The Definitive Guide to Building A Great Customer Success Program

You always want to keep happy customers and help them succeed with your business offer. Creating a good customer success plan can help you achieve this. But where do you start? We will tell you what this program is, why you need it, and the steps to follow when creating one.

Zight | August 04, 2022 | 13 min read time

Article Last Updated: August 21, 2023

The Definitive Guide to Building A Great Customer Success Program

Customer success is more than just a buzzword; it’s a growing segment in today’s competitive landscape. As costs skyrocket and skilled headcount becomes increasingly challenging to source, the ability to manage at scale turns into a significant advantage. The dynamics of the business world are ever-changing, and the need to adjust, respond, and rapidly deploy resources is becoming increasingly critical.

This article explores what a customer success program is, its undeniable benefits, and a step-by-step approach to creating one. Read on as we’ll also discuss the skills that will make or break your strategy and how you can use Zight to successfully onboard and engage with new customers.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Customer Success Program?

A customer success program is a strategic approach you implement to ensure that your customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. It’s a systematic process that aligns your company’s functions with your customers’ needs.

When creating a customer success strategy, you must first identify your customers’ goals and expectations. Understanding what they want to achieve helps you tailor your products or services to meet those specific needs. Then, design how to engage with your customers through regular communication. This includes monitoring their usage patterns, asking for feedback, and providing timely support. By staying connected, you can detect and address issues early before they become problems.

You can also invest in training and resources to empower your customers. When you provide them with the tools and knowledge they need, you enable them to maximize the value they receive from your offerings. In addition, analyze data and metrics to measure customer satisfaction and success. Doing so helps you identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to enhance the customer experience.

Finally, foster a culture of customer-centricity within your organization. Everyone – from the leadership to the frontline staff – focuses on customer success as a shared goal. This alignment ensures that all departments work together to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience.

Why Should You Build a Customer Success Program?

According to Jason Lemkin, 90% of revenue comes from customer success!

This powerful statement underscores the critical importance of a customer success strategy in today’s competitive business landscape. Here are four compelling reasons why you should consider implementing it for your organisation.

1. Enhanced Customer Retention

Retaining existing customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Research shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.

A customer success plan helps you build strong relationships, identify issues early, and take proactive measures to keep customers satisfied and loyal.

2. Positive Brand Reputation and Advocacy

Satisfied customers are more likely to become advocates for your brand. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising.

When you invest in customer success, you not only enhance your brand’s reputation but also encourage word-of-mouth marketing, one of the most effective forms of promotion

3. Increased Revenue Opportunities

As Lemkin’s observation highlights, a significant portion of a company’s revenue can be attributed to customer success. Focusing on customer experience and satisfaction and aligning your products or services with their needs opens doors to upselling, cross-selling, and repeat business. This targeted approach can lead to substantial growth in revenue.

4. Data-Driven Decision Making

A well-implemented customer success strategy provides valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and satisfaction levels. This data-driven approach enables you to make informed decisions, tailor your offerings, and continuously improve your products or services. As a result, you will enjoy improved customer satisfaction and better revenue.

How To Build A Customer Success Program For Your Company: Step By Step Guide

When you create a customer success strategy, you will have made one step toward succeeding as a company. With satisfied customers comes revenue growth and, ultimately, a successful business. But how do you create a plan? How can you satisfy your existing customers, attract new ones, and monitor the customer journey to make informed decisions?

Here are the steps to follow to create a customer success strategy that will make a positive impact on your business growth.

1. Identify Customer Needs/Goals

Identifying customer needs and goals is the foundational step in building a successful relationship with your clients. It’s not merely about understanding what products or services they are interested in; it’s about delving into their specific challenges, aspirations, and what success looks like to them.

Why is this so crucial? By understanding your customers’ goals, you can tailor your offerings to meet their unique needs. It allows you to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and provide solutions that genuinely resonate with your customers. This alignment between your products or services and their goals creates a partnership where both parties work towards shared success.

Identifying these needs requires active engagement with your customers. You must ask insightful questions, analyze their feedback, observe their interactions with your product, and monitor their usage patterns. Doing so will give you a comprehensive understanding of what they need and how you can assist them in achieving those needs.

2. Build A Customer Success Team

Now that you know what your customers need, forming a customer success team is the next step to putting your strategy in motion. They are a group of professionals within your organization, including roles such as a customer success manager, onboarding specialist, implementation specialist, and more. They work closely with customers, providing personalized support, guidance, and training to help them use the product effectively and achieve their goals.

The importance of this customer success team extends beyond mere customer support. The customer success managers are responsible for tracking customer engagement and satisfaction, identifying potential issues before they escalate, and acting as the main point of contact for clear communication between various departments within the company. As a result, they are the people who improve customer retention rates and identify opportunities for growth.

But as you build your customer success team, it is important to define clear roles and responsibilities, ensuring each member understands their specific function within the team. You also want to encourage collaboration with other departments. This will ensure that product development, marketing, and sales strategies align with the customer’s objectives. You can rely on software for collaboration, as we’ll discuss in the next step.

