Transform Your Customers' Business and Your Own
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Explain how to identify areas for improvement in your approach to customer success.
- List several approaches for establishing yourself as a leader in your industry.
- Discuss how to measure the impact of your customer success strategy on your business.
Optimize Your Approach
At this point, you’ve got a good idea of what customer success is, and its impact on your long-term growth. We’ve also talked about how you can put it into practice for your customers.
How do you take your customer success approach to the next level? No matter what stage you’re in, take a look at what you’re doing today and see where there’s room for improvement.
Enable and Scale
Growth is great, but it does come with some challenges. As you win over more and more customers, you must find creative ways to deliver a consistent and satisfying experience using your existing resources.
Fortunately, you’re not alone in your pursuit to scale your business. You don’t have to invent your own strategy from scratch. Here are some areas you can focus on to improve the ways you interact with your customers.
Analytics and Business Intelligence
Evaluate and reexamine your key metrics as you learn more about your customers. Develop predictive analytics that measure business value automatically (see our Explore with Analytics trail for details). Use the information you gather to empower your customer success managers (CSMs) so that they can meet customer needs with the right solution at the right time.
Consolidate your data so that you don’t have to deal with multiple sources of truth. And stay out in front of risk by developing a health score or early warning system that lets you identify obstacles before they start costing you business. Peer group benchmarking, which compares your metrics to similarly positioned companies, gives you a larger frame of reference. A combination of these things helps you focus your attention on the customers who need help the most and deliver recommendations that produce better outcomes.
Your CSMs do their best work when they’re helping your customers. Help them spend most of their time doing this by automating as much of their other work as you can. Look at our Process Automation Specialist Superbadge to get started. Workflows, reports, and other day-to-day tasks are all important, but they don’t need to take up valuable employee time.
Make your priorities and goals clear to everyone in your organization. Solidify roles and responsibilities across your teams—the more you eliminate gray areas, the more each team can be accountable.
One tool you can use for this is a responsibility assignment matrix, sometimes called a RACI matrix (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed). A RACI matrix describes who makes what decisions and who undertakes which activities within an organization. You can use a RACI matrix to train your teams and to identify gaps in your process.
Once you figure out how to do something effectively, deploy it using the appropriate tools so that your teams don’t have to reinvent it. Whether it’s a workflow, a process, or a basic day-to-day task, do it one way, and make it be simple and repeatable.
This goes hand-in-hand with automation. Of course, it doesn’t mean your processes never change. After all, change is the only constant in business. But if you develop a systematic approach to the way you work internally, you have an easier time deploying, following, and maintaining your processes.
Get your CSMs trained and certified in their roles and in your field so that they stay up to date. Make sure they are experts on your product catalog and business so they can recommend next steps for your customers.
Lead Your Industry
Your CSMs aren’t the only ones who are required to stay on top of their game. As a stakeholder in your business, you must strive to be the most knowledgeable and leading provider in your space. You want your name to come up when customers and prospects are faced with a challenge.
How do you strengthen your expertise and influence?
- Stay informed on the latest news, events, and trends in your industry.
- Identify the most important questions that you, your customers, and your prospects need answered. Conduct research and share your results and insights on a blog or in a newsletter.
- As you build your own body of work, use it to anticipate industry trends. Form your own perspective on what these trends mean for you and your customers.
- Connect and collaborate with other experts in your field wherever you can.
Make your expertise visible by selecting appropriate platforms for engaging your audience. Find the appropriate social channels for your industry and share your perspectives on important topics there.
Package Your Expertise
If you’ve got the material, consider creating a thought-leadership marketing strategy. Broadcast your message in articles, white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, customer-facing meetings, and by speaking at industry events.
When you’ve got a market-leading app, your customers are proud to be users. Make it easy for them to talk you up in their network. One of the best ways you can do this is to create your own certification program. It can take your training to the next level, help your customer maximize their investment, be a résumé builder, and potentially be a source of new business if a certified user decides to take a new opportunity elsewhere.
Remember the Basics
Solve your customers’ problems and give them value for their money, and they’ll keep coming back. Your reputation in your industry begins and ends with your product and service.
Your customers’ needs change over time, and so does your product. Keep your customers informed about your product roadmap and get their feedback. Talk with them about their experience using your product. Your goal is to make them customers for life, so it’s essential that your product helps them achieve their goals—now and in the future.
Polish your product and make it delightful to use. Resolve customer issues quickly, and keep communication lines open. Once your product is in the door, do what it takes to move it right to the top of their list of essentials.
Measuring Your Success Strategy
We talked about how to measure and monitor the success of your customers so that you can adjust your success strategy as needed. It’s equally important to understand and control the impact your success strategy has on your business.
Your financial metrics give you a good idea of how healthy your business is. Work them into your reports and dashboards so that you can easily track them by region, segment, product, or customer. You can even tie these metrics to your CSMs to measure performance and understand which approaches are working best.
Here are some metrics to consider.
- Recurring revenue—Annual recurring revenue (ARR) and monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
- Customer retention rate—The percentage of customers you keep over a given period of time
- Net new revenue—Incremental revenue from additional products or services you sell to existing customers
- Attrition—Customer turnover in dollars, number of customers, and percentage. As you measure attrition and find out why customers leave, you can identify trends, forecast attrition, and take action to prevent it in the future.
- CSM ratios—How many accounts do each of your CSMs carry? Account-to-CSM and revenue-to-CSM ratios help you plan for future growth and find out how much work a CSM can balance while delivering a great experience.
- Training, service, and engagement consumption—Are CSMs effectively driving adoption?
- Product adoption—Are the CSM adoption activities getting good results?
- Voice of the customer—Surveys give you firsthand information on how effectively you’re delivering value to customers.
Make the Journey Together
In the end, you make your customers successful by anticipating their needs and moving obstacles out of their way. Be proactive, not reactive—customers recognize and appreciate the difference.
To stay out in front of your customers, you must be able to detect and predict risks. And to detect and predict, you must measure and analyze your business. Stay at the forefront of your field so that you know which measurements to take. All of these things come together to form your customer success strategy.
When a customer buys your product, you and that customer embark on a journey together. When you give your customer value for their investment in your business, you deepen your relationship and build the trust that makes the journey worthwhile.
And remember—you belong to a community with deep knowledge about customer success. If you want some real-world stories on what works, strike up a conversation with your AppExchange peers. Many of them lead their industry in customer success platforms, customer surveys, marketing automation, and online training platforms.