Companies are being challenged more than ever before to understand and respond to a multitude of customer actions, journeys, concerns, and questions. Because of this, being able to provide a seamless, end-to-end, omnichannel customer experience is now just as important as offering low prices or super fancy product features.
Client-to-Company relationships have changed, too, and customers have more subscriptions, content, and information, making it easier for them to move on with a competitor or a service or an app that keeps them happier.
Basically: growth is harder, but more attainable than ever.
So how can you keep up the pace while scaling? How can you not only improve customer service, but meet your customers where they want to be met? How can you win and keep winning when the power lies with your customer every single time?
Reshape the way you and your organization think about sales, marketing and ultimately the experience of your customers post-sale.
These organizational shifts in value and mindset can then allow for an omnichannel, holistic customer success plan that places the customer, their experience and their ultimate success, at the very core of your organizational growth and success.
What Is Customer Success?
According to Hubspot, it is an organizational move to "help customers get maximum value out of a product or service, while working closely with sales, marketing, and product to achieve that goal."
Essentially, it's an operationalization of the customer lifecycle that (when done correctly) bolsters your brand reputation, evangelizes your users, and creates opportunities for upselling and growth.
What are the organizational value shifts that place the customer at the core of your growth plan?
Value Shift #1: The Customer is Your Purpose
It’s not just about retention, churn, and how many support tickets you have coming in through your service portal. Those might be key indicators about general customer happiness and experience, but those metrics are ultimately reactionary. True customer success is inherently proactive.
Your customer experience needs to be a priority. And your customer’s success needs to be your purpose. If you place your clients’ desired outcomes first, you begin to operate around their needs and positively shape their ultimate experience with your product and your company.
You need to remind yourself that you only exist because your customer needs something.
When this value shift occurs, preconceived or historical notions about what a product should be get thrown out the window. The focus then becomes understanding what users want this product to become.
Your marketing team begins to place the customer into the organization’s brand story and messaging, creating content that resonates. When members of every team are rallied around the customers’ desired outcome and their experience, your sales team won’t find themselves selling something that can’t be delivered to a customer who’s a bad fit. Everyone will be aligned behind setting the company up for more wins with existing good-fit customers.
Value Shift #2: The Sale Really Starts Post-sale
When your sales team is prospecting, they learn so much (sometimes too much) about prospective leads. But it costs a lot more money and time to bring in a net new lead than to grow one that’s already sold on your capabilities.
So, why not learn as much as we can about our existing customers?
Begin thinking about your existing customer like you would a prospect. Audit them, follow them, and begin to understand what is it that they want, and what kind of value they would like to see from your product or service in the future. This value shift doesn’t just mean that you should upsell to an existing customer, it introduces a new way to think about the buyer’s journey that extends into the post-sale experience.
Value Shift #3: Customer Engagement is Ongoing Realization of Value
Knowing what success looks like for your customers is the key to keeping them engaged. A customer’s fulfillment of their desired outcome results in delight and appreciation. Imagine delighting them over and over again, every day. Imagine solving a pain point and evolving your product and its uses as pain points evolve, allowing this same customer to engage with you continuously as a solution.
Engagement with an organization will look differently at the 30 day mark than it will at the 2 year mark, but engagement is ultimately the byproduct of delight and positive experience + delivered value. This is a value shift that should follow a customer throughout the course of their lifecycle.
Value Shift #4: Your Growth Follows Your Customer’s Success
How can you get to a point where you’re renewing client contracts, upselling to premium, or expanding to get them into parallel or additional services? Ha! This was probably the question you wanted answered when you started reading this article. When your clients are successful and when their desired outcome from your product or service is achieved continuously at every stage in their lifecycle, they will be open to upsells, they will more easily be retained, and they will become advocates who expand and renew over and over again.
And this matters, because according to Business.com...
"Acquiring new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer -- and current customers spend 67% more on average than those who are new to your business."
Okay, so customer success is important. How do I get started?
So if customer success looks like clients achieving their goals through your product, and your organization agrees with the value shifts listed above, how do you tangibly create a customer success strategy?
- Understand your customer segments and identify their goals.
- Be clear on the success milestones for each customer segment and figure out how your engagement with them can ultimately move them forward with you.
- Create a series of experiences and engagements based on time-sensitive and data/event oriented actions your customer takes, in order to stay with them and ensure their happiness throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Leverage the insane amount of data and technology at your disposal to continually and increasingly give value to your customer.
Basically, it's time to start thinking about customer success as a growth engine.
Your service and support initiatives are about way more than keeping your customers happy. These are also vehicles for expansion. Using them effectively typically calls for organizational shifts and changes in values. It's time to turn your attention away from an acquisition-only mindset, and toward your existing clients or users, their experience with your brand, and their success.
Struggling to build your customer support processes? Need assistance writing documentation or building a resource library? Let's talk -- I can help!