Times are changing. The old sales idea of courting and closing a customer in a single effort and considering their value “bagged” from a one-off transaction is as antiquated as dial-up modems.
After all, the digitization of business has empowered customers to seek long-term gains from short-term investments. Customers in the B2B and SaaS markets are inclined toward subscription options where they pay on a monthly or annual basis for a service they can discontinue at any time. This shift means there is far more value to be generated after the sale through repeated renewals, as well as possible upsells and cross-sells.
This is why customer success is critical now. We are running our business in a reality of today’s customer-centered economy. Enterprises reap the most benefits of nurturing customer relationships long-term in order to keep customers constantly satisfied.
The Role of Customer Success Teams
Customer success teams focus on the continued delivery of customer satisfaction in order to inspire loyalty and build mutually beneficial customer lifetime value.
It’s all built on a simple market reality: customers want products and services that are easy to work with and help them drive their goals quickly and effectively. The slight digital twist on that truism is that today’s customer wants a product that responds directly to their business, their environment, and their goals. One-size-fits-all solutions simply don’t cut it anymore. Instead, you have to mold your enterprise and service to reflect the needs of the customer, demonstrating how the product can deliver continued value over time.
Through repeatable, personalized actions, the enterprise nurtures customer growth in anticipation of continued renewal and upsell, like a farmer nurturing an orchard of trees to repeatedly bear fruit.
The Customer Journey
Customer success teams constantly monitor customer progress and product use over the customer lifetime. There’s no endgame to this process—unless you encounter churn—but rather a cycle of recurring engagement and growth.
This cycle continues across the four pillars of the customer journey:
|Onboarding||The crucial first impression and product introduction, onboarding is the customer success team’s chance to rapidly grow customer knowledge and ease the integration of the product into daily workflows.|
|Adoption||This is where the proverbial rubber meets the roads and the customer begins to use the product independently. During this phase, customer success teams carefully monitor customer metrics to make sure the product is being used often and effectively.|
|Escalation||Despite the most eagle-eyed customer management, things could go wrong. The key to managing escalations is to resolve matters quickly, listen and respond to Voice of Customer information, and see the situation as an opportunity to grow the customer relationship.|
|Renewal||Consider renewal as an outcome of the customer experience and the efforts of customer success engagements. Upsells aren’t dependent on timelines and are not even helpful for some customers. But if a customer is ready for expansion, customer success teams need to be there to help.|
These four pillars of customer success are ways of managing the customer journey. At each phase, the customer success team works to create a responsive customer experience that will ultimately deliver recurring revenue.
Why Customer Success is Important for Enterprises
Staying constantly engaged with customers throughout their product journey allows the customer success team to proactively intervene with and improve the customer experience. Monitoring metrics such as product usage and license utilization equips the team with personalized data that informs future engagements.
For example, say product usage drops over the course of a month. Other data shows that business is usually slow during this month in their particular location, but you also see that there are more open support tickets this year compared to last year. By looking at all these different data points, you can reach a clearer picture of the situation and what is really going on. Perhaps usage is normal but training during onboarding has been lacking this year, causing more people to open support tickets. Then, you can take action and provide a solution—such as by improving customer education during onboarding— before the issue leads to churn.
Such a proactive approach allows you to retain customers long-term. This is beneficial when it comes to revenue since acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as retaining a current one. Your enterprise will not only earn higher profits for longer, but it will also develop a reputation as a company that takes good care of its customers, which can attract new customers.
Using a Customer Success Platform
Since taking good care of all your customers is critical, it’s worth investing in software that will streamline the process. For instance, you could monitor customer product use and automate key actions using a customer success platform.
This platform helps your entire business take a customer-centric approach. It contains both customer data and best practice engagement models, thereby benefiting both your company and your customers. By combining the information held within, you can generate an accurate and ever-changing summary of the customer experience called a customer health score. The customer health score is a way of keeping track of a customer’s progress so that the customer success team can proactively and successfully provide value at any point along the journey. It will also alert you of notable events. For instance, if a customer is not fully adopting certain features, the platform can alert your team so that you can take proactive action to engage and educate the customer before they reach out or, worse, decide to churn.
Adopting a Customer-Centric Approach
The customer success team is a vital component of any customer-centric enterprise. You need to acknowledge that the value of customer engagement is now spread over repeated subscription renewals and not contained within a single sales transaction.
To reap the full value of customer acquisition, enterprises must inspire loyalty that generates long-term commitment. The only way to make a customer relationship endure for years is to continually engage the customer and help them realize value.
You are now partners with your customers in a mutually beneficial search for lifetime value.