Customer Success Management (CSM), at its core, is about ensuring that our customers thrive, and it centers on accelerating time to value at each stage in the relationship lifecycle (Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew). As sellers, the importance of integrating a CSM practice cannot be underestimated in today’s subscription economy. But the shift to becoming truly CSM centric isn’t easy, no matter what size your organization might be. It involves developing a charter and bringing together the right people, process, analytics and more.

Each partner is understandably at a different stage in their transition to CSM, and my question to you today is, how would you rate your progress? Are you just getting started or is your program already operating at full throttle? If you’re wondering how your initiatives stack up, take a look at the progression chart below, which is based on information published by the CS experts at TSIA. Before you get started, sign up for our May 16 webinar, “Understanding the Customer Experience.” TSIA will be joining us to explore the CSM maturity framework in greater detail and discuss how partners can benefit.

The Journey to Customer Success Management Maturity

  • Phase 1 (Discovery) – This is the initial phase of building a customer success practice as you pivot away from point sales and toward a recurring revenue sales model. It is here that you will define what customer success is for your business and how it can be executed in the early stages before a formal CS team or plan is in place.
  • Phase 2 (Pilot) – Customer success is embraced as a theme and a formal program is being established. Typically, a customer experience leader is assigned, but he/she may still have responsibilities across other parts of the organization. Customer success costs are likely covered by project-based funding, and you will begin collecting limited information and data insights. Your CS team may even start to survey customers or use Net Promoter Scores or other measurement tools to benchmark customer satisfaction, loyalty levels and more.
  • Phase 3 (Organizational Execution) – Low-adoption collection of information is automated, and best practice customer success activities may exist. (For example: customer journey maps, quarterly business reviews and/or formal onboarding programs.) A team is typically in place to support these processes although it is often reactive in nature. The team is frequently established as an extension of your organization’s support or sales and marketing disciplines.
  • Phase 4 (Maturity) – At this stage of your CS practice, multiple or all charters of customer success are enacted across adoption, retention and expansion motions. Customer engagement activities are highly automated, monitored and prescribed. Workflows are aligned to value-, event- and time-based triggers. There is a very proactive CS team in place, driven by a formal customer success organization with C-level authority and responsibilities. At this phase, customer success is a critical business objective shared across the organization.

Navigating Your Progression to CS Maturity

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said it best: the only thing that is constant is change. Leaders in their respective markets are those that possess the ability to recognize and adapt to change, thus seizing the opportunities that change presents. In the subscription economy, your business success is intimately tied to that of your customers – so investing in a CSM practice is win-win into the foreseeable future.

At Cisco, our future is driven by the success that you and your customers achieve. It is our hope that with a deeper understanding of your own progression towards CSM maturity, you can more effectively advance your efforts, form tighter relationships, align technology with value realization and uncover new opportunities for growth.

Learn More

Join us on May 16th at 2pm EST for our next Customer Success Talk webinar: Understanding the Customer Experience.


Ed Daly

Senior Director

Global Customer Success