It All Starts with Leadership Alignment Image

It All Starts with Leadership Alignment

By Martta Eicher Rabago

“C-suite alignment isn’t just a catch-phrase. It’s a real-life business challenge, and solving it may be the most critical thing you do on your way to success as a company.”

When Gainsight decided to create the eight-volume Executive Playbooks (Playbook #1 is now live), we were responding to a call from customers, partners, and the customer success community. As our industry matures, there is always something new to learn, and we are excited to share with the community some of our learnings.

Despite the growth in CS and the evidence of its benefits, there are still those who have not realized its value. While many companies understand the importance of customer success and have invested in technology to support the function, they’re still missing a key component of CS strategy: organization-wide alignment around the customer’s success. CS is evolving beyond a “function”. It is quickly becoming a top-to-bottom, company-wide mindset to help customers and businesses achieve their goals. Companies that do not embrace this mindset will watch other businesses thrive, while facing limited growth themselves. Where should you start? In the C-suite.

“A lot of organizations talk about alignment, but when it comes to Customer Success, you’ll fail if the entire company doesn’t rally around driving customer outcomes.”

Without C-suite alignment, it will not matter how many platforms the business invests in. CS is a belief system that opens the door for cross-company collaboration to achieve customer goals. While people want to relegate CS to a team or an organization, the reality is that customer success is the primary force behind driving customer outcomes. If leaders embrace that idea, they will increase net dollar retention (NDR), decrease churn and the cost of new logo.

The key to driving Executive alignment is understanding and utilizing the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role, and that is what you will find in Gainsight’s Eight Great Playbooks.

“To best understand and conceptualize how the CCO should optimally interact with Sales, you must remember that the CCO owns the entire customer journey.”

Does the CCO own the entire customer journey? Yes! Are you shocked? I hope not. Now, think of every part of that journey that needs attention. Make a list if you must. Once a new deal is signed, through onboarding, and hopefully full adoption and engagement, everything is owned by the CCO and their organization. They create the experience that continues the sales motion through to renewal and then onto expansion. The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) also plays a key role and has a significant impact on the sales motion. The CCO however influences Sales by the relationship and experience they create for the customer. But what about the relationship with Sales? Find out what the Playbooks say!

The CCO must, by necessity, have a very loud voice in demanding action from various departments. This force creates “healthy tension,” which any seasoned CEO will tell you is absolutely necessary for a company’s success.

Is tension in the workplace a good thing? HEALTHY tension is always a good thing.You have to remember that the CCO lives and breathes all things in the customer journey. As outlined in our Executive Playbooks, “the CCO should optimally interact with Sales,” and that there are several areas in which he or she must collaborate to be successful. What are they? Sell to the right customer, sell to the customer’s needs, and sell more services. But is only Sales responsible for the sales motion? If not, how do you accomplish that successfully? And who gets credit for that sale? Well, you will just have to read Gainsight’s Executive Playbooks to find out.

What about Product and Operations? What is their role in driving alignment and collaboration around the customer’s success? How do you create alignment, produce healthy tensions, and what are the details on its benefits? That is where Gainsight’s Executive Playbooks come into play.

Playbook #1 of the eight-volume Executive Playbooks is live! We will release the additional volumes soon to share insights and help you transform your leadership team’s approach to CS and align your entire company for growth. We’ve also launched a Webinar Series, Priorities and Playbooks for Customer Success: How to Drive Growth in the ‘Age of the Customer’, to dive deeper into these topics and give you a chance to ask any questions. Come join us!

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