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The Comprehensive Guide to Setup OKRs for Customer Success

OKRs for customer success
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Customers are the lifeblood of every successful business. Even if you develop the most groundbreaking product, your business won’t thrive unless it attracts and retains paying customers. And to help your customers succeed, setting up right OKRs for customer success is preliminary.

It’s crucial to nurture your customers, handhold them while they become familiar with your product, and convert them into loyal brand advocates. That’s why entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketers are increasingly shifting their focus to achieving customer success.

Even though customer success has become the buzzword, not everyone gets it right. It’s essential to understand that a customer success strategy goes beyond traditional customer relationship management and customer support. The former is proactive while the latter are mostly reactive. It starts with setting specific OKRs. 

In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the process of setting up effective OKRs for customer success. But let’s first understand what customer success means.

Customer Success: A Closer Look

Simply put, customer success is the process of proactively resolving customer queries and problems even before any issues arise. In other words, you anticipate their questions and challenges and provide solutions before they ask. 

It’s different from customer experience, which looks at the experience that the customer has while interacting with your brand. It’s a business methodology that empowers your customers to accomplish their intended objectives using your product/service.

It involves hand holding your customers through the following stages:

  • Onboarding – This is the stage where a customer purchases your product or avails of your services. You should focus on anticipating and providing the information and tools they’ll need during this time.
  • Adoption – The next phase begins when the customer starts using your product/service and becomes familiar with your company. You have to constantly communicate with them to find out how they’re feeling about their purchase decision. It’s also crucial to provide excellent customer support.
  • Renewal – In this stage, the customer decides whether they want to continue using your product/service. You have to retain them with incentives in the form of discounts, add-ons, upgrades, etc.
  • Expansion – This is the stage where a satisfied customer becomes a loyal advocate of your brand. They start recommending your product/service to others and consequently, boost brand awareness and reputation. You should focus on making your customers feel valued and special.
Buying cycles for new and existing customers
Source: Superoffice

Implementing a successful customer success strategy requires tremendous coordination and collaboration among various departments including product development, sales, marketing, and customer support. It’s also recommended that you create a dedicated customer success team with a skilled customer success manager.

Importance of Customer Success

Today’s competitive and consumer-driven market has compelled most businesses to focus on customer success. According to HubSpot, growing companies are 21% more likely to prioritize customer success than their stagnant counterparts. It helps them boost customer retention and loyalty and ultimately, generate more revenue.

Graph depicting priority of customer success for companies
Source: HubSpot

Customer success becomes even more crucial considering that the cost of acquiring a new customer is much higher than retaining an existing one. Moreover, it’s easier to upsell new products and add-ons to your existing customers. That’s why you should focus on building long-term relationships with them by nurturing, handholding, and delighting them.

Customer Success Challenges

Developing and executing an effective customer success strategy is easier said than done. The first roadblock that you might encounter is the lack of coordination among various teams. For instance, your sales reps and customer service executives may not be on the same page.

Moreover, persistent and immediate needs might take your focus away from the long-term goal of achieving customer success. For instance, you might have to resolve several software bugs before rolling out new product features. It is, therefore, crucial to set realistic, measurable, and achievable goals that take you a step closer to customer success. In other words, you need OKRs for customer success.

Using OKRs for Customer Success

Objective and key results, abbreviated as OKR, is a goal-setting technique used by or to define specific objectives and track their outcomes. It has been used by a plethora of successful companies including Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Disney, and BMW. The term was brought into the limelight by venture capitalist John Doerr in his book Measure What Matters. Whether you’re running a bootstrapped startup or an MNC, your company can benefit from setting OKRs for customer success.

OKRs comprise two components, namely:

  • Objectives (O) – These are the overarching goals and ambitions of your company.
  • Key Results (KRs) – These are actionable, time-bound, and measurable milestones/metrics that help you achieve specific goals.

The OKR methodology involves defining a long-term objective and assigning relevant key results to it. Here’s an example:

Example of OKR Methodology
Source: What Matters

OKR Benefits

The biggest advantage of using OKRs for customer success is that it helps different departments and employees prioritize their actions. It also helps assign specific roles and responsibilities to team members. This, in turn, ensures that all their efforts are focused on the primary goal of accomplishing customer success. 

Moreover, OKRs align the high-level goals of your company with those of individual teams and their members. This is particularly crucial when you’re running a company with hundreds of employees. Time-bound milestones also create a sense of urgency and help track progress at various levels. 

OKRs for Customer Success

The first step is to break down customer success into different verticals such as retention, loyalty, and support. Next, you have to select a vertical and set a long-term objective. The next step is to list the actions that will help you accomplish this objective. Remember to assign a deadline to each key result.

Here’s an example of OKRs:

Objective – Improve Customer Support

Key Result 1 – Implement a live chat feature on the website in 30 days

Key Result 2 – Achieve a post-support satisfaction score of 90% in the first quarter

And Key Result 3 – Reduce turnaround time for complaint resolution by 50% in the first quarter

Take a look at another sample OKRs for Customer Success:

Objective – Maximize the Efficiency of Customer Success Team

Key Result 1 – Implement an online training program for new team members

Key Result 2 – Prepare a report on the average Lifetime Value of the customer.

And Key Result 3 – Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of customer who got churned.

How to setup OKRs

Below are few of the points you must remember while defining OKRs for your business.

Ambitious goals

If you want to implement successful OKRs, it’s crucial to set stretched goals and deadlines. The idea is to make your team members uncomfortable and push them beyond their natural capacity. Even Google aims at a 60-70% success rate.

Optimum key results

In his book, Doerr also recommends that you assign 3-5 key results to each objective. Overloading an objective with too many irrelevant key results will dilute your team’s focus and priorities. Additionally, it’s not mandatory to only assign numerical key results. You can use key results that can be measured with a simple “yes” or “no”.

Keep it flexible

It’s also crucial to write flexible OKRs that can accommodate unprecedented circumstances. You might have to remove or modify certain key results mid-way or set new objectives. Let’s say the objective “boost customer loyalty” includes the following key result: send personalized birthday gifts to long-term customers. In the event of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have to modify it to “send online shopping coupons to long-term customers”.

Be collaborative

Lastly, the process of defining OKRs for customer success should be collaborative. Teams and individual members should be allowed to define a few of their OKRs after consulting their managers. Moreover, high-level OKRs should accommodate suggestions from employees who will implement them.

Wrapping up

Customer success is the secret weapon that can take your business to greater heights. It boosts your revenue by improving customer retention and loyalty. However, developing a powerful customer success strategy requires you to use the OKR framework. The key is to define a long-term objective and assign measurable and trackable actions (key results) that will help you accomplish it.

As a customer success leader, you must refrain from taking intuitive guesses on your business strategies. Metrics form a major part of your business processes and must be used to their full capacity. When they are used in conjunction with OKRs, it becomes a fool-proof pack to deliver outcomes.

Does your company use OKRs for customer success? Share your views in the comments section below.

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Responses

  1. Shoeb Ahmed
    Shoeb Ahmed

    Yes, setting up the right OKRs keeps your customer success plan on track with measurable goals. Thanks for writing this brilliant piece!

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