Over time, the pendulum has swung from “The customer is always right!” to a more nuanced understanding of the entire relationship between customer and provider. From a focus on customer satisfaction to a broader view of customer experience as a whole, today many of our conversations prioritize customer success.
So, is customer success the pinnacle of this CX evolution, or is just another stop along the way?
What is customer success?
Customer success hinges on delivering an uninterrupted customer experience (CX). However, it’s wishful thinking to believe that one’s customer success management is infallible. The CX process consists of scores, if not hundreds, of touchpoints that guide the customer journey to the buying cart and beyond. It’s not a one-off, do-it-and-forget-it event, requiring extraordinary marketer insight and empathy for customer needs.
However, as long as your Customer Success Program begins and ends with the mission of standing head and shoulders above the competition in every possible respect, the outcome should meet your expectations. CX owners must ask:
- What leverage does one have in a world where every product and customer service offered is under intense opposition scrutiny and reaction?
- Where is there room to connect impressively to clients when everyone trips over themselves to invent a better mousetrap?
Answer those with conviction, and you’ve got a kickstart to solving the customer success puzzle!
How thoughtful differentiation strengthens customer success management
Sameness in your physical product and customer service, or features that don’t routinely click into client motivations, is the name of the game in several industries. Why? Because competitors are adept at copying good ideas fast, irrespective of patent-pending or even confirmed patent registrations. While the latter implies substantial protection, global companies – especially those operating outside of first-world jurisdictions – demonstrate scant regard for the legal consequences. Indeed, they bank on long and arduous litigation favoring their customer success, thus enjoying the fruits of another’s ideas while the going is good.
In modern times, with the digital era driving much of our activities, it’s not physically what you offer that counts the most toward customer success. Instead, it’s:
- how you communicate your offerings.
- how you message your audience and connect with their predispositions.
That’s why, when it comes to designing your marketing strategy, it’s important to rely on terminology your customers use and incorporate the following eight Customer Success Program rules:
- Reach customers through media that they’re most familiar with.
- Touch the emotions and thoughts most likely to initiate a positive reaction.
- Highlight their aspiration groups alongside a connection to your brand.
- Reward clients for brand loyalty.
- Make them feel special in every possible way.
- Avoid disruptive touchpoints at all costs (the archenemy of customer success).
- Do everything you can to bolster customer retention.
- Act immediately to suppress customer churn wherever it raises its ugly head.
Distribution, HR, production, logistics, IT, marketing, sales, and every other department in your organization must be a part of your customer success program. The weakest link will likely determine the ultimate bottom line.
Selling to your customers the way they want to buy is easier than you think
The obstacle to significant customer success generally resides in one’s shortsightedness and stubborn insistence to market without client consideration. In fact, the essence of a competitive marketplace is that prospects bounce around until they find a brand they resonate with. That’s why here are some points you need to keep in mind:
- You have to go with the tide, not swim against it for resounding customer success.
- The more convincing your customer loyalty program becomes, the calmer the waters become.
- Brand-conscious customers show a readiness to pay more than 30% for the companies they favor as opposed to first-time consumers.
- It’s far less expensive to devote your resources to customer retention. Therefore, customer success management that gains traction quickly has the following benefits:
- Protects what your business has with extra care and attention – a customer loyalty program, if you will.
- Treats new customers with the utmost respect, doing everything to speed their transition into brand loyalty.
- Never forgets that there’s an inevitability to everything, including a customer lifecycle and lifetime value, and thereby works to optimize wallet share.
- Understands that word of mouth generates prospects coming through the turnstiles at less cost than promoting from scratch.
- Wastes no time in curtailing negative touchpoints that create iffy brand reviews – bad news that can sometimes go viral and crash customer success.
In short, the emphasis should be on creating customer success value. If clients derive psychological and emotional benefit, notwithstanding that product differentials appear minimal, the results will exceed your expectations.
Customer success applies equally to B2C and B2B operations
The narrative so far may intimate that customer success tactics apply only to consumer markets. Nothing can be further from the truth. On the contrary, B2B situations can execute thought-leading strategies in this dynamic arena equally well, if not better.
The face of B2B customer success has changed significantly since the pandemic, with buyers and sales reps retreating to their homes to work remotely. Gone are the days of in-office presentations, wining and dining to create goodwill, and other relationship-forming initiatives. Indeed, management in B2B entities has removed centralized decisions on approved suppliers from single, somewhat robust buying departments in favor of committees. So, while the buyer may be the person eventually placing the order, departments such as engineering, IT, HR, legal, and accounting may have a massive say in what works and doesn’t.
For you as a marketing company on a B2B platform, customer success translates into decision influencer success. It means you have to embrace the needs of everyone who has an oar and stirs the pot.
- It’s crucial that you communicate with them how they want to hear from you, even though it involves significant internal changes.
- These days zoom conferencing with multiple parties throwing questions at the seller is commonplace. In doing so, it’s critical that you engage all the decision influencers involved.
- Scientific minds prefer to receive explanation videos, podcasts, and PDFs with details they can peruse in their own time.
- Most B2B buying entities hate cookie-cutter presentations, instead:
- They give heavy weighting to customized content that recognizes buyer status.
- The material communicated must be highly relevant to the decisions coming through the pipeline and updated to meet current needs.
Imagine the touchpoints prospects must cover individually and within the team before the company gives you the nod (or the boot). Ignore a primary influencer, and your customer success program may drain in the blink of an eye. Failure to identify all the parties participating in the process is a massive customer success error. Tardiness, missing online calls, ill-preparedness, and taking old relationships for granted can individually or collectively kill any sale.
Your treatment of established B2B customers should come into even more focus. It goes directly to customer retention. Losing B2B customer loyalty can be fatal, all because you:
- Rested on your laurels
- Assumed they would be with you for the next ten years (just because they were with you for the previous decade)
It could count against the bottom line for hundreds of thousands of dollars, never recoverable. Consequently, customer churn in the B2B arena can make B2C retrenchment look paltry by comparison.
Market segmentation energizes customer success from the start
Yes – it’s common sense that if you understand customer motivations, inclinations, aspiration groups, self-images, and emotions on every level – your team can steer things without obstruction. Getting beneath the skin, going much deeper than where your customers live and what they look like (demographically speaking), creates the power to connect with them impressively, paving the road to customer success. As a result, your client base contains all the opportunities you need to draw ground-shifting conclusions on overdue market changes that make all the difference between customer success and failure.
Customer feedback is critical in measuring customer success. Surveys generate valuable feedback on your marketing effectiveness. They dig into the willingness of new and loyal customers to recommend your brand to others. Customer success relies on hearing the voice of your customers from every possible angle. For example, soon after a client contact call, you get an email asking, “How did we do?” with perhaps a follow-up question.
Some companies want to go into more detail, conducting interviews with panels of loyal customers to gauge the temperature of contentment or (alternatively discontentment). Customer success with a retained long-term customer can have a substantially different meaning versus prospects or recruits. Perspective is a vital ingredient in customer success strategies aimed at moving mountains – but with other goals (dependent on the audience). Don’t hesitate to reach out to SoGoSurvey for assistance on any aspect of your planning for customer success.