2017 represented the year where Customer Success grew up and out.
We saw new job roles and cross-functional strategies emerge. Companies invested more in Customer Success functions and new industries adopted customer-centric disciplines. Throughout the year, successful outcomes were delivered to millions of software users worldwide. Walt Disney once said, “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” Seeing how rapidly the field is growing, this couldn’t be truer about Customer Success. Here are seven trends you’ll be focusing on in 2018.
1. Customer Success will become a company-wide effort
In 2017, Customer Success shed its reputation as a siloed, customer-facing department and gained recognition as a business-wide discipline. As these cross-functional strategies continue to develop, this mindset will spread and organization-wide adoption of Customer Success will increase—from Sales to Marketing to Product and beyond. Convergence of Customer Success with sales costs, service portfolios, and service organization structures was a theme in 2017. In 2018 the theme of convergence will stay in the spotlight as companies experience the benefits of operating cross-functionally with the customer at the forefront.
2. Teammate success will take center stage
To keep up with the rapid growth of Customer Success, businesses in 2018 will have to make teammate success a priority. We are already seeing a rising trend in the amount of companies investing in further education for their team. In just five years, we’ve seen Pulse, our Customer Success conference, grow to include over 4,000 attendees (a 13x increase since 2013) and draw people from across the globe. This year we’re predicting record-breaking attendance and have seen an increased interest in local and international Customer Success industry events. 2018 will set the stage for the community to grow larger and smarter together.
3. CS teams will invest in Operations
Technology is key to scaling your Customer Success strategies efficiently. Companies that use these tools experience reduced churn, increased renewal rates, and improved customer experiences. Effective Customer Success tech stacks enable renewal management, upsell and cross-sell, customer marketing, reporting and analytics, incident management, and beyond. Just like in your Sales or Marketing department, it’s becoming apparent that an operations role is necessary to keep Customer Success programs up and running. The ROI is similar as well—having a dedicated operations role increases productivity and reduces the need for additional heads. In 2018, we’ll see this role become more deeply ingrained with Customer Success as a whole and hopefully become as necessary as its fellow department’s operations positions.
4. The growth of Advocacy and Customer Marketing
One well-known benefit of Customer Success is its ability to lower sales costs. Most recently, however, we’ve experienced that Customer Success is not just a means of saving money, but can act as a revenue generator. Customers represent three new leads: they can renew, they can expand, and they can become an advocate that brings in net new logos. This has become the cornerstone for the Customer Success use case and has been a well-received topic on our blog, social media, and during industry events. As more companies realize the benefits of this cross-functional application, the practice will continue to grow.
5. Companies will optimize their customer lifecycle
Journey mapping isn’t a new concept, but it’s gained a newfound importance as more and more companies adopt the recurring revenue model. As stated in our blog post, How to Map the Customer Journey with Engagement Models, “The goal is no longer to simply improve a certain aspect of the customer’s experience, but to closely monitor and actively manage every aspect of their journey. If done well, this will have a direct bottom-line financial impact for your company.”
The popularity of this post propelled it to the rank of the second most-read blog on our website. This strategy is important for growing companies that need to deliver consistently successful outcomes and will continue to be a trend in 2018.
6. On-Premise will get on board Customer Success
Customer Success and SaaS go hand-in-hand but while the cloud-based industry has been leading the initiative, on-premise businesses aren’t far behind. At the start of 2017, many on-premise companies did not yet offer a Customer Success program. The discipline is evolving and new strategies are emerging that solve the specific challenges the on-premise industry faces. For example, on-premise companies use Customer Success technology to streamline renewals, launch expansion, and create a single source of customer data. This trend is just taking off, so expect to see it grow in strides in 2018.
7. Customer Success will ensure Channel success
Channel partnership strategy is popular in many legacy and recurring-revenue businesses and both are realizing that the same strategies that drive Customer Success will drive overall channel success as well. Channel partnerships create a wider gap between the vendor and the customer, which can sometimes affect the customer experience negatively. Using thoughtful Customer Success strategy, vendors can create structured, consistent experiences for customers obtained through partner relationships. Customer Success that drives channel partnerships is developing quickly. 2018 will provide a landscape for the discipline to grow in complexity and popularity.
Did I miss anything? What trends are you seeing across the Customer Success universe? Let us know in the comments below! And subscribe to our blog to get the latest research on emerging best practices from around the industry.