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A Roadmap to Customer Success for SMBs

Customer Success Roadmap

Customer success is a relatively new function in businesses today. Companies are still learning and coming up with new ways to implement this process in their organization. To stay intact with a plan and progress in a foolproof way, a customer success roadmap can help.

There are many areas you need to look into while implementing customer success in your organization. To begin with, you need to be clear as to how you would help your customers achieve their goals. Naturally, to answer that, you should know in advance what your customer’s goals are. This is the bottomline of implementing any customer success strategy.

Benefits of customer success roadmap

Customers need assurity of goals achievement to stay subscribed to your business. Most of the time they already have a business outcome in mind for which they purchased your product. A roadmap helps you deliver the promises you have made to them in the initial stages. Few direct benefits of having a roadmap are:

Customer retention

When you are progressively showing that customers are proceeding towards their goal, they remain intact to your plan. A roadmap gives them a direction and purpose behind their everyday usage of your product. Without a roadmap they might go astray and lose a sense of purpose. A CSM through roadmap helps deal with their queries and apprehensions towards their goals. They give them the confidence to proceed with the set of actions that are needed for customer retention.

Operational efficiency

When you give meaning to the everyday tasks of a customer using your product, you give them a reason behind mundane jobs. When they know why they are doing a certain task, they would align more with the plan you have for them. This increases their efficiency in dealing with the tasks and avoids any unnecessary tasks that become an overload. Traceability and accountability become more viable when you are aligned with a customer success roadmap.

Customer acquisition

Any CS roadmap should have a final aim of converting existing customers into brand advocates. When these customers refer your product to their friends and acquaintances, it helps in more customer acquisition. Prospects with third party validation of products tend to believe more easily and move through the sales funnel much faster. The customer acquisition cost (CAC) gets lower for these prospects and it opens a new channel of marketing your product.

How to build a customer success roadmap

How to build a customer success roadmap

The best time to build such a roadmap is the beginning of your relationship with customers. You have to take into account every phase of the customer journey. Your actions on each phase must be properly defined to help them move ahead. Although the roadmap is quite aligned with the customer journey, it shows the set of actions and your planning for each stage.

The steps in a customer success roadmap are:

  1. Assessing your company’s strengths towards customer experience
  2. Setting up the right CS team
  3. Choosing the right metrics
  4. Understanding customer goals
  5. Setting up your own SMART goals
  6. Imparting organization-wide CS culture

Assessing company’s strength

Before beginning to create a roadmap, or as a first step, you must assess your company’s potential towards customer experience. What initiatives are being run in your organization towards customer success? It is quite possible that there is no customer success team in your organization yet you must be executing initiatives towards the same. Identifying those initiatives becomes the foremost job so that you can improvise or enhance those efforts.

Setting up the right Customer success team

The most important step in the roadmap is to set up the right customer success team. You need to evaluate what is the size of your customer base, to begin with. How much are you planning to scale? What type of engagement model would you want to maintain with the customers – high-touch or low-touch or tech-touch. After arriving at all this information, you must hire the right candidates for the roles of customer success manager, director of customer success, or even a Chief customer officer.

Choosing the right metrics

When it comes to measuring the progress of customer success, there are many metrics to look upon. However, instead of going with the generic ones that are often talked about in most of the blogs, select the ones that set right in your context. E.g. If you have an online app then DAU is one of those metrics that you can use. Similarly, there are more metrics like churn rate, retention rate, NPS, etc. that you must decide to use for the path ahead.

Understanding customer goals

In the initial strategic discussions with customers, you must uncover the customer goals. Many times they don’t even know clearly what goals they are trying to achieve. It is the job of a CSM to define those goals for the customers through all the information they fetch from customers. Having a clear set of goals would set the context for the progress you are about to make with the customers. Make sure you communicate these goals to them in a clear manner and get their agreement on the same.

Setting up your own SMART goals

After knowing the customer goals, you must also align them with what you can realistically deliver. One of the best practices for goal-settings is setting up the SMART goals. This means your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Once you have set up these goals, it is worth cross-checking them with the customer’s goals you have identified before. If there are any gaps then you must communicate it to the customer.

Imparting organization-wide CS culture

Developing a culture is a time-taking process in any organization. It takes patience and consistent efforts towards the goal. Customer success should be absorbed as a philosophy in not just CS function but in all functions. You must collaborate with the marketing team to attract more right-fit customers. Likewise, the product management team has its own benefits of collaborating with customer success. The whole organization has to be governed with customer-centric philosophy to turn that into a powerful competitive advantage.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of this blog is to give a generic framework to the leadership team to develop a customer success roadmap. This framework can be drilled down to suit the specific needs of your organization. The right metrics to use, the right engagement model to choose, setting up the specific goals needed for your organization, these decisions are contextual and only you can answer them based on your needs.

A right roadmap gives a sense of purpose not just to the customers but to your own organization as well. You would know in advance if you are headed in the right direction or not. If not then you can know what changes you must include steering in the right direction. Remember, through a roadmap you are not just leading the customer success team but also your organization towards becoming a customer-centric brand. And that is the need of an hour for every aspiring SaaS organization.

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