An Improved Prescriptive Framework for Cross-Functional Customer Success Image

An Improved Prescriptive Framework for Cross-Functional Customer Success

The most terrible response can be silence.

In 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that it was awarding the year’s Nobel Prize in literature to Bob Dylan. The world turned expectantly (and reasonably) to the musician for a statement, and for that satisfying feeling you get from hearing a person warmly express their gratitude. Instead, he gave us a solid reminder of just how eccentric he is: he said nothing (at least not immediately).

Think, though, of the message that it sent of his opinion of the Nobel Prize. Think of how easy it is to ignore an idea, that Bob Dylan was able to ignore the whole world.

In May 2018, we released the Periodic Table of Customer Success Elements. It's a prescriptive framework for how companies should be thinking about customer success cross-functionally. If you're not familiar with the Elements, you can read all about the "why" behind them here. We were hoping not to hear silence, and they have reverberated throughout our organization and our conversations with our customers. The feedback, though, hasn’t just been thanks and success stories—it’s been better: it’s been requests to change the Elements.

And that's what we've done. We're proud to announce we've made some changes to the Elements that we believe will help solve the issues you've raised. Say hello to the new, improved Periodic Table of Customer Success Elements.

New Elements

What's new with Elements

The most important thing we did was to delete an Element: Tech Touch (Tt). When you're working to map the customer success programs you want to create or improve, your job is hard enough, and ambiguity doesn't help. Tt, though, constantly added confusion. Questions came in from across our Customer Success and Sales teams: if I want to send a welcome email to my customers, is that Tt or Lifecycle Management (Lm)? If I want to automatically process auto-renewals, should I look to Tt or Renewals Management (Rm) to have the workflows and reporting that I need? And so on. Now, we've removed Tt, and leave each independent Element to have tech-touch recommendations built in right alongside high-touch and mid-touch, so you can choose the right path for each customer segment.

The other changes we've made are a bit more incremental, but no less important and no less driven by your feedback.

Introducing Ch and Cx: the Customer Health and Experience Management Elements

Customer Health was always a top business priority and impossible to find. We've centralized it in one Element, pulling in portions of both the old Customer Experience (Cx) Element and the now-sunsetted Customer Outcomes (Co) Element. We've refined it down to a purpose-built Customer Health (Ch) Element. Furthermore, to seek out and react to individual customers’ experiences, we created Experience Management (Cx). We think this better reflects how teams are thinking about both Customer Health and Customer Experience.

Advocate Engagement (Ae) is a Transformation Element

Previously, the Advocate Engagement (Ae) Element was in the Outcomes category. But through your feedback, we learned that it was more aligned with an organization systematically building cross-functional workflows. To us, that's what the Transformation Elements are all about: companies that have taken true customer success to all teams. Engaging with advocates at scale involves CSM, Marketing, Sales, Services—it may not even be a workflow "owned" by post-sales teams or leaders. Therefore, Ae is now in the Transformation category.

Goodbye Company Success (Cs) Element

Company Success (Cs), on the other hand, was too cross-functional and aspirational for most customer success organizations. It was trying to convey such a grand idea that it wasn’t tactically useful. Instead, we’ll use other Elements to call out the specific ways that customer success can be infused into teams across the organization.

Will There Be More Changes Coming?

We obviously believe the Elements are here to stay, but they'll always be improving. Just like scientists are always on the lookout for the newest element to add to the actual periodic table (hello, Nihonium, Moscovium, and Oganesson!), we're always going to be iterating and improving our table of Customer Success Elements too.

So please send us your ideas and feedback! Feel free to leave a comment below, or reach out to us at hello@gainsight.com with your suggestions.

Picture of Seth Wylie
Seth Wylie Principal, Customer Success Operations Principal, Customer Success Operations

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