I developed the ideas under the banner CS2.0 because I felt most SaaS companies were using old approaches to fill gaps caused by products that fail to deliver successful customer outcomes. I still do. I believe that product-led customer success is the only way to build truly scaleable customer success. New technologies, notably machine learning and artificial intelligence are beginning to take the automation of data-driven, context rich 1:1 interactions to another level. Such intelligent, automated interventions will solve many of the issues arising from product use without human intervention.
The CS luddites argue that technology will not support this degree of automation. Well it can today and it will with ease within the next two to five years. The problem with making interventions effective today rests mainly with companies failure to build a sufficiently rich customer data set. Context rich interventions require a comprehensive data set covering product usage, sentiment, transactions and, most importantly, desired outcome data.
The same people also argue that this product based approach will eliminate the need for CSMs. Yes it will; at least in the form most exist today. Eliminate them altogether? I think not. Let me explain why.
Most customers fail to achieve value from the applications they purchase not because the software doesn’t work but because their processes and knowledge are lacking. It’s them; not you. This doesn’t help you however. They have not achieved their objectives: their investment has not generated the return on investment you promised. Cancellation is the outcome.
To ensure the customer achieves their desired outcome, CS has to encompass business coaching: analysing the customer’s context and capabilities as well as their goals and then guiding them through the process improvements that are needed to exploit best your software. Some companies already have these roles but typically charge for them under the heading ‘professional services’. I believe that as the performance economy drives us to a pay for results regime, the role of the business coach will have to be bundled into the service and the pricing. Not getting the customer to success will mean not getting paid! I will expand on this idea in a future blog.
So instead of replacing CSM’s, CS2.0 elevates their role and skillset; that is until AI develops to take on this role also!