We all have had a customer who just wasn’t a good fit for our product; it’s the universal nightmare experience for Customer Success pros. And as CSMs we often just deal with these customers and struggle to make the best of a bad situation. But the reality is that fighting to retain problematic customers isn’t a long-term solution. And if Sales and Customer Success are not on the same page, problematic customers will bury you.
“Just because somebody as the budget for your product doesn’t mean they’d be a good customer.”
So how do you get Sales and Customer Success on the same page?
It boils down to fixing failures in communication. In a lot of companies there are unclear (or even non-existent) communication processes in place between Sales and Customer Success. This results in ad-hoc decision decision making, unclear expectations and a lack of accountability. The fix? Start by following these steps:
- Define the symptoms – What are the CSMs experiencing?
- Define the problems beneath the symptoms – What are the root causes of those symptoms?
- Dig into the data – Does the data support what you believe to be the problems? What additional details can you learn from the data?
- Specify your conclusions – What have you learned from the CSMs’ experiences and the data? What does it mean?
- Propose executable solutions – What are reasonable, attainable solutions for your company’s teams?
- Communicate with confidence – Present your findings and proposed changes to others; let first five steps drive the conversation.
To learn more about how to productively move through these steps, definitely check out the full read.
The danger of pre-baked health metrics
Knowing whether your customers are happy, about to cancel their contract or fall somewhere in the middle is critical to the success for your business, particularly for subscription-based businesses. A comprehensive view of a customer’s health should include a lot of data – the more, the better. But unfortunately, even when a company is able to collect lots of data, many Customer Success tools out there confine users to inflexible, pre-baked customer health metrics. And since each company is inherently different, these canned metrics rarely reflect true customer engagement and health.
Creating a truly intuitive, flexible 360-degree view of a customer’s experience comes down to three core components:
- Centralized data – To create an end-to-end, holistic view of your customers, you need a centralized data warehouse that draws from multiple sources. Begin with a foundation of product usage data, then link it to your other customer data.
- Customized analyses – When it comes to customer health scoring, one size does not fit all. Arrays of unique factors help define a meaningful customer health score. And custom tuning of scores can work magic for refocusing a team on something like growth or penetration of a new feature.
- Bridging analyses and action – The key to all of this is turning data into action. A well-designed customer success management strategy helps you meet the needs of accounts on every part of the spectrum: from entirely satisfied customer evangelists to those threatening to churn in favor of a competitor. A well-designed strategy is also executed with the proper data infrastructure and tools that can deliver data into everyday workflows and tools.
If you’re just beginning the process of defining your critical customer data, check out some examples of companies already successfully conducting their Customer Success management.
Shameless plug: ChurnZero doesn’t believe in canned metrics either. We believe in customized, adaptive health models that empower you to 1) deeply understand your customers’ happiness & likelihood to churn and to 2) intelligently – and automatically, in real-time! – act on this understanding. The result? Consistently positive experiences for your customers that are personalized and highly relevant, helping them build a strong relationship with you and with your product. Want to learn more? We’d be happy to show you!
Check in on Customer Success trends for 2016
We’re fast approaching the middle of 2016 (what?!)…so it seems like an excellent time to assess how true the predictions for Customer Success Trends in 2016 are so far! We definitely suggest checking out the full list of predicted trends – maybe get some ideas for the second half of the year?? – but here are the two that rang most true to us:
- Users demand intelligent self-service options – Consumers become savvier every year. And these autonomous users are frustrated by the rigid guidelines for the “average customer.” In the future we’ll see more services that hook into the individuality of the customer.
- Data drives 2016’s customer experience – The various points of the journey in which customers turn for support and guidance pose a real challenge. For a good approach, being aware of the customer’s level of knowledge is crucial. That’s why data to support the real-time personal customer service and dynamic self-service options will become more important in 2016.
Word to the Wise
This week’s wisdom comes from Monique Steele, Director of Customer Success at Vend, in a recent interview about how Customer Success has evolved at Vend in the last few years. She sagely reminds us that to truly be successful, Customer Success has to be at the center of your business:
“I think it’s become very apparent that it’s critical that we consider our customer’s success when we’re building strategy. At the end of the day, if our customer’s aren’t achieving what they wanted to achieve with our product, no matter how good our strategy is, we aren’t going to grow. It comes down to it being a part of the culture and having the people making that strategy have that mindset going into it.”
Not sure how to make your company customer success-centric? Check out the 5 ways to improve internal communication around customer success that we discussed a few weeks ago – and get the conversations flowing.