes that the format used by Lincoln during the 8 hour workshop was a new experience and a challenge for him.
Initially, the agreement was for Murphy to replicate a live course from the Customer Success University (CSU) by Gainsight.
So, why did he decide to innovate in the very last moment if this represented a great risk for him?
In this own words:
“But after talking to different people on the RD team – and knowing that RD is one of the most progressive Customer Success – oriented companies not just in Brazil, but on the planet – I knew CSU Live wasn’t what they needed; they were beyond that”.
Now, lets start with…
- 1 Lesson #1: 9 Ways of Success in Inbound Marketing are the Desired Outcome of our Customers
- 2 Lesson 2 : Success Gaps and Customer Accountability are Critical
- 3 Lesson #3: Success Milestones Standardization is the Lever Point in Customer Success
The Beginning of the workshop
We have got started with the review of basic concepts in Customer Success such as Desired Outcome, Appropriate Experience, Required Outcome, Success Gaps & Success Milestones – I will come back to them in the upcoming part of lessons.
Although we’ve sort of already been familiar to them, he insisted to pass them on again, to make sure that we were on the same page.
After that, he suggested that we split ourselves into four groups, each one standing for our greatest segment groups of more than 3k paying customers who we have served so far.
Once we were grouped together, Lincoln invited us to do three exercises along the day: Identifying the (I) Desire Outcome, (II) Success Gaps, and (III) Success Milestones.
So… Let’s go over them!
Lesson #1: 9 Ways of Success in Inbound Marketing are the Desired Outcome of our Customers
To make sure that we are on the same page, I will present you the term definition for Customer Success according to Lincoln:
“Customer Success is when the customer reaches the Desired Outcome through the interactions with your company.”
But then, what would be the Desire Outcome?
Desired Outcome = Required Outcome + Appropriate Experience
Explaining it further…
Our hostee has brought an analogy with the aviation market which makes the concept easier to grasp:
Imagine that you want to travel from Florida to São Paulo. And, you have the option to fly two airlines:
- Webjet (in memoriam) – Remember WebJet (bought by Gol), a company whose positioning had been to offer very cheap flights.
- Azul – According to Melhores Destinos, the company that offers the best flight experience in the Brazilian market.
Question 1: Do you agree that you can get to São Paulo by both Webjet and Azul?
That is, getting to the destination in a fast and safe way represents the Required Outcome. Conceptually, it is the least requirement from the customer when he/she buys a service/product.
Question 2: If an entertainment system, customized board service and more comfortable seats are very important to you and you can afford those, you would rather prefer Azul in lieu of WebJet, wouldn’t you?
Yes, your decision has to do with the Appropriate Experience, which is the experience your product/service provides to the customer upon delivering the Required Outcome.
Similarly, this is usually how a business differentiates itself from other options in the market.
Now that we are on the same page, let’s be back to the workshop timelime. If you want go further in those concepts, you may read this blogpost.
Back to the Workshop…
It was interesting to realize that we’ve already had a good bit of clarity on what were the Required Outcome and the Appropriate Experience for our customer’s segments.
That stems from a project we’ve developed in 2015 that took more than 60 hours of interviews and collection of more than 200 of customer surveys.
The goal was to check what success meant from the customer prospective so we could deliver better onboarding and ongoing processes.
Thus, as a result of that project, we’ve got the 9 Ways of Success in Inbound Marketing:
- Generating Qualified Leads
- Selling for Qualified Leads
- Becoming an Authority
- Optimizing Funnel Conversions
- Increasing Productivity
- Reduce Cost of Acquisition
- Measuring and Presenting Results
- Learn Inbound Marketing from Experts
- Building Customers Loyalty
Each way of success is included in at least one of our onboarding processes.
These onboardings aim to enable our customers to use our product and our methodology for them to reach their respective Desired Outcome.
Thus, the lesson #1 for me was the realization of what we have learned about Desire Outcome from Lincoln had been already in practice through the “9 Ways of Success in Inbound Marketing” project.
Reflections upon the Lesson #1:
- Naturally, we need to be alert to identify the emergency of new segments
and their needs. This is a way to update continually our range of Desired Outcomes.
- In terms of Appropriate Experience, to what extent we have delivered what each segment values in a customized way?
Lesson 2 : Success Gaps and Customer Accountability are Critical
Frequently, there is a gap between the phase in which the product/service was acquired by customers and the phase in which they reache the Desired Outcome, per say.
The risk involved in this situation is the following: If customers are not warned about the part they’re entirely responsible for and if they do not achieve the Desired Outcome, they can be seriously let down.
