WHY IS Vision Management IMPORTANT?
Typically, businesses define and utilize vision statements both internally and externally. Internally, a business’s vision guides the thinking for strategic issues and employee decision making. It also should inspire employees as they share common goals. Externally, the vision can be used to enlist support and improve communication with customers and partners. In the context of Customer Success, vision management is guiding and modifying your strategy and philosophy for working with customers. Externally, it refers to managing the approach and delivery to meet the evolving outcomes of your customer.
WHO NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO DO Vision Management?
Just as an entire organization should know and be inspired by the business’s vision, so should everyone know how to manage their behaviors (and those of their direct reports) to achieve the vision of the business and that of the customer, as well.
PUTTING Vision Management IN CONTEXT
Vision management is pervasive. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end, but is ongoing throughout the life of the business and the relationship with the customer. Vision management is important from the onset of a customer relationship to provide an overarching perspective on the philosophy and strategy of your business. As customers increasingly adopt your solution and become more loyal, vision management becomes agile in right-sizing and delivering value that aligns with your business’s vision and those of your customers, as well.
GUIDELINES FOR Vision Management
Microsoft says this about managing vision and purpose: Managing vision and purpose involves anticipating future trends, creating a compelling vision, and communicating that vision. People who manage vision and purpose impassion others, generating expectancy and optimism.
Vision management in Customer Success can be exciting. It’s about being impassioned and then conveying that enthusiasm and optimism as you work with your customer.
We can apply this approach to vision management in Customer Success both internally and externally:
Internal Vision Management
Customer Success Managers are the pivotal link between the customer and your organization. As such, they are responsible for knowing your company vision and embodying that in their relationships with customers.
- Embracing the company vision. Know what your organization stands for and why. Seek to find links between the vision and your product, strategy, and your daily responsibilities. This will give you purpose and bond you and your colleagues. Note: if you are not inspired or compelled by your corporate vision, then you may either be working for the wrong organization, or you may have an opportunity to work with leadership to enhance the vision.
- Communicating that vision. Your corporate vision should be integrally woven into your approach to working with your customer. Continually assess how your methodology for delivering value and interacting with your customers aligns with your corporate vision. If the vision for the organization evolves, so should your approach. Think of communicating your vision as wearing your brand at all times. Are you proud of the vision? Do you wear your logo with pride? Do your customers perceive that you passionately embrace your corporate vision?
External Vision Management
Managing the vision of your customer is essentially what Customer Success Managers do all the time. Just as you seek to understand your customers’ desired outcomes in adopting your solution, you also want to understand their corporate vision (and values) and what their vision is for partnering with you.
On a tactical level, vision management is about unlocking possibilities. Your customer may have a relatively simple vision for how they will use your solution to solve a problem, but you know all that your solution can do for them. This requires gentle and continuous vision management.
Consider these examples of vision management:
- After months of a slow onboarding process (perhaps slowed by their internal availability and resources), your customer finally has an eye-opening experience and begins to see future possibilities with your solution. Or, perhaps, your customer has had frustrations utilizing a core capability of your solution. Your team has worked tirelessly to get them to finally begin using it. It’s your job to help them see all the possibilities that this effort has unlocked. Vision management in this situation involves both celebration and education. Celebrate the value attainment and then educate them on what they are now able to do because of the work that’s been done. Don’t be afraid to explicitly point out how this is just the beginning on their road to greater value and outcome realization.
- Your customer seems to be at a standstill in adopting and using features of your solution. Your role is to continuously and gently expose them to features and functionality that align with their business model and desired outcomes. It may take time for them to see possibilities, but if you let them stay where they are, with a very narrow vision for how to use your solution, they certainly won’t glean full value from your product and are at risk of churning.
These examples are about being conscientious in leveraging inflection points in your relationship to move forward and manage the re-visioning of the relationship. What more can they do to increase adoption? How can this inflection point lead to an expanded vision?
Vision management with customers is difficult. Sometimes it feels like you keep going down dead ends (their frustrations or lack of priority in adopting your solution). Effectively managing your customer’s vision for adopting your solution requires persistence and an agile approach to understanding their business and desired outcomes.
Over-managing Vision Management
Just as you need to be vigilant in continuously understanding and managing your customer’s vision for adoption, you also should take care to not “over-manage” their vision. Here are some potential consequences of “over-managing” vision:
- You could move too fast and leave people behind. Great vision management takes time to be effective.
- You could irritate you customers. Vision must align with reality. If you get too caught up in what can happen, and don’t align those ideas with daily tasks and capabilities, you will only frustrate users.
- You could cause a communication gap. Your vision may not be the same as your customers (or your company’s). It’s inadvisable to try to force vision on anyone. Just as you wouldn’t like to work for a company whose vision doesn’t align with your values, your customer doesn’t want you to determine their vision for them, especially if it doesn’t align with their corporate vision.
WHAT DO WE LEARN THROUGH Vision Management?
Think of vision management as an opportunity to be inspired and to inspire, and to effectively manage the changes that accompany this inspiration. Vision management is a dynamic process in which you, as the Customer Success professional, are continuously seeking to understand your business, it’s vision, it’s possibilities, and then share those with your customer.
If you are successful in vision management, you will garner greater loyalty from your customers and unlock possibilities for growth.