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Let’s be honest. If it were possible to just make one sale, stop there and have a “forever customer,” everyone would be a Customer Success (CS) pro. That isn’t quite our reality though.

The CS reality is a lot more complex, nuanced and ultimately scientific. It requires relationship building, thoroughly understanding customer needs, advocating for their wants, and helping every customer — not just the largest — flourish in ways they never could alone.

Simply put: CS helps customers have the very best product experience possible.

But CS organizations can’t do it alone. Unlocking a proverbial holy grail of enhanced product adoption, increased renewals, thriving upsells and product advocacy requires collaboration with other business units, especially Education Services (ES). However, much of the time we find these organizations and teams operating in silos – ultimately creating a disjointed customer experience.

Time to fess up

We can hardly fault CS teams for losing their way in a young industry strapped for resources just as much as it is experience. What we can do though is shine a light on how ES can positively impact CS strategy. That said, before we go any further, take just a moment for some quick self-reflection. Have you ever found yourself doing one or both of the following, — a.k.a. the first roadblocks to embracing ES:

  1. Make assumptions about customer capacity for absorbing knowledge
  2. Put too much faith in the user-friendliness and effectiveness of your products

In our experience, engaging customers with proper training can be a game-changer. Yes, there must be a foundation of quality product design and thorough onboarding, but customer education goes beyond how a product works to revealing how customers can reach outcomes faster. And that’s a revelation that must remain present throughout the customer journey.

Still doubtful? Know that for a properly educated and trained customer, there is a:

  • 92% product renewal average
  • 135% increase in product usage
  • 2x the rate of engagement

Ok, now are you ready to step out of your silo into the ES light? Well, patience, young grasshopper. Don’t become a cautionary tale.

There is no hard and fast instruction manual for understanding where to insert education in the customer lifecycle. We see a lot of CS teams stall out in its integration, and worse yet, they go back to their old ineffective ways.

Five pitfalls to avoid when integrating education services into customer success strategies:

  1. Skipping the development of a customer journey map
  2. Not introducing ES into every stage of the customer journey
  3. Limiting ongoing conversation or not fully engaging with customers
  4. Passing up evaluation points to get feedback from customers
  5. Taking on too much too fast

Now for the honey do list:

  • Do embrace an investigative spirit. Initiate conversations instead of just waiting for a light to go on. Become a valuable part of the dialogue with customers by getting a tight grasp on the data behind the role ES plays in the health of the customer relationship.
  • Do start small. Determine where education can have the most impact and work on those insertion points first, then expand to other stages of the lifecycle at a scalable pace. Integrating ES into CS dramatically energizes the customer lifecycle, so be prepared.
  • Do have your team ready. Manpower resources can stifle progress or snuff it out completely. Make sure your CSMs have alliance with Education Sales Representatives to guide them when making training recommendations for the customers they serve. If you lack CSMs (or need an Education Sales liaison), know that there are outsourced CS organizations like ESG at the ready who can supply Virtual Customer Success Managers (vCSM) and Education Sales experts.

Building on that last point, when CS teams outsource to the right CS partner, they experience significant return on investment. Overall cost savings mitigate expenses. And working with a partner experienced in ES and CS eliminates sometimes-insurmountable learning curves.

Discover more about hitting the ground running with ES integration into your CS strategy by downloading our white paper, “Turning Knowing into Growing: Integrating Education Services for More Powerful Customer Success.”

Learn more – Learn how to bring Education Services and Customer Success together to improve product adoption, drive renewals and uncover expansion opportunities. This PDF tells you what you need to know.

Chartered to increase revenue and promote company growth, but don’t have the resources?

If this sounds familiar, you’re likely one of the many budget-strapped Customer Success (CS) leaders we talk to every day. Folks who know that to improve their bottom lines they need higher touch engagement with their customers — but don’t have the resources to make that a reality.

While attending this year’s Gainsight Pulse Conference, the significance of human-touch was made clear across the board. One case study showed that even just a minor increase in human-touch engagement resulted in increased customer software subscription renewals. Confirming what we already know: Following a strong CS model unequivocally delivers increased renewals, increased revenue from aforementioned renewals, and decreased customer churn.

But how do well-meaning CS leaders, who know today’s customers demand more attention, deliver mission-critical engagement levels?

We see two options:

  1. Max out overhead by hiring additional full-time CS managers
  2. Extend customer coverage with outsourced resources

The first option is great if a CS team has the money to bring on new hires, the track record to convince decision-makers to expand the team, a pool of qualified applicants to pull from, the resources to onboard new hires, and a proven CS model to ensure ROI.

Unfortunately, that scenario tends to better describe a CSM’s fever dream than reality. The sad truth is most companies we come across run into hurdle after hurdle when trying to extend their internal CS teams.

Bring in the vCSM cavalry

That’s where the cavalry, more commonly known as virtual Customer Success Managers (vCSM), comes in. vCSMs help CS teams to scale their proven, human-centric strategy across larger or lower-value tiers without the expense and stress of hiring internal resources. vCSMs provide the critical human touch that augments tech touch and bottom-tier neglect described in our blog post, 3 Customer Success Best Practices to Scale People & Automation.

A successful vCSM solution flips the “do more with less” philosophy on its head. It answers the call to reduce cost and streamline operations while delivering bigger bottom lines — a demand that typically pressurizes organizations to do more with less and a stress that automation alleviates but does not solve alone.

The 80/20 rule: Be a victor not a victim

If you’ve been following our white papers, you know we believe most companies follow the 80/20 Rule. In short, it’s the idea that most CS teams focus on their biggest customers, typically because of limited resources. Those customers tend to make up the top 20 percent of their customer base. The other 80 percent falls in the coverage gap — a place of no return where customers experience low-touch engagement if any engagement at all.

The ugly consequences of underinvesting in CS functions:

  • Over-extending CSMs
  • Strain on other organizational resources when customers seek out absentee help to fulfill their needs
  • High churn rates
  • Renewal loss

vCSMs deliver more customers who…

  • more extensively using your product
  • meet their desired outcomes
  • take advantage of upsells and cross-sells
  • spread positive word-of-mouth about your product and company

The added bonus of vCSMs focusing on low- and middle-tier customers is that existing CSMs can stay focused on key accounts and initiatives.

In short, Customer Success as a Service (CSaaS) drives better customer experience, which unlocks more sustainable growth for you and your customers. An idea illustrated in practice by SaaS Capital, which has found that businesses prioritizing Customer Success can see a 40 percent increase in revenue and 50 percent faster growth.

The five big ways vCSMs will supplement your CS team:

  1. Customer journey mapping and opportunity discovery
  2. A more agile business model
  3. Lower labor costs
  4. Conversion of customers into ambassadors
  5. Increased revenue

Take a more in-depth look at how the right CS partner can help you have your cake and eat it too when you have champagne-level needs on a juice box-level budget in our latest white paper, Building a Business Case for More Customer Success Resources.

Learn more – Building a business case to support the need for better technology or more CSMs doesn’t need to be difficult, but there are a few key things to consider first. This PDF tells you what you need to know.