You may or may not have heard the quote, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is 100% true when it comes to having happy customers. With so many customers, you need to identify their goals and help them achieve them.
That’s only possible when you have an effective customer success plan. So, what exactly is it, and how can you get one? This guide has everything you need to know.
What is a customer success plan?
How do you know that you have been successful with your customers? You will have customers who are happy to buy your products or services and are willing to refer your brand to others.
The pathway towards achieving this success is known as a customer success plan. A customer success plan involves what customer success is and how you can ensure your customers achieve this. This is a roadmap to help customer success teams understand how to operate optimally and help customers achieve value.
What’s the difference between customer success and customer service?
It’s not strange to see customer support, customer service and customer success being used interchangeably. However, they all mean different things. The major difference between customer success and customer service is that one is proactive while the other is reactive.
Customer success applies a proactive approach towards adding value to customers, while customer service is mostly a reaction to issues raised by customers. Therefore, the customer usually initiates the interaction with customer service.
Why should you create a customer success plan?
A customer success plan is important for being in total control of the kind of relationship that exists between your customer and product. Therefore, some of the important reasons why you should create a customer success plan are:
- Focus better on your customer’s goals by consistently meeting their expectations.
- Easily alter your strategy so that they fit your customers’ goals. This ensures you’re always ready with a plan that doesn’t crumble with slight changes.
- Save time by planning for issues well in advance.
- With a good customer success plan, you’ll increase customer satisfaction, which reduces the chances of churn.
- Get more opportunities to upsell your customers to more expensive and feature-rich aspects of your products.
Challenges of Customer success plan
A customer success plan in SAAS has its challenges. Here are a few of them:
- Lack of understanding of the target audience: The best customer success plans are those that understand the pain point of customers, their goals and the exact solutions they are looking for.
- Too many expectations you cannot implement: Your customer success plan shouldn’t include unrealistic expectations that you’ll be unable to meet, as this will leave your customers unsatisfied. Therefore, this defeats the goal of having a customer success plan in the first place.
- The document gets outdated: There’s always a risk of your customer success plan becoming outdated as your customers’ needs evolve or you discover new industry trends. Therefore, a good way to combat this is to have a flexible customer success plan that you can modify easily.
- Market changes and moves away from the solution/proposed plan: The market can be unpredictable. Due to the unprecedented rise in technology, these changes can deviate from your proposed plan.
- No clear definition of customer stakeholders: One of the most important aspects of preparing a customer success plan is knowing your target audience and what they want. When this is not clearly defined, your customer stakeholders won’t achieve their goals.
- Measuring vanity metrics: There are many metrics to look out for in today’s business world, but not all are relevant to your customer success plan. Some quality metrics to look out for are retention rate, customer feedback, free-to-paid conversion if you offer premium products and customer lifetime value.
How to Create an Effective Customer Success Plan
1. Identify the high-value problems your customers have:
The first stage of having an effective customer success plan is knowing exactly why you want to create it. At the moment, there’s a gap in the market between your customer problems and the abilities of your existing products. Therefore, your plan should identify your customer’s pain points and tackle their high-value problems.
2. Highlight the high-value outcomes you have to deliver that solve those problems:
Every product solves a problem. If it doesn’t, then no one would be interested. So, what problem does your product or service solve, and how will you know that it has effectively solved the problems of your target audience? Knowing the answer to these questions is key to creating effective customer success plans.
3. Create a customer roadmap:
Just as you won’t go on a trip to a new territory without a map or a visual itinerary, you’ll also need a proper customer roadmap to help them reach their goals without deviating. A customer roadmap is a visual representation of the vision and goals of your customer, which can help you gather customer feedback and get a clear overview of their user journey. A customer roadmap is crucial to deliver high-value outcomes and reduce customer churn.
With this roadmap, you can easily identify the future resources and actions you need to take to guarantee the satisfaction of your customers. You’ll also stay on track to fulfilling your promises to customers, ensuring that you always steer them on the right path from start to finish. Customer success plans need vision and a predictive approach, and this customer success roadmap makes them available. Usually, your roadmap would progress from adoption to retention, expansion, and advocacy.
4. Map your customer success plan:
When you can answer important questions, such as the things within your organization that are working and how to identify unsatisfied customers, you’ll be able to map an effective customer success plan. This map should show the processes to initiate, manage, expand and reference the steps in the customer lifecycle.
These steps in your customer lifecycle could include adoption, activation, expansion, and advocacy. The major elements to include in your customer success plan are:
- Timeline: This represents the specific date for implementing the customer success plan.
- Roadmap stages: We have outlined the roadmap stages earlier, and you always need to identify what phase your project is in to ensure that you’re ready with the corresponding strategy.
- Tactics/tasks of every team involved at various touchpoints: Who are your customer success team members, and what are their roles? This should be outlined in your customer success plan to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.
- Customer engagement model: Your customer engagement model can include high-touch onboarding, high-touch adoption, low-touch onboarding or low-touch adoption. It could be a combination of product adoption and onboarding methods. High-touch onboarding is more about being hands-on, while low-touch onboarding involves easy to set up tools. On the other hand, high-touch adoption pairs a dedicated customer success manager with each customer account, while low-touch adoption involves digital communication via email.
- Expectations: What outcome would make your customer success plan successful?
- Metrics to measure: The goals and metrics to measure should be SMART. This is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
You need to stay updated on the progress of your customer success plan and adjust to continue to deliver high-value outcomes.
6. Evolve customer success plans:
Your customer success plans shouldn’t be rigid. Ensure that they can easily adjust to business and market changes.
What is a 30-60-90 day customer success plan?
This strategic documentation is in three phases, outlining your goals within 90 days. Within the first 30 days, you should understand your customers, including their expectations. The next 30 days are for creating your customer success plan, while the last 30 days focus on executing that plan. Before executing your plan, you should identify your priority, goals and what will serve as your measure of success.
Customer Success plan templates
To offer value throughout your customer’s lifecycle, you need customer success plan templates that increase product adoption, reduce churn rate, show how your product can meet customers’ expectations, and help them see the value of your products. Here are some customer success plan examples for onboarding.
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Best Practices for creating a Customer success plan
1. Group your target audience:
You would have realized over time that when tasks are broken into smaller chunks, they don’t seem as difficult as when they appeared huge. This works for customer success plans too. Group your customers into smaller segments to make the plan easier to understand.
2. Define expectations:
You must implement strategic discussions to uncover your customers’ expectations from the get-go. Discover what they expect from your products or services and translate them into actions.
3. Focus on present and evolving customer success plans:
Here are some tips to help you achieve this.
- Validate goals set through data
- Evaluate market changes: Be sure to incorporate them into the next phase of your plan.
- Verify if your product abilities are still sufficient for the market
- Tracking customer satisfaction: Carry out periodic surveys to obtain customer feedback and understand how they view your products.
4. Optimize your customer success plan to fit your customer journey:
Most customers won’t be at the same stage of their customer journey simultaneously. Therefore, your customer success plan shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it should be personalized to fit each customer’s unique journey.
5. Assign the appropriate team to monitor each stage:
Monitoring is super important. Therefore, a team member must be in every stage of the implementation of your customer success plan. The goal is to ensure that they monitor the appropriate metrics towards actualizing the objective of every stage. A pre-assigned schedule will help everyone understand their roles and when each should be executed.
A customer success plan for SaaS aims to help you connect with your customers better so you can achieve your goals faster in the easiest way possible. To make this work, you need the right tool to help you keep track of important metrics.
So, why don’t you check out the amazing features on Churn360 to find out how you can increase your chances of having an effective customer success plan?