More and more, I’m seeing customer success fall under the responsibilities of the community department at various companies, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). That makes perfect sense.
Where marketing grows your customer base, community aides you in keeping those customers by helping them to maximize the use of your product. Yes, those lines are muddied sometimes, yes, marketing helps you keep customers and, yes, there are exceptions that need not be mentioned.
You might be saying “but Patrick, that’s how it has been already. Community is essentially customer success for many companies and has been for a long time.” You wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily, but I think what we are seeing now is more of a formalization of it. Job titles including something extra and job descriptions making it clearer. David DeWald does this at Thunderhead.com. Meg Christolini did this at CoTweet. And the list goes on.
On the B2B side, an easy example is the Shopify Ecommerce University. I can’t speak to Shopify’s organization structure, but it is a wonderful example of the type of effort that community could and maybe should be responsible for. It speaks directly to the success of their customers.
Best practices, case studies, their blog, forums and related tools all fall under this section. It’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. This is a model that everyone can emulate.
The idea here is to give all customers a baseline level of knowledge. And then provide them with the further information they need if they want to take it to the next level. Often, best practices get tied up with account managers dealing with high dollar customers. Instead, you should be funneling those best practices onto a dedicated online resource and the community team is a perfect outlet to coordinate those efforts. It’s at the core of what we do.
Most consumer product companies benefit from helping their customers to use their products in a better, more efficient manner. The same sort of resource could be developed and maintained by them.
Of course, massive companies have the resources and the scale to break these tasks up between more people and more parts of the business, but for most companies, this formalization of customer success and community being intrinsically tied seems to be the way we’re heading. I like it.