How to Build the Business Case for Customer Success


Our increasingly customer-centric economy has established Customer Success as critical to every business’s overall strategy. Any CS team member knows that happy customers make for a thriving enterprise, but the same cannot always be said for C-level executives or your board of directors. Demonstrating the value of Customer Success to executives is crucial. So how do you do build the business case for customer success?

Start by considering what’s most important to your executives. Just as you need to understand your customers to market to them effectively, you need to know what your executives’ top priorities are in order to better communicate with them.

Determining Your Customer Success Presentation’s Focus

With different roles come different responsibilities and goals. Keep the priorities of the people to whom you are speaking in mind when presenting your business case for customer success and choosing what types of data to share during your presentation.

For CEOs:Emphasize programs and their results, especially financial results.
For CFOs:Emphasize financial KPIs and trends.
For VP Sales:Emphasize case studies, references, and expansion revenue data.

Another option is to organize your presentation by topic category. You can easily do that with any presentation maker tool. This allows you to more comprehensively address a specific company goal or area of interest.

Increasing Organic Growth:Emphasize retention rate, expansion rate, and customer health.
Increasing Customer Centricity:Emphasize Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) data, and community data.
Improving Margin/Efficiency:Emphasize Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) to Customer Success Manager (CSM) Ratio, account coverage, and time spent on onboarding.

 The people you are speaking to and the focus of your meeting will help determine what type of data to include in your presentation. Once that is decided, you will need to decide which specific metrics will be most valuable to discuss within that context.

KPIs to Share With Executives

Ultimately, executives care about results. They want to know what is working and how well it is working. Most of all, they want to know that the resources being spent on Customer Success initiatives are being put to their best possible use.

In terms of your leadership’s priorities, consider the following when putting together your presentation:

 Things Your Executives Want to Know:KPI Focus:
Financial Metrics●      Are we hitting our financial goals?

●      What is our forecast for our financial goals?

●      Are we being efficient?

●      Churn Rate

●      Expansion Opportunities

Onboarding Metrics●      Are we meeting our implementation timeline goals?

●      Are we providing an excellent onboarding experience?

●      What is the quality of our onboarding process?

●      Time in Onboarding

●      High CSAT Score

Adoption Metrics●      Are customers utilizing our product?

●      Are they using the most important features?

●      Depth and frequency of use

●      Use of sticky features

Escalation Metrics●      How many escalations do we currently have?

●      How much money is at risk?

●      What are the main reasons for escalations?

●      Status of accounts

●      Reasons for escalation

Voice of Customer (VOC) Metrics●      Are customers happy with our products? Are they happy with our services?

●      What are the main reasons for satisfaction/dissatisfaction?

●      Survey feedback

●      References

Sharing data with your executives is how you demonstrate CS is important for your enterprise’s success—but sifting through the noise to pick out only the most valuable data is key to driving the point home. Which of the above data you will include in your presentation and which you will emphasize depends both on your audience and the specific goals you (and they) are working toward. How you present that data also matters.

Best Practices for CS Reporting to Executives

Presenting your Customer Success data well is important, especially if your presentation will include something like a proposal to change strategies or allocate more resources to the CS department. Throwing raw data at your executives is simply not as effective as presenting a rational business case for customer success with a logical flow that keeps your audience engaged from start to finish.

Some tips for presenting CS data to executives:

  • Lead with KPIs. Begin your presentation by establishing the current status of your accounts. Share the data you have established as the most pertinent for your presentation (and your audience).
  • Highlight trends. While the “now” is important, showing your executives patterns over time helps them understand current data in the context of where you started—and where you may be headed next.
  • Keep your presentation goals-oriented. Are you on track to reach your current goals? Do goals or strategies need to be adjusted? Why? Consider including information on what your areas of improvement are, or what you have recently learned that can be used to drive positive change.
  • What are our current processes? What are we doing, and what have we stopped doing? Your executives often operate from a 30,000-foot perspective; this information helps them reconnect with the reality of what your current CS operations look like.
  • Clearly state your requests. Ultimately, your presentation has a purpose—generally, to ask your executives to take some sort of action. Be sure they know exactly what you would like them to do, or what they can do to help.
  • Consider who to include in your presentation. In some cases, it may just be you. But in others, it may be wise (or even necessary) to ask other members of the leadership team, such as the CSM, to take part as well.

Something else to consider: what type of communication is taking place? Is this an in-person meeting, a conference call, an online chat? Different environments create different opportunities and require a unique approach.

A live dashboard:Gives your executives easy access to the main CS KPIs
E-team meetings:Should focus on sharing results, forecasts, and challenges
Weekly/monthly reports:Should include the following:

●      CS insights on the main KPIs

●      Status of important accounts and escalations

●      Main programs that you are running

●      Customer feedback

One-on-one meetings:Are ideal for drilling down into specific metrics and letting specific executives know how they, particularly, can help or contribute
Monthly learning meetings:Are a good time to dive deeper into analyzing data on churn, escalations, and successes. They are also a great place to discuss and strategize inter-team collaborations
Customer “show and tell”:Allows your executives a window into your customers’ point of view through directly shared customer feedback

Demonstrating the Value of Customer Success to Executives

Being able to effectively demonstrate the value of Customer Success to your executives helps you garner the upper-level support you need to make progress, both individually and as a team. It also allows you to:

  • Simplify the complexity of Customer Success for your executives by grounding your CS strategies and goals in concrete data
  • Obtain well-earned recognition for the contributions you and your team make to the overall success of your enterprise through your CS accomplishments
  • Eliminate surprises, especially unhappy ones, for your executives through forecasting based on past and current trends
  • Reconnect your executives to your customers through sharing feedback and satisfaction data
  • Show your executives how their actions impact customer results
  • Increase overall customer-centricity within your enterprise
  • Encourage collaboration between teams
  • Improve products and processes by using customer feedback and CS data to drive innovation
  • Improve the financial performance of your company by better supporting your customers’ success

In order to do all of this, it is critical to be able to gather, organize, analyze, and share relevant, up-to-date data effectively. You need to be able to easily access the right data at the right time and share it with the right people—and you need to be able to share it in a way that clearly demonstrates value. Robust Customer Success technology can provide the high level of support and functionality you and your team need to succeed so that your customers—and your company—can likewise enjoy success.

Totango’s leading-edge Customer Success platform has been helping CS teams connect with C-level executives to strategize for success for over a decade. Request a Demo to try our innovative solutions out for yourself, or explore Spark to learn more about how our technology works.

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