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3 Things You Might Be Getting Dead Wrong About Customer Success


I get it: if you read another article, book or heck, even see a billboard or some window lettering telling you that you need to make customers successful, then you’re going to unplug, pack it in, and head to some sunny island where the only web people know about are the kind spiders weave.

Yes, you know that enabling customer success is important. You also know that the sun is hot, water is wet, and a host of other fundamental truths, essentials and axioms. And so, what makes this attempt any different?

It’s this: although you know that generating customer success is critical, there’s a good chance that despite your best efforts and strategic investments, you may actually be generating a fair amount of customer misery. Here are three causes of this lose-lose scenario and all-around misery:

1. You think customer success and customer happiness are synonymous.

Customer success can be objectively defined, strategically driven and qualitatively measured. But customer happiness isn’t any of those things. It’s a subjective perception that can be based on something as abstract or fickle as mood. In short: while you obviously want your customers to be happy, you absolutely need them to be successful. Focus your efforts, resources and investments towards the latter, and the former will take care of itself.

2. You think that the customer is always right.

I know that it’s sacrilegious to suggest that customers aren’t always right, but anyone who has worked a day in sales or service knows that this simply isn’t the case. What’s more, intelligent and self-aware customers will, themselves, gladly admit that they aren’t always right, and that they don’t need or want to be. Their job is to be a customer. Not to pass a test.

The moral to this story is simply that trying to appease all customers, all of the time, can be an exercise in frustration — and ultimately, in futility. You need to be professional, considerate and diplomatic — but at the same time, willing to draw the line and say: “Sorry Mr. or Miss Customer, but I’m afraid we can’t do that, and here’s why…”

3. You’re basing customer success strategies on gut feels.

Instinct definitely has its place in the business world, and sometimes the numbers don’t tell the full story. But often they do, and customer success is indeed one of these cases. As such, if you aren’t capturing the right metrics (and in the right way using the right tools), then despite your best efforts you don’t, can’t and won’t know who your best customers are, what makes them successful, and how to close any gaps between what they want and what you deliver. Instead, you’ll be forced to guestimate. That’s fine if you’re picking your NCAA March Madness bracket. It’s not fine when you’re leading a business.

The Bottom Line.

If you’re guilty of one, two or all three of the transgressions described above: don’t feel bad. Many businesses — including some really big ones that have been around for decades — are missing the customer success boat by a wide margin. The good news, however, is that turning things around is probably easier, faster and cheaper than you imagine (or fear). With the right strategies and resources, you’ll be well on your way to generating successful customer, and elevating your successful business!


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