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How to Build a Customer Success Program: A Step-by-Step Guide

Customer Success Program

If you are running a SaaS organization and haven’t started your customer success program yet, then the best time to do it is now. Customer success is becoming the backbone of any SaaS organization. And most of the new companies are in a state of setting up this function successfully in their organization.

There is a lot of learning and experiments going around in customer success. Probably, that is one of the reasons you have come to visit this blog. To learn how to build a customer success program. But first let’s see what is customer success along with its benefits.

What is Customer Success?

It is a new philosophy, function, department or just a mindset with which you operate your business. Customer success entails that the success of your company depends on the success of your customer while using your product. In order to maintain a long-term fruitful relationship with customer, you have to invest in helping them achieve their goals.

Only when they fully succeed in using your product to their benefits, can you expect them to stay longer with you in business. This helps them achieve more from your product and they would be happy to help you expand your business through more sales.

Customer success is the new growth engine that ideally allows your existing customers to sustain and grow your business without even the need of new customers.

What are the Benefits of Customer Success Program?

A customer success program is intended towards implementing customer success strategies in your organization. But before implementing it, you must be clear of what goals you are trying to achieve through it. Below are few of the benefits of customer success program.

Reduce Churn

Churn is the biggest challenge that SaaS companies face. In a subscription-based business, it is most important that you retain customers for as long as possible. The customer lifetime value increases with long-term retention and your company’s valuation goes higher. When you have a customer-centric approach in your business strategy, your customers tend to stay with you for the long-term.

Business Expansion

Once your customer has got accustomed to your product, it is the best time for you to expand your business with them. You can approach them for selling higher-end products or other related products.

Since you possess the domain knowledge of your niche, you would know how using other products would enhance their user experience and profitability. By selling more products to customers, you are also increasing your footprint in their business environment. This is a vital factor in retaining them for long-term.

Easier Acquisition

As you qualify in building a positive relationship with your customer, it has twofold benefits.

  1. Your customer will turn into a brand advocate which would fetch more customers to your business.
  2. When you show your customers your dedication towards their success, they tend to become your repeat customers.

Both of the above two factors help you reduce your acquisition cost and ultimately leads towards growth of your business.

How to Build a Customer Success Program?

How to build a customer success program?

Creating a customer success program requires crystallization of overall vision of customer success. You need to drill down the vision to strategies to actionable steps and processes. Here’s how you do it in a step by step manner.

#1 Form a Customer Success Team

You might be the first employee solely dedicated to customer success and starting from scratch. Hence, you need to start with building a team. The most common designation in a customer success program is a customer success manager (CSM). You want to understand the roles and responsibilities of CSM before hiring one.

If they have prior experience as customer success representative then it is a plus point. If your product is more technically complex then you might need an implementation specialist or an onboarding specialist. The mid-level roles are of a customer success leader while the higher roles are of a director or VP of customer success along with Chief customer officer as the highest role in this team.

Depending upon the size of your customer base and the level of depth in customer engagement (manual or automated), you can decide the team strength and structure.

#2 Identify Customer’s Goals

Next comes the need of identifying your customer’s goals. If you are dedicated towards adding value to the customer’s business then you must know their goals beforehand. These goals would help you assess customer’s success while using your product.

A common challenge most SaaS companies face is their customers don’t know clearly about their goals. Hence, it becomes your responsibility to unravel those goals through strategic discussions with them. Then placing your product to meet those goals becomes easier.

#3 Use the Right Software

To serve your customers specifically in their context, you need visibility of their technical environment. A right customer success platform can help you attain the knowledge of your customer’s usage pattern. Through this knowledge, you can guide your customers along the right course of their product usage. Only by knowing where they are doing right or wrong, can you help them with tips and recommendations for your product.

This software will also help you know the right time and right way to engage with your customers. If you want them to continue repeating their business with you, you need to stay on top of their minds by adding most value.

#4 Select Right Metrics

Your customer success program must be measurable, specific, time-bound and accountable. Hence, you need to measure your performance through right metrics. There are many metrics that you can use to measure the efficacy of a CS program. They can include churn rate, retention rate, Net promoter score (NPS), Annual recurring revenue, Net revenue retention, etc.

You must know each of these metrics along with how they impact your business. Only by knowing the right metrics and ignoring the vanity metrics can you get the real picture of your business. And only based on that, you can take corrective measures to improve it.

#5 Create a Roadmap for Customer’s Success

When your customers are onboarded, they are usually not clear about what lies ahead. It is the responsibility of a CSM to show them a roadmap of their journey with your business. This roadmap should contain the time-bound milestones that customers would be achieved through your product. The creation of a roadmap needs a thorough assessment of customer’s expectations along with your product’s capability.

This is essentially helpful in keeping them intact with a plan so that they don’t get strayed from the path and get disoriented. You have to also ensure that you communicate them regularly about where they currently are and where they are headed.

Wrapping Up

These five steps mentioned in this blog are the pillars of a customer success program. You have to begin with placing them all in the right manner. A proper team structure along with right delegation of responsibilities would help you achieve these steps. Depending upon the size of your company, it can take months or years to set up the CS program.

But you don’t have to wait to get all things in place before you start taking the right actions towards customer success. You can start small and build it progressively along with serving the customers.

Remember, customer success is also a mindset that you need to infuse in your organization.

This takes more time than any tangible steps. Hence, by keeping the right mix of actionable steps along with a shift in perspective towards customer-focus, you can get your customer success program up and running.

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