Customer Success: The Secret to Growth During Economic Uncertainty

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Between the pandemic, supply chain nightmares, parts shortages, war, economic issues, and cybersecurity threats, a business in any industry could wake up on any morning to inconceivable forces hampering their growth. Customer success (CS) technology will be the difference between companies thriving in the new digital era where recurring revenue rules and businesses stuck with yesterday’s sales, marketing, and CRM programs supporting monolithic shelf-ware technologies.

The ability to grow now depends on loyal customers and not wasting time and money to find new clients during economic uncertainty. CS is the secret to unlocking this growth and not having to deal with the problems facing many businesses today: restructuring, slashing budgets, or freezing hiring.

How can businesses use CS to best position themselves for immediate and long-term growth amid today’s storm of challenges?

To answer this question, this first article of two will review how businesses weathered previous periods of major economic uncertainty, why the strategies and technologies that worked then will not work now, and the importance of CS and customer loyalty. In my second article, I will dive deeper into why composable customer success is the innovation that will protect customer bases while driving recurring revenue now and long into the future. Additionally, I will cover why shiny new technologies like the metaverse, web 3 or web 5, AI, and others fall short in positioning sustainable growth in this era.

The Great Recession Laid the Groundwork for the Cloud Era

In the late 2000s, businesses grappled with shrinking budgets, fewer employee resources to do more work, and saturation of legacy technologies coupled with the greater reliance on CRM, smartphones, e-commerce, and RFID solutions. While there was technology innovation during the recession, it was not enough for companies to attain strong growth and profitability in the next decade.

Seeing a void in the market, Jeff Bezos’s AWS served as the bridge between old-world technologies and customer engagement models to arguably the world’s first product-led growth (PLG) model. Bezos’s vision came at a pivotal moment in which companies were faced with complex economic challenges and found that their existing monolithic technology stacks offered no real solutions. Moving to the cloud became the right technology choice of the 2010s to help companies save money, maximize resources, and foster greater innovation to transform growth and customer relationships.

The rush to the cloud allowed smartphone and CRM products, which were the technologies that businesses turned to after the dot-com bubble burst, to continue without any reevaluation as to whether they were relevant in the cloud era. Toward the end of the last decade, it was clear that businesses and customers wanted more than the innovative technologies of the 2000s.

Yet somehow there are still companies on the wrong side of the road poised to continue making legacy technologies like traditional CRM and aligning sales processes their go-to strategy. This is happening at a time when the old-world customer type is rapidly losing influence on purchasing decisions. The new customer expects intelligent, fast, cloud-based, customized, and flexible products and services from every vendor they interact with.

Customer Success Powers a New Era of Growth and Loyalty

Besides the rapid transition of customer expectations in the COVID era towards digital-only interactions, another significant challenge facing businesses is not knowing how committed a client is to their technology. If a new CEO, sales exec, or IT or marketing leader is hired shortly after a client purchased a certain type of technology, a tech vendor quickly could find themselves replaced by a product the new executive already favors from their previous employer.

Yesteryear’s coffee meetups, in-office account reviews, and professional services check-ins have fallen by the wayside. This is another reason why it’s harder for sales and marketing leaders to understand how to protect and cultivate existing client relationships.

Solely focusing on winning new logos will not sustain growth. Just like how the old-world technologies and strategies of the 2000s helped lay the groundwork for the cloud to take off, the innovations of the 2010s have set the table for the next generation of technologies and services that are being built with a digital-first global economy in mind and a focus on recurring revenue.

Companies must stop burning dollars on lead generation campaigns and high-touch sales to woo execs without any guarantee of ROI. Instead, they should rely on easily customizable CS solutions to unite entire companies around strengthening loyalty and identifying new areas of predictable and scalable growth from existing client relationships.

For companies that want predictable growth today, customer loyalty is paramount—which is why the 2020s are fast becoming the decade of customer success. Customer success is the best way to unite every part of your company and deliver value at every point of customer interaction (onboarding, training, marketing, etc.) to ensure outstanding outcomes throughout their journey.

Yes, businesses need the foundation of the cloud, but having a holistic customer success program that includes flexible technology will propel companies forward. In my next article I’ll explore the differences between composable CS and today’s trendy technologies, and also bust the myth that professional services are required to realize the benefits of customer success technology.

Guy Nirpaz is the founder and CEO of Totango.