There was a time when a business’ relationship with its customers basically ended at the point of purchase. You convinced customers that you had the best product, made the sale, and that was the end of it. Those days are long gone.
Customers today are spoilt for choice. In every area of business, they have more brands to choose from. They’re increasingly aware of who they’re buying from and what those companies represent — way beyond just the product itself.
Why Customer Success is So Important
All that choice means that it’s more difficult — and more important — for you to stay at the top of customers’ minds. It’s crucial that you communicate with your customers, frequently and across multiple channels, in order to remain their business of choice and create a strong relationship.
Happy customers become repeat customers, and retaining customers is just as important (if not more so) than acquiring new ones. Experts peg the cost of acquiring a new customer at five times the cost of retaining a customer. Translation: it pays to keep your existing customers happy.
Our reasoning is spelled out in something we call the Customer Lifecycle. You can read more about the Customer Lifecycle here, but the shorthand version goes like this:
- Onboarding — you welcome new users to your ranks, set up your product, and help them begin using it.
- Adoption — customers start to become aware of how much value your product provides, and begin using it in their everyday lives.
- Usage — customers are fully comfortable with your product, are using the full breadth of features, and have integrated your product into their day-to-day workflows.
- Value Realization — your product exceeds the expectations the customer had for it, providing a positive ROI and showing them their investment was worth the money.
- Advocacy — customers are so happy with your product that they recommend it to friends and colleagues.
Advocacy is the endgame. Future prospects will put far more weight on a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague than on your marketing materials, so creating advocates is one of your top priorities. That’s why Customer Success — not just for the biggest customers at the top, but for each and every one of them — is so vital to the future of your company.
Treat Customers as Individuals
When communicating with your customers, you can’t just paint in broad strokes. Communication with your customers only works if they feel heard, noticed, and appreciated — that won’t happen if your customers feel like they’re all being lumped together.
That means not sending them offers for far-flung locations or for products that won’t work for businesses of their size. But it’s more detailed than that. Each customer is a person — even B2B clients have a human being at the other end making business decisions. That person has likes and dislikes and specific circumstances and needs.
A well-maintained CRM is crucial for keeping track of all this. Each of your customers came to your product in a different way, through a different series of touchpoints and platforms. They want slightly different things out of your product. Their short- and long-term business goals vary. Keep notes in your CRM on who your customers are, what they care about, and what they need from you.
How Are You Supposed to Keep Track of All That Customer Info?
It’s an intimidating task, to be sure. Even if you have detailed notes on every customer’s specific circumstances, preferences, and needs, you can’t possibly spend the time and resources to write individual emails or serve individualized ads to each one of them.
That’s where automation comes in. Automation software can track the various traits of your customers, from the age of their account to the size of their business, from their job title to their location, and hundreds of others.
We’re not advocating that you send a personalized email to every single customer on your list. Instead, the approach you should be taking is to set up criteria for the people you do want to follow up with individually.
For example, you might want to send out a short-term checkup message to customers who have been onboarded to make sure they’re not having any trouble with the software you set up for them. You don’t want to just sit back and wait for customers to contact you — only about one in 25 customers with a complaint will actually reach out about it, and the rest might just silently churn. And you don’t want to pester customers who don’t need help.
Following up manually would get the job done, and you could make a note in your CRM that those customers have been contacted, but it’s time-consuming. You could also segment your email lists, but of course those segments can quickly become outdated — new customers aren’t new for long.
What’s the solution? Automated Customer Success software that can tell you exactly who needs to be contacted, when, and how. Let’s stick with the same example. Based on your previous usage data, you decide to seek out customers who:
- Signed up between 30 and 90 days ago
- Completed the educational materials you sent
- Logged in within the last week
- Logged in more than 10 times since they signed up
- Haven’t been contacted since they were onboarded
- Haven’t started using some specific feature, indicating that they may not know how
- This is not a suggestion to automate every step of the process — there’s no denying the value of a human touch when reaching out, whether it’s by email or phone. But sorting through databases is a waste of your Customer Success team’s time.
Automating the tedious parts of your Customer Success workflows isn’t replacing in-person communication, it’s enhancing it — by freeing up time that would otherwise be spent behind the scenes and providing all the useful, individual information you need to talk to each customer, you enable your Customer Success team to do what they do best: keep customers happy.