Customer Success – it’s more than just selling
Customer Success, as the name suggests, is more than selling the product or service to the client. It is about persuading them to believe that the product or service being offered is the apt solution to their problem and adding value to their business.
Customer Success is about building a relationship with the customer and making them comfortable with the product.
But this is not an easy task; especially in today’s subscription-based economy where the clients are using the product for a set period, and are required to renew the subscription for uninterrupted usage. A lot of patience, time, effort and persuasion goes into keeping the customer hooked to the product and maintaining a healthy business relation with them.
In a nutshell, the job of CS is to ensure a smooth customer journey across phases i.e. finding, learning, adopting, and engaging with a product.
How should a Customer Success executive go about it?
- Be proactive: Start with learning about the customer, their industry, etc., and what kind of solution they expect from your product.
- Build a relationship: Always try not to be a corporate robot, instead show some sentiments while having a conversation with the client. This helps in building a relationship with the customer. Deciding what channel you use for conversation is crucial too.
- Building from feedback: Constant feedback is the key to understanding the client’s requirements better and improving the product to offer bespoke solutions. Identifying the problem and solving it before the customer complains is the epitome of excellent customer service, and is vital to maintain and share a good relationship that tends to last long.
- Build a team: A team which has people with great communication skills and can empathise with the customer because 85% of clients will pay more for better customer experience. This can only be achieved if the CS people are proactively creating that environment for them.
This was about the basics; now let’s look at the customer lifecycle to understand CS better.
- Onboarding: Treat the onboarding as your first date; this means that the customer should be in a state of ‘wow’ by the end of onboarding. You can start by understanding their business challenge and then explaining them the product, taking their problem as an example and how it can be resolved. Give them a complete tour but in bits and pieces so that the customer is not confused. Start with the parts which will help them with their business problem and then take them through the rest of it.
- Nurture them proactively: Communication is the key to success. Constant interaction with the client leads to a better understanding of their experience with the product/service and future requirements. This further ensures that the client is contented with the current offerings, and you are all set to address the new requirements with new ideas that can help scale their business.
- Upsell: This is the most crucial part after the customer is onboarded. Keep an eye on your clients to find the one which has potential for an upsell. After this, reach out to them with your complete portfolio and make them understand how your product is going to help them add value to their business. To further prove your statement, provide them with trial subscriptions or discounts for a test run.
- Pitch: Always remember to pitch if anytime you sense that the customer requires something more.
Since communication is the most important tool that plays a vital role in CS, we need to understand its basics as well.
- We need to hear the customer to understand his situation and problem and then empathise; this makes the customer feel comfortable. Also, always remember to be polite and respectful to the customer no matter what the situation is.
- To make the customer feel much more comfortable to share his business problems with you, start reading the customer and mirror their image/thoughts. E.g., for a 60-year-old MD, you must be professional and inspiring with your words, whereas for a young entrepreneur, a colloquial language can also serve the purpose.
- Find out their knowledge about your product and lead the conversation basis their understanding of your product.
- Also, as we said before, don’t be a robot. Always respond to them with emotions. And never indulge with unproductive talks with them.
- If a customer calls to report a bug, don’t sell your another product as a solution!” Upsell only when a client is contented with the current offerings.
Retention via feedback, things to be done for retention:
- Set the right expectations for the clients; overpromising later turns out to be a disappointment. Also, react faster on their needs and be proactive on most of them.
- Fix the product with feedback, understand what’s not going right and try to correct it. Also, keep reaching out to the passive accounts before they slip away.
- Educate instead of selling – understand the problems of the customer and then educate them about how you have the perfect solution for them. Show them the case studies and samples of your best work to build the trust.
- Sell to the right customer – always find out who requires your services instead of reaching out to everyone. Also, talk to your ideal customer for honest feedback or appreciation (maybe) to have a better understanding of what value you are adding to their business.
Now, how to build a great Customer Success team:
Empathetic, problem solver, diligent, and proactive are some traits that are a must in someone willing to join the CS bandwagon. They should always be on point with the following:
- Inspire through education – anticipate the client’s needs and be ready with a solution before they ask.
- Design the customer experience by collecting feedback from the present clients or from the ones who left.
- Use the approach of Listen-Segment-Prioritize.
- Driving growth via account management – make the customer journey smooth and exceptional by offering bespoke solutions on time.
What should be kept in mind while hiring:
- Be very sure about the candidate
- Focus on communication
- Give them ownership to motivate them
- Make them understand and learn the company and products whereabouts
- Share strategic decisions
- Listen to them once hired
With the following points, we can track Customer Success:
- MRR churn rate
- Net promoter score (NPS)
- Time to first response
- Customer satisfaction
- User engagement metrics
- Time to value – how efficiently the customer is using the product
What CS should do to achieve great results:
- Make the customer realise that the product is adding value to their business
- Convert all the customers into retainer clients to add profits
- Integrate the success of the customer with the company’s success
- Help the customer proactively by identifying their needs and providing them solutions basis references or case studies
- Have complete knowledge of the product and the company
Reiterating what we said at the start of the article, Customer Success is more than just sales personnel. They are responsible for the success of their as well as the client’s business by way of bringing revenue and providing best possible solutions respectively while maintaining healthy business relations.