A customer success strategy helps you engage customers and manage retention rates. But developing a strong customer success strategy requires time and effort. Particularly, you need to educate your customer base and make them self-sufficient.
You can focus on this education by onboarding with videos and tutorials, providing detailed how-tos and timely addressing customer feedback.
This education is critical for your business’s success. According to the 2021 Customer Success Collective report, 69.3% of respondents agree that customer education helps reduce churn.
Read on to learn more about customer success, how you can improve it and how customer education plays into it.
- Customer Success 101
- Customer Success: Why Does It Matter?
- Customer Success vs. Customer Support
- Customer Success Management — KPIs You Should Know
- 10 Ways To Improve Your Customer Success Strategy
- Final Thoughts: 10 Ways To Level Up Your Customer Success Strategy
Customer Success 101
Customer success is a combination of strategies, technology and practices a business adopts to ensure its customers can use its product and services to their fullest potential. On top of addressing the customer’s needs, you find ways to make them even happier.
By attending to customer success, you can better engage customers and encourage them to promote your products. Your customers rely less on customer service teams and resolve problems on their own.
Customer Success: Why Does It Matter?
While customer success requires time to take off, it helps your company’s bottom line in the long run. On the back of customer success, you develop a dedicated user base with high customer loyalty and a longer customer life cycle.
Some prominent benefits you enjoy include:
- Improved customer experience: According to Zendesk data, 57% of respondents felt more loyal to companies with a good customer experience. Keeping these interactions positive is key, and a customer success plan can help.
- Higher customer retention: NICE shares that 81% of customers want more self-service options. By working on a customer success strategy, you can cater to those customers and improve your retention rate.
- Increased LTV of a customer: Customer success comes with improved customer experience, as mentioned above. This lets you retain customers and upsell opportunities they might like. Both of these increase the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer.
- More sales and revenue: According to PwC, 42% of surveyed customers said they would pay more for a welcoming experience — i.e., you get more sales or renewals and generate more revenue.
- Less costs on customer service: With a customer success strategy, your customers understand the product or service themselves and help themselves out of common problems. This saves both time and cost on your end.
Customer Success vs. Customer Support
Customer support tends to be reactive in helping users, while customer success takes a more proactive approach. In customer support, you help customers with issues they encounter. On the other hand, customer success refers to preventing a poor experience from the start.
Customer success requires more upfront effort from your business. You need resources and tutorials customers can quickly access and resolve their issues to reduce churn or prevent pain points from becoming a big problem.
However, the better your customer success strategy, the less work your customer service team has in the pipeline, and the more time they can spend on more strategic initiatives.
Customer Success Management — KPIs You Should Know
You can use many key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the impact of your customer success strategy.
While some metrics for customer support and success may be similar, you’ll usually deal with distinct metrics when assessing your performance.
Customer Support Metrics
For customer support, you typically use customer satisfaction metrics:
- Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT)
- Customer effort score (CES)
- Customer ticketing systems — total tickets
- Response times
- Handle times
- Net promoter scores (NPS)
Customer Success Metrics
For customer success, you use metrics that identify customer engagement and impact on the business:
- Customer churn/retention rate
- Monthly recurring revenue
- Customer health score
- Average revenue per user
- Net promoter score (NPS)
- Customer lifetime value (CLTV)
- Session duration and product usage rate
- Daily, weekly and monthly active users
10 Ways To Improve Your Customer Success Strategy
To craft an effective customer success strategy and meet your target KPIs, you need to look for ways to create happy customers — and keep them that way.
Here are some ways to improve your customer success strategy at different stages of the customer journey. Whether you need to focus on new customers or existing ones, you’ll find a strategy to get your desired outcome.
1. Enhance User Onboarding
Your customers need to know how to use your products and services to benefit from them. Make your onboarding detailed and informative. Customer engagement relies on thorough customer education.
You can do this in-app the first time a customer uses your platform, with videos or a walkthrough of your features. You can also use automation. For instance, you can send users their first lesson after they complete a form or reinforce necessary information via an automatic email after a few hours.
The bottom line is you need to have that “aha” moment that sparks their interest and keeps them inspired.
2. Connect Customer Education With Your CRM
The onboarding process continues after a customer has signed up. It’s a constantly evolving process. Many companies rely on a learning management system (LMS) to provide that.
With an LMS, you have an “always-on” academy full of lessons, teachings, how-tos, guides, and additional resources your customers can access anytime they need support. Gainsight helps you do this with flexible learning technology that makes it easy to create, deliver and optimize content at scale.
