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What should a VP of Customer Success own?

One the most common challenges for the Executive team today is deciding what the role of the VP of Customer Success should be and the scope of responsibility. It seems logical for them to own all things customer experience oriented. It certainly can make it easier to drive results for customer experience if they own the end to end experience.

However, I am a believer in the Customer Life Cycle that creates a company model around how to deliver a quality, repeatable customer experience. That means that all organizations will have a part in the delivery of some aspect of the customer experience. Therefore, everyone has a part in creating a successful customer.

With that said, then what should the scope of the VP of Customer Success be? It could be structured in several ways:

Option 1:

The VP of Customer Success could own the following organizations:

Services Onboarding and Implementation


Expansion Opportunity generation

This option has the advantage of having the executive level decisions within one realm so that changes and execution can be done effectively and quickly. This approach can create quick results with a Customer Life Cycle model in place to ensure the other executives are onboard with supporting the rest of the customer life cycle elements. This works well when a company is small, but as it grows, it will need to be divided with focused leadership and teams in each area that are highly collaborative and coordinated.

Option 2:

The VP of Customer Success could own the following organizations:

Customer Success

All other services and sales groups would be owned by other Executives.

This option works well in high growth and larger companies and has the advantage of creating focused teams and separating the ownership and responsibility for the end to end customer experience across the leadership team. With a solidified Customer Life Cycle model in place, this approach is very effective in driving results and continuous growth by focusing on ensuring customers realize the value outcomes of a well defined roadmap for each target market that lead to long term ROIs.

The key success factor is to create focus with the teams within the organization. If a manager has too broad of a scope of responsibilities, then the quality of execution begins to suffer and so do consistent results.

I would suggest the VP of Customer Success build a strong leadership team for each area of responsibility and push authority and autonomy down to allow for fluid and innovative changes as the organization and the customer life cycle matures over time. The leadership team is invested in building bridges within the Customer Success organization as well as with all the other organizations in the company to align with the company wide Customer Life Cycle model and delivery of the strategy.

The VP of Customer Success should cultivate a passion around creating something of value for customers. It’s not just about selling the product, it’s about creating an experience with your company that makes them want to buy, invest and expand with your products and services. The Customer Success leadership team needs to drive a corporate climate that is dedicated to helping a customer find a successful roadmap with your company. The team members must embody this passion, attitude and desire in order to drive the building of a solid customer life cycle model and the disciplines to manage change and innovations.

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