Customer Success Strategy: 6 Pillars for Success
A customer success strategy is the foundation for delivering a top notch experience to your customer. Start with these 6 principles to build your own customer success strategy.
Companies cannot just compete on the basis of the products and services anymore. It’s all about the experience that you provide for the customer. And a customer success strategy is the foundation for delivering a exceptional experience to your customers.
How customers feel when they interact with your brand is mission-critical to the effectiveness of your company. Experiences should be effortless and rewarding.
Especially for subscription-based businesses, building long-term relationships with customers is key to the health of the company. Their business focus is on creating an ever-expanding pool of customers who are happy using their products and services on a regular basis.
Cultivating thriving long-term relationships requires time and effort. For relationships to work over time, your business needs to go beyond simple customer service and focus more on customer success. And to get there, you need to have a customer success strategy.
What is customer success?
Customer success means ensuring customers are regularly using your products and services and gaining significant value from the experience. It helps your customers to achieve their desired outcomes and promotes customer happiness.
But how does customer success differ from customer service? At first glance, the two might seem quite similar.
Customer success is slightly different to customer service. While customer service reactively responds to customer issues and solves problems, customer success is proactively focused on helping customers get the most out of your products and services. Customer service is more about putting out fires while customer success looks at the bigger picture.
Customer success teams are engaged with the whole customer lifecycle and strive to eliminate blockages and onboarding hurdles. They establish long-term relationships with customers and understand customer needs in the wider context. Customer support reps are usually limited to single interactions with customers, while customer success teams have more regular contact with customers.
Customer success managers will work directly with customers to understand their goals and motivations when it comes to using the product. They will make the first move to talk to customers and offer help or assistance before the customer has ever registered a problem.
Why is customer success important?
As demonstrated by the previous quote, customer success represents a large portion of a company’s revenue. It’s just as important to invest in your existing customers as it is to acquire new ones. Instead of focusing all your efforts on closing the sale, time and attention should be paid to the success of current customers.
Customer success makes good business sense because you are enabling customers to obtain more value from your products and services. Successful customers are happy customers who will spread the word about your business, increasing your chances of attracting customer referrals.
When customers are successful at using your products, they are less likely to leave you for a competitor. Customer success is important because it lowers the churn rate (the percentage of customers that you lose in a given time frame) for your subscription-based company. It therefore increases customer loyalty and enables your business to grow.
When you keep hold of a customer, it lowers the acquisition costs for each new customer because you are gaining more value from each customer you acquire. It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
The longer a customer stays with your business, the more money they will pay you over time. Customer satisfaction increases Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) and earns you more revenue from each individual customer. Customer success also increases the probability that you will be able to cross-sell and upsell to your existing customers, further boosting CLTV.
6 pillars of a effective customer success strategy
Here are 6 ways that you can develop a successful customer success strategy.
1. Invest in customer onboarding
Increasing user adoption of your products is a cornerstone of customer success. During onboarding is the phase just after the customer has parted with their money so it’s crucial to make a good first impression. Make the product easy to set up and offer useful training materials.
Onboarding is often the first stage where your customer success team will have contact with your customers. It’s vital to set the tone for the future of the relationship and make onboarding as smooth and easy as possible. Your sales team should seamlessly transition your new customer to a customer success manager or agent.
Some companies provide one-to-one training sessions with their users but if this is too much for your company then think about how to get users started with your product and deliver this on a mass scale. For example, webinars and help documentation can be of use to your customers.
It’s important for customers to see immediate value from using your product and you should guide them through the first tasks that get them set up. You’ll want to transition them from being a new user of your product to someone who is actively using your product to achieve their goals.
It may be worth investing in customer success software for your customer success teams. These tools can assist with the customer onboarding process and help keep your team organized.
2. Reach out proactively
Your customer success team needs to watch out for potential chances to speak to customers and ensure they can gain more value from the product. Proactive customer support is a key element of any customer success strategy.
Usually, when customers run into problems with your products they will reach out to customer service. This is an opportunity wasted for customer success when you could have proactively contacted the customer before they even realized they had an issue.
It’s especially critical to communicate with those customers who might be encountering difficulties and trying to solve them on their own. Rather than standing by for your customers to come to you with a problem, send a message asking if you can help. Highlight some issues they might run into and offer solutions, assisting them in getting more out of the product.
Your customer success team is the frontier between customers who are merely satisfied with your products and those who are using your products to achieve their desired outcomes. It’s not all about fixing problems. You should also contact customers with ideas for helping them get the full use out of the product’s features.
This is the area where customer success really demonstrates its value and reveals a difference from customer service. You can reach out to customers to help them get more out of the product or service rather than passively solving issues that customers raise with you.
3. Deliver outstanding customer support
We’ve talked a lot about proactively reaching out to customers but traditional customer support still has its place in ensuring customer success. Excellent customer support is about being there for your customers whenever they have a question about your product or service.
It’s important to offer fast response times and to try and resolve the problem customers are having in the first interaction. Your support team should be empowered to help customers and be highly trained in support.