3. Use The Right Customer Success Software

You now have a customer success team that needs to collaborate to meet and satisfy your customer’s needs. It is best to have the best software for this. This software isn’t just a tool; it’s an extension of your strategy, enabling you to deliver personalized experiences and achieve the goals you’ve identified with your customers.

But there are many software you can use, so here is how to select one that meets your needs:

  • Visibility into customer interaction: Choose software that provides real-time insights into how customers use your product. Understanding what features they use most, where they might be struggling, and where they find value allows you to tailor support and training to their needs
  • Integration with other tools: Ensure the software integrates with other tools and systems within your organization. This cohesion allows the insights and information your customer success teams gathered to be shared across departments, aligning your approach to customer success
  • Security and compliance: Select software that adheres to industry standards and regulations. Protecting both your company’s and your customers’ data is vital, so make sure the software you choose has robust security measures in place
  • Scalability: Consider the growth potential of your customer base and choose software that can scale with you. Consistent support and insights are essential, regardless of the size or complexity of your customer portfolio

Using the right software amplifies the effectiveness of your customer success team. It equips them with the insights, tools, and capabilities they need to help customers achieve their goals. In addition, it also gives them a way to gather customer feedback that will help them improve the customer success strategy in the future.

4. Measure Efforts/ Metrics

After selecting the right software and aligning it with your customer success strategy, the next vital step is to measure your efforts through specific metrics. This phase is essential as it provides tangible evidence of the effectiveness of your customer success programs.

Measuring efforts or metrics is not just about numbers; it’s about understanding the impact of your actions on customer satisfaction and success. By tracking specific metrics, you can identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

Some key metrics to consider include:

  • Customer Retention Rate: Understanding how many customers continue to use your product over time gives insight into the effectiveness of your customer success efforts
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures customer loyalty and satisfaction, providing a clear picture of how likely customers are to recommend your product to others
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Assessing the total value a customer brings to your business over the entire relationship helps in understanding the long-term impact of your customer success program
  • Churn Rate: Monitoring how many customers leave your product or service allows you to identify potential issues and address them proactively

These metrics help you make data-driven decisions, tailor your approach, and continuously improve your offerings. In addition, you ensure that your customer success plan is not just a set of actions but a strategic approach that delivers real value to your customers and your business.

5. Create A Roadmap for Customer Success

A customer success roadmap is a detailed plan that defines the milestones, touchpoints, and actions required to guide customers from onboarding to achieving success with your product. It outlines the path your customers will follow to achieve their desired outcomes with your product or service.

Here’s how to create a customer success roadmap your customer success teams can use:

  1. Understand customer goals: Start by revisiting the goals and needs you’ve identified for your customers. These become the foundation of your roadmap.
  2. Define milestones: Break down the journey into specific milestones that represent significant achievements or stages in the customer’s experience.
  3. Identify touchpoints: Determine the key interactions, support, and engagement required at each stage. This includes training, check-ins, feedback sessions, and more.
  4. Align with internal teams: Ensure that your roadmap is aligned with the efforts of other departments within your organization, such as sales, marketing, and product development.
  5. Use the right tools: Use customer success software that allows you to create, manage, and monitor the roadmap, providing visibility to both your team and your customers.
  6. Communicate regularly: Keep your customers informed about where they are on the roadmap and what comes next. Regular communication fosters trust and keeps them engaged.
  7. Review and adapt: A roadmap is not set in stone. Regularly review it with your customers and make necessary adjustments to reflect changes in goals, challenges, or market conditions.

6. Do One Thing At A Time

Finally, when building a customer success program, adopt the principle of doing one thing at a time. While it may seem simple, this approach is vital in ensuring that each aspect of the program is executed with precision and focus. Doing one thing at a time means prioritizing tasks from customer onboarding to upselling and more and concentrating on one specific element before moving on to the next.

Top 10 Skills to Manage Your Digital Customer Success Program

Here are the 10 most important skills to manage a successful digital customer success program:

 1. Agility

Life comes at you fast. Doesn’t it? The year 2000 was two decades ago! Can you believe it?

Customer issues arise just as quickly and can sour relationships (and adoption) quickly. If your customers are continually finding it difficult to get answers to regular questions, it’s only going to get worse when there is a high-priority issue.

The agility to respond quickly and effectively to a large number of specific customer issues is a desirable skill in your customer success program.

2. Strategic Thinking

Look, we throw this phrase around a lot. But what does it all mean? You will get myriad requests from all kinds of customers in your book. Scheduled meetings. Ad Hoc meetings. Presentation prep. CRM Notes. Follow-ups. So many things!

Knowing when to focus on what with a strategic mindset is a primary skill to master. Evidently, we now know “multitasking” is not the best use of our time or brain power.

There are tons of ways to prioritize tasks. Aligning your task priorities with your company’s priorities is key. Don’t overthink “strategy” here. It’s simply being proactive about what you focus on.

