SaaS businesses are now more popular than ever – and it does not look as if this should change for a long time, as this market is expected to reach $76 billion by 2020. What accompanies this trend is the growing popularity of Customer Success processes, as the majority of companies plan to expand their Customer Success Teams (and not only within the SaaS world).
They seem to be a link between those two, and if it looks like it, it’s better to go with the flow and join the merry band of the businesses that already benefit from CS.The Customer Success Association, in its definition of Customer Success Management, states: “it’s about customer relationship retention and optimization. And the most effective way to keep your customers is to make them as successful as possible in using your product.”
So, what does it mean exactly and what are those benefits that were already mentioned?
Even though CS is very commonly mistaken for Customer Support, it’s much more than that. The bottom line is: when your customers make money and get benefits, you make money too. Customer Success is about supporting the customer on various levels for them to achieve their goals. It’s a win-win situation.
Furthermore, what may be even more important, we should always have in mind that it has been proven many times that the best marketing is word of mouth. Excellent Customer Success provided to the current customers creates more leads. It’s simple as that.
Still not convinced? Maybe this would help: CS it the money-maker on each stage of Customer Lifecycle. And it’s the case of low cost, high income for the business.
I’m sure here comes the next question: “But if we don’t know anything about CS, how could we implement it?”
We’ve got you covered. Of course, it’s necessary to learn as much as you can about Customer Success, but there are certain ways you may start acting right now to get quick results. Depending on the area you would like to begin with, or the stage in the Customer Lifecycle you believe could be the most beneficial for you to improve, below is the guide on the Customer Success processes that will give you the best results from the get-go. What’s even better is that some of those solutions may give you incredible results at many stages.
1. Lead Creation
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No new leads mean no new users and it’s clear what that means for the business. It has been proven that LEAD MAGNETS work. You need to predict potential areas that would be the most interesting for your target group. If you take into consideration Customer Success, your goal is to create the content that makes your potential customers feel well taken care of, and that responds to their needs at this stage of Customer Lifecycle. The idea of this Customer Success process is to ensure them that their success if your primary focus. It’s not only about having a sale or some splashy, eye-catching graphics (but it usually doesn’t hurt).
What you can do, is show them that YOU CARE. What’s more, you should give them all the tools possible (within your means, of course) to achieve their success and equip them with the knowledge they may need. It’s about creating webinars, shareable resources, infographics, articles, etc. Give something before trying to get something from them in return.
A good example of this strategy is creating a webinar on creating great email campaigns. It’s about shareable knowledge that may allow your customers to get more successful in their pursuits.
Where else is Customer Success vital at this stage? FIRST RESPONSE TIME. Of course, this Customer Success process works best if the Customer Success team is responsible for the chat with the Customer. We ought to remember that sometimes it is taken care of by the marketing, sales or a totally independent team.
It’s one of those CS metrics that are so basic that may be overlooked, but at the same time, this is the one that may count the most. Improving your First Response Time may bring you incredible results, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. In today’s world, people don’t have time to wait for someone to kindly response to their feedback or request. Nobody has time for that. Customers want to get their answers and solutions, and they want them NOW (or even faster).
Let’s see this example:
The customers are browsing through your website and are interested enough to check the pricing. They need specification regarding one of the pricing plans. No matter what channel they use, it is vital to send the initial response ASAP. Why? If you wait for too long, they may even not remember that they checked your website or even worse – they may choose the solutions provided by your competitors.
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Onboarding is considered the most important stage in the whole customer lifecycle. This phase starts at the moment of customer registration and usually ends when they gain value from the service or the product. This is the moment when it is the most important to establish a good relationship with them, as it will be the basis of the future interactions.
When it comes to onboarding of the new customers, the mistakes made during this stage may later result in bigger issues. Implementing Customer Success strategies may save you a lot of time and resources that would have to be used later. First Customer Success process that should give great results is IMMEDIATE REACTION TO CUSTOMER FEEDBACK. It is vital to hear your customers out when they notify of issues or struggles.
SuperOffice, in its 2017 Customer Service Benchmark Report, found that 41% of the researched companies did not respond to a customer service request, but also that the average response time was 13 hours. That is inconceivable for a good Customer Success team. We should always keep in mind that Customer’s wasted time may cost your business dearly. As your success is interlinked with theirs, it’s better to assist them and pay heed to their needs.
The thing is, this strategy is very similar to First Response Time, but that is just the tip of an iceberg. The reaction to customer feedback doesn’t only mean a reply, it may also require specific actions to take:
As an example, let’s imagine that our customer at the onboarding stage reports a bug. How should we react? We notify them that we received the report and that we are taking care of it. Then, we fix the bug ASAP and notify the customer, that all is working now. Why bother? If you ignore customer’s issue report or procrastinate too much with fixing it, there is a high chance that they’ll churn or just not even finish the onboarding process.
Have you ever been wondering why some customers never actually use the service provided by your business or why they churn quickly after the onboarding? The SIMPLIFICATION is the Customer Success process to remedy that.
Imagine this: Your customer wants to start using your service, but there is no tutorial for the first use, only a link to the FAQ. FAQ gives no step-by-step explanation, instead, it links to the User’s Guide. This User’s Guide is written using a very technical language… Do you see the pattern there? It’s the new user’s biggest nightmare.
