Why you should put Customer Success ahead of your own

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This blog is a clarion call to leaders, founders and investors to rethink your beliefs and your attitudes towards the 2 groups of stakeholders who hold your success in their hands – your customers and your employees. And why Customer Success is so important.

Your business exists because of your customers

Not in spite of them. They are not an inconvenience. Sadly, few business leaders accept this truth. They act as if their own success matters more than customer success. Do you?

Is executive compensation tied to customer success? Or is the compensation of your salespeople? Your marketing team? How about your operations team?

Do you fixate on hitting your monthly targets instead of building your entire operation around delivering your customers’ outcomes. After all, that’s what they paid you for. Your customers have never and never will buy your products or services. They RENT the outcomes you offer for as long as they remain relevant to their needs. When they stop being relevant, they rent other outcomes. They churn, mostly because the outcomes you are able to deliver are no longer relevant to their current context, or because you failed to deliver their outcomes.

We’ve all stayed with vendors with whom the experience was less than stellar if they continued to deliver the outcomes we needed. And we’ve all shifted our spending from vendors where the experience was great but the outcomes no longer met our needs.

Customer Success

The one moving part in this equation over which we have any control is the experience our employees have and the effect that has on their levels of engagement.

As you take a second look in the ugly mirror, do you make every effort to make your employees experience one where they look forward to coming into work on a Monday and leave on a Friday with a pang of regret that the week is over already?

Employee Experience Drives Customer Success

  • Are you fulfilling and stretching them?
  • Deploying their skills wisely and widely?
  • Giving them every opportunity to develop and grow?
  • Engaging them in important and meaningful work?

Or are they showing up just to collect a pay cheque and they live for the 2 days a week when they are not at work?

Who Are Your Employees?

I’m going out on a limb here, but I suggest you add to your employees, your suppliers and your channel / partners. Treat all of them as if they are your own. Train them as if they are your own. Recruit them with the same rigour and attention to detail as you SHOULD when recruiting for yourself.


You must NEVER compromise on recruitment. Don’t settle for just anyone who is available at the time because they might be able to do the job. It sends a terrible message to the other people in your team because they’ll feel you don’t value them. Imagine their disappointment when you hire the cheapest compromise candidate available because of the added workload, error rates, delays, conflict, blame they will bring.

I’m sure all of you have had that sinking feeling when the new person starts and you see through their laziness, lack of commitment, slipshod and slapdash working practices and excuse making. How did you feel when you realise the company just hired a lemon? And what impact did those B minus, C- and D-players have on your customers’ outcomes?

Customer Success: Examine Yourself

  • How
    • are you compensated?
    • are you measured?
    • does your compensation and measurement drive the decisions you make and the messages you send to your people at the start, the middle and the end of the month or quarter?
  • What is the focus you impose on your marketing and your salespeople when prospecting for new business?
  • Are you forcing them to behave transactionally? (“I need to hit my quota this month. I have to close them even though I know it’s not right for them. Caveat emptor and all that!”)
  • Or are you encouraging them to prospect for customers who will be customers in a year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
  • Only to sell if it’s right for the customer, right for the company and will deliver the outcomes both sides want?
  • Do you punish failure and stifle risk taking or innovation?
  • Or do you encourage risk taking, punish hiding their failure and celebrate the lessons they learn from making mistakes?
  • Are individual lessons learnt shared with everyone else in the team?
  • Do you hire for competitiveness?
  • Or for how collaborative they are?
  • Do you hire for people who have a will to win no matter the cost?
  • Or do you hire people who are disarmingly honest and rigorously authentic? And people who put the customers’ desired outcomes ahead of their own self interest?

Customer Success: Examine your culture

I challenge you to look at your culture, your processes, what and whom you hold in high regard and ask, “Why do we do things this way? What outcomes do they drive? Are we a business whose only objective is to make money in the short term, or are we building a business that serves our customers, serves our community, serves our people, partners and suppliers, and money is a natural by-product?”

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas to build on what I’ve outlined here.

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