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Hot Take: Happiness Shouldn't Be Tied To Revenue

Customer happiness is important, but it's not the only success factor.
Courtney Gould
August 31, 2021

What comes to mind when we think of customers and their success?

For someone not familiar with Customer Success in the traditional SaaS business model, one might think that “happiness” alone would be enough to ensure successful customers. However, that is far from the truth. My inspiration for this post comes from an episode of NPS I Love You, where they interviewed CS thought leader Emily Garza.  

In a separate article that Garza wrote, she said, “While there are still a range of reasons why a company may create a customer success organization, there is a widely held focus on the idea of achieving and maintaining customer happiness.”

While building and nurturing meaningful relationships is a key aspect of any customer-oriented role, it is NOT the deciding factor when it comes to customer commitment, and whether or not that customer will re-invest or renew subscription service contracts with a particular business. It is imperative to re-classify the almighty “happiness” metric and what it means for business and customers. Happiness comes second in building relationships with Customer Success.

Knowing Your Customer’s Goals and Outcomes

So, if happiness is the secondary concern, what’s the primary?

I interviewed Mike Sasaki, VP of Customer Success for Mitek Systems, and he said something very much in line with this subject. “A customer can hate me as a person, but if they are successful and are obtaining value, they are not going to churn.”

Thus your primary concern should be knowing your customer’s goals and their outcomes. Make sure your product drives value and makes a significant impact to their current and future business. What is their return on investing with your company? Are they saving money? Are they expanding their business? Are they increasing productivity and efficiency? How are you helping to alleviate some of their problems and pain points? Are they successful or not? How can they be more successful

Align to Numbers

Customers want to see the numbers. They love revenue metrics, and rightfully so. They want to see similar use cases, scenarios, and valuation.  How did this similar company increase ROI? What did they do? When did they do it?

Bottom line: understand your customer goals. Dig deep, ask relevant questions, do your research, and never make assumptions. When it comes time to renew, show the metrics and correlation the customer is achieving relative to your offering. You have to prove the value, show the outcome, and highlight the success before a customer is willing to fork over more money, regardless of happiness and finding common ground.

While aiming to make a customer happy in building the relationship is certainly an important piece of the solution, it is not everything. You won’t go far unless you have a solution or value proposition to add to the mix. While topics such as sports, recreation, and hobbies are great conversation pieces, you must always be thinking of value-building at the forefront of every customer interaction.

How you manage revenue and relationships determines whether a customer will stay and grow with you or seek other options. The next time a CSM says “my customers are happy,” think about how you can truly justify that comment. Are they engaging with you and the product? Do you know their business outcomes? Have you revisited their success plans frequently? Is it necessary to initiate change management principles?

Look at their revenue data, and have comparable measures. Work to be in constant alignment with the customer. Things change frequently, and be ready for all the unexpected “twists” that can arise.

Customer Happiness is Ongoing

It’s the cumulative effort over time that increases the level of loyalty, and therefore, increases the value of the relationship. It’s ensuring that needs are met consistently. Quantitative metrics combined with customer experience is the winning recipe for expanding revenue and ensuring Customer Success.

The lifetime value of someone emotionally engaged with your brand is more than twice that of a highly satisfied customer.  It’s true, happy customers buy more from your company. They advocate for you, and tell everyone about their positive experiences with your company.

Keep them happy and make them successful.

Courtney Gould is a former Technical Account Manager with Boeing Digital Solutions who is currently seeking her next role in Customer Success. She is passionate about continual learning, and fosters a growth mindset.

Better relationships. Less churn.

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