Making customers successful: Customer Success Management a new management approach
Authors: Sven Seidenstricker, Vinzenz Krause
Abstract: Especially in times of crisis, as we are currently experiencing, it becomes clear which trends in marketing remain a buzzword and fade away, and which succeed in business and academic application. Customer Success Management (CSM) has transformed from such a phrase into the latest transformation of customer man-agement practice, even providing approaches for overcoming the downsides of the economic crisis. Originating in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, CSM emerged when service providers in the business-to-business landscape no-ticed difficulty succeeding with their recurring revenue models based on sub-scriptions. Recurring revenue models promise great benefits, as selling compa-nies can ensure a continuous flow of revenue from their customers. However, this business model also reduces switching barriers, which leads to higher churn rates if customers are not satisfied with the provider's service. Since customer acquisi-tion tends to be more expensive than the value received by the provider after the first period of use, a firm loses significant revenue through early customer churns. To overcome these issues and reduce churn, vendors need to shift their focus from selling just product features to proactively selling Customer Value and focus on the customer outcome of usage. This is where CSM gains its rele-vance. Today, many well-known service suppliers (such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Hitachi) have built up customer success capabilities in business markets. The aim of CSM is not only to make the customer satisfied, but to enable and support them to make their customers successful. This requires a change in organizational structure and introduction of a previously unknown role. The role of Customer Success Manager is one of the jobs of the future and there are hundreds of thou-sands of job advertisements. CSM is also establishing itself in research. In this paper, we have studied the possible preliminary knowledge areas. We have in-vestigated which approaches, methods and instruments CSM uses and from which research areas, if any, it has been derived. The article attempts to fill this research gap and aims at contributing to a growing body of literature. From a methodological perspective, we conduct a systematic-based literature review to examine the broader customer relationship literature. Since CSM lacks a concep-tual foundation, the literature review guarantees to fully encompass the research field and to identify related topics and their most important concepts. This ap-proach is intended to illustrate why CSM is new and an evolution in business research. CSM combines many aspects of different research disciplines. Some approaches are adapted to the new framework. Some methods and scores will continue to be used. But new tools are also being added. We would like to present where there are overlapping areas from adjacent research disciplines of market-ing, sales, innovation management, customer centricity and service management. After systematically reviewing the neighboring research areas, we summarize CSM. We show which additional approaches have been added and why CSM is not just the further development of existing research areas, but really a new re-search area. Finally, we briefly discuss some of the main research questions in CSM.
Keywords: Customer Success Management, SaaS companies, marketing, sales, service, business
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