Laying Down your Customer Success Tech Stack
When SaaS (Software as a Service) began to take shape a couple of decades ago, the functionality of most of the solutions had limited functionality. Similarly, the lack of dedicated tech solutions for Customer Success is making it difficult for the practitioners to identify and understand what is right for them and what is not!
Customer Success, as a profession, is very young and is still evolving. A lot of Customer Success leaders and Founders are confused about what customer tech stack to use at their SaaS businesses. Some think that a CRM should suffice whereas others want to build their own dashboards on top of analytics tools.
However, this confusion isn’t the result of their lack of understanding of CS. It is because the role of the Success professional has become more complex where delivering value to customers has become the core focus.
Suggested Read: Customer Success Tech Maturity Model
To deliver the value, they use multiple systems including, but not limited to, CRM, Helpdesk, Billing, Subscription management, NPS, etc. Logging in to multiple systems to do different parts of their work makes their job inefficient and costly.
This also reinforces internal “silos”, making the internal team alignment needed in order to make customers successful further challenging. However, we are yet to see purpose-built software designed specifically to help Success practitioners get their work done efficiently and at scale.
Through this blog, let’s see and understand which system and solutions can we use to truly engage and make the customers successful.
Customer Success Tech Stack
A tech stack or technology stack is mostly referred to as a bundle of practical systems and technologies that provide solutions to most of the problems faced by companies.
The existing tech tools used by Customer Success teams have been grouped into:-
- * Managing and tracking customers and their feedback.
- * Minimizing time and effort on high volume yet lower impact tasks.
- * Cultivating and Nurturing product adoption efficiently.
However, identifying the exact combination for different stages for your SaaS firm could be a herculean task, especially, if you’re in the growth phase.
Fret not, we can guide you through the various stages and tools which you can use to deliver optimum Customer Success.
Now let’s talk about the technologies, the stage, and the categories that they belong to.
The Customer Success Technology tools can be categorized into the following:
- * CRM
- * Customer Support
- * Chat
- * Subscription Management
- * Collaboration and workflows
- * Customer Success
- * Communication
- * Analytics and Notifications
- * Customer Intelligence
- * Onboarding
- * Customer Feedback
- * Referrals
- * Advocacy
- * Community/Education
Building (Spreadsheet phase)
In this phase, you will, typically, have a lower volume of customers. Here, you can give a more “high-touch” engagement to them. You can start with advanced excel to maintain your customer data as your SaaS firm will usually have <10 paying customers.
Accelerating (Growth phase)
As you accelerate your business growth, the number of customers increases significantly. This is where the limitations of your tools like a spreadsheet, a call, etc. become clear.
Here, you need to invest, at least, in some of the tools (mentioned earlier) to manage and track your customer’s data. At this stage, the risk of churn is significantly higher and hence, no stone should be left unturned to figure out what works for you and what does not.
Also, your sales team might already be using a CRM tool to track the huge customer data. The most common CRM tools used are HubSpot and Salesforce CRM. This is vital if you want to integrate your customer data with other tools and make important business decisions for the firm’s growth.
Multi-channel support to your customers is vital as it ensures that their issues/grievances are addressed quickly as and when they’re raised. Customer Support is the function through which your customers reach out to you for support. Some of the great tools to look at are Zendesk, Jira, HelpScout, etc.
Additional support channel like Chat support is another common way of providing support at this stage. These channels present the ability to customers in raising tickets while they’re using the product. The tools that you can check are Intercom, Zopim, Drift, etc.
In SaaS businesses, customers must pay a subscription price to access the product/service. Subscription Management tools help in automating the manual processes in the subscription business with recurring billing, subscription pricing, and payment. Hence these tools play an important role in the technology stack for Customer Success. Some of the tools to consider are Chargebee, Recurly, Zoho, etc.
Once you have a huge customer base, it’s absolutely necessary to have streamlined and dedicated project management tools to track projects. The Collaboration and workflows tools help in making the onboarding and other customer-centric projects repeatable, efficient, and trackable. The tools that you can check out include Trello, Monday.com, Asana, Smartsheet, etc.
For SaaS firms, any firm for that matter, the growth stage starts when the firm and the customer success teams have matured enough to cater to large and complex customers. At this stage, the CS teams usually have sub-teams and dedicated programs to ensure that their customers get the desired outcome.
Here, the CRMs and other tools might have limited visibility with regards to whether their customers are obtaining the value promised by the sales team. It is because your product has, at this point, grown more capable and sophisticated. It will be tough for your CRM to give you 360-degree customer health information.
This is where the role of a dedicated Customer Success Platform/product like CustomerSuccessBox comes into the picture. With Customer Success, it’s imperative that you understand the merits which this function has to offer. Customer Success tools provide greater automation and flexibility to customize customer requirements. Armed with these capabilities, it becomes easy for your CS teams to track reports, manage renewals, contracts and also give you the desired 360-degree overview of your customer health. You can also check out other CS solutions like Totango, Gainsight, Churnzero, etc.
It is, at this stage, that you need to adopt different tools in the CS tech stack for a better understanding of your customers. Internal and external communication becomes really important at this point in time. Hence it makes sense to adopt various tools like Slack, loom, telegram, etc.
The advanced tools in Customer Intelligence are, basically, the ones that give you the more extensive and well-defined data for better business decisions. Qualitative data when quantified can give insights that otherwise wouldn’t have been realized. Some of the tools are Amplitude, SalesDirector.ai, Tableau, etc.
Customer Success teams, in this stage of organizational growth, should go with best practices in onboarding and other project management tools. Customer Onboarding is the most important function within CS as it ensures that the first interaction with the customer is impressive. Onboarding tools like Whatfix, UserIQ, Userlane, etc are some of the options to be considered.
Customer feedback is an important part of the overall business strategy. You need to know and understand how are your customers performing and what feedback do they have for your product. The various tools that you can use for the purpose include SurveySparrow, Medallia, Qualtrics, etc.
There is another set of tools that, if leveraged better, can help to change your customers to become your brand advocates. Having word-of-mouth marketing helps in getting referral business from existing customers. Now, you must need social proof of those referrals. For that, there are various tools in the market. For example-G2, one of the best platforms to compare software describes these tools as an important means to help companies’ marketing, sales, and success teams to gather referrals and testimonials that can be used with prospects. Check out the Customer Advocacy tools such as CustomerAdvocacy.com, Crowdvocate, etc
Since the volume of customers has grown, it’s crucial to provide in-depth video tutorials and guided tours of your product to cultivate and nurture product adoption to a group of (typically the largest) customers. If your customers find it not so easy to drive value from your product, then making use of a dedicated Community/education tools such as LearnUpon, Skilljar, Coassemble, etc. should be the top priority
As I mentioned before, Customer Success is a nascent and evolving function. Professionals all around the globe are continuously trying out new ways to improve customer success, thereby retention and renewals which converts into recurring revenue for your SaaS business.
No matter whether you’re a start-up or a mature business handling a large and complex customer base, you have to identify the right tools that you need to deploy to drive customer success. Hopefully, this blog was helpful in simplifying things for you.