The Customer Success Strategy
Most of Customer Success strategy initiatives are tasked with churn reduction. But a more meaningful approach would be to have right actionable insights.
Customer Success is a long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed strategy for maximizing customer and company sustainable proven value. Most of the Customer Success strategy initiatives are tasked with churn reduction. But a more meaningful approach would be to gather the right data from various customer touchpoints, derive the right insights and take proactive actions to engage customers, improve retention, build loyalty and increase life-time value.
“All the great work you do to help others succeed while building relationships and networks is ‘planting seeds’. And, the best way to methodically grow your seeds is with a repeatable program or with systems that ensure your customers are successful. This field is now commonly called Customer Success.“
Why is the Customer Success strategy so important? Customer Success is essential in today’s world because it helps you build a loyal customer network, ‘seeds’ as Aaron Ross calls it. It helps provide insights to product management groups to build a more customer-focused product leading to higher product adoption rates. And lastly, and most importantly, it helps organizations multiply profits by reducing customer attrition. David Skok highlights in his article how important is churn reduction for any subscription business. The graph depicts how churn impacts businesses even when you have consistent new bookings. It also indicates the exponential revenue growth from the existing customer base at a rate of 2.5% every month.
Customer Success strategy drives customer engagement, retention and returns basis that customers find your product effective for them and thus have higher adoption and stickiness. Fundamentally, product adoption and product experience are at the core of Customer Success.
Product experience is part of the customer journey that customers spend on your platform or product. Customers build experience right from platform sign-up, onboarding, and various other phases of interaction during the journey on the platform. Today organizations tap into this experience via usage behavior tracking, surveys, feedbacks, etc. to enhance the product and deliver what their customers would love and stick to!
A survey suggests that customers who had a very good experience are 3.5x more likely to repurchase and 5x more likely to recommend the company to friends and relatives than if they had a very poor experience. Alternatively, bad product experience has a bigger impact, especially in this digital era. Unhappy customers can replace platforms even before you can sniff the dissatisfaction. Therefore, it’s vital to have a proactive approach to the product experience.
SmartKarrot defines product adoption and product experience tied to business goals as Product Success. Product Success sits at the core of Customer Success to drive adoption, reduce churn and increase revenues.
While Product Success associates to customer journey that takes place within the application, Experience Success associates customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle. Customer experience is built throughout the customer interactions across the journey. That is right from navigating to a website, signing up trial version, receiving email communications or talking to customer service teams. At each stage, the customer develops a perception about the company that further feeds into his/ her decision to stick to your company or not.
For SmartKarrot, Experience Success is defined as the ability to create, nurture and positively influence the digital touchpoints businesses have with their customers. Experience Success is the underlying premise for Customer Success and Product Success.
The trio: Customer Success, Product Success, and Experience Success are essential for any digital business today. The implementation of these initiatives can be done differently depending upon business objectives, platform, target customer and business readiness. But organizations need to be cognizant of the importance of the trio and should sketch out the lifecycle of these initiatives within the organization over a period of time.
SmartKarrot sees a convergence of these silos: Customer Success, Product Success and Experience Success. And, this will require organizations to rearrange themselves and shift their approach towards their business objectives. Organizations need to shift their thinking of department goals and bring various departments together to drive business value. No business can have happy customers without successful delivery, fruitful support, customer focus, and personalized engagement. This will also require to break the technological barriers between various departments.
Refer below an organizational framework depicting Customer Success, Product Success (Product adoption and more) and Experience Success (Customer touchpoints and experience).
While the three Customer Success, Product Success and Experience Success go together in helping reduce churn, drive engagement and increase the lifetime value of the customers, there are other organizational elements that help these initiatives stay true and focused.
Management buy-in and oversight
Defined goals and requirements
The Success Umbrella requires a certain time and cost investment before it starts indicating the right insights, provides valuable metrics and trends to take effective actions. Also, it may take a while to align initiatives to business goals. Therefore, it requires management trust and buy-in to help the initiative get to a stable state before it helps retain customers and increase loyalty.
Organization integration is a must to provide the right data to the system to derive trends and action points. Integration with Customer Relationship Management systems, financial systems help get the right financial metrics and customer-related data to marry product adoption, usage behavior, tasks, and action data to derive the right health score for Customer Success Managers to act upon.
Lastly, it is essential to be aware of the organization’s goals and pain points to help shape the Success Initiatives accordingly. Say, for example, Salesforce built what was then the largest Customer Success department in the industry. The group was (and still is) called Customers For Life, and while it was not responsible for renewals, up-sells or cross-sells, it was specifically chartered to address customer retention by increasing user adoption. Likewise, businesses can have very specific goals to meet and the Success Initiatives should be aligned to those.
Customer retention and revenue growth are obvious goals for any organization. But it is important for organizations to understand their core issues and derive focused business needs, create use cases, and then seek the right technology platform to help them achieve their business goals. It is imperative to keep a long term view to reduce redundant efforts in platform evaluation, integration, training, organizational alignment and processes, and workflow implementations.
SmartKarrot endorses that Customer Success should not be an independent initiative in any organization. It is important to understand the role of product adoption and the customer experience in defining customer success goals. The convergence of Customer Success, Product Success, and Experience Success is of utmost importance in today’s digital era to keep customers engaged and loyal to in order to keep enhancing the lifetime value of the customers.
Originally Published March 26th, 2020, Updated November 11th, 2020
Anshi has over 12 years of experience in demand generation, digital marketing, and managing global teams. In her prior role as head of marketing operations for a high growth US healthcare tech organization she transformed marketing from cost to revenue center.