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Customer success management, customer health, and retention in B2B industries
Hochstein, Bryan W.
Voorhees, Clay M.
Pratt, Alexander B.
Nagel, Duane M.
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Hochstein, B., Voorhees, C.M., Pratt, A.B., Rangarajan, D., Nagel, D.M., Mehrotra, V. (2023). Customer success management, customer health, and retention in B2B industries. International Journal of Research in Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijresmar.2023.09.002
Customer Success (CS) Management is an emerging B2B marketing strategy. The task of CS management is to increase customer retention through dedicated and ongoing proactive attention to improving the value customers realize from a product or solution. Leveraging a theories-in-use approach, we demonstrate the adoption of CS management across a wide range of B2B settings and unpack how the implementation of a CS strategy can complement existing sales and service efforts to increase customer retention. We find that a central element to CS management is the tracking of customer health, which is a new marketing metric that is viewed as the pulse of CS strategy. Customer health is a formative metric comprised of objective and subjective data points that track (1) relationship quality, (2) product usage, and (3) customer value realization. CS managers leverage customer health data to proactively manage B2B relationships and reduce churn. While CS management has been widely adopted, we also find that not all CS implementations are initially successful. As such, we describe contingency factors related to short-term ambiguities within the organization and long-term factors that impact implementation of CS management. Given the nascent nature of research on CS management in the marketing literature, our article closes with a comprehensive set of future research opportunities and emerging challenges for firms focusing on customer success.
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