Who is the most important person for an organization’s success? For the longest time, this trophy has been held by the ‘customer’. Even in today’s software-defined, technology-driven landscape, things haven’t changed.
To be successful in this competitive economy, organizations have to focus on the end consumer. They have to not only align themselves with the customer’s goals but also have to delight them. Owing to this shift, we have seen the burgeoning of Customer Success teams. While Customer Success has its roots in the SaaS world, almost all technology companies have recognized the importance of customer success teams today.
The end goal of Customer Success teams is to help the customers realize the expected value from the software product or service. The aim of Customer Success teams is to reduce churn and maximize the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to increase business profitability. After all, a 5% reduction
in customer churn leads to 50% increased revenue over a five year period. Clearly, a large part of the Customer Success team’s KRA is to foster customer engagement. However, with the changing software defined landscape, Customer Success can no longer afford to remain transactional in nature, ending once the sale has been done and the onboarding completed.
Customer Success – what it really means
The aim of Customer Success is to deliver long-term strategic value to their customers. This includes proactively monitoring the customer behavior with the product, managing the customer journey and the lifecycle, and ensuring the addition of continuous value to the customer. For this, Customer Success teams have to view the world, as well as the business, from the lens of the customer. This means, identify how success is measured by the customer, understand what matters to their end customer, and then ensure that all resources at hand enable this.
Continuous Engagement – what is it and why it matters
When customer success teams are able to achieve this can they foster real customer engagement…one where the customer becomes committed to using their product. It is, at the same time, imperative to note that Customer Success is not just one department. Well, technically it is, however, there are many contributors to it. The product teams, the marketing teams, the customer support teams, the finance team, the product engineering team…they all contribute to customer success in their own way.
It is the responsibility of the customer success teams to orchestrate all these resources to ensure that the customer is happy and is engaged with the product. It is only upon achieving this that organizations can establish strong customer relationships. But can such relationships be built when customer success teams are reactive in nature?
Navigating the engagement conundrum
Research shows that “fully engaged” customers (those with a strong attachment to the brand, or brand ambassadors) deliver a 23% premium over the average customer in the share of wallet, profitability, and revenue.
As mentioned before, there are several co-contributors to customer engagement and consequently to customer success. For example, it is the engineering teams have to create products that the customers want. The marketing team is responsible for providing all relevant information. The customer support team has to provide support at the right time…the list goes on. However, all these experiences are currently fragmented. The customer is expected to check the marketing or product related emails that get delivered to his/her inbox. There’s a separate tool to get the support queries answered. Surveys and feedback forms come via a different tool. The customer often is left wondering how to communicate with the company in the presence of so many stakeholders.
Today, when the customer has the option to evaluate and move from one product to another with speed, is it even possible to achieve customer engagement if customer success teams and their contributors have a fragmented approach? And is it even possible to be successful if you are not proactive in understanding what the customer wants? Statistics
prove that companies that prioritize customer experience generate 60% higher profits. 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they receive a better customer experience. Clearly, experience then becomes a driver of engagement.
What customer engagement should be like
Customer engagement, therefore, cannot be a reactive, one-time exercise. Organizations have to make sure that they remain continuously engaged with the customer, at every given touch point in a continuous manner. Organizations thus need to ensure that their software products can be scaled to accommodate this.
The customer today wants a single vehicle through which all communication happens. Whether it is feedback, marketing or product updates or customer support…the customers no longer want to shuffle between tools to get their job done. The product that they use has to address all their needs in a contextual manner. It has to enable self-service and provide in-product support. If the customer is dropping off from the product at a said time, the company has to proactively send him/her the right resources to fix the problem. Companies also need to ensure that they get clean, deep and actionable insights into the customer’s product usage in context. With these insights, customer success teams have to create the right and contextual engagement touchpoint continuously.
This means taking into account the job role, the purpose of use etc. and getting a 360-degree view of the customer and insights into the right customer data. With this information, gain complete visibility over the customer sentiment so that the right information can be sent to the customers proactively, whenever they want it, however, they want it, in a device agnostic manner. Only this can help organizations achieve continuous customer engagement at every relevant touch point.
Customer engagement has to take into consideration all the interactions a customer has with a product. It, therefore, has to account for invested stakeholders of customer experience to drive value and growth and consequently leads to customer success.
Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer “Customers are assets to be cared for and nurtured
.” In today’s rapidly evolving economy, software companies thus have to make sure that they have the right tools to listen to what their customers need, understand those needs and resolve them. Clearly, organizations have to work deliberately to enable continuous engagement. Only then can they drive customer success.