Customer Success is a term that has become very common in recent years. What does it mean exactly? How does it differ from Customer Support? And why should you care?
The customer experience is one of the key differentiators between companies today. According to HubSpot research, growing companies are 21% more likely than their stagnant counterparts to prioritize customer success. It’s also about how well they communicate with customers. If you want to stand out among competitors, you have to make sure that your customers are satisfied.
In this article, I will explain what customer success means, how it differs from customer support, and why you should care about it.
Customer success is anticipating customer challenges or questions and proactively providing solutions and answers. Customer success helps you boost customer happiness and retention, thus increasing your revenue and customer loyalty.
What is customer success?
Customer success is about anticipating customer needs and problems before they happen, rather than reacting to issues once they arise. Customer success helps you increase customer happiness and retention, which increases your revenues and customer satisfaction.
Customer success is the process of helping customers succeed with your product or service. You help customers achieve their goals, whether it’s creating a great experience, or achieving the desired outcome.
Your customer success team will focus solely on helping customers succeed through each stage of their relationship with your brand. They will do this by understanding what makes your customers tick, and how best to serve them.
Why is Customer Success Important?
Customer success is critical because it can lead to business success. It helps you boost customer happiness, retention, and loyalty, all of which directly impact your bottom line.
When customers are happy and satisfied, they become your biggest advocates and promoters. Happy customers also tend to be more loyal to your brand, so they don't leave when things get tough.
Here are some reasons why customer success is important:
Customer Success Leads To Business Success
This is because happy customers trust you and believe in your brand. And when they trust you, they are less likely to shop around for better deals. Happy customers are also more inclined to renew their subscriptions, buy additional products, and refer friends and family members to you. All of these actions lead to increased sales and greater profits for your business.
Customer Success Improves Customer Happiness And Loyalty
Happy customers are more likely to recommend your company to others. This means that word-of-mouth marketing becomes much easier. Your customers will tell their friends and colleagues about your amazing customer support, and how easy it was to use your product or service.
The result? More people will want to purchase from you, and you'll gain more customers.
Customer Success Increases Your Brand Awareness
Customers who are happy with your product or service are more likely to share positive reviews online. They are more likely to share their positive experiences with others. This leads to an increase in brand awareness.
You'll also find that your brand has a higher search ranking, which leads to more traffic. The more traffic you receive, the more potential customers you'll attract.
Customer success improves conversion rate
Conversion rates are the final measure of whether your marketing efforts are working or not. If someone lands on your site and leaves without buying, you haven't done your job properly. You need to convert that person into a paying customer.
With a customer success strategy, however, you can identify where your visitors are struggling with your checkout process and take steps to address the issues.
For example, you might ask them to fill out additional forms, add extra information, or even change payment methods. By helping your customers complete transactions successfully, you can ensure that they become loyal customers and generate revenue.
Get more information on how customer success can benefit your business.
Customer Success vs. Customer Support
The difference between customer success and customer support is often blurred. Many companies use both terms interchangeably. But there are key differences between the two concepts.
Customer success is focused on building long-term relationships with clients. This requires understanding what makes each client tick and how they want to interact with you.
Customer support is about solving immediate issues and providing solutions to problems. It doesn't require much thought into the future and it rarely involves building relationships.
The term "customer success" describes the work done by teams within companies to ensure that customers are satisfied with the products and services they buy and improve their overall experience. It makes the customer experience better and helps ensure a successful path into the future.
In many ways, it’s similar to customer support, but it focuses on helping customers achieve their goals rather than just responding to complaints.
Your customer success representative should focus on building a positive relationship with your customers. They should schedule demos and training sessions to help your customers learn how to use your product or service.
Customer support focuses on working reactively on the frontlines -- fielding customer questions, issues, and requests over the phone, e-mail, live chat, and Social Media. This type of support is reactive fulfilment to specific customer requests.
Customer support is typically categorized into three types: technical support, sales/marketing support, and account management. Each category offers different functionalities and skill sets.
How does customer success work?
To achieve customer success, there are three essential elements. These include a customer success solution (e.g. a tool or software), a team and manager of customer success employees, and a customer success strategy.
Here are three things you need to know about customer success.
1. Pick A customer success solution
To proactively manage all interactions your team has with customers, you'll need to implement a customer success solution. A customer success tool will help you capture every interaction your team members have with customers, whether it's via email, phone calls, social media, etc. This data will allow you to see how well you're doing across channels, track performance over time, and identify areas where you could improve.
For example, the HubSpot Service Hub allows you to connect to your customers on their time, making sure you have happy customers who are willing to promote your brand and products/services. When you have a customer success solution in place, you'll be able to take action based on real-time data and insights, rather than waiting to hear complaints months later.
2. Hire and train a customer success team
Customer support requires a team of people who are dedicated to providing excellent service for their clients. You need to make customer success work in a team and a manager of those employees.
The size of your company and the availability of your staff will determine the size of your customer success team. In smaller organizations, customer success might fall under marketing or sales while larger ones often have separate departments.
Regardless, you need someone to oversee customer success. They'll manage the people doing the work, ensure they're following best practices, and provide training and mentorship.
Keep in mind that you need to grow your customer support team as your business expands so you can proactively help your customers.
3. You need a customer success strategy
Finally, you need a customer success strategy. This outlines how customer success will play out over time and across different parts of the organization.
For example, it might outline how much time each person spends working on customer success activities, where they go for training, and how many hours per week they spend supporting customers.
A customer success strategy involves three main components:
1. Identify your customers' end goals.
2. Determine how you can help them reach those goals.
3. Develop a plan to execute your strategy.
Customer success works well in an inbound marketing approach because it helps you build relationships with your customers. It also helps you understand what your customers want from you.
