(Image credit: Totango)
Today, change seems to be the only constant and even as budgets continue to tighten, customers still expect you to deliver faster, better, and cheaper. It’s never been more important to put the right people, processes, and technology in place to not only deliver that value, but also be poised to pivot quickly so you can support, retain, and grow your customer base.
But what does that actually look like?
In my last piece, I discussed why a customer-centric mindset and strong customer success practice are the keys to predictable, scalable growth in today’s turbulent, cloud-based world. In this post, I’ll take a deeper dive into how you can best leverage your customer base to drive that growth by paying attention to three key concepts in your practice – which are visibility, a modular approach, and internal systems and data that provide a single source of truth.
Flipping The Value Chain
There was a time when businesses created a product and convinced us we needed it – and there was often little scrutiny over whether these purchases were truly delivering value. As recent headlines reflect, that time is long past.
In a SaaS-based, subscription environment, value is critical and today, businesses are looking for a strong ROI on every purchase – and yet there’s no secret definition of what “value” means. It takes different forms for different companies, different teams, and different customers.
That means you have to start with your customers and the outcomes they are trying to achieve, and then design back from that in order to deliver what they need.
It also means enabling your teams to be able to deal with change quickly and easily by arming them with agile customer success tools and practices.
The Building Blocks of Your Journey
Creating value for customers throughout their lifecycle requires a few key areas of focus.
Visibility: Everyone in your company must be fully aligned around the customer with an ability to shift quickly to meet their needs. This critical collaboration requires insights across your customer base and workflows that easily connect your cross-functional teams and business units.
Modularity: Building processes that can be adjusted independently of other workflows is the key to efficiently scaling your CS practice. Instead of recreating the wheel for every customer, this flexible approach – paired with the right visibility into customer health – allows for data-driven programs to create repeatable, predictable results that can be mixed, matched, personalized, and continuously improved.
Data and Systems: To ensure consistency across all your internal teams, having the right system and “source of truth” is paramount. This empowers your teams to collaborate cross-functionally to reduce friction points within the customer journey and seize opportunities for expansion – even in the midst of a challenging market.
If your teams are buried under multiple sources of truth, outdated spreadsheets, and siloed chats, your journeys will stagnate. Instead of making proactive, data-driven decisions, you’ll be stuck in a reactive state in which your teams are continually working to salvage accounts and reduce churn when it’s already too late.
The Age of Efficiency
Most of us are not fans of the saying, “You have to do more with less.” Unfortunately, that is where we are in 2023. Today, we have to be as efficient as possible – and having a CSM for every customer or set of customers is just not scalable or affordable for most businesses.
A strong customer success practice is built by leveraging self-service support and communities and solid training and enablement, while also driving digital communications that provide the information your customers need when they need it. It’s pairing the foundation of technology with the understanding of what your customer needs, and executing on that in an incredibly efficient way.
If done well, this provides a value-driven experience for your customers that leads to retention, along with a path for solid, predictable growth. It’s important to remember, however, that most businesses have not yet built a tight process on this, and you shouldn’t expect yours to be perfect on your first try either.
In 2023, it’s all about taking baby steps. Start by identifying a small or easy way you can add value for customers and then design and build that process. Then you can move on to tackling your next value-adding process even as you continue measuring the effectiveness of that first step and improving upon it.
With this modular approach, your customer success practice will continue to grow stronger and more predictable with every iteration – and so will your company’s growth.