Conversion optimization, online payments, user experience, buyer personas, customer support and a great shopping experience are all just small parts of the big picture that eCommerce businesses need to “paint”.
But what do you do when you have all of these elements in place, yet your business is still somehow not performing as well as you’d like? It might be time to take a look at your customer success program, since it could be what’s keeping you from reaching your goals.
Basically, the purpose of a customer success program is to help your customers with everything they need to achieve success while using your product. If your customers are happy with your product or service, they will become your advocates and tell others about you. Additionally, keeping a current customer can require far less effort and expense than finding a new one. In the end, achieving customer success means more customers and an increase in revenue for your business.
Not convinced? “Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is,” according to Jason Lemkin, venture capitalist and founder of SaaStr. Here’s what the experts say your business should have in place for your customer success strategies:
1. Know as much as you can about your ideal customer
Before you start building a customer success program, get to know your ideal customers and their purchasing/ engagement habits. You have to determine things like what your customers need from your product, which devices/ touchpoints they use to interact with you/ your product, where they work, if they use your products at work or at home, how frequently they use your service and what they expect from your brand and your product. Basically, you need to find out everything there is to know about what your customers want.
“Your ideal customers are: Customers who love your product, use it, and tell other people about it because they love it so much. You can identify which of your existing customers fall into this category by tracking social mentions, but you can also just ask.” – Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist.
On the flip side of this, be careful about what customers you accept – those who are a bad fit for your business will not help you grow.
“If you knowingly allow bad-fit customers to be acquired, nothing else you do in Customer Success will have the result you’re hoping for as those customers – no matter what you do – will never achieve their Desired Outcome.” – Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Consultant.
2. Be selective about the success metrics you track
Don’t just build a customer success program and let the team run it without staying engaged. Ask for monthly reports and adjust your strategy based on these success metrics: churn rate, customer health score, Net Promoter Score, success potential and success vector, aligned also with the revenue customers bring (the 20-80 rule still holds true). You can also track tactical metrics such as advocacy actions, referrals and so on, that are – one – a proof that the client is happy as well as – two – a tool for bringing in new business.
Depending on who is part of the customer success team (sales, marketing, support, product), you might want to adjust the goals of the program, so that everyone can make a meaningful contribution. This way, you avoid a misalignment of goals that keeps the team from achieving the overall desired outcome.
“There’s no silver bullet. Every company is different. You have to define success for your own customers, company, and culture.” – David Apple, director of Customer Success at Typeform.
“There are multiple metrics, one of them which is critical is the level of adoption and usage of a product, because everyone is busy and if they are not using your product probably they have other priorities meaning that your product is not really delivering to their satisfaction. So the first challenge is, to get the right sensors into your customer and it’s what they do with your product and how often, what is the breadth of usage and also other dimensions of customer information for example support tickets, CRM information, billing information, marketing information, and so forth.” – Guy Nirpaz, CEO at Totango
3. Know your clients’ metrics for success
Align your success metrics with your clients’. Measure & track THEIR metrics for success, share knowledge and expertise, best practices that will help them utilize your product better and achieve higher outcomes. Have CSMs meet regularly with clients (monthly, quarterly, or as often as your business dictates) to help facilitate this.
“You have to be focused on your customer first, and your company second. Customer Success must be defined by the extent of value your solution provides to your customers. The higher that value is, the greater your ability will be to see significant monetary and non-monetary returns.” – Boaz Maor, Customer Success Advisor.
With the help of these interactions, review and adjust your customer success program goals regularly (yearly/ quarterly). When changing something, have in mind the return on investment and the impact on client satisfaction. Increasing and retaining revenue is the first objective of every business, but don’t try to achieve it by any means. Do it by keeping customers happy.
