Don’t change, transform

Have you ever considered the difference between the word change and transform?

Here’s how Webster’s dictionary defines each:

Change: To make different in some particular; to alter.

Transform: To change in composition or structure.

Do you notice the difference? To change is to modify, I think of incremental improvements. Making something fast, faster; something big, bigger; something beautiful, beautiful-er(?).

But to transform is more fundamental. Fast things are made obsolete, like automobiles replacing horses.

Customer Success is a transformative concept in the same way. SaaS and other services monetized via subscriptions and transactional models need transformation to survive.

If your company still thinks of customer activities in terms of a waterfall, Sales –> Implementation –> Account Management, you probably need a transformation. In the subscription world, sales never ends, and we don’t implement, we activate.

Your have to lead your customers to value, and watch their every move to make sure they aren’t falling off the tracks. You have to iterate constantly – your product, your processes, your engagement methods – as you learn more about your market.

It’s a journey that results in increased customer lifetime value and profitability. But it’s more like a goat path than a strait, narrow road to get there.


The DNA of your company may have to transform. New roles may be necessary, filled by individuals that don’t exist within your four walls.

You probably need to learn new ways of working – iteratively instead of deterministically.

At some point in the evolution of a business, customer-led growth becomes an imperative, not just a nice-to-have. And as you reach that inflection point, it’s better that you not be playing catch-up.

So, as your market and customers continue to evolve, how are you transforming to remain relevant? Beware, it’s not a fixed problem space with one optimum, engineered solution.

Customer-driven growth is a human design problem which is constantly changing and moving around on us. If we’re not evolving in parallel, we’ll inevitably be overtaken by more nimble, better funded competitors.


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