Congratulations! You’ve decided to set up a Customer Success practice at your B2B SaaS business. It’s because you want your customers to derive more value from your product, right? So, where do you start? Essentially, with a Customer Success plan. Going ahead, optimize your customer success plan as you mature.
What is a Customer Success Plan? Why is it important?
When you hire the first Customer Success Manager, it can be a huge task to prepare a customer success plan. Since it’s the first time for you, it can be a daunting task to determine what it is that you are going to work on. So you start by defining what customer success looks like for your business.
A customer success plan is a roadmap that your customer success team will build upon to achieve identified goals. But, it’s more than merely identifying customer goals or needs. This plan is essential in:
* Reducing churn,
* Achieving desired outcomes with lower costs,
* Proving value to your customers,
* Driving predictable revenue,
* Expanding your business’s recurring revenue, and
* Making customers your advocates.
How do you create a Customer Success plan?
The first step should be to identify what your customer’s end goal is. It’s important to align your value proposition and customers’ expectations. Create a journey map, define the customer success metrics, align your cross-functional teams, choose the tools wisely, and have a solid feedback loop in place.
Check out the 90 Day Customer Success Plan Template that gives you a proper framework of what, when, and how to carry out your customer success plan. The breakdown of the first 90 days into 30, 60, and 90-day plans. This way the first 90 days of either a new Customer Success Manager or a new customer will be effective.
We’re assuming that you’ve already built the best plan you could.
5 best ways to optimize your customer success plan.
Now, only creating a well-defined plan won’t be enough. You need to walk the talk. A well-planned strategy is only as good as its execution. Yet, that is where many customer success professionals fail – at executing the plan!
That means you need to create a plan that is easier to implement. Having said that, easier doesn’t have to be simple. A plan that lacks the core strategy or that cannot deliver results is a total waste of time and effort. The plan should possess capabilities that your business needs to incorporate in order to launch or streamline your customer success function.
Everyone loves a ‘how-to’ manual recommending all the best methods to implement, optimize and grow their customer success function. So, here they are which we think can be a game-changer for your business.
Optimize the roadmap for customer success
It’s 9:30 on a Monday morning. How do you know where your customers are in their journey at the moment? If you have a customer journey map, you do! It’s critical to have the map in place so that you know when and how to build a CS roadmap.
The Customer Success roadmap is slightly different from a customer journey map. A CS roadmap is a blueprint of your firm’s and customer’s goals. It includes the strategic plans and initiatives for how you’ll achieve those goals in both the short and long term. Your success team requires this to simplify the process of building a robust CS practice.
At first, this roadmap might be straightforward. As you mature, your plans will become more extensive. They’ll include a complete ecosystem of teams like sales, marketing, product, support, and of course, customer success. It makes sense to optimize this ecosystem to ensure a better customer experience for your customers.
Bonus resource: The Customer Success Leader’s 30 60 90 Day Plan
Optimize your Analytics and Frameworks
The pillars of great customer success functions are these two- analytics and frameworks. Ask yourself questions like:
Do you have the expertise that gives you a complete 360-degree view of how your customers are performing?
Are you using the available data to develop a plan to proactively increase the adoption of your technology?
Do you have established frameworks for assessing how well your tech is helping customers in proving value?
Do you have a robust customer feedback system in place?
Do you have required playbooks that will guide your customers in their journey ahead?
The answers to these questions can give you a fair idea about how mature or advanced is your customer success function. Optimize these frameworks to help your customer success function deliver value effectively.
Scale and Optimize with Systems and Tools
It’s not really possible to scale Customer Success without the right tools and systems in place. The tools that you have can provide some level of insight, that’s true. Yet, you can’t truly transform your business until you embrace the specialized customer success tools. These are easy to integrate with your systems to improve customer experience, boost productivity, and optimize your overall customer success strategy.
You really can’t do without the digital tools of communication. It is because technology is evolving on a day-to-day basis. It can automate several of your CSM’s tasks giving room for them to focus on other important matters. This is crucial to business scalability and an indicator of a mature customer success organization.
Implement Change management
Change management simply means doing something in a better way. In customer success, it is about coaching people to do things differently. Most of the time, CSMs have to fight past mindsets where customers want to be in a place of satisfied product adoption.
Basically, change management is all about promoting adoption to decrease churn and improve retention. But before that, you need to change your client’s behavior. It’s essential to remind customers how your solution can help them achieve their end goals. A strategic CSM can even go one step further and show customers how the product can help them achieve future goals that they haven’t even considered yet.
Being able to translate value to the cross-functional teams is vital to expediting change throughout your customer’s organization. This way every person involved will find ways to keep the customer’s goals on top of their mind. This will help customers get over the blocker caused by the disruption of change. Get them to a place where your product is understood and ingrained into the workflow.
Optimize your Account Expansion strategy
Expanding your customer account is the best way to increase revenue from the existing customer base. No wonder, people invest their energy to have this strategy work. For a customer account expansion strategy to work, it must be carefully orchestrated. The strategies like add-ons, upsells, cross-sells, etc., can be a consistent and long-term driver of growth. You just cannot expect it to be arbitrary or occur organically.
Start with applying logic to the expansion process. Also, great SaaS firms are optimizing expansion strategies across all customer segments by leveraging technology. This is usually done for the tech-touch customers whereas providing dedicated personnel for the high-revenue or high touch customers.
The CSMs should manage customer expectations and let them know about expansion opportunities that will occur at various times. Watch out for the upsell signals that can help you plan the road ahead. When they occur, a conversation will be initiated to avoid unpleasant surprises. Optimize your account expansion process by identifying these moments and leveraging them.
Suggested Reading: How should a Customer Success Manager plan the day?
Summary- Customer Success is your success
Customer success is still not defined clearly. It is not yet a mature function in most of the SaaS organizations that have it. However, this evolving concept is quickly becoming an indispensable part of the daily operations across the tech industry. To succeed in this domain, you need to plan carefully and optimize customer success plan the best you can. Remember, a customer success plan is just as important as any other plan, if not more. It helps in constructing a framework for your plan so that it provides value and delivers success to your customers.