The Customer Success Framework – Relationships, Risks, & Revenue

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist


Tony Nadalin currently serves at the Group VP of Customer Success in Oracle’s Marketing Cloud. Oracle is a leading computer technology company that offers comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications, platform services, and engineered systems.

Tony brings about 20 years of expertise in customer success and support in high tech and SaaS, including roles at Marketo and Satmetrix. As VP of Customer Success at Oracle, Tony focuses on growing their SaaS business into a main revenue stream. Tony brought his wealth of expertise in customer success to the CS100 Summit, sharing his unique concept, the ‘Three R Framework’ of customer success: relationship management, risk management, revenue management.

Watch Tony’s CS100 Summit Video Below

Relationships, Risks, and Revenue

“How many of you have you ever played craps?”

A somewhat unusual analogy, but one Tony made work to kick off his presentation on operationalizing customer success. He explained that the term “customer success” often makes companies feel uneasy or uncertain. However, by putting a framework around it, companies can learn to be confident in the ways they run customer success programs.


Throughout his time on the CS100 Stage, Tony walked the audience through how to look at customer success in a new way. He outlined an operational framework designed to galvanize conversations with customers, including setting up customer success teams, roles and enablements as well as providing key takeaways to better evaluate customer success in an organization.

The 3R’s: A Simple Framework to Orient Your Team’s Focus

Tony defined the three “R’s” of his framework in the following ways:

  1. Relationship Management: Relationship management refers to all aspects of how the customer is managed, from depth to breadth to understanding the customer’s business goals and everything in between.
  2. Risk Management: For the second “R” of risk management, Tony shared how companies must identify risk and how to identify reward.
  3. Revenue Management: The third “R” is fairly straightforward as companies must create revenue and profit for the customer and for the company.

After providing the outline, Tony went into more of a deep dive for each of the areas above.

Relationship Management


Using another analogy, this time of being unfriended on Facebook, Tony talked through how customers “break-up” with companies. If a real relationship isn’t formed, beyond email exchanges, companies run the risk of being “unfriended” by customers. There are five aspects to the Relationship Management component of the 3R’s. The first four Tony touched briefly on before doing a deeper analysis of the last point.

  1.     People Change and Bias
  2.     Decision Maker vs. Practitioner
  3.     Engagement: Quantity vs. Quality
  4.     Intelligent Virtual Conversations
  5.     Driving Mutual Value Partnership Reviews

For the last point, Tony referred to the Decker Communication Model. This model encourages companies to think differently about how they talk to customers, starting with requiring the customer service manager to have an actual point-of-view. Tony described this as creating a storyline; start with asking what the “big idea’ of the conversation is about.


Tony also drove home the idea of a Partnership Review as an opportunity to talk through their perception of the vendor, from value and impact to whether that customer would serve as a reference.

Risk Management

Tony, using a story about a Buddhist monk, pointed out that we are wired to process fear 7xs greater than reward. This idea came into sharper focus through this segment of the conversation. The five aspects of risk Tony outlined are:

  1.     Red is Good, Green is Better
  2.     Push vs. Pull Intelligence
  3.     Drivers of Risk and Loss
  4.     Triage Management
  5.     Loss Review


Tony pointed out that we are hardwired to focus on red, or critical, accounts. Teams do multiple dives into what went wrong and how the account got there. Tony then asked what if teams gave the same treatment to green accounts, working to understand why they are green? Tony makes a pretty big statement. If teams can profile and replicate what makes accounts green, the reds will eventually go away. In essence, according to Tony, companies should spend as much time understanding reward as they do risk in order to lessen risk.

Tony then presented a loss review template which he explained to be different than a loss review code. Coding is one thing but to Tony, it’s more important to use this template to find areas they could have controlled and, subsequently, learned from.


Revenue Management

Tony went on a high level explanation of the first four points here, and again focused on the last point.

  1.     Customer Success DNA
  2.     Mutual Value Creation
  3.     Pay for Performance Comp Models
  4.     Sales Motion Alignment
  5.     Retain vs. Upsell vs. Expansion (SaaS Waterfall)


Tony pointed out the three points on the SaaS Waterfall that every CSM should be able to measure anatomically at all times. They should be able to answer, “What are their customers’ retention, upsell, and expansion metrics?”

The Big Picture

Tony closed out his presentation by looking at the big picture and sharing with attendees that the  3R’s fit into the overall customer success landscape. However, he emphasized that in terms of knowledge versus operations in customer success, the 3R’s are only part of the operationalization management of customer success.

Download the full “Customer Success as a Culture” eBook series:

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Sales Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Marketing Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Product Leaders Edition

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong customer success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

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