According to the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, four of the top 10 incumbents within their industries will be displaced in the next five years. There’s no question that a customer loss of any kind can have a huge revenue impact on your business, and with odds like that, it’s definitely time to pay close attention to what drives customer retention.

And while it can still be said that establishing meaningful customer relationships begins with the sales organization, today, more than ever, customer retention is driven by the ability to ensure that the product or service investments your customers have made will deliver the business outcomes they signed up for.

That’s no simple task, and it’s a big reason why Customer Success practices are becoming more and more commonplace in the world’s leading businesses. But, the truth is, just pulling together a Customer Success practice isn’t enough. Making it work and getting the most out of the initiative will require a full-on cultural revolution within your organization.

As we all know, each and every touch point throughout the customer lifecycle – from the land and adopt, to expand and renew phases – can leave a positive or a negative impression on the customer. Whether the touch point involves the buyer, the “user” or the C-suite executive within the customer organization, your entire staff must have a Customer Success mindset of helping them realize their goals, both short- and long-term.

To help make that mindset a reality at your company, take a look at these five strategies for creating a culture of customer success (developed based on insight from our friends at Gainsight):

  1. Make your Customer Success organization a priority with VP-level leadership– The goals of your Customer Success organization should weigh as heavily as those of sales, marketing and engineering, and it deserves on-par leadership at the helm. Investments in the right people, processes and technology can help organizations yield the best Customer Success outcomes.
  2. Promote Customer Success as an organizational value – Virtually every line of business will interact with the customer at various points in its lifecycle, and each of these encounters have the ability to influence Customer Success, for better or for worse. By ensuring that every employee understands what Customer Success means to the organization as well as to his or her individual role, your company can foster a culture centered on helping your customers succeed.
  3. Hire with Customer Success in mind – Institutionalize the importance of Customer Success within your hiring practices. Consider the skill sets necessary to help your customers succeed when hiring across different departments, as well as the temperament, interpersonal, presentation and problem-solving skills required by all your customer-facing personnel.
  4. Understand your customers’ desired business outcomes: Deriving value from your service or solution is the ultimate facilitator of Customer Success. Identify your logical customer segments (by vertical industry, size, use case, revenue potential, etc.) and understand the unique business outcome(s) that each customer is seeking to achieve.  These metrics will help your organization create more effective content, processes and interactions designed to help customers achieve their objectives.
  5. Hold Customer Success architects accountable: Consider Customer Success goals and quotas when developing compensation plans, particularly for any job function that is intimately tied to Customer Success management. Clearly define retention, renewal and upsell goals, and ensure that performance is evaluated against these benchmarks, either individually, as an organization or even company-wide. Reward and promote personal achievements, and take the opportunity to learn from lost opportunities and re-adjust accordingly.

Customer Success is as much a culmination of the experiences a customer has with your organization, as it is the ability to realize value from your product or service. It’s time to recognize that our people, our approaches and our culture are just as critical to Customer Success outcomes as the solutions we sell and the business problems we solve.

Want to learn more about building a culture of customer success within your organization?  


Ed Daly

Senior Director

Global Customer Success