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Customer Success & Customer Happiness - Are they the same thing?

This is one of my favorite topics because it’s really the backbone of everything you’ll do to make your customers successful!


You know the chicken or the egg scenario? What do you think comes first? The Success of your Customers or making your Customer Happy? And what is truly the difference between the two?

The bottom line is that a Happy customer is not necessarily a Successful customer but a Successful customer will eventually be a Happy one.


I learned this the hard way:

When I was starting out as a Customer Success Manager (CSM) at a successful SaaS company, I thought my life was going to be golden.


The company I was working for had a product that I truly believed in, the customers were technically oriented (which makes working as a CSM in a SaaS company much easier!) and I truly believed that all I need to do is give the customer everything they ask for and they will surly be happy!


Rather quickly reality set in and it was not as I expected... Even though I would walk into meetings prepared with all of the information that my customers had requested, they would leave the meetings unhappy, as if I wasn't living up to their expectations.


Even though everything they had asked for was provided.


The thing is that getting everything they asked for wasn't what they truly wanted from me as their CSM. They wanted the inside scoop... I had the knowledge, expertise, experience in the platform, how other customers were utilizing the platform and how the platform could help their business.


In other words, my customers actually wanted me to prove the ROI of their time in meetings with me. They wanted me to take them beyond the responsiveness of giving them what they wanted. And wanted me to show them what they needed to do to be successful.


What were they missing or doing incorrectly? Where are their gaps? Why aren't they keeping up with their competitors?


This more often than not meant I needed to push back and question their current strategies and not just going along with everything they were asking me to do.


My (initially) Unhappy but Successful customer


I once consulted on a nutritional drinks brand that was spending A LOT of money on acquisitions and successfully bringing in a lot of new customers. However these customers were buying 1 drink and never making a 2nd purchase. Meaning, the cost of acquiring that one customer was actually much higher than the average lifetime value of each of the customers.


The brand asked me to look into spending less money for acquisitions while still bringing the same amount of new customers because they are just not making enough revenue off of the current model.


After doing a bit of research around their current model, I told the brand that rather than trying to spend less money on acquisitions, let’s first start with understanding who is the audience they are targeting and reconsider targeting audiences that have a higher probability for repeat purchases. Bringing in a different "persona" of customers rather than trying to get their current customers to buy again.


At first they were not happy and didn’t accept my approach and just wanted me to focus on getting the acquisition costs down but I kept pushing forward - obviously in a very respectful and tactical way by showing them data and facts that they just weren’t aware of and couldn’t argue with.


I won’t take you too into the details but we ended up not only re-strategizing on who they should be targeting but also worked on creating a more personalized approach when targeting these potential customers.


After three months of re-strategyzing and implementing personalized campaigns to more targeted audiences, the brand saw not only an increase of 15% in new customers who made repeating purchases but also saw an increase in average order amount!


Needless to say they declared the strategy implemented a success and were super happy!


Happiness can be short lived:


The opposite is also true… Just because your product has caused your customer to be happy, doesn’t mean that they have achieved their desired result with it; and that happiness will be short lived.

Happy customers are not always successful customers.

Always prioritize your customer’s success before your customer’s happiness. The goal of your customer success strategy is to help as many of your customers as possible reach a high level of success as well as a high level of happiness with your product.


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