If you’ve landed on this page, then I assume you have outgrown the traditional ways of executing customer success. Most customer success managers (CSMs) try various options before they finally realize the need for a customer success software for SaaS. In a survey conducted by us at SmartKarrot, we found that 61% of Customer success teams do not use a dedicated customer success platform.
Many businesses try CRMs, Excel spreadsheets, or just about any other simple solution, to fulfill their customer success goals. But, ultimately, these tools are not meant to enable you to execute the tasks related to customer success.
Customer success has evolved from many other disciplines. It has the elements of sales and marketing, customer support, and professional services, among many others. Yet, it is different from all other functions in an organization. Hence, it is understandable that CSMs eventually realize that they need a specialized software for this function.
To set the right context and consolidate your thoughts, let’s look at what customer success software is and its benefits. Then, we’ll run through the questions you should ask while selecting the best customer success software for your needs.
What is Customer Success Software?
Until the introduction of this software, customer relationships were understood through one of two ways:
- Specific information collected and documented with manual notes in customer relationship management software.
- Qualitative view of the relationship with the customer.
These aspects would surely give you some idea about the customer relationship. But they fail to provide a 360-degree view of the dynamics between your company and the customer.
Customer success efforts should be measurable. Based on using the right metrics, a CSM will understand the actions they should take to achieve their goals.
A dedicated software for CS provides you with complete information about a customer’s activities along with many useful insights. It calculates and presents you with a consolidated customer health score based on various metrics.
CS is a centralized platform through which you can collect and access comprehensive information about the customer. Such information includes emails, live chat, CRM, support tickets, customer usage data, and more.
What are the Benefits of Customer Success Software?
The goal of customer success is to help your customers succeed in achieving their business goals by using your product. To help them succeed, you need to understand your customer thoroughly. Let’s look at how a dedicated software can help you attain that.
Visibility of customer’s usage pattern
The software helps you gain visibility of your customer’s usage pattern when engaging with your product. Until these software solutions were available, companies were always in the dark about knowing how customers are using their products. Through CS software, they can now see the list of features that customers use most or least.
Helps CSM to recommend useful tips to customers
When CSMs are able to see a customer’s usage data, they can always know what they are missing. With this information, they can send useful tips to customers to enhance their usage experience. For example, if they find a customer that typically doesn’t use a specific feature, they can suggest that they use it by sending tips via email.
When you are monitoring your customers and engaging proactively with them, they will discover more value out of your product. This is vital if you want to retain them for the long-term. A proactive engagement will help encourage them not to churn.
You’ll know through their usage that your customers are growing. This can allow you to approach them for additional business. Advanced users may prefer the high-end version of your product. So, you can reach out to them for various upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
What Questions do I ask a Customer Success Software Vendor?
There are a myriad of vendors available on the market offering this solution. The global customer success software market size is expected to reach $2.66 Billion at a CAGR of 25.5% by the year 2024.
Therefore, it is imperative ensure you select the right vendor. These are the questions you must ask while selecting a customer success software.
#1 Is the solution scalable?
When you have a handful of customers, it is easier to manage them. But when your customer base will grow massively, would the solution be capable enough to handle them all? It should allow tech-touch engagements through automated alerts and communication.
#2 Can it integrate with other software?
The right solution must be comprehensive and easily integratable with other software you use. Other software can include your task management tools like Jira, or a customer survey tool like SurveyMonkey, and so on. This will help you manage all customer-related tasks from a single platform.
#3 How many accounts can a CSM handle?
You must consider the number of accounts a CSM can handle through this software. Depending upon the number of customer accounts, customer expectations would be different. Your solution should be able to manage multiple accounts that are required for your business.
#4 Does it consolidate data and make it accessible for all team members?
When your teams are distributed at multiple locations or working remotely, they all must have access to the software. The software should provide them with consolidated data of your customers that can be accessed from anywhere.
#5 Does it offer a feature-wise view of the customer’s usage?
Through this software, you must be able to know what features your customers are using most or least. This is important in preventing churn and driving engagements for product adoption.
#6 How long does it take to implement the solution and onboarding?
Onboarding should happen as quickly as possible. They must have a team of technical architects who can implement their solution into your environment without any glitches.
Customer segmentation is a must in a software solution so that you can automate actions for each segment. It should allow for segregating of your customer base into different categories based on their demographic or financial details.
#8 Does it have an early warning system?
Your solution must be intelligent enough to raise an early warning for any event it detects. These events can be similar to achieving a milestone, recognizing a trigger, or beginning a complex combination of any events. Whenever a customer health score goes down, a warning must also be raised.
#9 Does it allow you to configure a customer health score?
The best customer success software solution must allow you to customize parameters for calculating a customer health score. These parameters can range from duration index, retention index, adoption index and many other metrics.
#10 Is it cost-efficient?
Does the customer success software have a free trial? How many users do they allow for their starter plan? You’ll want to compare the pricing plan with their competitors to find a perfect plan.
The above list of questions is not exhaustive. As such, here are a few more optional questions below for you to consider:
- Are you GDPR compliant? This is important if you have to deal anywhere in your business with European customers.
- Do you provide enough training and support? They should have a good support structure for their customers when they are in need.
- What is the limit of customer data that I can share with the vendor? Ideally, it should be unlimited.
- Are there any hidden charges like implementation fees? You must clarify this beforehand. Most of the vendors do not charge a separate implementation fee.
- Can I grant view-only access to some of my team members? This must be allowed for the cases where you just want to share the information in view mode with any team member.
After you have shortlisted your potential vendors, it is advisable to talk to their sales teams to know the level of dedication they show to their customers. A customer success software vendor must practice what they preach. Are they good enough at handling customers’ initial queries? How deeply do they engage in consultation during implementation?
The vendor must have a basic understanding of your business. If they possess your domain knowledge, then it will help you immensely in the long run.
Don’t hesitate to ask for a word with their customer success manager. They can certainly be pulled into a quick conversation before you purchase the product. It will help you know what roadmaps they have for their customers.30
And finally, don’t forget to read the user reviews of the customer success software you are planning to choose. A flawless customer service record is as important as the product itself. Remember that you are not purchasing software, you are purchasing an experience.
Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.
Published September 23, 2020, Updated March 01, 2023