I was facing problems I’m sure every Customer Success leader has had at one point or another. Our company was growing quickly, and we had a need for rapid knowledge acquisition that my own research just couldn’t satisfy.
I had tried Googling my questions, but all I could find were complicated, convoluted processes that were more work than they were worth. Our company was growing apart from our customers and their needs simply because there wasn’t a process in place to establish mutual milestones and KPIs.
I needed help creating a simple, repeatable and scalable customer experience process that would add value to our business, and more importantly, our customers.
SuccessCOACHING has solved the biggest thorn in my side (and many other smaller concerns as well).
Most notably, it helped me simplify our Success Planning process so we can constantly add more value to our customers.
This article will discuss:
How using SuccessPLANs can result in immediate and relevant feedback from customers
The power of establishing mutual milestones and KPIs with your customers
What SuccessPLANs can do to get everyone — your organization and your customers — on the same page
Easy steps to get started with SuccessPLANs at your organization
Sometimes it’s Better to Ask for Forgiveness
I didn’t make the case for taking the SuccessCOACHING Customer Success training course to our leadership before enrolling. After researching the course, I knew it was worth the investment. Not just for myself, but for our business. Our company’s core values (to name a few) are:
Make Things Happen
Because this Customer Success training course fell right within all three of these core values, I knew this was something I couldn’t wait to get permission for — I had to just go for it. I enrolled in the SuccessCOACHING course.
Too Good to be True?
After completing the SuccessCOACHING course on Success Plan Development, which features their unique SuccessPLAN-based approach, I spent four hours reviewing and re-reviewing what I had learned. I tried to add more process and information in an effort to make our customer plan more valuable, but I didn’t realize it was already as valuable as it needed to be.
I had all the information I needed right in front of me. I knew what the customer wanted, and I knew how to get it to them.
I looked at the SuccessPLAN in front of me and it was only one page long. I thought it was too good to be true. There had to be something missing from it, right?
If we could implement a plan this simple, we could consistently deliver success to our customers.
Why a (Simple) SuccessPLAN?
Before taking the course, I was facilitating a complicated non-process because I didn’t know another way to do it. Google articles gave me page after page of “essential” client-facing steps to take as a Customer Success Manager, and all it did was convolute our message.
But SuccessCOACHING gave us the SuccessPLAN Canvas, teaching me to keep my Success Plans simple, concise and measurable. And I’m never looking back. (In rail terms, we spiked the switch; once you spike, you never go back.)
All You Need In A Single Page
The SuccessPLAN Canvas is brilliant in its simplicity. It distills all important information for a client relationship into one page.
Limited by the simple parameters of a sheet of paper, I am now able to develop strategies that are clear, crisp and action-oriented.
It was the Perfect Solution
I wouldn’t get carried away and include too much information, and our customers would know what they needed and how we were addressing those needs without feeling overwhelmed.
Despite the SuccessPLANs brevity, it still manages to include all the major elements of a good Success Plan (milestones, success criteria, and KPIs).
What I found to be truly revolutionary was the fact that the latter two sections are entirely defined by the customer. This ensures that the customer is driving the partnership, all while giving the company a roadmap to make sure the customer feels listened to.
Creating Mutually Established Milestones and KPIs
In a client-facing role, nothing is more important than listening to your customer. This document helps us establish milestones together. When we are all aligned on our milestones, we reduce the noise.
Taking The Leap
Before using the SuccessPLAN, success looked distant and failure was high. This success planning approach made success tangible because we got immediate and relevant feedback from our customers.
I knew we needed to make this document our own, otherwise, it would never be widely adopted by our team. I worked with our branding team to create something really special and to be a part of our proactive engagement model.
I knew this would change our business for the better, so I took the leap and implemented it immediately.
Getting Tangible Results, Quickly
It hasn’t taken long for us to see tangible results of using this simple but powerful document.
We started by implementing it with seven of our highest-touch customers. We noticed an interesting difference between our high-health and low-health customers right away.
Customers we considered to be in “high-health” were requesting very different things of us than our “low-health” customers.
Our high-health customers required very advanced or business-oriented process requests, whereas our low-health customers had one-off problems. They were narrowly focusing in on problems that wouldn’t have a long-lasting impact on their business, as opposed to trying to solve long-standing problems inside their business.
This was an interesting discrepancy that SuccessPLANs were able to illuminate for us.
Providing Clarity and Keeping on Track
The SuccessPLANs have also given us the clarity we needed to solve this problem for our customers, enabling us to start our journey as a trusted advisor vs. just another vendor.
By providing focus. The SuccessPLANs helped us establish a journey alongside our customers to solve their most deeply felt pain points.
We’re more responsive to requests because we have clarity around our bigger picture and what our KPIs are, helping us and our customer stay on track.
We are more proactive and less reactive, and we have better relationships with our customers.
One-off Requests, While they Feel Urgent, are Usually Not
Before implementing the SuccessPLAN, we felt enslaved to these requests. Now, however, if the request doesn’t service their predetermined business objectives, we can point to our SuccessPLAN and politely reject the request.
It saves time, provides clarity, and adds value to our customer, giving them more bang for their buck.
During our quarterly business reviews (QBRs), I don’t walk into the room with a pitch anymore. All I do is dive into the SuccessPLAN and go through every single point with the entire company. That, to me, is more valuable than a presentation.
Aligning Internal Stakeholders
Not only that, but I uploaded our SuccessPLAN into Salesforce. Doing this prevents our SuccessPLAN from becoming a siloed document, solely used by the Customer Success department, and instead turns it into a document utilized across the company.
Having a shared Success Plan fosters a better relationship with internal stakeholders by aligning on Success Criteria and making it visible. This drives the next level of business process adoption as part of scalability.
This integration is crucial if you want to see success.
Don’t Ask Permission…Just Get Started.
This creative use of SuccessPLANs makes our team more creative, collaborative, and communicative. We can all stand to simplify our processes a little, can’t we? There are just a few straightforward steps to get started:
Identify a few customers you think would be open to experimenting with SuccessPLANs.
Try to implement it with a few healthy clients and a few less healthy clients.
At your next team check-in, take some time to establish KPIs and success criteria - together.
From there, identify a few milestones on the way to accomplishing those objectives.
I promise — this will provide you with clarity, which is the most valuable thing we can provide our customers and our businesses.
What are you waiting for?
The DO’s and DON’Ts of Implementing SuccessPLANs
DO keep it concise, simple and measurable. One page is perfect.
DON’T skip getting your customer’s input. This is a shared document that you need to agree upon so you’re both on the same page.
DO iterate. Try it first with a handful of client and then make adjustments as you learn what’s important to your organization and your customers.
DON’T forget to share this document internally. Having your organization on the same page is critical.
DO use the SuccessPLAN as the centerpiece of your QBR. There’s no need for a long presentation, saving you lots of work, and keeping the conversation focused.
About The Author
Chad Jasmin is the Vice President of Customer Success at Wi-Tronix, a technical solutions organization transforming rail through digital innovations. He built his career on his own terms, starting as a locomotive operator and working up through the ranks. Now, as head of Customer Success, Chad holds himself to a standard of excellence, while his deep industry expertise and passion for transformation continually drive the business forward for Wi-Tronix.