Are you in a renewal cycle? Updating health scores could be a strategic focus for your tasks. Bucket “like tasks” together. If you are working in your CRM, stay in your CRM and complete all tasks before moving on to your QBR prep.

3. Technical ability

This is a bit dependent on the industry, to be honest. But, in most roles, it’s important to understand how SaaS platforms work in a general sense. Integrations, APIs, Webhooks, Sprint cycles tool sets that build and support web services.

To continue to thrive in a fast-paced digital customer success environment, a basic understanding of how platforms are built and work within their ecosystem is an incredibly important skill.

4. Empathy

Work is hard. Life is challenging. You need to mortgage your house to afford a tank of gas, except you can’t afford a house because everyone has to work two jobs just to afford a dozen apples once a month.

It’s important to remember that you are dealing with humans. With their own set of goals and problems. Take a breath. Try to see the world through their eyes. Do everything you can to get on their team and better understand the pain they are going through with whatever problem you are trying to solve for them.

Life gets better when we start with empathy!

5. Communication

Effective communication strategies are a “must have” when interviewing candidates for any customer-facing role. Capturing feedback and knowing how to communicate that feedback to sales, product and leadership. It all takes a different lens, and being able to pivot to the most important parts is key to a successful customer success program.

6. Patience

Business can be slow, especially when you break into the enterprise or strategic space. It takes time.

A good portion of what we do is “change management.” And large businesses need a lot of space to turn their ship around. Whether it’s new processes, integrations, sales approvals, the lot, they all take time!

Also, it is important to understand and communicate expectations and timelines. Oftentimes it won’t get done in a day, a week or even a month, for that matter. Focus on your goals, set achievable targets, and have some patience.

7. Proactivity

Get ahead of things whenever you can. If one customer reports a bug causing work stoppage, make sure you get a move on! Get that ticket in. Reach out to other customers that are affected. Build out a mitigation strategy and a communication plan. Get ahead of things, be more proactive, and you will have a successful customer success strategy!

Customer success isn’t sitting at your desk waiting for someone to contact you. It is getting ahead of things. Researching usage trends long before that QBR gets scheduled. Understanding their business model long before that check-in call. Lots of strategies. You can’t afford to be reactive, so get ahead of things!

8. Time Management

How you schedule your time is just as important as what you do with your time. We live in a world that is begging for our attention. There are many ways to build out your day. And customer success teams are juggling a lot of tasks.

Figure out what works best for you. One thing that I like to do is set specific times that I check Slack/Emails. I usually work in two chunks; 10 am and 3 pm. I stay out of my inbox and Slack until those hours. Although, there will always be emergencies on Slack that need attention. But most of the time, I follow these rules.

This helps give focus on the tasks in front of me without having to multitask and potentially lose the plot entirely.

9. EQ

Emotional intelligence. Can you read the room? Are there competing events taking your customers away from your call or current goals? Knowing how your customers are feeling at that moment is a much-needed skill to help guide them toward your optimal outcome.

10. Follow Through

Trust is built with action. If you say you will follow up, submit a bug report, or update status; Do it… also on time. Every time! That is the best way to build trust. Follow through is a seed to be planted that will pay off dividends time and again.

Finally, as we saw above, the key to a successful customer success program has always been agility – how you respond to variables and challenges you face on the macro level. Focusing on these key strengths will ensure you are prepared to partner with your customers to help them meet the outcomes they need to be successful.

How Zight (Formerly CloudApp) Can Help You Build and Run Your Customer Success Program

Zight for an effective customer success strategy

As seen above, you need the right software to build and run your customer success programs. Not sure which to use? We recommend using Zight, and here’s why:

It lets you prioritize customer success and humanize responses with customized visual context. Your team can communicate intricate instructions through videos, GIFs, and screenshots and avoid lengthy chat and email threads, improving alignment and understanding. They can even use their webcam overlay when recording the screen, add clarity with annotations, blur sensitive information, and highlight important details that might be overlooked.

Customer success teams can use Zight at various stages of the customer journey, including;

  • Onboarding: During the onboarding process, your teams can use Zight’s screen recording to create how-to videos and guides, making the introduction to a product or service more engaging and clear
  • Relationship building: With personalized content using video messages and GIFs, Zight helps in building trust and creating a true partnership with customers, fostering lasting relationships
  • Troubleshooting and support: If customers encounter issues or have questions, Zight’s screen recording features enable the customer success team to communicate intricate instructions visually, avoiding confusion and enhancing clarity.
  • Enhancing Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs): Instead of scheduling lengthy meetings for updates, Zight enables customer success teams to send video updates that clearly communicate expectations and feedback, making QBRs more efficient and personalized
  • Driving customer adoption: By connecting and communicating with customers through visual context, Zight helps in improving retention, boosting revenue, and reducing churn
  • Analytics and reporting: The analytics feature allows the customer success department to track views and engagement, providing insights into customer behavior and preferences
  • Collaboration: Zight’s collections and shortcuts features enable better organization and customization of content, facilitating smoother collaboration among team members

Ready to chat with us about how to save time, money and help your team communicate better?