Customer Success and Product Experience – Better Together, Now More Than Ever Image

Customer Success and Product Experience – Better Together, Now More Than Ever

By Harshita Banka

Last week we were treated to a lively conversation with Eric de Jager, President at Harbor Products Group, and our very own Tyler McNally, VP of Customer Experience who really proved how vital it is for Product Leaders and Customer Success leaders to partner during these uncertain times. Remote work, a rapidly shifting product roadmap, and a demand to support existing customers have led to a tighter integration to improve retention. Uncertain and unprecedented times like these warrant tech companies to step up and alter our priorities, which means that our customers are probably doing the same..

Retention is the highest priority now and preventing churn is existential as evidenced by a survey our CEO conducted of late-stage private cloud companies and publicly-traded SaaS companies.

Since ‘retention’ is of paramount importance, great product experience is even more crucial. However, Customer Success alone cannot drive exceptional product experience and thus tighter alignment with Product Management becomes important. During this webinar we focused on three ways to drive this alignment:

Product Analytics and Customer Context 

While the product teams analyze usage data, the CS teams bring a unique value to this data by adding the customer-specific context. Data alone can be misleading unless analyzed contextually, hence the two combined allow one to assess the rapidly-evolving customer situations. 

These efforts can be combined to develop “Listening posts” in the following ways:

Product Teams: Using analytics to assess the overall product health/ usage patterns/ user sentiments by tracking:

Product Health: Measuring trends for a given time-frame
Analytics Adoption Depth: DAU/WAU/MAU, Average Active days, User Retention, Active Accounts Adoption Breadth: Usage or Adoption of you top 3-5 core/sticky features
In-App Guides/Survey User Engagement: User interaction with In-App Guides, Average Session Duration, Session Counts User Sentiment: NPS, Ratings, Release/ Feature-specific feedback to capture results/ outcomes/ ROI 

Customer Success Teams: CS can bring in their unique customer insights to the data:

Customer Context: Layering Customer Insights upon Product Data
Traditional Factors Customer Lifecycle Stage, Customer Priorities, Spend, Renewal Date, Company Size, Use Case Maturity
New Factors to consider Industry / Vertical, COVID-19 Impact Severity, Concessions Asks, Revised Business Goals and KPIs

Combining the data from each function you can create a strong categorization of customers based on impact to their business over the next 12 months:

  • Category 1: Companies experiencing a negative impact from COVID-19, unlikely to recover in alignment with the economy.
  • Category 2: Companies experiencing a neutral impact from COVID-19, are likely to recover in alignment with the economy.
  • Category 3: Companies experiencing a positive impact from COVID-19 or that are likely to recover quickly/ahead of the economy.

Now that you have a contextual view of what is happening with accounts, you can strategize an ideal way to support customers.  

The focus on retention is realized by driving up product adoption and increasing user retention which is achieved by enabling customers to succeed with the help of high-touch (CS) and tech-touch (in-product) experience.

Gainsight CS and PX are built to work very closely together to support this which is detailed here.

In PX, you can create a cohort of your analytics data by segment, COVID risk category, or customer health.  

And vice versa,  Gainsight CS has a deep integration with PX to power your health scores, adoption trends and enable CS teams to launch in-app engagements from Gainsight CS.

Efficient and Scalable Communication

Effective customer communication is critical now as your message needs to be both sensitive to their current situation and highly relevant as your customers triage their business. At best, your CS team speaks to your customers a few times a quarter or month but your product speaks with your customers at a minimum every single day. There isn’t a better or more efficient sales and retention tool than that! 

Each time your customers work with your product, it is your chance to communicate with them and allow them to unlock value every time. 

This is where CS and PX, both can help in a high-touch and high-tech way, covering all the bases of customer interaction. Each engagement is an opportunity for you to help your customer.. in a personalized yet scalable manner.

Consider using journey orchestrator and in-app messaging in the following ways:

  • Time-sensitive Announcements (all users): Examples include COVID-19 announcements/updates, Company/T&C policy updates, Support delays/FAQs, Free Offerings/extensions.
  • On-boarding (new/ inactive users): Onboard/ re-onboard users in your app with a few focused actions tied to your highest value features using email engagements to bring them back and using in-app sequenced guides.
  • Workflow Completion Guides (advanced users): Guiding your already on-boarded users through high-value/ advanced workflows enabling them to achieve their business goals quickly and capturing contextual feedback for improvements.

Agile Product Cycles

Based on rapidly evolving customer priorities, it will be of prime importance to stay aligned with their evolving priorities including:

  • Customer goals and needs
  • Definition of success towards retention
  • Increased needs of ROI for the customers

To respond to this, companies are commonly moving towards offering free trials, extended trial/ license period, relaxed payment terms, GTM around ‘how we can help’, meeting frequently with Finance, and planning for different scenarios.

So, how do you adjust your priorities and feel confident that you are responding appropriately and in tune with the market?

Here are six suggested discussion points that Product and CS should be having right now. This should transcend the current environment.

  1. Know for whom you are building: Segment and prioritize your market/base: High, moderate, low churn risk and postulate for each version of recovery including  “U”, “V”, or “L”.
  2. Know the problems you are solving and prioritize based on collective urgency and importance in each segment.
  3. Define what successful outcomes looks like: Have separate goals for your company, and for your customers.
  4. Invest by themes aligned to strategy: Allocate engineering capacity for growth, retention, tech debt, platform scale, etc.
  5. Plan for the entire customer journey: Collaborate with CS from onboarding to achieving the desired outcomes.
  6. Articulate how your product strategy and roadmap protect revenue and/or drives expansion. You should know and your exec team should agree.

There are a few human-first considerations for PMs as they are to make a few product decisions

Retention is the goal for the foreseeable future will be a TEAM Sport rather than any single team’s responsibility. Building conduits between Products and CS Teams will go a long way in ensuring the long-term success of the customers and the company. 

HB
Harshita Banka Technical Customer Success Manager

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