Customer success and customer experience are closely intertwined. A great experience keeps customers coming back and brings in new business through referrals.
But to achieve this, you need to make sure that your customers accomplish their "desired outcome" when using your product. And this is exactly what customer success is about—offering the best experience possible so that the desired outcome is easily reached.
Usually, customer success is practiced along every step of the customer journey. For many SaaS businesses, the customer success pipeline should follow this order:
- Initial sale
- User adoption / onboarding
- Measurable ROI
You shouldn't think of customer success as a singular process, though. It's more about every department working together to ensure the customer has an optimal experience.
How to Build Your Customer Success Team
For your customers to be successful, SaaS organizations need a team that's focused on walking them through their journey with your product. A customer success team provides support, education, and tips for enhancing each customer's experience.
But how do you build your dream team? By following the best practices below.
Start with who you're hiring.
You need to hire the right people. For most SaaS startups, this means someone with a technical background (or, at least, some technical knowledge), and the ability to empathize with customers.
The best way to get a sense of how they'll work with customers is to provide them with hypothetical situations and see how they would handle different customer-related challenges. If they respond with empathy and ensure their customer is on the right path, they're much ore likely to be keepers.
Onboard your new team before you onboard your new customers.
Your customer success team should know your product inside and out. This means that they have a full understanding of the customer journey and the challenges customers face along the way.
If your organization is offering a particularly complex product, you can even segment your customers into various customer types and assign them to different team members.
Empower your customers.
Customer success is a proactive process. So ideally, your team should be solving problems before customers even have a chance to encounter them. Or, if they do face a problem, you should empower them to solve it on their own.
This means identifying the most common issues customers experience at different stages of the customer journey and providing them with resources to address these challenges. Tutorials and knowledge bases make for a good start.
Of course, you can't prevent all issues. So when a customer does reach out, your team should be quick to answer.
Keep your customer success team accountable.
The best way to measure your team's performance is through the right KPIs. These may include renewals, churn, and the results of customer satisfaction surveys.
At the same time, you can analyze user metrics. Reach out to churned customers to find out why they left, re-engage inactive users before they have a chance to leave you, and reward power users with upgrades or upsells to enhance their experience.
Give your team autonomy in decision making.
For best results, your customer success team should able to make decisions to enhance customers' experience. This might include flexibility in pricing or the ability to give free renewal periods or upgrades.
Best Practices for Creating Great Customer Success Strategies
Building a great team is just half of the challenge. The other half is executing your customer success strategy.
So here are a few things you should consider:
1. Make sure you understand what success means to your customers.
You may think you know everything about your customers, but do you really? Your definition of success may not necessarily match with that of your customers.
So you should gather as much information about them as possible. Send them surveys, call them and ask them about their goals, and network with them during industry events regularly.
Unless you have a very niche product, you will also want to segment your customers. Different customer types will have different goals, and therefore different definitions of success.
2. Focus on customer success from day one.
You don't have to become an established business to focus on customer success. On the contrary, the earlier in your company's life that you start focusing on customer success, the easier it's going to be. Customer success is a mindset.
On the same note, you should start the customer success process early in your customer's lifecycle; don't wait until they've bought your product to do so. A great customer experience starts all the way back to marketing when their in the Brand Awareness stage.
3. Map out the customer success journey.
No matter how good your customer success team is, they're still human. They forget things.
Having your strategy laid out on paper makes everyone's job easier. Plus, this will be a great start for any new customer success reps that will come on board.
4. Develop your own customer success playbook.
You can include instructions on upselling, suggested tactics for solving problems, resources for moving a customer along the journey, and anything else that your team has found useful in successfully executing their responsibilities.
Developing a playbook will help you add value to your relationship with your customers at every interaction.
5. Make sure your customer success team is easy to reach.
Not being able to contact a business is a frustrating experience. So make sure your contact details are easy to find.
Besides your email and phone number, you can even implement a live chat on your website. Try your best to answer customers in real-time; this will provide them with a positive experience.
6. Use a customer success platform.
Using a customer success platform to automate mundane tasks will free up your customer success team's schedule. Thus, they can invest more time in more important processes.
A customer success software like Custify gathers all the relevant customer success KPIs and presents them to you in a way that's easy to understand, enabling your team to proactively monitor and manage customers in real-time.
Looking for more tips on customer success strategy? Check out PMG's Ultimate Guide to Harnessing the Power of Customer Success!