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But if Marketing is already doing this, what additional role does Customer Success play? Marketing is the process of creating awareness of your offerings to your customer base. Sales is nurturing a relationship so they buy more. The drive to understand the customer wherever they are has evolved from a marketing priority to a top business concern. Earlier we talked about the history and evolution of Customer Success in SaaS and we discussed the importance of this concept to other types of businesses.

Here we discuss a Customer Success Methodology. Keep in mind, this methodology is not the customer journey; rather, it is the approach you want to take to understanding all the touchpoints along the journey so you can think about who needs to be involved, what you need to plan for and how you might measure success. First, we will start with the definition of a customer journey so you can understand how it differs from the Methodology. In addition to milestones, an effective customer journey map defines metrics for each stage, identifies what might go wrong in the stage and provides a proactive plan for keeping things on track.

Some say that the customer journey starts with your first engagement with a client. Keep in mind, prospects are coming to the table much more educated and aware than they were 10 even five years ago. As a result, buyers are more in control of the sales process than ever before. Their first interaction with your brand happened long before they spoke to a sales person. Rather than repeat all that knowledge here, you can access some of our favorite approaches by clicking on the articles below:. For now, the most important point about defining your customer journey is to make sure it is not built to mimic your service or product delivery process.

Start by imagining you are the customer. Better yet, start by actually talking to real customers! Success milestones are not the journey, but rather the milestones that steer your customers toward their desired outcome and help you keep their goals in mind. The small circles represent the stages in which customers experience your brand or business. At each stage, there is a two-fold challenge: Understanding and proactively improving the experience at each stage contributes to Customer Success. This is the first time a prospective customer interacts with your brand. Although an inconsistent or negative experience likely means the journey will end, there are situations in which it can still move forward.

This does, however, create a barrier in the potential for long-term success. In this stage, which aligns with the inbound methodology stages of Attract and Convert , you are nurturing and qualifying potential customers that you can help. It is critical that you have a clear definition of what makes a customer a good fit. As people move through this stage and begin interacting with sales, they become part of the entire experience. If Sales and Marketing are treating all people as equal not qualifying and segmenting them further , this will create challenges down the road for the Customer Success Team.

It is critical that sales and Customer Success are in alignment not only about the experience of working with the company, but also about what can realistically be delivered when and for how much. You must be able to deliver what Sales promises. As a sales conversation progresses, we strongly recommend that Operations gets pulled in. This will help to share the knowledge that the team will need to deliver, ensures proper expectations are set, and helps smooth the transition during onboarding.

This is a mistake. Your prospective client is investing a lot of time and energy into educating your sales person on their goals and needs. This stage is a critical tipping point. As noted previously, your client shared a lot of information with Sales and, ideally, built a strong relationship with their sales person. In this stage, they move from being a prospect to a customer, and from being told what they can expect to experiencing it. Keep in mind there are a lot of departments and teams involved in onboarding.

It's hard to recover when things go wrong in the first days of a new customer relationship. This experience stays with clients for a long time.

Keep in mind, you have only a small amount of goodwill built with your client and much of that is likely with the sales team. What this looks like for your company will be dramatically different than what it looks like for another company. In fact, what this will look like for each individual customer will dramatically differ. Value realization will have many milestones unique to each client. Think of it as a line graph that goes up, may plateau, goes up again, plateaus, may have a dramatic increase, etc. You become more and more entrenched with your client as they discover more and more value from their relationship with you.

A lot of companies get complacent here — maybe the customer just regularly adds users, places an order every month, or has renewed their retainer for another year. They wonder what they did before they worked with you. They refer you to everyone they know. You could have had a huge win for your client in the first 90 days that created loyalty, but you must continue helping the client achieve results. You have been monitoring the health of the relationship.

You know where the client is in their value realization lifecycle. You know when you can approach the client to advocate on your behalf.

You should also know whether it is the right time to approach the customer to expand its financial relationship with you. For some companies, this is tied to a renewal cycle; for others it might happen any time you can offer more to help the customer realize additional value. Sometimes it comes by understanding changes in the business that dictate when you can grow the relationship or product sales. If this Methodology is employed well, it will help you and your clients in the process of finding a balance between what you want and what they need.

Some companies, however, need to evaluate themselves before they make Customer Success an integral aspect of their business. The next step is to see if you can fully commit to a company change on this scale. Once an organization understands the goal of Customer Success programs, the components of a Customer Success initiative, and the desired journey of their unique sets of customers, it is time to ask the question:.

Are you committed to operationalizing Customer Success? There are a few situations that can inspire a company to commit to Customer Success programs. Do any of these sound like your business?

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If you recognize your organization in any of these scenarios, you are a good candidate to consider a Customer Success Program. Your success with customers ultimately depends on people in every department to embrace their unique role in the program. Creating a Customer Success Team with representatives from each area of your business is a great first step.

