Customer experience overtook both product and price as key differentiators in 2020.
This makes customer success more critical than ever. While technology is evolving rapidly, it can’t replace the human touch. The industry is growing dramatically, and customer success positions have increased by 176.54% annually since 2015. And although these positions are common in the United States, the trend is also increasing globally.
How Do You Succeed As A Customer Success Manager?
A customer success manager guides customers through a successful customer experience with a specific company and increases the value of their purchase. As business models evolve into consumption-based and subscription formats, the focus has shifted to ongoing customer satisfaction and retention.
Thus, the aim of a successful customer success manager should not be to make a one-time sale but to develop a lasting relationship with consumers where everyone’s goals and needs are met continuously.
A customer success manager’s job is to work on behalf of both the brand and the customer to determine how your company best fits the current needs. As demand and products change, customer success managers must continue guiding consumers towards valuable options.
A great client success manager must never sound like a salesperson pushing their own agenda, but they must take time to listen and access each unique situation to build customer trust.
Honesty is crucial. As a client success manager establishes a strong rapport with customers, conversations must organically offer valuable insights that guide customers to a path of success, even if that doesn’t generate additional revenue.
According to Sydney Strader, it’s vital to identify efficiencies while delivering an incredible customer experience. Customer success is a real-time, proactive sales strategy that entails building relationships with existing clients, having an in-depth understanding of your business and product goals, and helping customers meet their goals through regular contact. Each customer has unique needs and uses for your service or product, so it’s up to customer success employees and managers to thoroughly understand each existing customer and to be their champions throughout the client journey.
On the other hand, customer support seeks to solve individual customer issues or offer product guidance to specific customers. Often, customer support is reactive because the customer usually calls to report a problem they’re facing.
1. Stellar Communication
Developing effective customer relationships largely depends on how well employees and managers can communicate with existing customers. Again, every customer faces unique obstacles throughout their entire customer journey and it’s critical for them to feel heard. Successful customer success managers and teams know how to listen to understand customers’ problems and communicate viable solutions.
Thus, effective communication alone can endear customer success managers and their teams to customers. They can coax a resolution from difficult customers, as well as assess situations before problems arise. Persuasion is a key component: help customers believe that the solution will work.
A customer success manager with excellent communication skills can even convert a product drawback to an advantage for your business by getting the customer to work past the issue.
2. Optimize Your Onboarding Process
Onboarding is one of the most essential tasks your customer success team will undertake. Their close relationship with existing customers provides them with an advantage in finding the best ways to offer value to each customer.
However, this doesn’t mean that your customer success team should carry the entire burden of client onboarding, rather they must focus on the initial interaction to getting customers to their goals and then handing the process off to your customer support or customer onboarding team.
By building an onboarding framework, you can take most of the burden of client onboarding from your customer success team. An effective onboarding framework must apply broadly across all your existing customers. Then you can tweak and improve that framework as needed.
3. Get Feedback from Customers
To help your customers succeed, let them drive the improvements and changes to your product. This strategy is referred to as the customer feedback loop. It’s a fundamental part of the customer success philosophy. It involves constantly gathering feedback, segmenting it, acting on it, and presenting the results to your existing customers.
Gathering feedback from your customers helps you to zone in on the challenges in your product and the customer experience. Studies show that 86% of consumers don’t mind paying for an excellent customer experience. That means gathering feedback from customers can ultimately improve your recurring revenue.
To collect customer feedback, you must build platforms where customers can leave their complaints, give praise, and offer suggestions. Effective tools for gathering customer feedback include:
- Customer reviews
- Customer interviews
With adequate feedback available, analyze it, act on it, and execute the changes your existing customers want to see. Then, get back to your customers by having your customer success manager reach out, or publish release notes to present the improvements.
In short, the people using your product should have a say in how your product improves.
4. Focus On Value And Quality
Throughout the customer journey, customers will have many interactions with your brand. If you can offer value and high-quality service to your customer relationship at every interaction, you’ll have a loyal client base that appreciates your product or service.
Providing value at every interaction sounds daunting. However, if you develop a playbook of best practices for your customer success manager and employees, providing value to your customers will become second nature.
What provides value and quality for customers? Here are a few things:
- Congratulate customers on their successes;
- Recommend new features
- Publish marketing resources, such as podcasts and blog posts
- Highlight industry news.
Often, interactions with customers are fast and all about making purchasing decisions. This is especially true with customer service interactions and early sales calls. Providing value during these interactions is a sure way to stand out from prospective competitors and positively make customer interactions.
5. Identify An Effective Engagement Strategy
Customer engagement is where customer information is turned into actions that influence the customer experience. By identifying the right customer engagement strategy, you can deliver value to your customers.
Effective engagement strategies include:
- Helping a customer use your product to solve their pain points.
- Offering demonstrations and training.
- Customer communication via direct channels and using a tech-touch.
- Responding to customer concerns quickly and coordinating customer support.
- Encouraging customer advocacy and referrals.
By leveraging one of these customer engagement strategies, you can achieve customer success and improve customer experience.
6. Learn And Understand Your Customers’ Challenges And Needs
Learning and understanding your customer’s needs, the goals they’re trying to achieve, and the pain points they’re trying to solve is fundamental knowledge for every member of your customer success team. Knowing your existing customers better must be a core responsibility of your customer success manager and employees.
To learn and understand your customer’s needs and challenges better, you must conduct customer research. Essentially, before you make any product or business decisions, you must have solid evidence from your customer research proving that your existing customers want and need what you plan to offer.
Customer research shouldn’t end after you gather this information. Your entire customer success team’s analysis and dissemination of this information are just as important as gathering it.
Every member of your customer success team must know who your existing customer is and their challenges and needs. This makes everyone better at their job and better at creating solutions that will help your customers succeed, which is the primary reason for your company’s existence.
The primary goal of customer success managers and employees is to help customers succeed, improve retention by reducing churn rate, and improve customer lifetime value.
Your business’s top priority must be your existing customers. Know what they need to succeed to improve customer retention and reduce churn rate. Next, expand your focus across the client lifecycle, from customer acquisition to onboarding and upselling.
The right tool can help your team stay on track. Zight (formerly CloudApp) helps Drift save 56 hours per week. That’s because it’s easier to explain with video instead of text. Videos are also more digestible for consumers, streamlining their onboarding and troubleshooting experience.