Customers Can’t Always Get What They Want

While Mick Jagger would probably need a lot more drugs than he usually needs to get through a day working in a tech company, it turns out he had something very sagely to say about Customer Success — ” You can’t always get what you want.” 

For many companies, Customer Success has evolved out of the responsive Customer Support organization.

And if you ask most Customer Support organizations what their mission is, part of their charter is to solve the problems of their users – to help them “do what they want.”

Indeed, many Customer Support professionals get no high bigger than seeing that “case close” ticket survey where they get a 10/10 because they “solved the customer’s problem.”  They gave them what they wanted.



But as we’ve said a bunch, Customer Success is NOT Customer Support.

Customer Success is about understanding what success is for the client overall and driving toward that success.

And the dirty secret is clients don’t always know what it takes to get to that success.  Scratch that.  If you’re doing your job, you should be able to show your client how to get to the success goals they have.

What does this mean day-to-day?  This means having Customer Success Managers that are capable of being assertive with their clients.

Whether you read a great book like The Challenger Sale  (by Matt Dixon & Brent Adamson) or learn to do it yourself, CSMs need to be comfortable in pushing customers.  As the CSM, you are the expert on how the client can achieve their success goals.  That’s why the client (and your company) pay you!

So if the client is deploying your solution in a way that’s contrary to their own goals, tell them.

If the client is putting too little attention into the rollout to make it successful, tell them.

If the client has the wrong staff on their side on the project, tell them.

Do it in a nice way and bring data (e.g., how they are using the product versus their peers) to support your case.  But if you let them drive off the cliff, Thelma and Louise-style, because it’s “what they want,” shame on you.

What’s the worst that can happen?  Maybe they’ll churn.  

If they do, what’s the chance they would have been successful with you long-term anyways?

Focus on what your client needs, and you’ll get what you want (the renewal).

Nick Mehta

As a huge sports fan, Nick thinks of his job as being like that of a head coach. His role is to help bring the right people together on the team and put them in the best position to win for our customers, partners, employees and their families. He’s a big believer in the Golden Rule and we try to apply it as much as we can to bring more compassion to our interactions with others. And he talks way too fast and overuses the word awesome like it’s going out of style. Before coming to Gainsight, Nick was the CEO of awesome leading Software-as-a-Service E-Discovery provider LiveOffice through its acquisition by Symantec and prior to that was a Vice President at VERITAS Software and Symantec Corporation.