This group can help ensure that you build the four core organizational requirements successfully. Start with a clear strategy statement. Without a focused goal, it becomes too easy to veer off course, get distracted by the urgent over the important, and struggle to gain momentum. Starting with a clear strategy for your Customer Success program is critical. Knowing what your company is looking to accomplish and where you are starting from is imperative. Assess your current situation as an organization and how an effective Customer Success Program will help you move toward your overall goals, whether it be higher revenue, higher retention rates, higher profitability or something else.

How will an effective Customer Success Program help us achieve our goals? What are some outcomes and experiences your business delivers — or could deliver — to customers? Knowing that each customer is unique and will have specific outcome and experience needs, it's still a good idea to brainstorm some general outcomes your firm is positioned to deliver and the overall experience you hope your company can provide to customers. Clarifying some vision around this helps your team see what the Customer Success Program will ultimately look like across your organization.

Try this or a variation that works for you. Some traditional items to track include the lifetime value of your customers, customer retention rates, customer acquisition costs, and NPS scores. Knowing where you are starting from will help you set realistic goals. Here are some insights into how to track some potential metrics for your Customer Success Program: It is not a time bound campaign or a one-time event. Without buy-in from the top and a commitment across the company, your program will falter.

It is a company program that focuses on proactively working toward desired customer outcomes and delivering positive experiences at every stage of the relationship. Build and sustain an infrastructure that supports Customer Success. Every good program starts with and relies on people to get it right — to create the best strategy, define the tactics to achieve the strategy, implement the tactics effectively, and measure results along the way. Customer Success is no exception.

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Structuring your various teams and the company as a whole is an integral part of building an infrastructure for Customer Success. Perhaps a Customer Success Consultant could help guide your efforts. Or you may even want to outsource parts of your Customer Success Program. It may be that you want to restructure some existing positions and train the affected individuals in how their job is going to evolve. Engaging with these experts may help you move your program forward or give you ideas on how to staff for Customer Success.

But to fully integrate Customer Success throughout your organization will also involve your CRM, finance and accounting, marketing automation, performance management and other systems. For Customer Success software, you have many great options. A good program will help your company build customer profiles and capture data from across your organization — NPS scores, invoice history, and interactions with your firm, for example.

It will use historical data to score your customers and help predict future growth or potential risks. And it will scale with your organization as you grow and evolve the program. Customer Success software is available primarily for SaaS companies, so if you are a non-SasS company looking to adopt a Customer Success Program, you may not find these offerings to fit your business.

And it may just be that you use the existing systems within your business to do the job. What technology will never be able to do, however, is replace the power of human beings. Your people will always be the main driver of your Customer Success Program. The final leg of the stool is clear processes and best practices to pull it all together into a strong infrastructure that can be sustained over time. At each stage of your Customer Success Methodology, there will be activities that need to happen and best practices that need to be followed. Document, document, document them! With a clear strategy and metrics to track, a commitment to creating the right culture, and the strength of a solid infrastructure of people, technology and processes, your organization can be on its way to finding great success with Customer Success.

Customer Success is not a fad. With Customer Success, you can meet your clients in the middle and begin to understand — truly understand — their needs and how you can surpass them. Heck, you can even begin to predict what they will want next! Change the way you think about your role in helping your customers.

This allows you to reach out to customers who may be having a poor experience and offer help specific to their needs. Equally important is that the information you gain from FullStory will help you to develop a better product, which is the highest leverage way to retain your customers. When you focus on the experience of actual humans, everyone wins. Engaged customers are ones who interact with your company often — chatting on social, offering feedback, providing testimonials and referrals.

Here are four strategies for boosting engagement with customers before they think about walking out the door. A recent study found that customers who have had social media interactions are less likely to churn. Interacting with customers on social can be as easy as searching for mentions of your brand and responding or giving them a like.

We get the social media interactions started early by welcoming our new customers to Nicereply on Twitter. Jason Lemkin, founder of Echosign, has claimed never losing a customer he actually visited in person. For example, attend industry conferences. Last year we attended SupCon f in New York City and were able to meet with several of our customers while learning more about our industry. Conferences are a great opportunity to meet several customers in one area. They will be so pleased to have your undivided attention, while you get to learn more about your customers. Reviews, testimonials, and social media shares are all ways of engaging your customers through User Generated Content.

It might seem like popular companies have tons of customers lined up providing reviews, sharing pictures on Instagram and recommending their service to friends. In order to get reviews, you have to ask for them.

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Wool and the Gang actively recruit content from customers. Every package comes with a suggestion to shareyourknits on Instagram. The company keeps an eye on this hashtag and shares any pictures they like on their own page. Seeing other people enjoy the product is positive social proof — an effective psychological marketing technique!

