Ask 10 different people about how they would define customer success, and you’ll get 10 different answers. In my opinion, the true definition boils down to answering one question – Imagine that your customers were invited guests to a party at which you’re the hosts. Wouldn’t you ensure that they’re comfortable and happy?
You just had a customer sign up on your site. That’s awesome! Except that now is when the most brittle relationship actually starts – between your customer success team and your new customer. One wrong move – an ill-timed email, some impersonal content, or too sluggish a support staff – is all it takes for them to make that dreaded move to a competitor. After exiting two successful ecommerce companies, I’ve learned that customer success involves a particular mind-set, namely, a maniacal focus on ensuring that the customer succeeds with your service. The most successful organisations have customer success teams that are cross-functional in nature, and typically have some people each from marketing, customer support, sales and product management. The ability of that team to look at a customer from a 360-degree view and to have easy access to customer data, ensures that the customer is always taken care of.
Once you have your attitudes sorted, it comes down to getting stuff done; and it starts with software that makes it happen; software that screams productivity and simplicity. The next generation of technology platforms that assist a high performing customer success team, will require a shift in thinking. Here are three features a platform like this would need –
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Firstly, the ability to send communication across any channel you want, depending on where your customers are and what they’re doing.
Why? Communication has to be at the base of such a platform. I would argue that communication is the single most critical aspect that will ensure whether a customer returns to your site or not. The ability to be timely, personalised and highly relevant at scale, is critical.
Second, you need the ability to instantly see which customers are “slipping away” and conversely, which ones are “active” and “loyal”.
Why? Being proactive goes a long way in ensuring that you can catch the slow adopters to help them along, or catch the champions and reward them. Also a great use of this feature could be to ensure that someone can be helped, if they’re in a critical step of the purchase cycle (for example – trying to use a feature that requires upgrading to a paid plan).
Finally, and most importantly, you need a single platform to view your customers’ entire activity history, along with a unified view of what behavioural segments they belong to.
Why? Cross-functional teams need access to different data points about what may make a customer even happier. A product manager may want to get feedback from people that checked out a feature from the last release, or a marketing manager may need to start engaging with people that subscribed to the blog since signing up. A single platform for all this data, ensures that teams can make quick decisions about how to treat customers at the right time.
Bonus feature – In addition to the above, what would seal the deal is for this platform to have the ability for the customer success team to be able to communicate and collaborate within the platform itself. The ability for a live chat to exist side-by-side with triggered communication and easy access to customer data – all within the same platform, would make this a one stop shop for most customer success teams.
I’d love to hear what you think about what else such a platform would need. Any thoughts on how your customer success team would use such a platform?