“Five stars, six if I could!” Strategies for upping your Customer Success game to add value and drive growth

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So, you’ve got a stellar product… Now what?

In a world where customers have seemingly infinite options of products to choose from, earning a customer’s sustained loyalty to your product, and thereby reducing churn, has become the fuel that enables a company to out-pace the rest of its pack. Whereas customer service was once considered to be an afterthought tagged onto a product’s sale; today, customer success and experience have become a top priority for smart companies.

Customer success is the relentless focus on ensuring that your customers achieve the best possible outcome using your product or service. In this way, it’s the performance gear where your product either delivers or it doesn’t. It’s all about earning customer loyalty, and as is the case with any interpersonal relationship, earning loyalty requires trust. If customer service is the reactive response when things don’t go as smoothly as planned, customer success is all about proactively ensuring customers get the best product experience possible, and it’s not hard to discern which approach will work best for earning a customer’s trust. Through a proactive, repeatable, and scalable process, customer success is a vital way to earn customer loyalty by ensuring they get the most out of your product.

Here are a few key ways for your company to rev its engine in the ever-important race to compete for customer retention. By implementing these customer success strategies, you can ensure that your valued customers keep coming back to your product, thus leaving your competitors in the dust.

Strategy 1: Managing Churn

Customer churn is the percentage of customers who stopped using your company’s product, and it’s one of the most critical metrics to take stock of when measuring your company’s growth. Because it costs a lot more to acquire customers than it does to retain those who are already using your product (just think of that advertising bleed!), getting your churn rate as low as possible is key to sustained growth.

Here’s a fact: the more frequently customers use your product in the first 90 days after purchase, the less likely they are to churn. Ensuring proper use in the first 90 days is the #1 driver of net retention. So, how do you manage those early, critical days through customer success strategies in order to bolster retention?

  • Build a team dedicated to the first 90 days

    • All companies have a more general customer service team, but does your
      company have a team dedicated specifically to customer success in the
      first 90 days? You should, and that team should focus on two goalposts:

      • Minimize time-to-value through proper activation

        • How many apps get downloaded on a whim but never opened? How
          many products are bought once but never used? It goes without
          saying that an unused product or service won’t be bought a
          second time; so, having a team proactively engage with recent
          buyers to spur them to use your product that very first time is
          absolutely essential to managing churn.
      • Proactively engage customers to up product usage

        • After a product has been used once, you enter an exciting period
          in which a customer is becoming acquainted with the various
          use-cases available to them. Likely, a customer bought your
          product with a specific need in mind, and they might not have
          considered the myriad ways your product can benefit the other
          needs they have. Using your 90-day churn team to inform and
          educate recent customers on the multiple functions that your
          product offers can excite customers and increase how often they
          use your product.
  • Strategy 2: Creating an Expansion Team

    Outside of that 90-day critical window for reducing churn, we also suggest forming a team focused on expanding your product offerings to different teams within an existing customer. In other words, if you can get an existing customer to pay you more than their initial buy-in, you can lower the stakes on new customer acquisition and grow your business from the customer base you already have (think: up-sells, cross-sells, add-ons). The potential that account expansion has on your bottom line can be transformative to your company, and creating a separate team dedicated to expansion is essential for driving this unique form of growth.

  • Create data-driven influence “heat” maps and usage dashboards to guide
    expansion

    • Long-term customer retention depends on product expansion, and you can
      utilize data and dashboards to find these opportunities.

      • Customers want to feel that their needs are understood. Nothing
        turns off a customer quicker than feeling like they’re being up-sold
        products they don’t need (just think of those annoying calls from
        your insatiable internet/cable company!)
      • To accelerate customers to their desired outcome through expansion,
        create data-driven influence “heat” maps and usage dashboards to
        guide your expansion logically and tactically. These dashboards
        provide early detection systems to alert your team to take proactive
        action when guiding product roadmap decisions.
      • Through a strategic approach, you can provide your customers with
        additional products you know they’ll want to use. If you can utilize
        expansion to provide for your customers’ needs before they even know
        them, you can form the level of trust that forges lifelong customer
        loyalty.

Strategy 3: Identifying and Rewarding Champions

For every customer who loves your product, there’s a product champion
evangelizing its benefits on your company’s behalf. Champions galvanize a
community of end-users and act as a lubricant for any go-to-market engine; so,
identifying and rewarding these players is crucial to the end-game of customer
success and retention.

  • Internal champions are often overlooked, but that’s a mistake. These players
    are essential for helping you navigate your customers’ organization to
    ensure that your message lands in the right way with key decision-makers and
    influencers.
  • Identify champions who are experts in your product and understand the region
    or demographic segment you desire to sustain. These champions can serve as
    invaluable resources for their designated pod of customer success managers.
  • Champions should receive the royal treatment: invite them to join advisory
    panels, feature them in case studies, provide them with early access to
    products, send swag, and invite them to meet your team. The resources you
    expend on your champions will be paid back in spades when these key players
    stomp the pavement and drum up excitement and loyalty within your customer
    base.

Strategy 4: Offering Remarkable Support Services

Finally, when considering how best to ramp up your customer success strategy, you can’t forget the old, tried-and-true service work. Customer success might be a different animal from the customer service teams of yore, but no success strategy can stand without the sturdy backbone of a support team. From sale to usage, stuff inevitably goes wrong, and all success efforts must be complemented with remarkable support experiences to help customers when things don’t go as planned.

In short, if you’re a company looking to level up your customer loyalty and diminish churn, these strategies will prove integral to creating the level of customer success that will keep your customers coming back, time and again. The goal of these strategies is as straightforward as the name “customer success” suggests: ensure your customers succeed in reaching their desired outcomes with your product or service while simultaneously expanding the possibilities for what that outcome might look like. At its best, a strong approach to customer success allows a company to build trust with its customers from day one, with the hope that this trust will provide a solid foundation upon which to grow and expand a customer’s relationship and engagement with all your company has to offer.

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