What’s in store for Customer Success platforms in 2016? - Glide Consulting
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What’s in store for Customer Success platforms in 2016?

Gartner recently reported that 89 percent of companies are expecting to compete on the basis of customer experience (CX) in 2016, compared to 36 percent just five years ago. Customer Success done right is the approach that delivers the ultimate customer experience. Customer Success platforms help teams do it right. So, what will change with Customer Success platforms this year?

Download your FREE Customer Success platform readiness worksheet and receive a BONUS article: ‘How to avoid a failed Customer Success platform implementation.’ Click here to download now.



1. Customer Success platforms will chip away at the incumbent market

Based on a 2015 report by Capterra, the most used features in CRM systems are calendaring, email marketing and proposal management, but those in the business know that Customer Success is much more than these simple processes. Until Customer Success is understood by the broader business community, calculating who owns the CRM market will be complicated.


In 2015, analysts reporting on CRM were still reviewing systems used mainly for sales and marketing, concluding that Salesforce (18.4%), SAP (12.1%), Oracle (9.1%) and Microsoft (6.2%) own most of the pie. As Customer Success enters the mainstream vernacular, we will see a changing of the guard, with innovative solutions like SugarCRM, Gainsight and ClientSuccess gathering momentum and gobbling up market share. These systems have been solely created for Customer Success Management, and are no longer just a nice-to-have extra to an existing sales platform.

2. Customer Success platform investment will explode

I predict that more companies will choose Customer Success specific platforms that were developed from the year 2000 onwards. As Customer Success emerges in it’s own right, leaders will seek to drive technology change through platform investment. The sales platforms purchased prior to the Customer Success movement will fall behind, with leaders realizing that Customer Success needs to be at the core of everything they do, not just sales.

Customer Success platform explosion

The Customer Success ‘add-on’ that comes with sales-oriented systems will not be robust enough to support Customer Success needs into the future. Companies will either completely shift onto a Customer Success platform, or replace the Customer Success add-on with an integration to a Customer Success platform.

3. Data will flow freely across and between organizations

Customers are a goldmine of data. This data helps form strong bonds with loyal customers, helping to deliver new products and services. Customer data comes great responsibility: when is misused or leaked, the relationship with not just one customer, but many, will be damaged, thanks to social wildfire. In 2015, the world’s fastest-growing companies were purely software plays: Uber owns no taxis, Airbnb owns no accommodation, Skype owns no telecom infrastructure and Netflix owns no cinemas. They win because they know how to use data. They know where you live, where you work, what you like to do and when you like to do it. They use this information to tailor their service to you and become an essential part of your life. Without data and measurement, companies are blind to what is happening with their customers. Each data point tells its own story, but what does the whole picture look like?

Customer Data

In 2016, I predict that companies will invest more capital in consolidating customer data into a single 360 degree view. Companies who use Social CRM will need to have those channel integrated into their CRM platforms too. The competitive edge will be gained by using machine learning algorithms to continuously and programmatically improve the customer experience available along all channels. Companies will shift their strategy to operate in a more customer-centric way and insights will be shared with all business functions, not just customer-facing departments. The level at which you listen to the customer will determine your success or failure. Until everyone is listening, more companies will follow the bricks and mortar stores who ignored the changing trends in customer behavior and have fallen by the wayside.

4. Customer psychology will be quantified

Why do you stick to Amazon for online shopping, Starbucks for coffee and Dove for moisturizing body wash? According to William J. McEwen, it’s because you are “married to the brand.” Whether you admit it or not, you have an emotional connection with some purchases that goes far beyond simply liking the product. These “brand marriages” translate into customer retention, the goal of Customer Success. I predict that market-leading Customer Success platforms will explore ethnographic research to help understand why customers do what they do, rather than simply what and when. Here are three questions to ponder:

  • Which of the leading platforms will incorporate these findings first?
  • Will deciphering customer intent feed into these insights?
  • Will Net Promoter Score surveys be more tightly coupled with a customer view, rather than being run independently from the CRM system and software usage numbers?

Customer Psychology

5. Customers will demand Customer Success Management

In a 2015 report from Totango, more than one-third of Customer Success teams report directly to the CEO, an increase of 15% from 2014. Customer Success will continue its emergence as a cross-functional business unit, achieving goals that require orchestration between several departments. Customers expectations will change in line with this trend.

For the mutual value proposition to work, a Customer Success team needs to have a 360 degree view of the product or service each customer purchased at their fingertips. This requires knowledge from all areas of the business, including product updates and marketing events. Given the need for CSM knowledge to reach across the business, a successful approach will demand C-level support, new organisational structures and improved internal communication to bust inter-organizational silos. Salespeople who guard their relationships, refuse to integrate their data with a Customer Success platform and insist their sales system should stand alone will face resistance from Customer Success in 2016. Customers will demand it.

Download your FREE Customer Success platform readiness worksheet and receive a BONUS article: ‘How to avoid a failed Customer Success platform implementation.’ Click here to download now.

What are your predictions for Customer Success platforms in 2016? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

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