Terminus Blog

The Latest from the ABM Experts

Customer Success vs. Customer Happiness

Author kaitlin.lutz Category Account-Based Marketing, FlipMyFunnel

This post is based off a podcast with Lincoln Murphy. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below!

At the end of the day, having great retention and customer success could be the make-or-break for whether you become super successful or go down in flames.

There’s a lot of noise in the customer success arena. The noise tends to drown out what customer success does and should do. We’re going to dig into the myths and the reality.

Lincoln Murphy is the global authority when it comes to customer success. As a thought leader and speaker in customer success, he can pinpoint the four essentials for how to make customer success a priority. After talking with Lincoln on the #FlipMyFunnel Podcast, here’s what we learned.

Authenticity Equals Success

The more you authentic you are, the more successful you are.

People want to take the mask off. Regardless of what field you’re in, if you’re listening and not being authentic, today’s the day to strive to be more you.

Lincoln has recently gotten back into WWE-style professional wrestling. “I kind of tried to hide from that past and be more professional, more normal, but the reality is it’s always been a part of me,” he said. He’s back to training saying, “I am constantly in pain now. But in a good way.”

Lincoln’s also been embracing that side of himself when talking to customers and doing keynotes. Once he owned that wrestling was a part of who he was, he was able to open up about it in his professional life, too.

“Being authentic is something that’s never really hurt me, and it’s always been really positive,” Lincoln said.

If someone didn’t like that side of him, they probably weren’t going to like him anyway. And on the flip side, if they know what makes him tick, they’ll know him as a person—and probably want to use him to help them become more successful.

You’ll be surprised just how closely authenticity and success go hand-in-hand. At the end of the day, it’s relationships that make customers stick.

Customer Success Equals Customer Desired Outcome

To Lincoln, customer success doesn’t have anything to do with the customer’s emotional happiness. And achieving it is way different than remembering to send a care package if you hear someone’s sick.

“My definition of customer success is when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.” – Lincoln Murphy

It’s not that he doesn’t want customers to be emotionally happy. It’s just that desired outcome means the customer’s required outcome.

“Now what that means is that we have to work towards making our customers successful,” Lincoln said. “We have to help them achieve this, which is the thing that they have to have to achieve their business outcome.”

They might want to do business with you because you have more of a personal touch than other companies, but that’s just a perk. It’s not the same as being committed to your customer’s success.

In a lot of companies that are obsessed with “happiness,” they’ll bring on some junior folks and tell them to make customers happy without giving them any authority, resources, or direction. This is why success is not equal to happiness.

“That’s a bad position,” Lincoln said. “If our customers are just happy, they might still leave because we’re not actually giving them what they need,” Lincoln said.

This happiness ≠ success equation is even true for even a sales call. If you’re not helping the customer to their desired outcome, it was a failed call.

Happy Customers Can Churn

Wait a minute. What happened with that customer? They were so happy!

“The reality is companies are often very surprised when customers churn, because they thought, ‘These guys are happy,’” said Lincoln. “If happy customers didn’t churn, then this wouldn’t be a discussion.”

Actually, the customers that never seem happy are often the ones that are most successful.

“They’re always pushing back on us. They’re always asking for more. In fact, they expect more from us because they know we can always be doing more,” Lincoln said.

They’re the customers that open the most support tickets and demand new features. They’re also the ones advocating for you to others and saying how much you deliver. If you do it wrong, you might take the customers that are seemingly unhappy by trying to make them more emotionally happy when they’re actually quite successful.

At the same time, the customers that appear to be happy might not be attaining their desired outcomes. And so they’ll churn.

“The misunderstanding between success and happiness could lead you down the wrong path.” – Lincoln Murphy

Customer Success and Customer Management Aren’t the Same

Don’t be confused about the difference between customer success and customer management. The real definition of customer success is separate from a customer success-driven operating philosophy—customer management.

“In my experience, the companies that are just thriving—customers staying longer, buying more, advocating for them—those companies have customer success as their operating philosophy,” said Lincoln.

It flips the idea of a “sales” philosophy something a bit more meaningful. Not everyone is in sales. Not everybody can actually close deals. But when customer success is an operating philosophy, everybody’s is in it.

“It has to start at the executive level and it just becomes part of everything that the company does,” he said. “Customer success management is just the process of moving the customer toward their ever-evolving desired outcome.”

It could be built into the product, or it could be human powered, but it’s probably going to be a combination of technology and humans in a ratio defined by customer experience.

“It’s very simple when we have a part of the organization that is called customer success management,” Lincoln said. “Customer success is their job.”

Then, the sales team are customer success driven. And so is marketing. And so is the executive suite.

For example, with a customer success-driven sales team, they’re not going to close bad fit customers because, down the road, nobody is going to be able to help them be successful.

“I’m only going to fill the top of the funnel with good fit customers.” – Lincoln Murphy

The best companies out there are the ones that get that customer success is achieved through an operating philosophy—and that also have some sort of formal operations around it.

Lincoln’s final words are, “Just focus on your customers and their success, and your success will come.”

Get in touch with Lincoln at his website, or follow him on Twitter @LincolnMurphy

Share this Post Headline