For illustration, Lincoln shared with us a fact that occurred to his mother, a personal trainer.
Here goes the story.
A couple of years ago his mother called him in tears. One of her customers entered in the gym in which she worked and yelled at her in front of the other customers and other members of the gym.
The customer looked to be furious because she did not lose the weight she wanted and because she was not going to fit in the dress for her daughter’s wedding.
In the meantime, this customer stated that she would warn everybody about the terrible trainer my mother was… that she was only interested in making money and not about generating value to her clients. Afterwards, she left and slammed the door”.
To sum up, his mother called him to ask how to prevent it from repeating again.
Analyzing the problem…
He asked his mother how long she spent with this customer. Three hours a week divided into three sessions of one hour, three days a week – it was her answer.
However, a week is 168 hours long. It means 165 hours for worldly temptations left for her customer: junk food, alcohol & cigarettes.
These teasers could compromise seriously the Desired Outcome (losing weight and fit in a wedding dress) for which she contracted the trainer.
Mathematically, the customer had ~55x (165h/3h) more responsibility on her outcome than his mother.
Yes… No matter how perfectly the client performs the exercises in the sessions or whether it is within the adequate heart beat for optimal calory burn. A single McDonalds combo – in this case the Success Gap – could put everything to lose.
How to solve the problem?
Simply by making it crystal clear what the client was accountable for her Desired Outcome and delegate it in a systematic way.
In her mother’s case, he suggested an activity log in a diary.
This log would include all sorts of actitivites the client usually runs throughout the day like:
- What and how many portions the customer eats
- How much water and alcohol they drinks
- How much he/she smokes
- How long he/she stays seated in front of TV
All those data would be required before the first session and it would be revised by the personal trainer in the training day.
Thereby, she would be able to suggest what should be banned and what should be adopted as new habits for the Desired Outcome.
From that moment on, customers would be warned that only 3 hours per week would be with the personal trainer and 165 hours would be on their own.
To recap, she would say: If you want to achieve the Desired Outcome, you need to follow through the meal and activities plans we have agreed upon.
If you don’t do it, the odds are that you are not going to reach the Desired Outcome.
Is it clear enough?
Besides, Lincoln’s mother would let the customer call her when some temptation stepped in.
The intention would be sending recipes and resources to keep her customers in the direction of their goals.
Since then, Lincoln’s mother hasn’t had any customers blaming her on those matters.
Importing this Principle to Our Business…
Generating Leads + Automation is one of the our onboardings, whose Desired Outcome is Generating Qualified Leads + Increasing productivity.
During the workshop, we’ve identified 4 existing tasks which are critical for attaining that Result, being:
- Integrations & Settings
- Content Generation
- Make the Email Templates
- Activate the Marketing Automation
Then to apply this insight to the routine, I have put a red tag in the playbook for that onboarding that I lead with the customers through Trello.
This way, I have made it clear that without those tasks they aren’t likely to achieve the Desired Outcome and they are totally accountable for them – Customer Accountability.
And this represents the lesson #2 to me.
Upon the first meeting with the customer, it is helpful to highlight what the Success Gaps are and inform them that they are completely accountable for those tasks for reaching Desired Outcome.
Likewise, it is essential to offer guidance and resources in case of difficulties on performing those tasks.
Reflections upon the Lesson #2:
- What further experiment could be led during the onboarding so we could measure the effects out of warning the client about the Success Gaps and his/her Accountability? Would the customer churn rate decrease?
Lesson #3: Success Milestones Standardization is the Lever Point in Customer Success
Now, recalling school and college times…
Archimedes from Syracuse (Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer) is considered to be the great mathematician of ancient times and possibly of all times – alongside magnanimous Euler, Gauss, and Newton.
Amongst his many contributions, it is the principle of the lever.
Put simply, it is a physical statement that allow for us to move objects using a lever what would otherwise be too heavy to be displaced.
In short, the longest the lever from the standing point, the lower the effort.
Because of this finding, It is said that he was so proud that he exclaimed:
“Give me a place to stand on and I’ll move Earth”.
So, what does that have to do with Customer Success? In fact, that’s all about it.
Imagine yourself having all the stages the costumers go through in the path to attain the Desired Outcome.
Each of them well mapped out and well defined in a way that you can preview what the next phase is and the actions they need to be catapulted towards it.
Those are the Success Milestones.
Do you get the point?
The Success Milestones are leverage points in the Customer Success World!
