The importance of SMART Customer Success Goals

Lynda Cope
June 15, 2023
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CSMs setting SMART goals

What once started as a cost-effective way for companies to provide software, software as a service (SaaS) has now become the standard model. With its prevalence in today's market, Customer Success teams have emerged to ensure that customers are active and happy with their services, while also actively retaining them through proactive measures such as expanding pathways of service use.

It's not easy to get customers, but it can be even more difficult keeping them. If your company doesn't have a Customer Success strategy in place, now is the time to start developing one. Properly set goals constitute an essential component of this strategy.

In this post, we will discuss how to set the right goals for your Customer Success team.

Why you need to set goals

Why is setting the right goals important for your Customer Success team’s performance? Let’s outline the key reasons for that:

  • Customer success goals help the team focus attention on your desired outcomes;
  • Properly set goals can guide Customer Success Managers and motivate them to work to the fullest capacity to achieve these goals
  • Setting the right goals is fundamental to a successful work environment.

SMART goals

Using the right goal-setting framework is essential for building an effective customer success strategy. SMART is one of the most popular frameworks making goal setting way easier.

SMART goals imply the use of a specific set of criteria that determine the achievability of the goal. Let’s take a closer look at these criteria.

S = Specific

When setting a goal, it is important to be as specific as possible. This includes ownership and responsibility, value, obstacles, and deadlines. Goals should be well-worded and communicated thoroughly with your team.

M= Measurable

Define clear metrics that allow you to measure the success of your goals. Assess progress at regular milestones/ intervals.

A =Achievable

Your goals need to be achievable. Setting unrealistic goals and deadlines can lead to a decrease in motivation and performance.

R =Relevant

Your goals need to be relevant to your company’s overall mission and objectives. Your team should have a clear understanding of the purpose behind pursuing specific tasks.

T =Time-bound

Setting a clear deadline allows you to create a path towards achieving the desired outcomes. Deadlines provide clarity and motivation for your team.

How to Set Customer Success SMART Goals

Now, let’s take a look at the best practices in setting SMART goals for a Customer Success team.

Align customer success goals with company-wide goals

Your company most likely has a clear mission, vision, long-term and short-term goals. A good practice to ensure the efficiency of your Customer Success team is aligning its goals with the company-wide objectives.

Say, if your company has a goal of a quarterly revenue increase, increasing recurring revenue to a certain percent can be a goal of the Customer Success team. This way, the Customer Success team’s goal completion would contribute to a company-wide objective achievement.

Sharing customer success goals with other teams is also a good practice, as it allows all the departments to stay on the same page and to adjust their objectives accordingly.

Have a clear plan

A great way to make goals clear is to tie them to certain numbers, dates, or events. So, start with setting the top-level KPIs. Then, define clear steps on how to achieve the goals you’ve set. Remember, SMART goals are time-bound, so be sure to define the deadline for their completion.

Define a balanced set of KPIs that includes a mix of leading metrics that give an early indication of performance, and lagging metrics that require time to assess the impact of your team’s effort. The examples of the leading metrics include product usage and customer satisfaction, while the lagging metrics are customer churn and revenue growth.

Let’s illustrate customer success goal setting through an example.

If the goal is to reduce churn by 2%, then the necessary steps in this direction might be:

  • Sending more frequent invitations to learning webinars;
  • Improving the email sequences to promote a new feature adoption.

Track progress

It takes a certain time to achieve the desired results, so it is important to track progress regularly. This way you and your team do not stray off course.

There are various techniques to track goal accomplishment.

Ownership of tasks

Getting your team members to take ownership of tasks assigned to them can produce amazing results. This way, employees feel they are trusted, and therefore they are willing to take responsibility, and they truly care about the outcome.

In addition, assigning a person who is in charge of a specific task or project makes it way easier to manage the process. This way, it becomes clear who can answer this or that question.

Individual progress

The success of the team depends on the contribution of each of its members. Therefore, along with the Customer Success team’s performance,  it is important to track individual progress. Be sure to check in regularly with each of the team members - what they are working on, what challenges do they face, and whether they need help or additional resources.

Visibility of key metrics (dashboard)

For a clear understanding of the status of goals and objectives, all team members must be in the same information field. To achieve this, consider providing all the team members with easy access to customer data from a central location.

Using customer success management platforms like Userlot helps all the team members to be on the same page and see the current state of things.

Communication and meetings

Effective communication is crucially important for every team’s performance, and Customer Success teams are not an exception. Make sure your team has the right tools to communicate effectively.  For example, you can use Slack for day-to-day communication. To discuss the current status of tasks, regular face-to-face meetings with a clear agenda are more appropriate.

Final notes

Following the basic concepts of SMART goals can be a great tool to help your Customer Success team achieve success. Here is a brief overview of the best practices in setting the right goals for your Customer Success team:

  • Have clear top-level measurable objectives and break them down into specific tasks assigned to your team members
  • Make sure that all the Customer Success teams members are aware that their individual daily efforts contribute to the completion of the common goals
  • Don’t neglect the communication effectiveness and apply both collaboration software tools and face-to-face meetings
  • Set SMART goals aligned with your company mission and vision - this will help your Customer Success team stay more focused and motivated

Try those best practices and see the quality of your customer success management improve!

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