Generative AI Series Part Three: Customer SuccessRead time: 7 minutes
Welcome back to the third and final issue of our Generative AI series. We’ve saved the best for last: Customer Success.
Because this is where AI is going to make the biggest difference.
If you read the last two issues on how Generative AI will change Sales and Marketing, you’re probably thinking…
“What? I thought the biggest advantage we had over AI was the ‘human connection’ – and that’s all Customer Success is! Why is THIS the department that will be impacted the most?”
It’s not because the technology for Customer Success is going to be any better or different. It’s because it perfectly solves the problems that CS specifically deals with. The problems that I see over and over and over again as a practitioner in this space. The problems that categorically hold back the potential of CS in every company I’ve consulted.
AI is going to change the face of Customer Success in the best way possible. And if you work in this field, you have a lot to be excited about. So let’s get into it!
The Big Problem with Customer Success
Customer Success is almost always regarded as the third wheel… the middle child between Sales and Marketing… the thing that gets thought of last far too often.
Because of that, we don’t have the headcount or the resources to do the job that we would like to do. The job that we need to do in order to take CS from a cost center to a revenue center, the way it should be.
That job includes:
- Report backs
- Account planning
- Check-in meetings
- Identifying at-risk customers
- Identifying customers with upsell potential
- Onboarding, Implementation & driving adoption
- Taking those findings and using them to renew or expand
…For every. Single. Account.
And since Customer Success is usually understaffed and under-resourced, you end up with CSMs trying to manage hundreds more accounts than they’re able to.
In our newsletter Customer Success is Your Golden Goose, we explained the importance of capacity planning to make sure this exact scenario doesn’t happen. But even armed with knowledge, not every company has the resources to act on it.
So where does that leave us? Right back at square one, a little more defeated than before.
Except now, here comes AI, thundering in on a white horse to save us from capacity resourcing.
How Will Generative AI Change Customer Success?
The SaaS customer lifecycle goes from purchase/contract signature, to onboarding, to regular use and then either churn, expansion, or renewal. Most CS people are maxing out their bandwidth before they can even get beyond the regular use phase.
And here’s where AI changes everything. Because nearly all of the CS tasks in this phase can be done drastically faster and better with the help of AI automation.
Monitoring and prodding adoption? Automatable.
Regular messaging, fixing common problems, suggesting best practices? Automatable.
Executive admin functions such as filling reports and tracking activities? Largely automatable.
Even account planning and identifying which accounts are ready to churn or ready to upsell can be supported by AI.
Suddenly our bogged-down CS person has the time to:
- Manage their overloaded book
- Identify and focus on at-risk accounts
- Execute on renewal and expansion strategies
- Give a higher level of service to a larger number of customers
That’s going to lead to a lot more happy customers and a lot more people getting the complete value of your products.
With AI turbo-charging the effectiveness of Customer Success, retention is going to get a lot higher. I believe retention numbers will go up at least 5% to 10% across the board – in the whole industry.
Does That Mean AI Will Take CS Jobs?
Just like with Sales and Marketing, there’s always going to be a necessary human component that AI can’t replace. People still want to talk to humans. And in the coming years, with the flood of AI eventually touching every part of our lives, human connection will only become more valuable. Even if it’s over Zoom.
But that human connection can’t happen if a CSM is so strapped they’re unable to talk to their customers.
So I don’t think AI will be taking any jobs from Customer Success. In fact, I believe most companies will still be a little understaffed in the CS department. But they’ll be more appropriately capacity resourced than they were in the past – by a mile.
If companies DO try to cut headcount here, hoping to automate the entire CS process, they’ll learn very quickly how much people hate talking to robots. Remember the last time you were stuck in an automated phone line Hell? Not fun.
Of course, someone’s going to try. Then they’ll lose. And no one will try it anymore.
The Final Word on Our Generative AI Series
Over the past three weeks we’ve seen how AI will:
- Change the way we target and create content
- Create a force of natural selection in Sales
- Give CS the power to perform at its best
I believe we’re in for a whirlwind of an AI arms race in SaaS. The companies that can integrate this evolving technology into their revenue systems the fastest will reap the most rewards. That is, before saturation makes AI table stakes.
But the balancing function of this whole story comes down to pricing.
How much is it going to cost you to become a player in this new game?
Are you currently operating at a level of profitability needed to invest in AI?
And do you have a RevOps team that can integrate not only the tech but the new processes it will require?
At the end of the day, 50% to 70% of all tasks throughout your entire revenue engine will be tech-based. Which is why now is the time to double down on RevOps.
Whoever takes on this heap of tech work will also need to:
- Have an eye on the financials
- Have a method for increasing cash flow
- Have a strategy for the customer experience
This is the worst possible time to have technical debt, unoptimized systems, unaligned teams, and unclear processes. It’s going to become increasingly difficult to untangle yourself from a revenue operations mess and start all over – while your competitors are advancing their systems daily.
But this also means it’s the best possible time to get organized, optimized, and equipped for what’s to come.
If you’re curious what that might look like for your company, we offer a 1:1 Revenue Efficiency Workshop where you can:
- Sit down with me (or another Senior Revenue Strategist) for one hour
- Answer some questions you’ve likely never been asked before
- Get a clear understanding of what’s happening in your biz
- Receive a follow-up report of prioritized actions to take
The private consultation hour plus personalized report is valued at $997.
But since it’s our favorite way to learn more about our audience, we offer it for free.
Click here to get more info.
- AI is going to have the largest, most positive effect on Customer Success
- CS is notoriously under-resourced and understaffed, making the efficiency of AI automation a simple solution to an industry-wide lack of good capacity planning
- Finally, CS people will have the tools they need to handle the overbearing workload they’ve always been shouldered with
- All-in-all, SaaS is heading in to an AI arms race that will require funding and tech expertise
- Now is the best time to invest in Strategic RevOps and get prepared for integrating AI into your tech stack, processes, and strategies
When you’re ready, here’s how we can help:
Get a Free 1:1 Revenue Efficiency Workshop
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