How has your company made strides in recent years to help ensure customer success? The strategy of customer success involves making sure clients are getting the benefits they deserve from your company. Have you looked at things from the point of view of your customers? How are their interactions with your team? Do they seem to be performing themselves as well as possible? Before we dig into the principles of customer success, let's first define what customer success is (and isn't) and why it's important.
What is Customer Success?
It’s a proactive method of ensuring you’re meeting the needs of your customers to help them succeed with the help of your products and services. The goal is to reduce turnover to keep customers from choosing the competition instead.
According to HubSpot, “customer success provides proactive outreach aimed at increasing upsells and cross-sells, positive word-of-mouth, and successful outcomes for customers.”
Customers today have never had more options, and it’s never been easier for businesses to create new products and services. Because of this, there’s more pressure on companies, as sales and marketing aren’t always enough to sustain growth.
Why is Customer Success Important?
Customers are vital to your business, so focusing on them and their success with your products/services helps with retention. When customers are happy and succeeding thanks to your company, they’ll often refer your business to others.
Hubspot mentions that sales and marketing were the first two growth engines in business, and customer success is becoming the third growth engine. Customers have more choices than ever, and only 3% of people say they trust sales and marketing experts. Growth is likely going to stem from how well your company can build a happy customer base and reduce churn rather than how big your sales or marketing teams are.
According to Gainsight, guaranteeing customer success yields a positive impact on businesses, as happy and successful customers are repeat customers (and often bring new customers!).
Customer Success Principles
Some companies have Customer Success Managers who are in charge of training customers on best practices in the industry as well as how to best employ the product or service to achieve success. He/she helps determine what is and isn’t working as well as what else can be done to get results.
Here are a the top 5 core principles for customer success:
- Customers who adopt more are likely to renew: When customers aren’t using your service properly or as well as they could, they’re not getting the value it offers.
- Customer Success is not customer support: Customer success is focused on adoption and is proactive, while customer support solves issues and is more reactive.
- Customers who purchase more are more loyal: Upselling helps improve customer happiness by allowing deeper relationships to be built and more value to be delivered to the customer.
- Listen to your customers: this may go without saying, but good listening and interpretation skills are often the most overlooked skills for support managers.
- Be a proactive advocate for your customers: staying on top of arising issues and always keeping your customers best interests in mind will result in loyalty and a greater sense of trust for your brand.
Customer success yields a positive impact for businesses since happy and successful customers are often repeat customers.
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule (“Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself”) can be used as a benchmark to make sure clients remain happy and engaged with your company.
Here are a few ways in which companies can apply the Golden Rule:
- Respond in a timely manner to customer inquiries
- Listen to what customers have to say
- Be proactive about potential issues rather than waiting for clients to come to you
- Say thank you, so customers know how much your company values them
- Continue to share knowledge with clients to help them grow and succeed
Customers are crucial parts of your overall business, so it’s important to make sure they’re happy and are continuing to succeed with your help.
The Process for Customer Success
Does your company have a process in place? Startups, for example, may not have a system yet, while larger companies may have systems that simply need to be tweaked.
The process for customer success often varies between industries and companies, but a general process may include:
- First impressions: Customers will hear about your company and start to think about how your services could be beneficial.
- Evaluation: A customer will choose whether or not they wish to buy. The process then begins when payment is received, or when a free trial is secured.
- The next phase is for gathering information from the client such as, “‘What problem are you solving?” “How can we help?”
- Determine who makes the decisions, as working with them can help provide more money for your company and more success for their business.
- Discover how they’re currently solving problems. Knowing what tools they used previously can help you understand how your products and services can better serve their company and provide success.
- Offer training material, webinars, etc.
- Stay in touch. Don’t forget to check in regularly to ask questions, find out if there are any issues, conduct surveys, etc.
- Renewal: The customer will keep using your service. Make sure to keep an ‘open door’ and be accessible if customers need something.
How will you keep customers from switching to a competitor? It may help to keep communication open, so your customers feel a connection to your company. Chameleon is one company working on their customer success process and working to get a dedicated team together for this purpose. They suggest adding customers to a Slack channel.
In general, the process involves:
- Knowing the customer: Customer needs and goals vary, so it’s important to determine those upfront and work to make sure they’re accomplished.
- Add value to communication: This may include helpful tips and ideas to enhance your customer’s experience.
- Set expectations: Be upfront with customers about what needs to be done on their end to ensure success. Celebrate when customers achieve certain milestones and goals.
Customer Success Process Flow
Sometimes it helps to set measurable goals, track progress, create content to drive adoption, and remember to start and end with your goals.
Continue to analyze how successful customers are because of your work then refine your goals to encourage better success going forward.
It can also be beneficial to create a customer health score, which includes:
- Business Outcomes: Are the results meeting the expectations of the customer?
- Product Engagement: Are the products/services being used properly? What does the usage indicate?
- Service Utilization: Is the customer using the service to its full capability?
- Customer Satisfaction: How is the client feeling about working with your company?
- Support: Are there any outstanding issues?
Thinking through these items and ranking the results could help indicate where customers stand in relation to one another and possibly what could be done to help those who aren’t as successful yet.
Best Practices for Customer Success
According to Crunchbase, customer success may look something like this:
Here are the top customer success best practices:
- Even if you have a customer success team, everyone in the company should play a part in keeping customers happy and preventing churn.
- Consider giving customers a way out of a new contract after 90 days to give your company time to drive success.
- Guage communication based on the size of the customer, but try to contact every customer at least once/month. More prominent clients should be contacted about once/week or so.
- It’s often considered best practices to have one customer success representative for every 40 clients.
- Continue educating customers. Inform them of ways other customers are using your tools, as you may show them something beneficial that hadn’t thought of previously.
- It’s more important to perfect the features you have now rather than trying to continue to add new features.
- Focus on selling to the right customers who will benefit your company too.
- Your current clients are your best source of new customers. Don’t forget about up-selling to different products and services that could benefit them.
Customer success happens when adoption is driven to help benefit both the customer and the company.
After the initial onboarding, communication may slow down, but it’s important to continue to make customer success a priority. Keep analyzing the situation to gauge performance and consider upselling when necessary.
How CloudApp Helps Drive Customer Success
By taking advantage of our visual communication tool, companies can help keep customers happy and work to ensure their success. While it’s beneficial for closing customer support tickets three times faster, it’s also a good tool for proactive work to make sure they’re meeting their goals and are seeing success with the help of your company.
Is one of your strategies to provide more customer training tools? Use CloudApp to share videos and clips rather than explaining step-by-step via email. It’s much easier to process more visual information. Show, don’t tell.