“A VP of Sales wants to close more revenue. Not just retain revenue. But in Customer Success, renewing, even without any upsell, is usually Job #1. Keep the customers happy, and in the end, all is good. That’s what CS is all about. There is an inherent conflict here with Account Expansion, at least at the margin, and often with the biggest accounts. Customers that have little room to land-and-expand won’t get the same treatment from sales as an account that has a lot of room to grow. I don’t like this misalignment, personally. It always worries me.” – Jason Lemkin
4. Be patient with your customers
Don’t expect to set up and run a customer success program today and see results tomorrow. Customer success is about nurturing clients so they become advocates, a process that takes a lot of time and resources, but will certainly pay off in the end. If you have a wide pool of roaring happy customers, dying to express their satisfaction, results may indeed show up earlier. In any case, track the implementation of the program and frequently adjust what isn’t working.
“Customer success doesn’t pay off in just one quarter. You have to invest in the long view.” – Danielle Morrill, CEO of Mattermark.
5. Use product updates wisely
If you’re running a software or SaaS business, then you’ve probably struggled at some point with how to deliver smooth product updates. Adjust the way you communicate updates depending on their timing and importance. For small updates or bug fixes, you don’t want to disturb users with extensive communication; a note in an email or in-product should be enough. For updates that impact the way they use the product, give them a heads up and help them embrace the changes through your customer success or support teams. Turn the update into a big event, re-emphasize the value of your product and make sure they understand you are growing and help them grow as well.
“To ensure customers maximize the value from a constantly evolving product, a startup must provide on-going training and persistent education in order to achieve engagement and true product/market fit.” – Tomasz Tunguz, venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.
Derived also from the previous point…
“Making sure your customers have the latest education about your products and services, as well as industry marketing material, will instantly help ensure that your customers know you’re in it for them.” – Liz Pochup, Customer Success Strategist
7. Connect with customers via multiple channels
You can send dozens of emails and newsletters, but these might not be effective in reaching enough customers or getting the engagement you expect. And it won’t be because you don’t share valuable content or because the templates are not good enough; chances are the problem is simply that customers aren’t encouraged to reply. The same holds true for social media – just posting company updates and sharing multimedia content isn’t going to cut it if people don’t engage with what you share. Ask customers to reply, share and encourage them to do so via multiple channels, not just email and social – see what works best for your audience.
“Twitter allows you to hear directly from anyone in an unfiltered way. Businesses can receive feedback directly from customers. At Slack, we read and reply to every question and comment we get on Twitter. It’s an invaluable source of feedback — both good and bad — that helps us understand our customers better.” – April Underwood, VP of Product at Slack.
8. Get Personal
Personalization is one of the most popular trends in ecommerce. Customers want to be approached individually, with solutions based specifically on their needs. Reminding customers of what they’ve achieved and setting milestones in their use of your products strengthens customer relationships, encourages them to keep learning and paves the way for success stories.
“Personalization plays a key role in modern transactions. The entire customer experience needs to be personalized and users need to monitor their situation and the progress they’re making. Keep reminding users of all the milestones they covered at each step and what results they accomplished. Adoption reports and dashboards are useful to visualize achievements.” – Andy Mura, Head of Marketing, Userlane.
9. Put the Client in the spotlight
Leverage existing customers in your marketing efforts, not just for you, but also to bring them additional visibility and credibility. Case studies, guest speakers at webinars, video testimonials, are great examples of how you can do this. A customer-centric mind-set not only enhances your business, but also helps you connect better with potential clients.
“Your business will reap a variety of benefits from a case studies and testimonials, but your customers will want to know there’s something in it for them, too. Be sure to highlight the advantages when presenting the idea. For example, a case study showcases the customer’s brand and accomplishments. It also puts their company in front a new potential customer base.” – Brafton’s blog.
10. Go beyond your product
Let’s face it: there’s always going to be a product similar to yours, so your clients still have a choice, even if they are currently sticking to your business. Chances are, they will not stay if you don’t continuously improve. And remember: it’s not just about your product, it’s about the overall outcome for your client – what are they aiming to achieve by using your product and how else can you help them do that? Can a new partnership help your client use your product more efficiently or enhance certain aspects of their work? Can additional integrations or plug-ins enhance your application to make it more appealing to your client and increase their stickiness?
We hope these tips were helpful. How do you make sure your customer success program is effective?