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Blaming the Customer

THE MOST TOXIC CHURN EXCUSE OF ALL: STOP BLAMING THE CUSTOMER!
Why we do it, and how to take ownership of customer behavior ↓

I've been writing recently about the toxic excuses for customer churn and how we blame the product, sales, and a lack of resources. But one excuse is more insidious than all the others: blaming the customer.


The logic goes like this:

⓵ We give every customer the same product and provide them all with the same support.

⓶ But customers get wildly different results. Some succeed and stay, while others fail and churn.

⓷ The only explanation for the variability is the customer! Some customers do what it takes to succeed, and others don't.


CONCLUSION: That's why failure is ultimately on the customer.


This logic is sound, but the conclusion is not. Here's why...


📊 Research shows conclusively that the dominant reason customers stay is because they achieve results. Customers with measurable results stay 6 TIMES LONGER!


✅ It's clear that customers achieve measurable results because they CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR in key ways that take advantage of how the product produces benefits.


That means... CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR CHANGE IS EVERYTHING!


But we need to ask the right question:


The question is not: "Is customer failure driven by their own behavior?" Obviously, the answer to this question is YES.


The right question is: "Who's responsible for ensuring the customer changes their behavior?"


THIS IS WHY BLAMING THE CUSTOMER IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE...


► The purpose of Customer Success is to ensure that customers change their behavior in ways that are essential to achieving measurable results.


We cannot blame the customer for their failure to make key behavior changes when that's what we exist to accomplish!


🛑 Now, I'm not so naive as to suggest that we can totally control how customers behave. We obviously can't. But...


👉 Changing customer behavior is the primary function of customer success, and it cannot be done effectively without taking direct responsibility for it. 👈


When customers fail because they do not make the key behavior changes, we should study the situation closely to determine what WE could have done better.


Wherever we have influenced customer behavior effectively, WE need to standardize what worked in the playbook.


That's why it's so toxic to blame the customer. Until we take responsibility for customer behavior, we will never discover how much more leverage we really have!


And that has been the most exciting part for me →


✅ As soon as I resolved to "own" customer behavior, I immediately started discovering ways to improve it. Ultimately, I've found that we have vastly more opportunities to drive customer behavior change than I ever thought possible.


🔑 The key is to operate as if the customer's behavior is our responsibility.


This approach has been transformative for my customer success practice and for the teams I lead.

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