The word roadmap usually conjures up thoughts of a product roadmap for people in a technology product company. For customer success managers though, the intent of a customer account roadmap, while similar, is bit more surgical than a product roadmap when it comes to defining success and leading customers to it.
Think of the customer account roadmap as the perfect blend of account strategy, execution tactics, and a metrics dashboard that simplifies everything for both the customer success manager and the customer.
The Biggest Benefits of a Customer Account Roadmap
The number one benefit of a customer account roadmap is that the customer and the customer success manager are in complete alignment on the definition of success, how it will be measured and the action items required by both parties to make it happen.
The customer account roadmap is also a vehicle that brings the right senior-level customer roles to the table for strategic planning to ensure the account plan is aligned to both executive priorities and operational outcomes.
Most importantly, it simplifies the management of each account for the customer success manager because everything that’s critical for account success is housed in a single document appropriately categorized and prioritized.
How to Create a Customer Account Roadmap
Step 1: Understand the Endgame and Why It’s Important
Start high! Meet with the department directors and VPs in the areas where your products are used and discuss their operational priorities, why they’re critical to the success of the department and the strategic initiatives they support for the organization.
Facilitate these conversations as if your products don’t exist to get a clear and unbiased picture of what’s most important to them from a pure business perspective. Be sure to get clarity on the business outcomes so you have a way to measure progress.
Step 2: Identify the Obstacles
Once you understand the customer’s priorities and their importance, identify the biggest obstacles to each. This is where with the relevance to existing or add-on products or services becomes clear. Be sure to find out WHY those obstacles exist.
Step 3: Determine How the Obstacles Will be Removed
This is your opportunity to bring some thought leadership to the table. Before you make any recommendations, find out how your customers plan to eliminate these obstacles. You may have ways to help them that they’re completely unaware of and it could turn into opportunities for add-on products or services.
Step 4: Define Action Items, Success Metrics and Prioritize
For each of the obstacles you can impact, define the action items and resources required by you and/or the customer to successfully execute those action items. For each one, be sure to define the success metrics and if possible, document the current metrics so you have a baseline to work from.
Just like a product roadmap, these action items should be prioritized. Let your customers take the lead here and offer guidance when opportunities present themselves to get better results. Those priorities will be a big help in managing your tactical laundry list for each account.
The additional benefit you get from a prioritized list is when new items land in your lap, you can go back to the roadmap priorities with the customer and let them determine the urgency relative to the other priorities. It’s a great way to keep everything from becoming a #1 priority.
Additionally, during your QBRs, you’ll have full context on what you’re doing, why it’s critical, progress reports and metrics. In other words, both parties have skin in the game and it’s well documented and agreed to by you and the customer. It keeps expectations properly set on both sides.
Step 5: For Internal Use Only
This is the part of the account roadmap that won’t be shared with customers. It’s the goals and metrics that are critical to your organization and how this strategic account roadmap supports those goals.
Additionally, when you’re doing account reviews with your manager, you’ll have full context on what it’s going to take to make each customer successful and how that plan will bring value back to your organization.
The Bottom Line on Customer Account Roadmaps
A customer account roadmap is a simple vehicle for helping your customers define success in quantifiable terms both operationally and strategically, and then leading them to it. It also gives you a measurable reading on the value you’re bringing to each customer which is critical when it’s time to discuss renewals.
As long as customers are getting measurable value from your products and services, they’re not going anywhere. One of the biggest hurdles is defining what value looks like and how it’s measured. The strategic customer account roadmap is the vehicle that keeps you and your customers on the same page with what you’ll do, how you’ll do it, the results both parties can expect and how they’re measured.
Imagine that your customer success managers are skilled facilitators that can confidently lead customers through strategic planning, help them define success and then execute the plans to make it happen. That’s what our Customer Success Value Skills Course can teach your CSMs. Contact us about a personalized workshop for your team so you can lead customers strategically instead of always reacting tactically.
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by John Mansour on December 8, 2023.