In addition to helping you better serve your customers, customer success strategies can help you attract more customers by demonstrating your commitment to your customers.
7 Tips for Helping Customers Succeed
1. Make customer success an organization-wide goal and priority
Whether you have a dedicated customer support team or not, it’s essential to emphasize helping customers. And it doesn’t matter if you have a single person responsible for customer success or a full-blown department; the fact is that everyone within your organization needs to understand the importance of making sure customers are successful.
From sales and marketing to product management and beyond, customer success should be seen as a goal and a priority throughout the entire organization. If you want to truly maximize the impact of your customer support efforts, you'll need to educate your company on what customer support does and where its value lies.
One of the best ways to do this is by educating your company as to what customer success looks like for each team, and why it matters. For example, product managers may care about customer health scores and ongoing expansion of product use, while sales may care more about the number of customers they are retaining and how much revenue they are bringing in.
2. Emphasize customer success early on
Customer success is an organization-level initiative that encompasses everything from how employees treat customers to how the company interacts with partners, suppliers, and investors. While it sounds like a lofty goal, there are many ways companies can begin to prioritize customer satisfaction. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on building a culture of customer success from the beginning.
The most effective way to achieve this is to involve every employee in the process. Start by having your team members participate in customer discovery sessions, where they talk directly to customers and understand what problems they're facing. This gives them a chance to empathize with customers and learn why they choose your brand over others.
Next, ensure that everyone in your organization understands the importance of customer success. Make sure that training materials emphasize the value of customer feedback, and hold regular meetings with your sales team to discuss customer experiences. These activities help build empathy among your employees and reinforce the idea that customer happiness matters.
Finally, set up regular one-on-one interactions between employees and customers. Encourage your employees to ask questions during demos and try out different features. Let them know that they're valued contributors to the customer journey and that they'll receive credit for helping customers succeed. If necessary, provide additional incentives to encourage participation.
3. Educate your customers
You need to anticipate the questions your clients might ask so that you can provide them with answers before they even think to ask them. To avoid having them waiting on the phone for an answer to their question, educate them about your products so they know what they're buying.
This is especially important if you offer a complex product or service, like software. If your customers aren't able to find information about your product online, they could become frustrated and give up entirely.
For example, you can employ educational resources such as FAQs, tutorials, videos, knowledge base, etc., including live chat on your site. You'll want to make sure that your customers know what they can do with your product and how it works.
4. Proactively Onboard Customers
Onboarding is a critical part of every customer relationship. You want to make sure that your customers are aware of everything about your brand and products that they need to know. This includes answering any questions they might have along the way.
You'll want to start onboarding your customers early and often. Start with something simple like providing them with a tutorial or training manual. Then, move into more complex steps such as setting up accounts, creating plans, or getting help from representatives. Lastly, celebrate milestones and achievements with your customers to show them how much you appreciate them being loyal to your brand.
5. Track key customer metrics and share data across teams
Customer success is highly data-driven. Metrics used within the team responsible for helping customers succeed can be very influential across different functions.
To effectively prioritize and sponsor customer success, track the right customer metrics, and share them across the team. Here are some key metrics for measuring customer success:
- Customer lifetime value
- Repeat purchase rate
- Customer retention rate
- Customer retention cost
- Churn rate
- Customer health score
- Customer satisfaction score
6. Build a customer feedback loop
Customer success isn't something that happens once for each customer; it needs to be constantly updated and refined to meet new challenges and changes in products.
Even if a great strategy works perfectly for one customer, there might be some adjustments needed for another.
After every conversation with your clients, get their feedback on how your business is doing. You might want to focus on the product, the customer service, or the overall customer journey.
If you keep an open mind and regularly ask for customer input, then even if something goes wrong or feels bad, they'll feel free to tell you. You should always be iterating and revising your strategy based on customer insight and feedback.
If the company has an excellent customer support team, 78% of its customers will do business with them again after making a mistake.
To stay ahead of any potential issues, continually ask for honest customer feedback so you can be proactive in the long run.
7. Promote Customer Loyalty
Loyalty programs are one way to build long-term relationships with your customers. They provide you with data about how well your products and services are performing, what your customers think about them, and how they use them. This information helps you identify areas where you could improve your offerings. In addition, it allows you to reward loyal customers with discounts, special offers, or even free items. A frequent flyer program is another example of a loyalty program.
A community is another way to engage with your existing customers and attract new ones. Customers like interacting with others who have similar interests and concerns, and they enjoy sharing ideas and opinions about topics related to those interests. Social media sites such as Facebook offer communities that allow people to discuss common issues and express themselves freely. If you already have a social media presence, you can encourage interaction among your followers.
Loyalty programs are one of the most effective ways to increase sales and retain customers. A 2020 McKinsey survey on loyalty programs found that members of paid loyalty programs are 60% more likely to spend more on the brand after subscribing, while free loyalty programs only increase that likelihood by 30%.
Learn more from our guide on the best customer success practices.
You Succeed When Your Customers Do
Customer success should be built into everything we do. A customer success program helps businesses understand what matters most to their customers and gives them tools to help solve problems. This type of program lets you collect data about your customers' needs and preferences and provides insights into why people choose your products and services over others.
The key to building a successful customer success program lies in understanding your customers and listening to their feedback. You must ensure that your customer support team knows your customers well enough to anticipate their questions and concerns. They must also be able to answer those questions quickly and effectively. Finally, you want to make sure that your customers know how much they matter to you.
In addition to providing excellent customer service, you want to build a relationship with your customers. People buy from companies they trust. So, you want to earn your customers' confidence by making them feel valued.
At Fine Media, we help you build a customer success strategy so that you can deliver exceptional customer experiences. We work closely with your teams to identify your customers' needs and create custom programs to help them succeed.