The Subtle Art of Customer Success
As the subscription economy becomes more mainstream, some core elements are becoming well established. Those elements include pay-per-use pricing schemes, tools and incentives to enable sales teams to sell subscriptions successfully, and streamlined quote-to-cash mechanisms adapted to recurring billing and payment cycles. Nevertheless, one aspect of the as-a-service model is still being discussed and redefined: Customer Success. The fundamental concept behind Customer Success is well understood; companies must ensure that the product sold fulfills the intended value for which it was purchased, leading to customer satisfaction and positive economics via expansion and renewals. How companies apply customer success is, however, not yet fully standardized. Many variables influence how Customer Success is implemented. Variables such as the financial targets, types and breadth of offerings, customer segments, and even organizational culture. Fortunately, there are five core capabilities that apply to most customer success journeys. A set of core processes, tools, and roles that, when put in place, allow each organization to deploy their own ‘subtle art of Customer Success.’
1. Customer Success Management
Customer Success Management is the control tower that orchestrates how Customer Success is embedded across the organization. Customer Success Managers (CSM) work with the rest of the organization to coordinate the customer lifecycle (including rewarding product experiences) and all relevant integrations. Under this central capability, companies keep full customer 360 views and define the different actions and initiatives required to drive customer engagement, satisfaction, and positive economics.
2. Product experience
As part of an organization-wide customer success mindset, Product Managers must define an overall product experience that makes it easy to onboard and train customers, simplify usage, and, ultimately, drive adoption. Critical elements of product experience include intuitive navigation, access to self-service tutorials, feedback channels, and a well-organized library of helpful content. Those product experiences might start even before users become paying customers; freemium models allow companies to drive sales and future adoption during the pre-sales exploration phase.
3. Customer experience
Under this capability, companies define how and when to interact with their customers through the lifecycle. Customer Success Managers define customer touchpoints and episodes. “What mechanism drive adoption?”, “How to keep customers informed?”, “How often to interact with customers?” are among questions companies need to ask and answer to ensure a rewarding experience that leads to positive economics.
4. Health monitoring
Probably the most misunderstood capability, health monitoring measures and tracks customer engagement. A simple version surveys customers after every interaction leading to unproductive and frustrating experiences. Instead, a well-defined health monitoring includes strong telemetry that provides information without active participation from customers. It chooses critical touchpoints where customers provide their perceptions via simple and fast-to-answer questions like NPS. It leverages predictive analytics to analyze leading indicators that foresee satisfaction levels or churn risk. Finally, a customer 360 health monitoring capability also tracks, catalogs, and analyzes all relevant feedback that customers provide, both directly to the company and indirectly via social media or other channels.
5. Monetization and renewal management
Last but not least, companies must plan, track and react to the economics of customer success. For the financials to work, as-a-service motions require expansion (use more), cross-selling (buy other offers), and renewals (keep being a customer month after month). Good monetization capabilities help companies forecast, identify expansion opportunities, and be more effective at renewals. Streamlined companies generate automatic renewals that make it pain-free for customers to keep subscriptions. Predictive analytics flag to customer and renewal managers the need for early interventions for high-risk accounts.
While all the above might sound a little daunting, the good news is all those capabilities have been battle-tested, are well documented, and have associated technologies ready to be deployed.
And TechTorch brings it all together for you!
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