Any enterprise worth its salt will purport to be customer-centric. Yet, what this actually means in practice can be a pale imitation of the approach needed for the customer retention and renewal rates required for business growth.

We are in an era where sporadic client satisfaction scores and a reliance on dated customer service and sales support no longer cuts it. Traditional investment in sales simply isn’t paying off in the way it once did. Typically, the customer journey is now long and fluctuating, and demands a commitment from the service provider to deliver value at each stage in the process, irrespective of customer size. And of course, the real work only begins after the client is won.

In short, the game has changed forever, prompted by the customer themselves who have higher expectations around service quality and the innovation required to pique their interest and retain their loyalty. This has gone hand-in-hand with a technological revolution which has had significant influence on the dynamics and balance of power between the business and customer in the enterprise software space. The rise of cloud computing, hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and subscription-based monthly recurring revenue models have been the game-changer. Now, only customers satisfied by the business value provided by the software will be incentivised to continue making ongoing payments, putting them firmly in the driving seat. As such, keeping them on board has never mattered more, in some instances a strategic endeavour that usurps the chasing of new leads.

It’s the reason why the savviest operators in the digital enterprise recognise that managing customer success must now be a fully-fledged function in its own right. And, more broadly, fully ingrained within the business culture. Populated by a team that are accountable for delivering financially sound, scalable, outcome-focused and growth-driven support to clients, all activity stems from the ability to know every aspect of customer needs and behaviour. Only by conducting a continual assessment of their health, and factoring in the change and evolution in the customer journey, will the business be equipped to identify risky renewals and avoid missed opportunities.

By utilising the wealth of customer data that we now have at our disposal, and drilling deep into client accounts, we can now identify where the attention and resources should be placed. Only then are we ready to apply the nuanced and anticipatory interventions which can lead to greater advocacy, leading to impressed customers communicating the advantages of the product to others in their network.

Ultimately, the business that can best gather, analyse and utilise data to garner the most pertinent insights into their audience, will be best placed to thrive. This is why success hinges on the right data solution, a challenge that can still thwart many organisations. Indeed, customer success specialist UserIQ’s first annual State of Customer Success and Trends found that the greatest challenge for almost 40% of customer success teams was gaining visibility into customer health metrics and user behaviours.

The onus, therefore, must be placed upon customer-aligned delivery models, notably the cloud, predictive analytics and a platform that offers a single view of customer data via visual reports and dashboards. Only such granular detail, presented in a clear and accessible way, will enable informed decision making.

While this becomes the basis for making a shrewd and timely product recommendation, the visibility and broader picture provided goes beyond metrics. Indeed, it can achieve more meaningful and engaged relationships, in which the customer is helped to derive success from the product offered.

It is the antithesis of the traditional, short-sighted approach of simply viewing customers as a mere revenue stream. The result is a successful marriage of technical innovation and the very human qualities of rapport and relationship building found in good customer success managers, who are now empowered by having greater insight at their fingertips.