We often talk to prospective customers who tell us they’re focusing on customer success as a driver of growth. But other than monitoring renewals and churn, they’re not sure they’re using the best financial processes to track progress on this objective. Sound familiar? There are a number of financial processes that aid a company’s growth via customer success, but they must be done right in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
For example, visibility, accuracy and efficiency in the quote-to-cash process ensures that customer bills are accurate, timely, and match the terms of the contract with the customer, all of which contribute to customer success and satisfaction.
Visibility into utilization and profitability of the professional services organization lets leaders see which implementation, training and onboarding projects are underway in order to ensure that new customers are positioned to succeed from day one and to measure the time and costs invested in these customer projects.
But the most important financial process that drives customer success is delivering real-time relevant financial information and KPI performance to all stakeholders to drive the business. While CFOs used to focus on financial reports (often based on just the GAAP metrics of the past), today’s CFO must also deliver reports and KPIs related to customers and business operations. The reason this process is so critical is that it goes beyond financial insights and into management insights so the company can identify customer problems and opportunities faster than ever before.
For retaining existing customers and reducing churn, software businesses need to keep customers happy. Today’s CFO needs to collect data from many sources: sales, support, customer surveys, social media, CRM, business partners and more in order to get a complete view of the business. A modern cloud ERP system like Intacct turns various data sources into centralized useful information better and faster than disjointed applications and manual processes. It makes it easier to move quickly to collect and analyze customer data from multiple sources and systems.
In addition, KPIs for business and operational management can illustrate customer sentiment. They help in understanding the change in monthly recurring revenue, customer lifetime value, customer acquisition costs, and churn indicators and external factors impacting your business – all of which are beyond what is found in a typical set of GAAP financial statements. Forward-thinking CFOs see the value and opportunity from the business management capabilities of this new wave of ERP solutions and are seeing trends and opportunities that will dramatically improve the business.
The cloud enables businesses to be more agile in order to rapidly establish standard processes and empirical data that can in turn improve the business and positively impact the customer experience.
Resolving disparate C-suite priorities in decision making
SandHill’s study, “Software CEO / CFO Outlook 2015: On the Customer Success Road in a Perfect Storm,” found that many companies recently added strategic new hires (chief of customer success, chief product officer, senior VP of strategy, chief strategy officer, chief legal officer, chief revenue officer, chief sales officer) and include them among the C-level execs at the table in their strategic planning processes. Each of these strategic additions to the company has a different approach to customer success – innovate the product in order to keep customers loyal, optimize pricing to make it easier to upsell and renew, establish new channels and strategic partnerships to find loyal customers in other market segments, prevent revenue loss and customer churn via flexible subscription terms, “growth hack” with a way for current customers to easily share and recommend the product and more.
The CFO plays a critical role in enabling the organization to come to effective decisions about customer success in a timely manner despite the variety of roles, perspectives and priorities at the table. Using a modern cloud ERP solution, the CFO empowers problem solvers, letting everyone dig deeper to understand the true nature of the business and uncover new opportunities from a single source of truth. The CFO can now assist the other members of the team with where the next dollar should be spent and why, thus maximizing the impact for the company and improving the return on investment.
A financial system that utilizes dimensions allows every executive to view the business through their particular lens and the attributes that matter most:
- Revenue by product, module, customer segment, region and channel
- Churn by number of customers, by dollar, by product, by sales rep
- Profit by product, channel and customer
- Impact of new offerings on current products
Spreadsheets or static reports will not help an organization with a need for such diverse, dynamic financial and operational data to run the business.
The key to business growth is understanding the organization in real time so that leaders can quickly make the right decisions. Intacct is the only mid-market cloud financial application that shows both business and operational metrics by any dimension that matters to the business.
Management can go to one place to get a full view of business performance and customer success metrics — from any angle, in any configuration that’s helpful to strategic decision making. With Intacct-driven insight, growing businesses can:
- Ask new business questions, get fast answers and make confident decisions
- Increase decision-making speed across and up and down the organization
- Steer growth by understanding not just the financials but also key operational metrics and ratios
The power of a modern cloud ERP solution not only lets the CFO empower peers in the C-suite to rapidly identify problems and opportunities with valuable, relevant insights but also allows the CFO to maintain a level of control and accuracy over a complete and reliable single source of business data. With a modern cloud ERP solution, a CFO can go beyond reliable financial statements to reliable management insights accessible by the problem solvers in the organization.
Robert Reid is CEO of Intacct Corporation, a leading provider of best-in-class cloud ERP software. With more than 35 years of experience in the software industry, Rob has a proven track record of driving explosive growth at innovative companies, and has demonstrated a deep expertise in bringing cloud computing to the world of business applications.