Article

Nebojsa Ciric
Nebojsa Ciric 25 September 2019

How to Excel at Customer Success

If you are doing business in a competitive market, you are probably aware that a business will perform better if it has some sort of a differentiator, something to make it stand out from the competition. Companies that focus on customer success tend to perform better on the market. But what is customer success and how can you achieve it? Read on to find out.

The key to running a successful business is maintaining sustainable growth. B2C oriented businesses achieve success through steady acquisition of new customers. However, they also capitalize on retaining existing ones. Companies usually manage customer success with the following four instances: 

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer support
  • Customer success

The first three are familiar to anyone with any knowledge of how modern businesses operate. The last one is not as well-known because it became prominent only in recent years. Regardless of its popularity, customer success is one of the most important factors of business growth. 

If this is your first encounter with the notion of customer success, read on. You will find out more about what it is and its benefits. You will also learn how you should go about making customer success a core part of your growth strategy.

What is Customer Success?

Let's make a clear difference between marketing, sales, customer support and customer success. 

  • Marketing is creating and sharing promotional messages on a large scale. The goal of marketing is to generate leads, i.e. attract people with an interest in what you are selling. 
  • Sales is the process of converting leads into paying customers. The journey from a lead to a customer proceeds through a sales or conversion funnel.
  • Customer support is the activity of addressing issues that existing customers have. The role of customer support is retention. It's about ensuring that customers remain customers for extended periods of time.

Customer success represents an extra layer on top of these processes. The job of a customer success representative is to extract more value from existing customers. They do this through continued engagement and interaction with customers. This is usually accomplished by means of up-selling, cross-selling, referrals and by fostering loyalty.

Don't confuse customer success with customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is content with their relationship with a particular business. Customer success departments leverage this positive attitude to expand the relationship further. 

Define the right KPIs

Customer success is a data-driven endeavor. It's measured through a variety of metrics. You can use these insights to reassess your customer success approach. Then, you can perform any necessary modifications to improve its performance. 

Customer success metrics are not exclusive to this field. We use them in other areas of CRM as well, such as sales, marketing, or customer support. The KPIs you should keep an eye on can vary from business to business, but here are the most important ones:

  • Churn rate – the number of customers lost over a given period of time.
  • Down-sell rate – the number of customers spending less on your products and services. 
  • Expansion opportunities – the number of expansion opportunities across your entire customer base.
  • Net promoter score – a measure of how loyal a given customer is to your business.
  • Referral count – the combined number of referrals generated by your customer base.
  • Retention rate – the percentage of customers that made a second purchase.

Customer success is a young field. Businesses are still experimenting with different sets of key performance indicators. Thus, this list is subject to change.

Align Sales With Customer Success

Sales and customer success are all about generating growth. But they do it in different ways. Let's take a look at the following scenario:  

A sales department tries to create as many sales as possible, but they treat all customers the same. This makes customer success departments inefficient because they waste time on customers who are resistant to their up-selling and cross-selling attempts. 

It's better to work with individuals who are likely to make another purchase. This is only possible if sales and customer success departments collaborate. Take the following steps to strengthen the relationship between sales and customer success: 

  • Appoint a chief revenue officer, who would act as a bridge between the two departments.
  • Organize sales, customer support, and customer service reps into three-man teams. Improve their coordination and ensure they are all working towards the same goal.
  • Restructure incentives so that successful sales reps are better compensated.

Invest in Social Media Monitoring

If you are looking to grow your business in 2019 and beyond, you have to have a strong social media presence. But don't spam your audience with aggressive advertisements. Rather, connect with both your satisfied and unsatisfied customers. This is where social media monitoring comes in.

Social media monitoring goes hand in hand with improving customer success. The reason is simple. It lets you see who mentioned your brand and in which context. With this critical piece of information, you can work to improve customer satisfaction. Why is this important? A customer who complains about a product online would buy the product if it was better. With social media monitoring, you can get instant feedback from customers and leads. Adjust your product or service according to their needs and requirements. This way, you will earn brand ambassadors who will in turn get you new customers.

You can start monitoring social media right now. Track mentions of your competitors, company, products and services. By using social media monitoring tools, you can do all this. You can get results in bulk to analyze when ready, and get detailed branded reports. Oh, and there are some you can try for free too. 

Imlement a Quality Management System   

Product quality and customer success go hand in hand. But meeting the high standards customers expect from you can be challenging. This is why it would be wise to implement a quality management system (QMS). A QMS ensures products and services you offer are of the highest quality. This increases your retention rates and boosts customer satisfaction.

To meet the industry standard for your QMS, you will have to become compliant with ISO 9001. ISO 9001 is a set of documents used to help you meet the requirements for the QMS. You can train one of your employees to be your lead ISO auditor. If the audit is successful, you will receive official certification from the ISO foundation. It will state that your business meets the highest standard of quality. By implementing a QMS, your customers can rest assured that your business will always deliver on the promise of quality. 

Towards Customer Success! 

Customer success is a relatively young discipline. Its methods and goals are still being explored. Our article represents a snapshot of the current state of knowledge on the topic. You can use as a starting point for implementing your own customer success strategy. 

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