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Enterprise customer success study and outlook: What do customers value?

Customer success initiatives to address rising expectations

Part two of Deloitte’s customer success study and outlook explores customer success programs from an end customer’s point of view to understand current perspectives, emerging needs and preferences, and the impact on business outcomes.

The rising expectations of technology customers

Today’s enterprise technology environment has been disrupted by the shift to subscription-based solutions. Enterprise customers now have greater flexibility in how they access, consume, and pay for services. When they are not satisfied with the product or the experience, they can shift from one technology solution provider to another with relative ease. This new dynamic in the enterprise environment has led technology solution providers to increasingly focus on driving successful outcomes and value for customers.

Today’s customers are empowered to have different expectations of their technology providers. In an effort to meet rising customer expectations, it’s no surprise that most technology solution providers have launched customer success (CS) programs—structured services that go above and beyond the traditional support services to deliver distinctive experiences and enable customers to realize value from their products.

Part one of Deloitte’s Enterprise Customer Success Study and Outlook explored several key CS topics from the technology solution providers’ vantage point.  This second report focuses on CS from a customer's point of view.  We interviewed about 300 leaders to obtain a first hand report on the existing CS initiatives that are offered, understand their emerging needs and preferences, and explore the impact of these CS programs on their business outcomes.

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Maximizing and measuring value of customer success

Key takeaways from the study:

  • CS service penetration is on the rise: Each CS service is being offered to at least 50 percent of respondents at different stages across purchase, implement, use, and renew stages of their journey. 
  • However, customer value and outcomes have not been truly maximized: Only one-third of customers are satisfied with the current levels of services delivered today. And although 90 percent of customers discuss business goals and objectives with solution providers, nearly 50 percent say that purchased solutions only partially deliver the desired outcomes.
  • Adoption and optimization are the most valuable CS services: More than half the respondents indicate that these services are critical to driving sustained and pervasive product usage and enable a faster value realization. Nearly 50 percent of customers are even willing to pay for these services.
  • Customers seek CS involvement across pre- and post-sales phases to receive consistent services and be continuously engaged: While 90 percent of customers seek CS involvement in pre-sales phases to define a business case and evaluate potential solution ROI, only 20 percent of customers receive any form of structured pre-sales services from tech providers today. Nearly 80 percent of customers are dependent on technical support from solution providers; however, only 61 percent are “highly” satisfied with the services. Greater involvement of CS teams is often sought to enable proactive resolution of issues and align product roadmap with customer needs.
  • Developing customer trust and advocacy require robust mechanisms to track and demonstrate value: A mere 25 percent of customers today consider solution providers to be their trusted advisers. Further deep dive indicates that CS teams that hold regular business reviews with customers and help them track value are twice as likely to be trusted and make customers their advocates.

In the age of ubiquitous customer data and increasing transparency from digitized processes and telemetry, relying purely on perceived value to measure customer value is inadequate. The value measurement needs to be more objective and rooted in the customer’s ability to realize maximum benefit from the technology provider’s product and service offerings.

To more effectively measure the value delivered by customer success, Deloitte classifies value delivered to end customers into three broad pillars: business value, experience value, and performance value.

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Business value: Better business outcomes—at a price?

Business value focuses on the ability of the providers to drive measurable business goals and objectives and realize a higher ROI.

An overwhelming 90 percent of the customers surveyed indicated that they discuss their requirements and business objectives with their technology providers either prior to or immediately after purchase of the solution. However, almost 50 percent of the customers noted that the solutions, once implemented, did not completely deliver on the desired business outcomes. 

Survey results indicate that each of the major CS services are being offered to at least 50 percent of the respondents.

Percentage of respondents offered various CS services

However, despite the fact that customers consider adoption and optimization services key to achieving desired outcomes, less than one-third of them are satisfied with the efficacy of existing CS services in helping them achieve their objectives.

Percentage of respondents satisfied with adoption and optimization services

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Experience value: Customer success managers shape customer experiences and advocacy

Experience value focuses on the quality of the provider’s relationship with their customers, which is formed via human and digital interactions, exchanges, and overall experience of doing business across the life cycle.

Only one-fourth of the customers surveyed said that they consider their service providers to be trusted and would advocate for them without any caveats. CS leaders within technology organizations must not only offer outcome-oriented services, but also focus on timely and proactive customer engagements during pre- and post-sales activities. This is critical to ensure consistent human experience and higher overall satisfaction with the provider.

Customers who are helped by their CSMs to track the solution’s value had a significantly higher satisfaction rate (~66 percent) than customers who were tracking the value themselves (~40 percent). And customers who don’t actively track the value, but only rely on the perception of value delivered by the solution, reported an even lower satisfaction rate (36 percent).

Percentage of customers that are satisfied with the business value realized

These results suggest that customers tend to significantly undervalue the solution if they are not supported with appropriate guidance. The reason why customers undervalue the solution is possibly because they are unsure about the right metrics that demonstrate value or they do not know where to look for and how to track these metrics.

Our survey also indicated that CSMs who conducted periodic business reviews to track business outcomes and value delivered by the solution of CS solutions had more customers who were unconditional advocates of the solution. These customers also displayed greater trust and higher revenue potential.

Impact of continuous engagement on customer trust, advocacy, and revenue potential

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Performance value: Maximize product and support quality

Performance value focuses on the ability of the technology providers to meet or exceed customer demands of solution quality-usability, stability, compatibility, and availability.

Customers are actively seeking better technical support to fix product gaps, and almost 67 percent of the customers indicated that they are willing to pay for support services that are high-quality and provided them with a more frictionless experience.

While almost 80 percent of the customers frequently use technical product support services, about 61 percent of them were not "highly" satisfied with the quality of the services being provided. Enhancing the support services from being predominantly reactive to being built-in, automated, and proactive can help curtail lost time and efficiency and lead to better satisfaction.

Technical support services feedback 

Solution providers who continuously seek feedback from their customers and incorporate this feedback into the product design see a significant increase in customer advocacy, trust, and revenue potential when compared to providers who do not incorporate the feedback.

Impact of feedback loop on revenue potential

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The path forward and next steps

Maximizing customer value requires a fundamental shift in the way the CS services are delivered today. Providers need to increase their involvement in pre-sales stages to clearly define value expectations, and they need to identify and customize the right services to meet these expectations during the post-sale stages. CS service providers should proactively monitor and report the value delivered, instead of allowing customers to track the value themselves or relying solely on the value perception created. Classifying value into distinct pillars or areas of focus and identifying key metrics across each pillar can help drive a more holistic measurement of value delivered. It is also important for providers to close the value loop by incorporating customer feedback into the product roadmap and work continuously to deliver better value.

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About the respondents

The respondent set was spread across multiple geographies, revenue ranges, and industries. More than 25 percent of the CS leaders surveyed belonged to businesses with revenues of more than $10B annually. We also maintained a balance across subscription and nonsubscription business models to gather perspectives from customers in both these categories.

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