Although Customer Success has been at the centre of my professional world for well over a decade, I often have to explain its basic premise to colleagues, friends and family alike. I’m sure many people reading this blog will be familiar to the quizzical looks that are often followed when you say “I work in Customer Success”. Typical responses range from “is that like Support?” or “yes, we have Account Managers at our company as well”, followed by trying (and sometimes failing) to articulate that it is actually neither of those functions.
I am (unapologetically) a big fan of analogies and I wanted to share the one I use about Customer Success as it often hits home and is followed by “ah…now I get it!”. I ask people to imagine being at the gym and think about the role of a Personal Trainer (PT). When you first meet a PT they ask you what your goals are; for example, losing weight before your wedding, gaining fitness for an upcoming marathon or perhaps gain some muscle mass to look good on your next summer holiday.
The PT will then set about building a personalised plan to help you meet (and hopefully exceed) your goals, use metrics along the way (e.g. BMI, weight, etc.) to track your progress and make any adjustments as required. They will assertively encourage progress, celebrate the personal milestones on your journey and then try to remove as many barriers as possible until the end-goal is met. If you are reading this and in you are in a Customer Success role then this should sound familiar!
The Customer Success Manager is the PT in this scenario; they understand what end-goals their client is looking to achieve and build a proactive plan to help them achieve it. They will use their own set of metrics to track progress (e.g. usage, survey scores, etc.), ensure that successes are celebrated when milestones are reached and make any adjustments required if the desired progress is not being made quickly enough.
The similarities between a fitness centre and Customer Success doesn’t end there. Just as in Customer Success we have “high”, “low” and “Self-Serve” models, so do gyms - for example:
Given the similarities between the role of a PT and a CSM there some crucial lessons to be learnt that will help increase your clients ROI. These include:
Although “Customer Success” as a corporate function is in its early teenage years, it is by no means a new concept. It has been in existence in some way, shape or form as long as merchants were selling their wares and especially since software companies had a function for the post-sale customer relationship. There is an incredible amount that today’s Customer Success professional can learn from this history and how entirely different functions and industries – such as the fitness centres and PTs – have successfully helped their clients reach and exceed their goals.
I suddenly feel very motivated to hit the gym – and see if any of the PTs want a career change to Customer Success!