Survey Says: Investing in Customer Success is critical to Boosting Customer Loyalty

Customer Success Chart

Survey results for CJX survey

Customer Success ChartSurvey Says: Investing in Customer Success is critical to Boosting Customer Loyalty Study after study have proven that it is easier to keep a customer than it is to find and close a new one, so why aren’t companies succeeding in improving their revenue retention metrics?

The answer is simple:

They don’t know specifically ‘what’ to invest in, how much to invest, or how to allocate customer success resources appropriately.

The Facts:

Here at ServiceSource, we focus on improving the entire customer journey experience (CJX) from lead identification through landing, onboarding, expanding, and renewing customer relationships.

Many of our clients come to us with customer retention goals.  When we dig deeper to uncover insights around the factors that lead customers to build loyalty or churn, we often uncover what we and the industry have known for many years ─ there is a gap between the customer experience companies believe they are delivering, and the customer experience that their customers say they receive.

Salesforce states that 73 percent of B2B buyers are expecting more today than ever before, and nearly half of those same buyers say that most experiences fall short of those expectations.  McKinsey stated just a few years ago that B2B customer experience (CX) ratings (less than 50 percent) fall far behind that of B2C (65-85 percent).

To get a broad market view of this issue, we surveyed 500 B2B leaders to learn where they perceive gaps in their Customer Journey Experience (CJX) execution and where they plan to invest for the future. The results illuminated the gap between perceived importance and actual effort invested in customer success processes.   

The Takeaways:

Our survey results revealed four key takeaways:

  1. Customer success seems to be a commonly misunderstood business function.
    • When asked what the most important ingredient to a great customer experience is, 45 percent chose either proactive and high-quality personal support or fast responses to needs and proactive communication.
    • Similarly, 40 percent chose either adoption, onboarding, upselling, or cross-selling when asked what the most important contributor to an exceptional experience over the next three-to-five years would be.
    • These areas fall under the domain of customer success, but only 21 percent of our survey takers said customer success is important to a great experience.
  2. Customers want more support and proactive engagement, but businesses continue to spend more on sales functions.
    • The majority of respondents identified sales development as the primary area of increased spending in the future. 
    • 60% of respondents identified customer success as important, but only 15% expected an increase in spend to improve their delivery.
  3. Not only do investments in sales outpace that of customer success, but that trend will likely continue over the next 3-5 years.
    • Commonly outsourced functions such as lead generation, sales development, and customer acquisition (35 percent) currently receive 20 percent more investment than those related to customer success, such as health checks, onboarding, and adoption (15 percent).
  4. There is a clear opportunity for businesses that prioritize customer experiences to gain an edge on the competition.
    • When asked what kind of customer support they expect, our respondents have strong demands:
      • 38 percent expect a useful and effective onboarding process
      • 37 percent need a 1:1 relationship that provides a personal touch in a digital world
      • 36 percent want a dedicated CSM to respond to challenges/issues

For many companies, the prospect of improving their entire customer success delivery seems daunting in a period of declining budgets. So, where should you start? According to our research, onboarding has the biggest gap between what customers expected, 38%, and where the surveyed leaders planned to invest in improvements, 20%.

To find out how you are doing with your onboarding and other customer success motions, we recommend performing a voice of the customer survey. While NPS can give an overall impression of your products and services, it fails to capture the gap between company perception and customer perceived value.

If you don’t have the capacity to do your own performance analysis, ServiceSource can help. Our detailed CJX analysis uses qualitative and quantitative analysis to identity strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to improve the CJX across the entire continuum.  Let us help you understand 1) What areas of customer success to invest in to achieve your goals, 2) how much to invest, and 3) how to align customer success resources more effectively.

To learn more about our market survey and take a closer look at the results, read our whitepaper 20/20 Vision: Illuminating the Customer Journey Experience or contact us.


Steven Hastert