As customers use your products with increasing frequency, it’s natural for them to encounter more obstacles. But the way that your support team handles customer requests is a big factor in customer success.
When customers have their problems solved for them by your support team, they are happier and more satisfied with your products and services. They feel that they are gaining more value and are likely to continue to purchase from your business.
4. Keep an eye on product performance
It can be hard to know when is a good time to contact your customers for customer success. You could do it according to a regular timetable, or you could use metrics to figure out when something has gone wrong.
Monitoring a product’s performance will help you spot opportunities to reach out to your customers. Customer success platforms tell you how users are using your product, when they’re abandoning the onboarding process, and help you measure customer loyalty.
If you spot an occasion when a customer has stopped using your product, make sure you reach out to help reengage the customer with the product. You can stop a small issue from potentially turning into a big problem.
If you actively monitor performance this will help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to customer problems. It will allow you to identify areas for growth and times when customers will be open to your assistance and advice. With some customer success solutions, you can increase customer retention by reengaging the customer before they have a chance to lose faith in the product.
5. Offer helpful content
You should publish lots of helpful content to enable your customers to be more successful with your products and services. This content could range from blog posts, to whitepapers, to help documentation. This could come from your sales team or your customer success team.
It’s all about having a customer success mindset when publishing your content. You’ll attract prospective customers with your content that shows how to deal with typical problems and be able to lay the foundation for a productive long-term relationship.
It’s important to invest in your customer support materials and make them easily available to your customers. Your customers should be able to quickly find the answers they are looking for, but you should also have a direct line to your customer success managers in case customers want to get in touch.
The ultimate goal of your content should be showing how your product solves your customer’s common pain points and problems. It should work alongside your customer success team to create loyal and happy customers.
6. Gather feedback from customers
Gathering customer feedback should be top of mind for every company. At the end of the day, customers will tell you what they want if you simply ask them, and measuring customer satisfaction is a great way to refine your customer success strategy.
You need to go beyond just gathering customer feedback and actually make the changes suggested by your customers. This will have a positive impact on customer retention and keep customers engaged with using your products. Ultimately, you need to understand how your product is meeting your customer’s expectations.
You can gather feedback through all manner of mediums, from calls with customers, to website forms, to customer surveys. Make sure you record all your feedback in a single place and have a system at hand for acting on customer comments. This data should then be used to inform your customer success strategy.
Feedback might be either positive or negative, but it’s important to pay attention to both in order to be successful. Positive feedback tells you when you’re doing something right and you should keep doing more of it. Negative feedback tells you the areas that could be improved and indicates that a change is in order.
Customer success strategy examples
Here are some top customer success strategies from leading companies.
Hubspot sells software products for outbound and inbound marketing, sales and customer service. They deploy a number customer success strategies, including providing dedicated customer success managers for their larger clients.
HubSpot is an example of a company that heavily invests in customer success. They particularly focus on educational content that helps their customers to become experts in their products and services.
Customer education starts before a customer has even spent a penny with your business and goes on throughout the entire customer journey. Content can take the form of webinars, blog posts, ebooks or online courses. HubSpot is an expert in all types of educational content and they use it to engage their target audience. This helps turn potential customers into paying customers.
HubSpot Academy offers free online courses to users who are working in marketing, sales and customer service. It also educates users in how to use the HubSpot software, further leading directly to customer success.
Amazon has always been at the forefront of customer success. Over they years, they have deployed a number of innovative customer success initiatives.
Amazon is king in the arena of customer success. Every transaction with Amazon needs to be successful or their very responsive support team will be on hand to help. Amazon is a platform that is designed to engage users during every step of the customer journey.
Amazon delights their customers with a simple-to-use purchasing experience and returns system, super speedy delivery and outstanding customer support. Purchasing from Amazon is as easy as clicking a few buttons and users are empowered for success by having the details saved in the platform, and access to past orders for ordering again.
They take a proactive approach to customer success by exceeding their expectations every step of the way. Amazon makes outstanding service become the new normal and has customers coming back for more.
Zapier is a product that enables users to connect their web applications without the need for any code.
Storytelling is a key element of Zapier’s customer success strategy. The company highlights customer success stories that demonstrate what is possible with their product.
Success stories engage customers more than dry product documentation ever could. Customers will learn how to get the most out of Zapier through reading about companies who have been in the same situation.
Customer success is all about empowering your customers to get the most out of your products and services. Developing a customer success strategy gives your team a roadmap to deliver the value that your brand has promised.
When it comes to new customers, fewer will suffer from “buyer’s remorse” and regret making the decision to do business with your company. A sound onboarding process is the key to ensuring new customers can quickly obtain value from your product or service.
When customer success is working well, your existing customers are more satisfied and more loyal, with fewer customers able to be lured away by your competitors. This means decreased customer churn and more satisfied customers. Customers feel their investment in your brand is continuing to be worthwhile and they are encouraged to make future purchases.
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