Your Product is a Means to an End


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Your product is a means to an end, and that end is “success” for your customer.

And that “end” changes across the lifecycle of a customer.

What “success” looks like for your customer during the trial (and even at various parts of the trial) differs from success 30-days after becoming a customer. Success is then different 6-months in… 12-months in… 3 years in.

Or success changes for a customer when they go from 10 users to 50 users, or from the entry-level version of your product to the advanced version.

This is - unfortunately - not the typical understanding of the way things work.

  • Find out what “success” means for your customer. Success is an outcome, a result, ROI, etc. I guarantee it’s not just “using” your product or going through a set of functional steps. Those steps only matter if they get them to that goal. When it doesn’t, you’ll see “active” – or even “happy” – customers churn… and be shocked by this unexpected turn of events.
  • Clearly define the path the customer takes to achieve success, and know the milestones along the way to help keep them on a path to success. Simple… not easy, but the idea is simple.
  • Understand that product use DOES NOT EQUAL success. This means measuring and managing Customer Success requires several qualitative and quantitative inputs beyond product usage.

If you’re going to look at product use as a core input, at least know it’s rarely any one “thing” they do that matters; it’s usually a set of things that they have to do to get them closer to achieving “success.”

Success is rarely the simple functional use of our products, yet that is how we – by not focusing on the customer – tend to define “success.” It’s an egocentric definition of success.

And that’s why we’re constant surprised by churn “but they were actively using…”

A version of this article was originally published here.

Lincoln Murphy
Lincoln Murphy is a Customer Success Evangelist and is responsible for driving thought-leadership in the areas of Customer Success, retention, churn mitigation, and expansion revenue. Lincoln's passion is creating efficient engines of growth for SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and Subscription Economy companies. Lincoln has worked with 300+ SaaS and enterprise software vendors migrating to SaaS - from SAP to Hubspot, and from Microsoft to Zendesk - to accelerate growth through Customer Success.


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