Social proof is a phenomenon where people base their own decisions on the actions and opinions of other people.

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Procore a construction software company partnered with an influencer to showcase hardhatheros. They recruited stories from customers that worked in the industry and showcased them on social media. Post purchase follow-up for reviews drives repeat business. Customers are twice as likely to make a repeat purchase if they leave a review Hubspot, Most people have their cell phones glued to their hands these days. This makes mobile marketing an extremely effective channel for retaining customers and driving engagement.

How can you get started? Begin by making sure your site is ready for mobile users. If a customer lands on your homepage, are they able to navigate to what they need? Can they purchase or update information without needing to sit down at their desk? Secondly, think about ways you can connect with customers through their mobile phones. Push notifications are a great way to engage inactive users. Sending surveys or promotions through SMS text messages can get you much higher open and response rates. A huge part of retaining customers is delivering consistent, helpful customer service.

Customers who experience bad service are far more likely to churn. Imagine how much better customer service could get by investing that money back into front line teams. Customers are happy to pay more for great customer service too. In an American Express study , two-thirds of customers are willing to pay more to deal with a company known for great customer service. Instead of micromanaging every interaction, just hire people who genuinely care and they will do the job for you. Talented front line customer service staff can be tough to find.

But we have a few tips on what you should look for. It might be a confusing UI or difficult customer service conversations.

Guide to Keeping Your Customers: 24 Customer Retention Strategies

Reducing the effort customers spend doing business with you makes them more likely to remain customers in the future. When things go wrong, the best thing to do is to own it and apologize to customers affected. The Carey School of Business found that genuine apologies were the most effective form of service recovery. We break down the perfect apology for customer service on our blog, where you can also find a sample apology to adapt for your needs.

Customers are always able to help themselves. In fact, more and more customers prefer to search for the answer themselves rather than contacting support at all. Fewer customers needing live support means that your support team will be more available to provide high value support — such as proactive check-ins, personalized onboarding and educational programs. Plus, good help content improves the overall user experience. Her job is to build trust in the product and increase product adoption by communicating the benefits and features of MailChimp in their documentation.

Developing a customer experience strategy | McKinsey

Learn more about how MailChimp writes great help content on their blog. Customers who take the time to offer feedback are much more likely to be engaged, long term users. Passionate users have strong opinions about the direction of your product. That is, until you start ignoring them. Research by Morwitz and Dholakia for HBR found that just the act of asking for feedback resulted in more engaged customers. They surveyed a subset of customers for 10 minutes by phone and were surprised at the difference in customer behavior: The more often you seek feedback, the bigger this effect becomes.

Your customers will feel involved and accountable for the success of their ideas. They require some effort to maintain and they must be mutually beneficial. As in any relationship, you must be willing to give, share and support, not just take or receive. But it wasn't that he didn't care about those relationships. It's just that he got so busy that he didn't realize how much time had gone by where he had not checked in with several of his contacts—an easy mistake for most small business owners who feel like every day is shorter than the last.

What Denisoff found was that, in two cases in particular, his failure to put enough effort into nurturing his relationships caused them to wither away. The first instance was when he called up a supplier to ask for a favor—not realizing how much time had gone by from the last time he had touched base. Denisoff says his supplier seemed distant and not very willing to help him out, which was surprising.

After asking him if anything was wrong, Denisoff's supplier answered that since Denisoff hadn't been around in a while, he felt like he was being taken advantage of. In another instance, he called up a customer who he could tell was not pleased with him because, in truth, he only called her when she had a project ready to go. She felt like Denisoff did not truly value her and was using her only for her business.

It's like having a friend that only comes to see you when they want to borrow money or need help moving," he says. First, he created a contact database where he not only stored information on his clients, but also with vendors and business peers. He now uses the database to document the details of the conversations—both personal and professional—that he has with each of his contacts.

The actions taken by Denisoff are great tips for any business owner to adopt as their own. Here are some additional tips from Denisoff and other business owners on how to build stronger business relationships that will last. How to Build Better Business Relationships: Encourage Honest Feedback "An open, honest relationship demands clear communications of how each party is performing," says Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O'Haire , an Atlanta-based marketing services company. Listen More Than You Talk "We all want to extol our strengths, our virtues in hopes of impressing others and, ultimately, getting more business," says Alisa Cohn , an executive coach.

I coach a financial planner and we did a little market research on what his clients value the most in him. Yes, they value his advice and his skills in handling the money, but a lot of financial planners have that. What sets him apart is that he takes the time to listen to them and really understand where his clients are coming from. They said most often that they value his role as a sounding board, and a few even called him better than a shrink! That's the kind of behavior that leads to referrals and long-term business success.

Make A Routine Devise a system to ensure that not too much time passes before you connect with your contacts, such as the formal database Denisoff created.