Implementing Digital Customer Success strategies is a new frontier for many CS organizations. Without automation, scaling Customer Success becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. Very few (and I mean very few) companies excel in this area today, but it’s quickly becoming a must-have. So, as you begin to expand your digital capabilities and build out automated messages, keep these dos and don’ts of Digital Customer Success in mind.
Do consider any other communication your customers may be receiving. What do the emails they’re receiving from their CSM look like? How about any automated messages from your software, product release notes, or customer marketing campaigns? You don’t want to overwhelm the customer with too many messages (especially if they’re coming from several different places within your company), so I recommend creating a ‘map’ of all the messages they’re currently receiving, and then overlaying your new Digital Customer Success communications.
Don’t overwhelm customers with messages. How much is too much? Once you’ve created the message map I mentioned above, with both current communications and the new ones you’re planning, give it a good look. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If it were you receiving all these messages from a company, would you be annoyed? If the answer is yes (or even maybe), it may be worth evaluating where you can consolidate.
Do reference your company’s brand guidelines. I know, I know, you think your marketing team just made these to annoy you. But I promise they didn’t! They actually made them so that your prospects and customers receive a consistent experience from your brand. And they’ve put a lot of work into building that brand. So help them out.
Don’t assume that digital messages to current customers should be the same as digital messages to prospects. In fact, they should almost always be entirely different. Sure, there may be some things that both customers and prospects need to know about your company, but the why behind their need to know is likely going to be different. Why does a new prospect need to know about a new feature or functionality? Because it may increase their likelihood to buy. Why does an existing customer need to know about that same new release? Because it may impact the way they use your product. Since those reasons are quite different, the messaging should be, too.
Do use a mix of both brand and personal communications When I say brand communications, I mean messages that are delivered to customers on behalf of your entire company, or a department within the company (like Customer Success or Product). Examples would be monthly product updates, quarterly newsletters, or upsell campaigns. Versus personal communications, by which I mean messages that are automated on behalf of a CSM. Maybe there’s an introductory email that each CSM copies and pastes, customizes, and sends, every single time they get a new account. To increase efficiency, you should consider automating this type of repetitive message on behalf of your CSMs.
Don’t leave CSMs out of the loop. Make sure your CSMs know what messages you’re sending on their behalf, and what kinds of other communications their customers are receiving. Show them examples, and add them to the distribution list when possible. This will help ensure they aren’t surprised by any customer questions or comments, and prepare them to discuss the topics of your messages. This is key to ensuring that both your high-touch and tech-touch strategies are in pursuit of the same common goals.
Do ask marketing to review your planned messages before you hit send. No, this doesn’t mean ask them to write it or send it for you (see below). It does mean letting them know about messages that you’re sending, and asking for their expertise in understanding your company’s target audience. I can tell you from experience, taking this simple step will get you on the good side of your friends and colleagues in marketing.
Don’t assume that marketing is going to do the work for you. They’re not. Whether you can see it or not, marketers have a lot on their plates. And in most companies, their first priority is generating new business. Which means that your work to effectively communicate with current customers, while super valuable to the company overall and the Customer Success department in particular, is simply not high on most marketing departments’ list of priorities. So keep them in the loop and don’t be afraid to ask for their advise, but make sure you’re the one taking the lead.
Do test and iterate. Contrary to popular belief, Digital Customer Success should not be a ‘set it and forget it’ project. You should regularly review metrics like delivery rate, bounce rate, open rate, click through rate, and unsubscribe rate on any emails you send. I also recommend utilizing A/B testing if the tool you’re using has that functionality. If it doesn’t, you can still create your own version of an A/B test by making one small change to a message from one send to the next (think trying a different subject line for September’s newsletter than August’s) and keeping track of which performed better. You’ll also want to regularly review the content of your messages to ensure it’s up-to-date. Have any of your processes or policies changed that your emails reference? Does your website have new pages that may be useful to incorporate? Has marketing made any major brand updates?
Don’t forget to gather feedback. A portion of any comprehensive Digital Customer Success strategy includes gathering feedback. How are you incorporating surveys into your communications? Does your communication tool have functionality to send industry standard surveys like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), or Customer Effort Score (CES)? How about custom surveys? Creating an effective feedback mechanism is worth many blog posts of its own, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it here.
Do take personas into consideration. Who are you crafting messages for? Is it for the financial decision maker at your customer company? Is it for the system administrator? The user? Keep in mind who will eventually read the message and what you’re trying to convey to them as you’re developing it. Maybe there are two (or more) versions of the same email, one tailored for each persona. By going one step deeper than just ‘customer’ and utilizing personas, you can really make that message personal, and therefore much more relevant to your intended audience.
Don’t take your systems and data for granted. Please believe me when I tell you that getting that contact list of email recipients is going to be harder than you want it to be. Even if your CRM and customer database is user-friendly, the first time you try to pull a list of specific contacts is going to take longer than you think. And if you’re using a CS platform or marketing automation tool that enables you to pull in dynamic fields or custom tokens to personalize your messages – that’s awesome, but this may also take some trial and error (aka: more time). So please, do me a personal favor on this one (and save yourself a major headache while you’re at it), and start working on this technical, back-end portion of the project before you think it’s necessary. You’ll thank me later.
These dos and don’ts of Digital Customer Success are intended as guidelines, of course! They shouldn’t feel like strict rules you have to follow, but rather helpful tips and tricks to guide you down the right path and help you avoid some common missteps. Have any questions on where to start? Give us a shout!