You can take this further by connecting your LMS with your customer relationship management software (CRM) like HubSpot.
By linking the two software programs via Gainsight Customer Education you can track where your customers are in courses, see if there are resources that could help, and let your customer success team keep a better eye on their progress.
In this way, a CRM also helps you suggest additional educational resources to customers when they need those. In other words, this strategic upselling provides true value to the customer instead of generating a quick buck.
3. Stay a Step Ahead With Preemptive Education Initiatives
Whenever you plan to release a new product or feature, prepare learning materials for those offerings at the same time. While this planning is critical for SaaS companies, any organization with a big update on the way can benefit from it.
While you can develop a video series after the launch, a short document that outlines critical information the customer would need during a problem will go a long way. It’ll help you meet customer expectations and reduce your support staff’s workload.
Investing in a recurring newsletter to preview tools and educate potential customers before a launch is also an easy way to offer customer education. A newsletter builder can make this as easy as dragging and dropping the material you need into your email.
You can automate these emails to send to the most relevant customers when a new product or feature goes live. Consider adding links, pictures, and interesting copy to encourage them to engage further.
4. Understand Your Customer Journey
To make a real impact on a customer, it’s imperative to truly understand their journey from prospect to customer. It’s especially beneficial to learn how they use your platform as a newbie going through onboarding to a seasoned user. Mark customer touchpoints and identify parts of their journey that could be confusing or where they might need additional support.
You can also track this information using previous customer churn or by looking at customer service interactions.
5. Monitor Your Users’ Engagement
Looking at the common gaps in engagement is an excellent way to improve your customer success metrics. You’ll probably find areas in your funnel that signal problems related to engagement.
For instance, your customers may frequently drop off or decrease engagement at a specific step. Get feedback from your customer service team to learn more about that step. They may be able to offer in-depth knowledge and suggestions to tackle the issue. With Gainsight Customer Education, you can identify customers who are struggling with onboarding and follow up with needed resources and guides to help clarify different tools or confusing topics.
6. Gather Feedback From Customers
A ticketing system for your customer service tracks customer interactions and prioritizes the most urgent issues. You can build on that by adding forms.
For instance, after addressing a customer’s ticket, you can share a form to ask them about their experience and gain valuable customer feedback.
Consider using a form builder to generate a form that helps you ask the exact questions you need answers to.
7. Resolve Issues Quickly — Reactive
Your customer support team is your first line of reactive help. When a customer faces a problem and can’t find a solution, they’ll turn to customer support for help.
But it’s important to learn from those mistakes and prevent them from repeating. One way to do so is with an email template. You can create an email template and populate its fields based on input from your CRM (and customer service software).
Have these templates ready with instructions. If a user faces a common issue, your CRM should automatically reply to them with the answer instead of waiting for a customer support agent.
8. Prevent the Issues From Happening Again — Proactive
Let your sales and IT teams know about the issue and focus on improving the product.
If you’ve been tracking issues, your IT team can make the changes the customers want. But follow up on the issues to ensure everything is on track and expectations are reasonable.
Finally, add common problems you’ve identified to your onboarding or customer education materials. In this way, most customers would be able to resolve the issue by themselves.
9. Empower Customers to Help Each Other
Encouraging users to connect to other users is one of the best ways to get customers to become more engaged with your services and solve their problems.
Build a website forum, knowledge base, or messaging community to enable customers to talk to one another. You can use a drag-and-drop website builder to make this even easier.
10. Connect Your Teams To Ensure Everyone Is on the Same Page
Different teams work with customers throughout their customer journey. For instance, marketing and sales may engage with the customer at the start and set up their expectations. Meanwhile, a customer service rep may have the latest updates on recurring problems with the platforms.
But if you want your customer success strategy to work, these teams should be in sync. Your customer service team should update the development team on the frequent issues the users are facing.
Having open communication channels is vital to communicating these issues. Consider real-time channels like Slack, schedule meetings between teams and take advantage of a business operations software.
For instance, HubSpot’s CRM syncs all your teams and communications in one database. You can have interactions updated as they happen, with a record to show your historical data as well.
Final Thoughts: 10 Ways To Level Up Your Customer Success Strategy
A customer success strategy improves the customer experience and increases customer retention. It can also increase sales and reduce costs associated with support.
If you want to build a proactive customer success strategy, anticipate the problems before they arise and show your customers you care about their goals.
You can use the tools of your CRM and combine them with an LMS to address the unique pain points and quirks of your product.
Gainsight helps you grow your customer success strategy at scale. With software aimed at empowering your customers, it will be easier than ever to help your users find the answers they’re looking for.