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Jillian Kaplan

Innovation as a Key to Customer Success

Jillian Kaplan

  • Jul 15, 2020
  • 5 Min read
  • Jul 15, 2020
  • 5 Min read
Product Management
Product Discovery
Design Thinking


This guide will discuss why innovation is a key to customer success. Both innovation and customer success are terms that mean different things to different people. It’s important to understand exactly what innovation is as well as customer success so we can see why innovation is a key to customer success. This guide will also look at the benefits of innovation to understand how they fully apply to customer success.

What is Innovation?

Innovation is a key driver to a company’s long-term success. The dictionary defines innovation as "a new idea, method, or device and/or the introduction of something new."

Innovation simply means a new idea, product or service. That can include things like products that you bring to market as well as simple ideas that a customer never sees but that help you in many other ways. This second type of innovation is often seen only internally, but can impact the company’s bottom line in a positive way. Both of these types of innovation can lead to customer success.

What is Customer Success?

Customer success is a newer term. A lot of people don’t fully understand why you would want a customer to succeed--isn’t the bottom line for you to succeed because they purchase from you?

However, customer success really refers to building a relationship. Customers purchase things from people they know, like, and trust. As you build your customer success story, think about the relationship you have with your customers. Are you someone that your customers know, like, and trust? A great product is certainly important, but in order to get your customers’ attention you have to work on the relationship first.

What Are the Benefits of Innovation?

There are tons of benefits to innovation within an organization. Innovation helps you:

  • Solve problems
  • Market better
  • Beat your competition
  • Increase productivity
  • Have better relationships
  • Foster great internal culture and employee happiness

How does innovation help you solve problems?

If people in an organization are able to be innovative and come up with solutions that aren’t the status quo, you are much more likely to be able to solve a problem. If problems are supposed to be solved a "certain way" and that "way" doesn’t work for a problem, it’s going to be much harder to resolve it. Encouraging innovation helps come up with creative problem-solving ideas.

How does innovation help you market better?

There are certainly tried and true ways to market a product. But being able to try different ways and innovate in your marketing organization could yield huge results. The reality is that marketing changes over time, and you need to be able to innovate within your marketing organization to market more effectively. For example, look at the shift to social media marketing over the last 5-10 years. We now have entire departments dedicated to it, whereas 10+ years ago it wasn’t even a "thing" when you talked about marketing.

How does innovation help you beat your competition?

This is a pretty simple one. The more innovative you are in your products and solutions, the better chance you have of beating your competition by bringing products to market that your customers want.

How does innovation increase productivity?

Productivity is defined by your employees, which are your greatest asset and your greatest expense. If your employees are able to innovate and contribute rather than just being bean counters, they will be more productive in their roles.

How does innovation help you build better relationships?

It’s very simple. If you allow people to innovate they will feel valued. Valued people are happy. Happy people are nice to others and create both better internal and external relationships. No matter the role in the company, everyone is a sales person. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. If your employees are happy and kind, the relationships come naturally.

How does innovation help you with internal culture and happiness?

This goes back to having employees go beyond being bean counters, or people who do their jobs every day (in this case, counting beans) and go home. Of course employees are hired to do a job, but hopefully you hired them because you felt like they bring something more to the table. Let them bring that "something." They will be much happier, and a bunch of happy people working together creates an amazing company culture.

How Do the Benefits of Innovation Lead to Customer Success?

Do these six benefits of innovation actually lead to customer success? The overwhelming answer is yes, because if you are seeing all of these benefits of innovation in your organization, customer success will come naturally. However, it is important that customers become part of the innovation process. They should be involved in new product decisions, and understand the areas in which innovation is key. This will make your customers more like partners, which leads to much greater customer success.


Innovation has lots of benefits that naturally lead to customer success. Being an innovative company and partnering with your customers throughout the innovation process ensures that you are not only innovating but innovating in a way that your customers want to see. Having that level of partnership with your customers will ensure success.