The solution is to make it all SIMPLE. Assist your new customer whenever it’s possible and create guides and manuals that are clear, user-friendly and that allow them to use the service for their needs. Don’t create a guide with several thousand words – instead, address the most common issues and make them available to the users. It is astounding how powerful this strategy is.
Does it work? Well, it did work for us. We introduced simplification in many areas of our work and Customer Success (a good example: simplified guides in our Knowledge Base) and we’ve already had positive feedback from our Customers.
3. Customer Engagement
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The Customer Engagement stage, also called the nurture stage, is the time of the biggest growth in the Customer Lifecycle. It’s at this stage where the customer should use your service regularly and get the results they need.
What’s great is that at this stage you can implement Customer Success processes that were already mentioned and therefore they may provide results on various levels.
The strategies mentioned are SIMPLIFICATION, FIRST RESPONSE TIME and IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CUSTOMER’S FEEDBACK…
Why are those three strategies so important for this process?
When it comes to the simplification, it’s very straightforward: the easier it is for the customer to use the survey, the higher the probability of their constant use. The more they use the app, the more probable is their retention…
Don’t overcomplicate things. Assist your customers by creating user-friendly guides and tutorials. They’ll appreciate clear instructions.
The first response time and immediate action to Customer’s feedback are as vital for this stage as they are with the others, especially since more experienced users may notice more mistakes or bugs that need to be fixed. Addressing their issues and rectifying them ASAP is the way to go. The longer a paying customer has to wait for the assistance, the more probable it is that they’ll cancel the subscription when the time comes or maybe even earlier, if it’s possible.
4. Value Increase
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What to do to increase the value of the service to the Customer?
How ensure the higher rate renewal rate?
Well, first of all, you need to keep in mind that what you see as selling the product to the customers, they see as investing. It makes a huge difference when you look at it from this perspective.
Customers require various types of solutions, some groups may have very similar needs. This allows implementing Customer Success process that is CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION.
This is a very useful technique because it helps in categorizing the customers in many areas. Here is a good example of customer segmentation from the CS perspective:
XYZ is an international company with millions of customers; it requires very specific and multi-level solutions for different branches and subsidiaries; the customer is on the highest subscription plan and needs a designated customer success manager to handle its issues with the app.
ABC is a small company with 10 employees and no more than 100 customers; it requires simple solutions that are very user-friendly, as not all the employees are tech-savvy; tutorials are the preferable materials for guidance.
It is visible in the above examples that those two customers require a different approach and it should be taken into account in the day-to-day work with them. It helps increase the value of the plans they have because it gives a clear view of the customer’s expectations from the plan.
The above CS practice is very closely connected to another that always brings great results: CONTINUOUS EXCELLENT SERVICE. Knowing what are the customer’s needs helps to bring them tailor-made solutions.
What makes it a great Customer Success process is that customers that are happy with the service and assistance, will recommend it to others – and that is exactly what you should count on.
It may seem not the most reliable source of new leads and money, but we should never underestimate the power of recommendation. In addition to that, it’s necessary to remember that one instance of bad service may also bring very fast results – but not really those that we want.
In both strategies, the main goal is one – plan renewal. Both focus on making the service worth the customer’s investment. Better value = better chance of customer paying the money to continue using it.
5. Churn Prevention
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Churn is what every business is working on to avoid. The Customer Success process that is churn prevention could also be suggested as the main purpose of the existence of Customer Success.
What is churn? It is the moment when Customers cancel their account, resign from their subscription, or even when they choose the subscription plan of a lower value (which is called ‘revenue churn’). It is predictable that it is crucial to prevent said process to occur. It is crucial to monitor churn metrics for that purpose. For more information on that topic, check our article on 5 Crucial Customer Satisfaction Metrics.
When it comes to churn, a wonderful strategy that brings huge results is to get CHURN FEEDBACK. It is vital because it gives a clear perspective on the customer’s situation and it gives the ideas for improvement. Immediate actions to rectify the mistakes is beneficial to all – the company, current customers, as well as the future ones.
What is our example? We use churn feedback survey, where it is possible for the Customers to write freely what made them resign from our subscription. We chose that instead of some simple multiple answers question because usually, we cannot actually predict what could be the reason for their cancellation. The result? We managed to implement a number of improvements to our service thanks to the churn feedback.
This Customer Success process allows seeing clearer patterns of the customer’s churning, which encourages to implement new actions for avoiding the past mistakes. As saying goes, “Mistakes are stepping stones to success”.
Furthermore, what helps to suit the customer’s needs and avoid them churning is the already mentioned Customer Success process that is CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION, but from a slightly different perspective than with value increase stage. In this case, customer segmentation may also include the analysis of possible triggers for the customer’s churn and the ways to avoid it. It also allows predicting possible churn reasons for the customer based on the whole group that belongs to the same category.
It doesn’t matter if you are at the beginning of your adventure with Customer Success or if you work with it on your daily basis. It’s always good to implement the above processes, as their results far surpass the investment. Whether you choose to focus on your Lead Creation, Onboarding, Churn Prevention, Customer Engagement or Value Increase, start right now to boost your business in 2018.