Why Customer Success Needs a Seat at the Leadership Table

By September 22, 2016Blog

I recently had the pleasure of attending a networking dinner with Lincoln Murphy. I was lucky enough to be seated at his table and to engage in some great conversation about the current and future state of customer success.

The most prevalent topic at our table was the need for customer success teams to have a seat at the leadership table. With extensive experience coaching and interacting with customer success teams, Murphy noted that customer success issues are almost always leadership issues: “If customer success isn’t the operating philosophy of the company and its leadership, you’re going to have problems orchestrating, operationalizing, and instrumenting successful customers.”

Customer success teams have a unique perspective because they are on the frontlines of the customer-company relationship. They work on behalf of your customers every day and it’s their job to ensure customers are successful with your product and your company. That makes them the truest voice of the customer, and if customer success is truly important to your company, it’s critical that this voice is represented at the highest levels.

Murphy noted that he often sees customer success operating under a tangential department, like sales or marketing. This misalignment causes the voice of the customer to become overshadowed by the voice of the buyer. In some instances, success teams operate under the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), which can be a good stop-gap because it holds customer success accountable for revenue-driven growth just like sales and marketing. However, too much focus on the numbers can remove the humanness from customer success, which is never ideal.

For these reasons, it is paramount to have a C-Suite leader for customer success. Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Ninja for Successful Customer Experiences—call it what you will—someone must be in charge of ensuring customer success is held responsible for key parts of company growth, that customer success is a key operating philosophy throughout the company, that formal processes are implemented to operationalize success, and the voice of the customer is heard and considered in decision-making.

What are some ways your Customer Success team is making sure the voice of the customer is heard? Continue the conversation with us in our new LinkedIn group.