Convincing consumers to invest in your products or services is important, no argument there. However, knowing a customer has used the product or service and subsequently extracted the value from that interaction is the key to customer success. Companies focused on customer success work to understand their customers’ desired outcomes and then design experiences intended to assist in the achievement of those outcomes. In fact, Forrester Research found that improving customer success was stated as the top priority by 72% of businesses.
Happiness shouldn’t be confused with success. Whether or not your clients are happy is on them. Satisfaction is also different than success. A customer only part-way to achieving his end goal may be completely satisfied with his experience interacting with your brand. But if he hasn’t achieved his goal, he isn’t yet successful. However, when interactions with your company allow your customers to achieve their desired outcome, you have, together, achieved customer success.
Thriving organizations carefully and actively move their customers towards their desired outcomes. They understand what the consumer needs to achieve and the way in which they need to achieve it. As we continue a shift to consumer-centric service, our customers will, more and more, determine our success. The end result - the customer’s goals become the brand’s goals and emphasize the need to positively impress from day one of the relationship. We know you can search “customer success,” or a variety of related phrases, and receive hundreds of search results. But since we feel we do well with this challenge, we’d like to share our thoughts with you.
Keys to Customer Success
REMEMBER - YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT TO LOVE YOUR PRODUCTS
No one purchases an item or invests in a service with the initial desire to see failure as a result. People want a positive experience and value-added return on their investment. Why is this important? Just a reminder to accept feedback as it is most likely intended – to help you create and deliver more effective, useful, and impactful products and services. When you receive a critique or suggestion for improvement, push the brand ego aside, thank the customer for his honest feedback, and work hard to get it more than right the next time.
FAIR DOES NOT MEAN EQUAL – SEGMENT AND PRIORITIZE
Retention goals will vary for different segments just as the “appropriate” experience will vary for each segment. There are key factors to consider but no absolute best practices that will ensure customers receive exactly what they need. What is true for one scenario may not hold for a similar scenario in the future or even a similar scenario happening at the same time. Have in place systematic learning processes to create, refine, and execute customer success plans for each segment of your target audience.
IF YOU IGNORE A CUSTOMER, HE WILL LEAVE
Intervention and engagement are necessary, regardless of the value proposition you present. The caveat is that different customer segments require different levels of attention to move them along the path to their desired outcome. Craft authentic, human communication geared towards answering consumers’ questions and meeting customers’ needs. Interact with customers where they are and keep them engaged as you move them along towards their desired outcome.
YOUR END OF CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT IS 100% ON YOU
Proactive communication is key to guiding consumers through the buyer’s journey. Brand communication comes in many shapes and sizes. It might be informational, to help customers understand their choices. It might be in the form of an intervention when a customer bogs down in his quest to achieve his desired outcome. It might be messaging that increases interactions with established customers by providing add-ons or upsell information.
LOYALTY WITHOUT VALUE DOESN’T EXIST
Consumers will interact with your brand when they feel the value at least meets, and, preferably, exceeds their investment. Customers expect high-quality products and services, quick response times and efficient support. Customers who have reached their desired outcomes will refer their friends and colleagues, spend more on your brand, let you showcase them as a case study, and when something goes wrong, seek out a conversation with you instead of blasting their issue all over social media.
SOME CUSTOMERS JUST AREN’T MEANT TO BE
Identifying customers with the highest potential of achieving success with your product or service is key. A willingness to interact with your brand is a good quality to find in a prospective customer but sometimes isn’t enough on its own. Finding a customer willing and able to not only interact with but also acquire what your brand has to offer are excellent qualities to find. Even better is when those qualities are matched with the actuality of your products or services being the right fit for the consumer’s needs. Incentives can bring customers to the table but if the fit isn’t there, no number of incentives can help achieve the desired outcome.
Measure how the customers are doing. Their success, the achievement of their desired outcome is what matters. When you measure how you are doing, it should be based on how the customers are doing. Meeting financial goals is important, but not at the expense of the customers’ experience with your products, services, and overall brand. The metrics used to measure success will vary from industry to industry and business to business. Choose metrics that are measurable, obtainable and based on your business goals and practices.
MISSTEPS TO AVOID
The blame game – when a customer contacts you with a complaint or concern, focus on finding a solution not giving him a list of things he should have done.
Projecting a lack of care – little things like a correctly pronounced or spelled name go a long way. When mistakes are made with that level of detail, customers feel insulted and the perception becomes that you just don’t care enough to get it right.
Failure to engage – while some days it feels like every single unhappy customer has let you know how he feels, it has been found that the majority of dissatisfied consumers don’t say anything, they just go away. When you regularly engage with your customers, you gain a more solid understanding of their levels of success, satisfaction, and happiness.
Lackluster response – choosing to ignore customer feedback or argue a consumer’s perception of your service or product is a direct insult to the customer. People who take the time to make known their feedback want their efforts appreciated not ridiculed or disregarded. Take comments and reviews seriously. Use them as opportunities to grow and improve your brand.
Failure to differentiate – we mentioned segmenting your audience earlier as well as the need to interact differently with each segment. Acknowledge how each customer communicates and where (on which channel) each customer communicates then meet him there.
You can’t just do business as usual and hope your customers achieve their desired outcomes. A proactive customer success management strategy is essential. Remember to keep the customer’s perspective front and center, define success milestones for along the way and continue support and communication throughout the life cycle of the brand-consumer relationship. Don’t settle for satisfied, don’t stop at conversion – take your customers all the way to success.
The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing can help with your customer success management strategy. Contact us today for a free, 30-minute consultation. We look forward to assisting you with any and all of your digital marketing needs.