Scaling with Digital Customer Success

February 26, 2020

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Marketing, Customer Success Resources, Customer Success Strategy

One of the biggest challenges facing Customer Success leaders is how to effectively scale. This is nearly impossible without incorporating Digital Customer Success into your overall CS strategy. By thoughtfully layering digital on top of the one-to-one interactions that CSMs are already having with customers, you can reduce your cost to serve and remove tedious tasks from your CSMs’ plates, enabling them to engage in more meaningful customer conversations.

But in order to strike the right balance of tech-touch and high-touch and maintain a consistent customer experience, you’ll need to spend some time reflecting. How will the customer experience be enriched by incorporating Digital Customer Success, not limited by it? How can you scale and make your company and your team more efficient, without sacrificing CX?

We see a lot of companies over-rotate on Digital Customer Success by trying to automate everything. This can work if your product is super simple (think Spotify or Netflix), but in our experience, most products are just not that easy to navigate (especially in the B2B SaaS world). So, finding the right balance of digital and human interaction will be key to optimizing the customer experience.

Getting Started with Digital Customer Success

Getting Started Checklist

  1. Define clear goals. Start with a problem statement, understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and keep those front of mind as you get into the weeds of the tactical aspects of incorporating digital.
  2. Create alignment between Customer Success and Marketing. Take time to build a relationship with your Marketing team and work together to accomplish your common goals.
  3. Keep up-to-date journey maps and workflows on hand. These documents will serve as the starting point for implementing digital and utilizing it to understand customer engagement, so make sure you have these readily available and that they’re being updated if and when things change.
  4. Know the cleanliness of your data. And know the process for how to make it even cleaner. Nobody’s data is perfect, but double check to make sure it’s not a total mess before you begin relying on it.
  5. Have a content creation strategy. This may go hand-in-hand with our point above about making friends with Marketing, but there will likely be content that your team will need to take the lead on creating, so make sure you have a plan before you begin.
  6. Determine how you’ll measure progress. Which metrics and KPIs will you be keeping a close eye on to indicate if your new strategies are working?

Metrics, You Say?

That last step is a big one – measuring both leading and lagging indicators is critical to ensuring any new initiative is working, and adoption metrics would be a natural place to start here. But often, CS teams have limited access to that data. If you’re still working on getting access to those data points or want additional insight, classic email marketing metrics can also serve as early engagement indicators.

Be sure to ask your Marketing team what their most valuable metrics have been with your unique customer base, but here a few of our favorites to keep an eye on. Keep in mind that all of these metrics are expressed as percentages.

  1. Delivery Rate. Emails delivered ÷ emails sent. Are your emails going through? Low delivery rates could indicate bad data health or a back-end delivery issue that may need to be addressed with your Operations or IT team.
  2. Bounce Rate. Emails bounced ÷ emails sent (yes, this number plus your Delivery Rate should equal 100%). Like Delivery Rate, Bounce Rate is an indicator of accurate contact info and a confirmation that everything’s working as it should.
  3. Open Rate. Emails opened ÷ emails delivered. Who is opening your emails? If they’re not opening, they can’t read or engage with your content. Pro tip: subject line is typically the biggest variable in Open Rate. The better the subject line, the better the Open Rate should be.
  4. Click Rate. Emails clicked ÷ emails delivered. Okay, in all honesty, we don’t put a ton of stock in this metric – we recommend using Click Through Rate (CTR) below instead.
  5. Click Through Rate. Emails clicked ÷ emails opened. Once a customer has opened your email, are they engaging with the content like you hoped by clicking on something? This is our favorite measure of digital engagement.
  6. Unsubscribe Rate. Contacts unsubscribed ÷ emails delivered. A high Unsubscribe Rates usually mean you’re sending too many emails, or your readers don’t find them valuable (aka: your communication is annoying).

Crafting the Message

Now that you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to start creating your digital assets. But before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), think about what actions you’re trying to drive your customers to take through your Digital Customer Success communications.

For example, if you’re setting up automated emails to go out during onboarding and you need customers to take specific actions (like creating a login or setting up their account), document those steps they need to take so you can target the messaging towards encouraging them to follow your instructions.

We recommend that CSMs that are familiar with the customer draft the initial version of your emails. You want the tone and feeling to read as if it’s coming from a real human being, and not dissimilar to an individual email your CSMs would actually send to their customers, so we find that early CSM involvement is the best way to accomplish this. Then ask Marketing to get involved by suggesting copy edits, ensuring a consistent voice, and double checking that you’ve followed the brand guidelines that they’ve so expertly crafted.

Be prepared to review and iterate early drafts. There are sure to be a number of versions passed around internally before anything gets sent to an actual customer, and then there will likely be additional revisions needed as you gain insight into what your customers are responding to. The end result should be an email that is easy for your customers to navigate.

Before you hit send, read each email as if you’re in the customer’s shoes. Is it easy to understand? Are there visuals to pique my interest or explain a complex concept? Are there easily distinguishable links for me to follow to take the action you want me to take?

Creating Effective Communication

How Messages are Triggered

  • Time Based: A message is sent every x number of days, weeks, or months. These messages don’t rely on usage or behavioral data, so anyone can utilize Time Based messages.
  • Action Based: Communication is triggered by a customer’s activity. For example, they’ve opened up x number of tickets or they’ve setup their user login. Usage or behavioral data is required for this type of message.

While Action Based messages are typically more effective because they’re also more specific and targeted, most companies find that utilizing a combination of both creates the most impactful balance in their communication.

But whether your messages are Time Based, Action Based, or are a combination of the two, they should always be value driven. Avoid just ‘checking in’ whenever possible, and instead focus all of your Digital Customer Success communication on information that is valuable to your customers and can help make them more successful.

Continue the Conversation

ESG’s VP of Strategic Development, Megan Macaluso recently discussed this topic on a ChurnZero webinar. View it on-demand or check out Megan’s Q&A with attendees.