What is Customer Success?
Customer success is the process of proactively managing your customers to ensure they achieve their desired outcome by using your product. By anticipating customer challenges based on their usage, communication and support and by providing solutions to their challenges before the issues arise, you can increase customer satisfaction and in turn reduce churn.
Customer Success increases customer loyalty, boosts retention and provides up-sell opportunities.
Why is customer success important?
The success of your customer is related to the success of your business. If your customer succeeds using your product, they will continue using your product and your business will grow.
Getting a new customer costs 5x more than keeping existing customers. In addition, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% as opposed to a new customer which is 5-20%.
How is Customer Success different from Customer Support and Account Management?
Customer Support is predominantly reactive. When a Customer has a problem with their product or requires further information, they contact the support desk through one of the various channels like email, chat, phone, or social media. The Customer Support agent reacts to the query and provides the solution most appropriate to the problem.
Account Management is an old practice that used to work for legacy products. The Account Managers used to visit customers or speak to them over the phone occasionally to figure out if they were doing OK and whether they had any problems. Their job was to ensure the customer was happy and to increase the account size. Again, they know of the problems only when speaking to them or in some cases when it was too late.
The fundamental difference with Customer Success is you are involved from day 1 to proactively ensure customers get the best from your product and that it helps solve their business problems. There are no surprises as you constantly know what features your Customer uses and what they don’t use and why. You’re proactively managing their issues, support tickets and staying on top of their financial history to identify churn well before it happens and proactively helping them get the best value from their product.
Customer Success Management
Customer Success Management is the process of managing Customer Success representatives to ensure Customers assigned to them get the best value out of the product. It increases customer satisfaction, happiness, advocacy and retention by keeping the goals of the customer and company aligned.
Elements of Customer Success Management:
It all starts with building a team of Customer Success Managers who eventually become the voice of the Customer. Their vision should be clearly set out to ensure the customer gets the best value from the software that they have bought. Retention and advocacy are by-products of a good Customer Success team managing their Customers.
Most time is spent in identifying the strategy that would work for our business as Customer Success varies from one Customer to another. Here are some of the areas to focus on to build a solid Customer Success strategy.
Customer Onboarding is one of the most important aspects in a good Customer Success strategy. A lot of people resist change, especially if they are used to doing the same job a different way and are comfortable with that. A new process means new learning and changing the way they work. This is where a smooth friction-free onboarding for the new users is imperative.
Customers who experience a good onboarding process are more likely to continue as your customer for a long time increasing your lifetime value.
Some of the things to consider while coming up with your onboarding strategy are:
- First-time experience
- Setting expectations of what the product can and can’t do
- Keeping it simple – do they really need to be exposed to all the features you have?
- Videos to help users understand your product
- Allowing them to skip features that they might not find useful for them
- Building a relationship with the key sponsor and influencers from day 1
As part of onboarding, the exact problem that the Customer is trying to solve should be understood and the training should be focussed on the features of the product that help solve that problem. The product could have several other features but not all of them will be useful to the user on day 1. In addition to hands-on training, walk-through videos and tips on the product will help the user navigate around the product.
NPS, CSAT and CES survey responses are critical to measuring how your customer finds your product and what they feel about it. For every complaint that you receive, there will be approximately dozens of other people who will be unhappy but choose to say nothing. These are the people who will usually churn. Therefore, customer feedback is even more important.
A survey is best timed after doing some action for the customer, like resolving a support ticket or when the customer has got some value from the product.
There are many metrics that may indicate that a customer is at risk of churning. Some of them are:
- Decrease in usage of product
- Delayed Payments
- Expired credit card not updated
- Key sponsor leaving the job
- Low NPS score
- Licence Utilisation
It is essential to keep track of the various indicators about the customer regularly and proactively reach out to the customer. It is imperative to address their concerns and take corrective measures before it’s too late.
As mentioned earlier, selling to existing customers is much easier and cost effective than finding new customers. For that, the customer must be satisfied and happy with the product and that’s where Customer Success comes in.
Identify traits that show that the customer is ready for an upsell. This could include closely monitoring metrics like license utilization and feature adoption and identifying the right time to approach the customer to upsell.
There are plenty of marketing channels and marketing content out there from influencer marketing to paid advertising. Even though these various channels and strategies yield results, nothing gives as much confidence to a potential buyer than hearing it from an existing customer.
How you convert your customers who get full value from your product and are happy with your service to become your advocates should be a key aspect of your Customer Success strategy.
If you can get your customers to do case studies for you, that will go a long way in promoting your brand, your product and more importantly credibility. There are few things money can’t buy and getting one of your well-known customers to talk good about your product and service is one.
To perform Customer Success at scale, you would need a Customer Success product. This is a fairly new category that has emerged in the last few years realizing the importance of Customer Success. Typically, it brings data from multiple systems like finance, support, surveys, etc into one central place. It calculates health scores that show how your customers are doing and allows your Customer Success Manager (CSM) to run their day-to-day operations from one central place.
Further, these tools allow CSMs to manage more customers by automating tasks like sending surveys, reminding users and creating tasks but at the same time personalizing to give the feel to the customer that it was sent by their CSM.
Hope this gives you an introduction about Customer Success, how to manage it and how to build a strategy. Like all things big, starting small is the key. Start by listing small things you can do in terms of Customer Success and slowly build out a strategy and a team. Once you do that, track your churn rate and implement your strategy and you will surely see it fall.