In that sense, I’m going to show how they bring up various possibilities/benefits for the customer, for Customer Success, Marketing and Sales areas, that is, for the company as a whole.
Do not mix up Success Milestones with the Customer Lifecycle (Trial, Purchase, Onboarding, Ongoing…).
The former takes a business prospective and the latter a customer’s one.
Here, we are talking about customer journey, from their perspective, towards their Desired Outcome.
For instance, let scribble some Success Milestones so you can grasp them better:
- Success Milestone 1: Generating Leads
- Success Milestone 2: Selling to Inbound Leads
- Success Milestone 3: Implementing Marketing Automation
- Marco de Sucesso 4 : So on…
Now, back to the possibilities from Success Milestones(SM).
Simply, now we have more chances to meet the client’s need for predictability with SM.
I mean, predictability in regards to the transformation that customers expect from acquiring a product/service.
As a Customer Onboarding Specialist, this need tends to be more apparent when the onboarding period ends.
It comes about because customers want to know what is next once the Onboarding is done.
The cases I was not able to meet their need of predictability as depicting what was next for them, there seemed to happen about anxiety from their part.
I mean, they usually ask: What will we do next? Which results can I expect next?
- Wouldn’t customers be more motivated to succeed, since they know what they have to do to get to the next milestone?
- Couldn’t it have positive effect on the adoption rate?
Doctor Marshall Rosenberg, a famous american social psychologist and NonViolent Communication Organizer has had many experiences reported in his book.
He’s experienced confusion, anxiety, doubt and uncertainty states being cleared out in people when their needs of predictability were met.
In the business context, couldn’t those confusion states anyhow be hindering customers from acting consistently towards to their Desired Outcome?
For Customer Success
Customer Revenue Expansion
How can we orchestrate cross-selling and upselling activities so the company can forecast a recurring increase in revenue?
Lincoln has brought us that the revenue potential from customers is only 1/16 when they first purchase a product.
So, what about the 15/16 left?
According to him, certain Customers Success Milestones are intrinsically associated to opportunities for business expansion based on customers.
Let’s say that your customers have reached a phase in which they need a new functionality for growing their business. Then, it makes total sense to guide them to acquire it for helping them in that regard, right?
So, doesn’t it open up opportunities for Customer Success Managers to be trained in order to do give right directions, that is, to upsell or to cross-sell at the very moment customers need that help?
For Marketing and Sales
A study in Wharton School of Business points out that 83% of the satisfied customers are willing to refer to the products/services which benefited them. Nevertheless, only 29% do it.
So, what to do to the 54% left?
In practice, wouldn’t it represent an opportunity for referral process based on Success Milestones?
Not only after NPS>9 survey (possibly misleading), but also after certain milestones could not be ideal moments for these requests?
But, why seeting up a referral channel?
Just to name a few, here are 3 reasons:
- A referral customer has a 16% greater Lifetime Value(Wharton School of Business, 2012)
- Referral Leads usually convert 30% more than leads from others sources(Tony Nissen, R&G Technologies, 2013)
- Referral Leads spend less time to close deals (Tony Nissen, R&G Technologies, 2013)
Lead>Customer Conversion Increase
If Marketing is able to check Success Milestones of a lead through custom fields on a Landing Page before passing it on to Sales, wouldn’t Sales be more prepared to generate more rapport by connect with lead on the current problems he/she is facing?
- Wouldn’t the sales consultant be able to offer a more contextualized and customized solution?
- Ultimately, couldn’t that increase conversion rate for Lead>Customer?
Our CEO Eric Santos has pointed out for our Success Milestones project during his presentation in the RD Summit 2015.
To announce this, he did an analogy between Success Milestones Journey and Climbing a Mountain to the top (Desired Outcome) – in which each basecamp stands for each Customer Milestone.
Hope to share news upon finishing the project!
…and summarizing lesson #3:
The Standardization of Success Milestone is the “ Lever Point” in Customer Success World.
Reflections upon lesson #3:
- What set of questions shall we ask whose answers will help us to associate each Success Milestone to the current stage of each customer?
Now, Over to You…
I’d like to share my gratitude to all my colleagues @RD because they have granted me with so rich learning and growth opportunities since I have joined team.
In the same way, I feel very happy and honored for this opportunity sui generis to meet and interact with a world-class professional as Lincoln Murphy – from the Silicon Valley to Florianópolis our dear “Silicon Island”.
- Does any lessons here make sense to you?
- If so, which one? If not, which one?
- Which lessons in Customer Success you’d like contribute with me?
I would be honored to learn from you in the comments below 🙂