Customer Success in 2017: Trends that will shape the landscape, planning new targets, resolutions you should make – and keep

By Abby Hammer Newsletter

Fighting Churn Newsletter

Ready or not, here comes 2017!

As 2016 draws to a close, we want to help our readers gear up to kick their Customer Success to the next level in the coming year. This last Fighting Churn post before the new year is filled with insightful reads to help you plan and prepare for your most successful Customer Success year yet (say that 10 times fast).

From all of us at ChurnZero: Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! See you in 2017!

Churn Fighting Focus: Trends that will shape the Customer Success landscape in 2017

In 2016, Customer Success became more widely recognized as critical to company growth, particularly in the Age of the Customer. And as Customer Success has become integral to a company’s own success, the responsibilities of the CS team have changed significantly, exposing new opportunities for customer growth beyond what has traditionally been possible from Sales and Marketing alone. CS teams are increasingly responsible for driving revenue through all four major stages of the customer life cycle – adoption, retention, expansion and advocacy – but yet these teams still struggle to scale effectively and efficiently, develop proactive processes and deliver value at each stage.

Given this terrain, 2017 promises to be important year for Customer Success, a transitional time in which CS teams re-imagine their reactive roles as proactive ones and strive to efficiently scale effective processes, all while seeking to maintain the all-important personal touch that customers want and expect. This thoughtful post by OpenView Labs mined the recent State of Customer Success and Trends for 2017 survey to offer forward five key trends that will shape the major shifts for Customer Success in 2017.

We highly recommend taking the time to check out the full read, but here are the two trends that we found most exciting:

  • Better user intelligence will be important as teams aim to understand customer health, minimize churn and develop more proactive initiatives: Given that the central KPI for the Customer Success department is typically Churn Rate, it follows that CS teams reported that their second highest priority in 2017 – second to increasing feature/product adoption – will be to reduce customer churn (42% of respondents ranked reducing churn as their top priority and an equal number considered it a high priority for 2017). But as Open Labs points out, minimizing churn requires better visibility into customer health and user intelligence data: “Nearly 40% of customer success teams today say that gaining visibility into customer health metrics and user behaviors is the number one challenge to their overall strategy, but less than 20% intend to give top level priority to fixing these visibility issues for the coming year.” What does this mean for 2017? To be successful, CS teams can no longer be complacent with their lack of visibility into customer data. The most effective, impactful teams will make improving intelligence gathering a key goal early in the year.
  • Retention and expansion initiatives will be largely depending on whether or not CS teams can scale effectively using better technologies and developing smarter processes rather than increasing headcount: Technology is the clear choice for CS teams that are small and over-worked, helping them fill touchpoint gaps and effectively scale their customer growth initiatives. Yet OpenViews points out one big problem: “More than 50% of customer success teams are using multiple technologies – most often CRM, email clients, spreadsheets and Helpdesk – on a daily and weekly basis despite already feeling overburdened by their workloads. And even with these tools, customer journey shortcomings and a lack of actionable user intelligence persists.” What does this mean for 2017? The age of the dedicated CS software solution, a comprehensive tool that empowers CS teams to work more effectively and efficiently despite an ever-growing roster of new customers, has come. As OpenLabs puts it: “Scaling isn’t just about hiring new CS team members (although 73% of companies plan to do just that); it’s about learning to manage the customer experience efficiently and effectively without sacrificing the personal touch required to build customer relationships. […] It’s clear that CS teams need to trade generic communication and data-gathering tools like email and spreadsheets for tools specifically designed to provide long-term user intelligence, highly targeted engagements, comprehensive customer health metrics, and CRM integrations.”

Helpful Holiday Hint: If these trends excite you but you have no idea how your CS team will be able to tackle them, ChurnZero wants to help! ChurnZero is designed with modern Customer Success in mind, empowering teams deeply understand their customers, define and enact proactive initiatives, intelligently automate processes so teams can effectively scale and reliably predict and minimize churn. We would love to show you how we can help your team offer world-class Customer Success in 2017

Customer Success Around the Web

  • Planning for 2017 – making your Customer Success & checking it twice: It’s mid-December and CS teams everywhere are sprinting to cross the 2016 finish line strong, all while trying to prepare for new ambitious goals in 2017. If you are a CS leader, you’re likely finalizing your budget, refreshing KPIs and curating your “wish list” to share with the exec team. This read is here to assist with that effort by offering four key metrics to consider and a checklist to run across your mix of customers, all to help you get a fresh perspective on your 2017 targets. A valuable read for CS leaders who are in full-on planning mode.
  • Customer Success resolutions you should make – and keepNew Year’s is all about resolutions for the upcoming year, setting goals to be a more productive, powerful you in the next 12 months. And there’s no reason these goals should be only personal! This quick but smart read offers important resolutions for Customer Success teams to make – and not break! – in 2017, including selling on value instead of cost, driving big results with big data and building loyalty through adoption. An inspirational read to share during your first CS team meeting in 2017.
  • A look back at 2016 trend predictions for subscription businesses: At the beginning of 2016, Chargify published their Subscription Business Trends for 2016. As 2016 draws to a close, they take an interesting look back on the predictions they made (what was right, what was wrong) and also share some initial predictions for where subscription businesses are headed in 2017. A worthwhile read for all businesses with a subscription model.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom is actually the promise of future wisdom from Customer Success and Customer Experience professionals all across the world! As you plan your 2017 conference schedule, we highly recommend checking out this awesome list of conferences and events on Customer Success and the Customer Experience. ChurnZero will be at many of these events throughout the year – we hope to see you there!

Finally, we want to finish off 2016 with this thoughtful quote about personal success and ownership from Jason Lemkin, the found of SaaStr. We hope it inspires you in 2017 as much as it has inspired us.

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

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