How to drive customer success in your business
Different companies and different industries might have varying definitions of ‘customer success’ and also the ways to measure and manage it. For some businesses, success might be defined purely by return on investment on a product they have bought. For others, it might be the achievement of a specific milestone, such as cutting down their deployment time by 50% within six months of adopting a software.
But whatever their understanding of customer success might be, they all agree that you need to have a concrete customer success plan in order to meet those measurable metrics. Many companies extract the data of their customer success management process at regular intervals and use it to calculate a “customer health score.”
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a comprehensive customer success plan for your business
Understand customer expectations
The reason why customer success management is different from customer service is that it takes an initiative to try and look into the potential of customer problems even before they arise. It’s unlike the reactionary customer support approach that firefights customer challenges. Therefore, identify a sample size of your customers and talk to them about what their needs are, what they expect from your service, and where they would need your help. Your customer success plan should be able to understand customer pain points even if the customers are unable to articulate it. You should be in a position to calculate and assume their unstated requirements and capture it for your customer success team to consider.
Set up processes
Your customer success team will be able to create processes based on a set of feedback you will get after talking to your customers. For instance, if customer onboarding is a frequently mentioned customer pain point, you can set up an onboarding team and create a better onboarding process for new customers to ensure the customer experience is smoother. Some of these problems will require you to create new teams and processes, whereas many will demand changes in your existing scheme of things. If you cannot map a team or a process to certain customer expectations—like setting up a new onboarding team—treat it as an exception that needs to be addressed.
If customer expectations are measurable, then they warrant metrics in order for you to track them properly. But not all customer expectations can be quantified, such as their subjective desire to have certain features added to your product or making your UI more intuitive. It’s still worthwhile to associate these vague expectations with metrics—such as loyalty and increased adoption—rather than drawing a blank at them and neglecting them. For more concrete expectations, assigning proper metrics will help you define a timeline, estimate your efforts, and stay the course to meet them. For example, if customers need set-up and implementation help, you can measure it based on the man hours it requires to help one client.
Your customer success team would need a set of tools and technologies in order to ace their success goals. Live chat, for example, is a great tool for a customer success team to help customers at any point of their customer journey, be it trial, onboarding, or support. Live chat for customer success helps your teams to improve customer engagement, increase revenue, and stay in touch with every customer formally and informally. Live chat for customer success can be used as a proactive approach to nudge customers into interacting with your team, or it can be used as a reactive tool to respond to customers when they have concerns. Live chat also breaks the silos between your teams, including the customer success team, to allow closer cross-team collaboration to happen.
Assign people or teams for every customer expectation to be met so that you can attribute the success or failure of a plan to them. Ideally, this should be responsibilities you assign to members in the customer success team. If you don’t have a customer success team, you can hire people from your existing sales and support team to form a new one. When assigning roles, you have to be careful about not designating them as account managers to certain customers, but to make them accountable for certain goals that have an impact on multiple customers. Make sure they have all the process-related data and tools to help customers succeed in their goals.
There are a lot of overlaps between measuring customer success and measuring other customer service-related processes. For example, you can use customer satisfaction (CSAT) to measure customer’s reaction to your offerings, or you can use Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a tool to understand how they perceived your customer success efforts. Measuring customer success is a complex process that needs a more in-depth discussion; let’s cover this topic in the section below.