Insight

Customer Experience vs Customer Success

by Kevin Almond

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Customer Experience vs Customer Success: What's the difference and why are they so important?  

These may be new words and concepts to some, but Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Success (CS) have been around for much longer than people realise. The differences between the two are detailed below:   

  • Customer Experience Definition - the perception and feeling someone (the customer) has about a brand or organisation, which has been brought about through a positive or negative experience. It also defines to the supplier's employees what they expect a customer's experience to be and what behaviours will make this a positive outcome.  
  • Customer Success Definition - is the methodology that drives the processes focused on delivering positive business outcomes, exceptional customer experiences and developing long-lasting relationships. 

But what do these words mean for Forfsuion customers? Why is focusing on customer experience and customer success so important? The phrase "actions speak louder than words" springs to mind.

Customer success is our mission.

A significant focus of customer success at Forfusion is ensuring that the business outcomes our customers are striving to achieve are at the core of their Customer Success Plan; this plan is then used to track their customer success metrics. Without a plan, the whole customer experience journey could be anything other than a positive one. Worse still, the customers business objectives could be hampered and the expected outcomes not realised. 

Early planning sessions document and agree on the current business objectives customer has previously defined and the expected business outcomes they expect to see at the end of the engagement. It is essential that in these early planning stages, as many of the customer's key stakeholders are involved as possible, ensuring complete buy-in to the intent of the Customer Success Plan from the customer's side. A traditional sales model would see the contact between customer and supplier reduce after the initial sales transaction. The focus in customer success is to maintain contact and take the customer on a journey through what is an evolving customer experience lifecycle.   

This journey would see the customer guided through the lifecycle stages by their Customer Success Manager (CSM), who is assigned as the point of contact post-sale. Throughout the customer success journey, reference is constantly made to the progress stages recorded within the Customer Success Plan and all parties share this document for reference.  

The major stages a customer will pass through on their customer success journey are detailed below. Whilst there are many vendor aligned and industry-defined customer success models, we've simplified for ease of understanding:  

  • Onboard – start of process post-sales completion, customer kick-off meeting, set expectations and implementation plan definition.
  • Adoption  install and integration of the new solution or service into the customer's infrastructure, ensuring that all levels of the business have embraced the solution and are actively using it without issue.
  • Expansion  help with the exploration of technology enhancements and add-ons that will add further business value to the customer. 
  • Renewal  as the technology, service or subscription has met its objectives and helped realise the expected business value, a renewal process is instigated to continue the value delivered.  

At Forfusion, we have an adapted lifecycle model that applies our own take on what we expect a customer success engagement to look like and to uniquely represent what our customers can expect from us throughout the various stages.

Forfusion Customer Success Lifecylce Model

An important thing to remember with regards to the Customer Success Plan is that it not only records the defined business objectives, expected outcomes and where the customer is currently on their customer success journey, but it is the complete repository for all the defined mechanisms for measurement across the whole customer success journey. As such, the plan contains:  

  • Customer set Key Performance Indicator's (KPI's) 
  • Customers defined Milestones 
  • Any bespoke and agreed customer success metrics for measurement  

Working with a customer and focusing on that customer's own set of objectives as well as their business outcomes, the Customer Success Manager will ensure that several areas of value are realised from the technology, services and subscriptions purchased by the time the customer has completed the 'Adoption' stage of their journey. From a high-level those value areas are: 

  • Cost reduction 
  • Increased efficiency 
  • Minimise any risk 
  • Enable growth 

If value isn't realised as expected from the purchase. Then the customer will not have a good customer experience and is less likely to have a long-lasting relationship with the supplier or even complete the customer success journey fully.  

Ensuring that the customer has a positive experience at every stage of their lifecycle journey with Forfusion will enable them to realise their desired business outcomes. These outcomes were pre-defined and discussed as part of their customer success strategy at the beginning of their engagement with Forfusion and recorded in their Customer Success Plan.  

Helping our customers succeed and be profitable is a joint and collaborative effort throughout their customer journey. With that success comes long-standing relationships built not just on trust but on demonstrated and measurable business value, which has been achieved in the shortest time possible.  

Working closely with you on your customer experience journey has the added benefit of your Customer Success Manager being as close to your business as your own employees. The Customer Success Manager then has the same focus and drive to deliver against your customer set business objectives as they do, so whilst there may be two parties involved, we have one common goal – customer success.  

Not all customers want or expect daily contact with their Customer Success Manager. Therefore, Forfusion offers multiple models of engagement for the customer success journey. These are always tailored with the specific end customer in mind and recorded in the Customer Success Plan. So, we can accommodate a broad spectrum of customer demographics; we have high touch, low touch, or digital touch methods available. Thus, ensuring communications are always current and relevant, meeting the customer's needs throughout their customer experience journey.  

A quarterly customer success review is undertaken for longer-term customer engagements where progress, KPI's and milestone achievements are discussed with the customer's key stakeholders. This review is also an excellent opportunity to discuss relevant customer journey stages regarding expansion and renewal depending on the current stage of the customer lifecycle journey.  

There is no better testament to our customer's success than their willingness to speak openly and freely about the positive customer experience they have enjoyed with us and why they continue to work with Forfusion. This advocacy by our customers speaks volumes and the customer success-driven value realisation they have had demonstrates why we believe so passionately about it. When delivered and embraced by both sides, customer success will provide measurable and tangible benefits to both parties.

Beyond Customer Success  

Excelling at customer experience is uppermost in all Forfusion employees minds; it's ingrained into everything we do from the first sales contact through to technical delivery and our in-life support offering FusionCare. Being embedded in a foundational way ensures it becomes second nature and normalised behaviour to deliver optimal customer experiences, rather than an overlay and from the top down, which equates to an afterthought.  

As a Systems Integrator, we work with many market-leading vendors. However, we have applied our customer experience strategy agnostically so that it fits all vendors and deliverables alike. Aligning customer experience (CX) to one vendor's model would not offer our customers the best experience, which is always our goal  

This same approach also drives customer success throughout Forfusion. Our customers provide us with a focus that is paramount in our decision to be vendor-agnostic when implementing our customer success (CS) operating model.  

This focus on a customer's experience is reinforced because we have paid particular attention to putting together the definition of our technical engagement method ADIOlogy ®. It has ensured that customer success has been built into its foundations, which helps deliver positive outcomes at every stage of the journey.  

This overall and very holistic approach has completed the wrap of our Digital Transformation services around what is key to Forfusion – the success of our customers. 

 

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