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Customer Success Predictions for 2015

2014 has come to an end and it’s amazing to look back and see the phenomenal growth we experienced in the customer success industry last year. Working with hundreds of SaaS companies, I personally saw customer success elevated as a top priority, not only at the departmental level but also at the board and executive levels.

Last year we saw Salesforce throw its hat in the ring and coverage from top-tier analyst firms like Forrester, all pointing to the emergence of Customer Success as a critical philosophy and discipline within SaaS organizations. The continued growth of SaaS offerings in what have long been considered “traditional software” markets — as well as the transformation that software is bringing about in “non-software” industries — has further expanded the relevance and reach of Customer Success.

As we kick off 2015, I see Customer Success truly coming into its own. Here are my top 3 predictions for the coming year:

More priority given to existing customers

The statistics around customer retention have been widely touted. Gartner suggests 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of their existing customers. Despite this well known argument, in our recent SaaS Metrics Report we found that most SaaS companies still prioritize new customer acquisition over customer retention. On the positive side, the same study suggests that in 2015 more companies will start focusing on metrics around customer retention including customer lifetime value, revenue per user, product adoption, and customer health.

Executive standing on par with both sales and marketing

We’re excited about the growth we’ve seen in customer success over the last couple of years, and I think 2015 is the year it will take its rightful place at the executive table — on par with both sales and marketing — as a key driver for the business. While customer success still sits within many different departments inside the organization, even more companies are choosing to have a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) reporting directly to the CEO and I see this trend picking up momentum next year.

Customer success as more than just a function

Next year I think we’ll see another interesting and ground-breaking shift: customer success beginning to move outside its departmental boundary. With this shift, we’ll see a broader adoption of the customer success philosophy throughout the entire organization, touching all customer-facing functions including marketing, sales, and customer support. The way we do business and engage with customers has fundamentally changed, requiring a transformation across the entire organization. Understanding how customers are interacting with a product or service as well as what is needed to drive their success will become a critical element that all parts of the organization will begin to leverage.

As one of the earliest proponents of customer success, we at Totango are thrilled with the incredible growth we’ve seen in the industry over the past five years. We look to 2015 with even more excitement and can’t wait to see where this growth will take us. To kick off the year, we’ll be hosting our 3rd Annual Customer Success Summit, bringing together hundreds of customer success professionals — along with their colleagues from sales, marketing, customer support, operations, and product/technology — to discuss best practices that will help define the industry moving forward. No matter whether you’ve been doing customer success for years or are just getting started, we hope you’ll join us March 23-24 in San Francisco for the customer success  event of the year.

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Guy Nirpaz

Guy Nirpaz is a Silicon Valley-based Israeli entrepreneur and CEO of Totango, a Customer Success software platform. A pioneer in the Customer Success field, Guy established the Customer Success Summit and is a well-regarded industry speaker and community contributor. Guy loves people and technology and has dedicated his career to improving the way in which business is done through innovation. Fun Facts: Guy moonlights as the lead guitarist in a rock band based out of his garage in Palo Alto and used to command a tank battalion...as well as having grown oranges.

  • Regarding the prediction that “customer success as more than just a function” it reminded me of an executive offsite meeting I attended many years ago….on the morning of the first day, we did introductions. People went around the room and said, “I’m Bill from Marketing” or “I’m Janet from Operations” etc. We all listed our function. The Head of Engineering introduced himself, “I’m Hartley and I’m in Customer Service.”

    Making the point that we were all in customer service. That we should think of ourselves, no matter what our role, as doing work that helps customers.

    If we are truly going to help our customers achieve outcomes, we need to keep striving to think of ourselves as “in customer success.”

    • Guy Nirpaz

      Totally agree! Customer success has to be a top down mandate for the entire organization, not just the responsibility of one organization. A lot of companies get this today but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

  • Regarding the prediction that “customer success as more than just a function” it reminded me of an executive offsite meeting I attended many years ago….on the morning of the first day, we did introductions. People went around the room and said, “I’m Bill from Marketing” or “I’m Janet from Operations” etc. We all listed our function. The Head of Engineering introduced himself, “I’m Hartley and I’m in Customer Service.”

    Making the point that we were all in customer service. That we should think of ourselves, no matter what our role, as doing work that helps customers.

    If we are truly going to help our customers achieve outcomes, we need to keep striving to think of ourselves as “in customer success.”

    • Guy Nirpaz

      Totally agree! Customer success has to be a top down mandate for the entire organization, not just the responsibility of one organization. A lot of companies get this today but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

  • I like the predictions and evolutions of customer success as a company mind set.

    • Guy Nirpaz

      It’s got to happen, companies will only get so far if they rely on one department to drive customer success. The CEO making it a priority across the whole organization is the best way to go.

  • I like the predictions and evolutions of customer success as a company mind set.

    • Guy Nirpaz

      It’s got to happen, companies will only get so far if they rely on one department to drive customer success. The CEO making it a priority across the whole organization is the best way to go.

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