Higher Standards: How the Best Companies Prioritize Customer Success
“Why would they leave? They said they were happy.”
That refrain is a common one from companies trying to figure out how to maintain better-than-happy relationships with their customers. But in today’s business world, just being happy isn’t good enough. Customers have a multitude of choices available to them, and they need to feel happy, invested, connected, and successful when interacting with a product/service.
The best companies can create those types of delightfully successful relationships with their customers, but those bonds don’t happen by accident. Instead, smart businesses are investing plenty of time and money into customer success to make those bonds as strong as they can be.
Seventy-two percent of businesses say improving customer success is their top priority, according to Forrester Research. It’s not just because these companies are good-hearted and generous; it’s because they’ve seen that investing in customer success pays off. A happy customer may use your product; a delighted customer renews their contract, and is 14 times more likely to add to their overall relationship with your company when given the chance.
So, how do you create those delighted and delightful relationships, and how can you make your company the gold standard that your competitors can’t match? Here are 10 customer success strategies to prioritize and make part of your playbook.
#1 - Target the Right Customer
Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. If you're going after the wrong customers, you won’t be able to help them achieve the results they need.
In order to secure customers who can use your product and want long-term relationships, your company should focus on the type of business it wants to attract by using account-based strategies, building ideal buyer personas, and thoroughly researching prospects to determine fit.
From the customer success side, it’s important to find ways to work with whichever clients your sales team brings you. Maybe a client signed with your company because they had a strong interest in Product A. If that’s the case, focus on a great Product A experience, not on spending resources on Products B and C.
An outsourced team can be especially supportive in this role because their expertise is in managing the relationship, but they’re also not married to your product and can be objective in their customer success conversations. Then, they can provide feedback from clients so you can continue to refine your buyer personas and product offerings.
#2 - Set and Clarify Goals
Even if your client achieves great results, if they’re not the results they’re looking for, they won’t feel successful. You want to make sure you understand what they want and that you give them a good expectation of what’s possible.
They may set their sights on new business, and you may need to draw attention to retention/ upsell success opportunities. If you’re part of the goal-setting process, you’ll have an understanding of what you should work towards together, and you can also let them know whether the goals they’re setting are reasonable and in line with industry expectations.
Understanding client goals can also help you score some quick wins to boost their confidence. When you’re part of the goal-setting process, you can dive right in, find opportunities for success, then strategically score them some success stories.
#3 - Provide Great Customer Support
Customer support doesn’t necessarily equal customer success. However, if you can’t master customer support, you won’t have the chance to create long-term customer success.
Statistics show that happy customers tell nine people, on average, about their customer support/service experiences. Unhappy customers, on average, tell 16.
Keeping your customers happy and resolving issues quickly lays a foundation and partnership of trust, which you can build on in the future.
#4 - Follow Up on Everything
If you’re working on building relationships, the fastest and easiest way to destroy them is by dropping the ball.
When a client comes to your team with a problem, you won’t always be able to fix it. You can, however, research the situation, share your findings as appropriate, and offer alternative solutions.
Best-in-class companies set timelines and provide clear expectations for responses; they don’t leave the customer hanging with vague promises of an update that may or may not happen.
#5 - Fix Problems Fast
While there may be some problems you can’t fix, there are plenty that you can. And, fixing them is crucial to your long-term success.
In fact, research shows that 67% of customer churn can be avoided by providing fast, solution-driven customer service on the first interaction.
#6 - Keep Providing Content
When customers are shopping for a product, they rely on content to guide their decision-making. The average decision-maker reads 10 pieces of content when researching a product, and more than two-thirds of buyers agree that the single-most influential aspect of any vendor's website is "relevant content that speaks directly to [their] company."
Because content plays such a key role in establishing a relationship with your company, it stands to reason that continuing to provide content would cement customer loyalty.
The best companies keep their customers hooked with an ongoing supply of useful content. From demo videos to customer success case studies and product update emails, your customer success team can provide plenty of resources that retain clients, offer tools for building success, and remind them of the value your product/service provides.
#7 - Include Educational Resources
Content lets you teach your customers; a knowledge base lets them teach themselves. Giving customers resources to find answers on their own can help them to feel empowered when using your product. Then, have a fully-staffed customer success team ready to support them when they can’t find the answer – that’s the best of both worlds.
In addition, the best customer success-focused teams get started on the right foot by onboarding their clients properly. Providing personalized content and a high-touch approach is important. Technology can make the process easier, as well.
For example, adding a chatbot option can give you a way to follow up with customers as they review materials you provide. You can then collect the data and find opportunities to connect with a human touch.
#8 - Create Frequent Touchpoints
Customers need to hear from you frequently once they’re using your product or service. You can be sure that they’re continuing to hear regularly from your competitors even after they’ve signed a contract with you.
However, connecting with customers takes time, and your team's resources may be in short supply if you’re focusing your efforts on development or sales. An outsourced team can support your efforts by reaching out at scheduled touchpoints and assisting with the creation of sophisticated automated outreach campaigns.
Automation doesn’t have to feel robotic, and it shouldn’t. Instead, think of the automated emails you send as a springboard for additional conversations. You can request feedback, for example, via an automated email survey, then have your outsourced team members follow up with specific guidance and support related to the survey results.
#9 - Build With Them in Mind
The best way to make and maintain successful customer relationships is by creating a product that fits your customers' needs. That effort can push your customers from generally liking your company to becoming fanatically supportive.
When you’re planning to develop a new enhancement or tool, ask your current customers to be a part of the development. They can give frontline feedback during journey-mapping processes, serve as your beta testers when you’re preparing to roll out, and evangelize the product once it's launched.
When you build something that fits their needs, you’re not just creating a new product. You’re also strengthening your relationship and building their loyalty. And, if they have something that’s custom-designed to fit their needs, they’ll never be able to find that same perfect option anywhere else.
#10 - Ask 'Why' a Lot
The best customer success teams should be attuned to their clients. They should be able to know the client so well that they can sense when something’s out of the ordinary or not quite right.
Seventy percent of companies that deliver a best-in-class customer experience use feedback to inform their efforts. To follow their lead, consider asking these questions:
- Why did they sign up?
- Why do they use the product a certain way?
- Were they aware of a gap in a certain area (which your team identified through analysis of data), and are they aware of a solution you can offer?
Your outsourced customer success team can dedicate time to reviewing data, asking these questions, and finding opportunities for solutions that keep your clients happy with the service they’re receiving.
Build a culture of Success
To create those happy, thrilled, delighted customers that stay with you long-term, customer success shouldn’t be just a buzzword or a taken-for-granted to-do list item. You need to create a culture that’s built around customer success – getting the right products to the right people and teaching them to use them in the right way to reach their goals.
What customer success techniques have resonated the most with you? Feel free to share in the comments below:
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