A good customer success professional is, in some ways, like a great server or wonderful restaurant staff. If they’re at the top of their game, they’ll make everything go smoothly and enhance your entire experience.
However, also like a great server, a customer success professional is much more than an order-taker. They’re strategic, hard-working, and focused on meeting the needs of their customers.
Are you trying to build an impactful customer success program that meets the needs of your customers? We’ve identified three elements that are crucial to building a customer success program that will retain the long-term loyalty of your clients.
Think about some of the innovations that have been adopted by the best restaurants.
They make sure the experience is wonderful, but they also build a relationship with you outside the restaurant through their use of technology.
They set up email programs to send you special invitations to dine on your anniversary or birthday. They use a database to keep track of your favorite dessert or have your favorite wine ready to pour upon your arrival.
Technology supports their other outstanding efforts to serve and connect with you. Developing an exceptional customer success program requires the use of technology, as well.
Data analysis is one of the key areas where technology can support your customer success efforts. When you look at data regarding a customer’s use of your product, for example, you may see that they’re logging in infrequently, or that they’ve never accessed a particular function that you think would enhance their experience with your product.
From there, a great customer success team can offer coaching and support, encouraging the customer to access it, sharing success stories from other clients, or offering technical support or training materials.
You can use technology, data analysis, and your buyer personas to segment your customer base into smaller groups. As you divide them and find commonalities, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with them.
You can set up email or contact sequences that focus on specific groups of customers. Some examples include:
- A customer’s specific industry
- A certain product they’ve purchased from you
- Annual recurring revenue generated from your partnership
- Potential for upsells or additional revenue growth
- Where they are in the lifecycle of their relationship. This tactic could mean a specific onboarding segment for newer customers, or segmenting into groups based on remaining time on their contracts.
Your messages can be specifically targeted to each group. In this way, you’ll be able to connect on topics and issues that mean the most to them, rather than casting a wide net and hoping something you’re sending them is appealing.
Technology can also support customer success by allowing you to automate communications with customers.
It’s important to note this doesn’t mean taking a hands-off approach. Instead, you can consider these automated communications to be a “nudge” that benefits both you and the customer.
Sending out emails with surveys is a well-known tactic for getting a read on your customers' satisfaction with your product/service. You can also use automated communications to reach out and share new features or fixes, or just to check in.
How is this customer success, and not just regular marketing? Because of the follow-up.
Each automated message should give you insight into the customer’s actions, and it should also be an invitation for a conversation.
As an example, if you send information on a new feature, make it easy for them to click a button in an email and schedule a chat with you about it.
Technology is great, but all the dazzling bells and whistles in the world don’t matter if you don’t have a strategy behind the way you’re using them.
Think back to the idea of a great restaurant.
You can have a picture-perfect menu and concept, but if you don’t have the servers, chefs, and support staff in place to make the restaurant run smoothly, your kitchen might produce under-cooked food or wrong orders, your tables won’t turn quickly, and your diners probably won’t have a great experience. To put it bluntly, you won’t be winning any awards or repeat business anytime soon.
So, to avoid that scenario in the customer success world, what should you do? A strategic plan for customer success is key.
Map out the experience of your customer and the interactions they’re likely to have with your business. Look out for the following as you map those touch-points:
- Pain points: Where is the customer experience breaking down? According to research, 86% of customers are willing to pay for a great experience and are also very willing to leave because of a poor one. By taking a look at where most of the friction seems to be happening, you can make strategic decisions on how to help customers through it, whether that means additional or improved communications, more product development, or a human touch to guide them through the confusing parts.
- Opportunities: Look for points where you’re seeing other customers bite on purchasing an upgrade or adding to their relationship with you. Are there commonalities among the customers who make that choice? Keeping existing customers on board and adding to their lifetime value is the more efficient and strategic way to grow your business over time.
- Wins: Are there places where you can do something small but make a big impact? Strategically align your resources to add that extra reduction of friction or touch of delight to your customers' experience. It’s a great way to reduce churn and increase loyalty.
When it comes to strategy, it can also be helpful to rely on outside partners for guidance and mentorship.
Working with an outsourced customer success team can give you access to experienced staff who have a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in the field. They can offer strategic guidance based on successes they’ve seen with other clients.
And, they don’t have to be in-house experts to successfully sell your product.
Part of an outsourced customer success team’s value comes from the knowledge they’ve acquired through their experience in customer success. Using this base, they can then learn the nuances of your particular industry or product/service and elevate your customer success efforts to a whole new level.
Again, going back to the restaurant analogy, when you visit a restaurant, the food should be delectable and the atmosphere should be inviting. However, the restaurant’s investment in the right people (the server who personally highlights menu options, the sommelier who tastefully guides you through wine selections) is what takes the experience from “meh” to unforgettably amazing.
People provide the connection that creates loyalty to your product.
Imagine selling a client a product, then not touching base with them for an entire year until the contract renewal period is upon you. During that time, they’re probably not complaining (only 1 in 26 do) – they’ve probably been busy shopping the competition and finding a partner who’s focused on their needs.
Now, on the other hand, picture the kind of customer success team that touches base regularly, provides helpful guidance, leads customers to focus on new/increased ROI opportunities, and ensures the customer experience is overwhelmingly positive.
That customer success team is likely to keep the client on board and engaged; in fact, research shows that companies with best-in-class experiences generated 2x to 4x higher business growth and 30% higher profitability.
When it comes to evaluating success, there are plenty of numbers you can take a look at. You could measure anything and everything under the sun. However, if you had to look at one piece of data to determine whether your program is creating results, that top metric would be churn.
Churn, the rate at which customers cancel their use of your product, is the number-one enemy of strategic, long-term growth.
If you see your customers churning regularly, you’ll have to find new customers to take their place, and you’ll basically be working in a treadmill situation, unable to get ahead. On the other hand, if you can achieve even a 5% increase in customer retention, you’ll see amazing benefits to your revenue and relationships.
An outsourced customer success team can be a secret weapon in fighting against churn, as they’ll be well-equipped to understand and anticipate the customer’s needs and to encourage utilization of your product that helps your customer gain the most value from it.
Other customer success metrics to keep tabs on can include expansion revenue, portfolio growth, and customer satisfaction/NPS.
Building an effective customer success program takes experience, dedication, and strategic thinking. When you’re working with an outsourced team, you’ll have all of that in spades, and will be able to more successfully retain your customers to grow your revenue and referrals.
What's your biggest goal when it comes to creating customer success? How could an outsourced team support you? Let us know in the comments below: