customer success best practices

5 Best Practices to Enhance your Customer Success Management

Customer Success is a newer concept for most SaaS businesses. But the pace at which the market is evolving, it’s the need of the hour. In the last few years, the market has shifted its focus from being process oriented to being customer oriented. So, now your customers are the ones that determine your company’s success. This alters your company’s goal to fulfil your customers’ goals and hence it is imperative to know the customer success best practices.

You must be aware of the phrase – “The first impression is the last impression.”  To have a positive first impression, the initial 90 days in a customer’s lifecycle are crucial. Since most of the churn happens in the first 90 days, you have to follow a well-designed customer onboarding framework to help the customer achieve early value.

Despite the importance of the first 90 days, the rest of the lifecycle stays important too. And to achieve consistency in performance throughout the lifecycle, one needs to adopt customer success best practices.

Here are the 5 customer success best practices in vogue:

1) Mapping the Customer Success Journey

It is a must to maintain a consistent performance during the whole customer lifetime. Your customers must not feel like they lack support at any level. To ensure this, you need to get involved throughout the customer lifecycle, from the time you first sign them up to the moment you transform their business.

Hence, customer journey mapping becomes an essential step. It helps to understand and improve the customer experience by finding out what is missing.

Customer experience changes constantly during the lifetime. Due to this, mapping a customer success journey involves focusing on the entire journey of the customer and not one single aspect. This allows making changes according to where a customer is in the lifecycle. Thus, creating a seamless customer experience. Also, it lets them know what to expect from your company and feel valued.

2) Data Tracking and Analysis

It is important in today’s market to measure and learn. It helps in determining the difference between what is sold and what is delivered. Thus, making a company aware of how its products are used and allowing it to shift its strategies.

Usually, companies are confused about what to measure. Also, it is harder at times to derive meaning from the huge amount of data that the company has collected.

The data tracked is then used to calculate various metrics to watch out for patterns that show a customer’s current status, e.g., account usage or up-sell opportunity .

The analysis of data helps to figure out the exact situation of the company. This helps in taking concrete steps to make sure the company is moving in right direction.

The data analysed by the company is not only used to know about the customers but is also shared with them. Companies provide real-time feedback data in the form of visual graphs to the customers, telling them how their performance is, what features they have used, and more. At times, companies also show a customer’s comparison with other companies that have a product like their customer. Providing customers with this data is of strategic value as it helps them to improve their performance. It also sets up chances of higher engagement with the company. But the data shared may not always be positive and can result in churn, if not delivered with caution.

3) Using Revenue Lifecycle Management (RLM)

To know how your company is performing with respect to customer success management you need a benchmark. Revenue Lifecycle Management (RLM) provides a benchmark for a company’s approach towards customer success. And, is a systematic approach for maximising revenue during customer lifetime. 

RLM is a recently spotlighted practice which can generate some degree of confusion. In awareness of the issue, Forbes Insight released a report  “Mastering Revenue Lifecycle Management: Customer Engagement Leads to Competitive Advantage.” According to the report, there exists a direct and strong correlation between the investment in RLM and both market leadership and revenue growth of B2B companies. It states that 46% of the respondents having highest levels of RLM maturity are more likely to be market leaders in customer growth revenue. It also suggests that the increased customer satisfaction driven by RLM resulted in improved yield and retention.

“The traditional roles of partners, vendors and customers are being disrupted. Yet this presents opportunities, and a focus on RLM can help maximize those.”

Since then it has been receiving positive comments all over.

Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and head of the CMO Practice at Forbes Media said –

“The traditional roles of partners, vendors and customers are being disrupted. Yet this presents opportunities, and a focus on RLM can help maximize those.”

RLM functions generally in respect of 5 key factors – technology, data, KPI’s, people and process. These factors may vary from company to company. Due to this, there are no hard and fast rules for selecting key factors. After finding out where you stand you can elevate your performance by investing in customer success wherever needed.

4) Continuous Improvements/Innovations

The market is evolving at an extensive rate thanks to technology. At this pace, one thing is constant that nothing is constant. What works for your company today might not work after a few months or years. Strategies are no longer of – ‘set it and forget it’ format. Increasing competition has made continuous innovation a necessity for customer success.

Innovation is a systematic learning process to create, identify, refine and execute new value-creating ideas. It is critical to address perceived challenges and exploit opportunities that have risen or are about to rise in the future.

For instance, utilising the right metrics can help make continuous improvements in the right direction. Relying on lagging indicators can damage the customer success of a company. The following statements are true for the present scenario but may or may not stay true in the future.

One must realise that there are no certain customer success best practices for it. But there are certain key factors that are worth considering – Constant improvement, Value creation, The Lean Startup Model, Resource allocation, Company culture and Focus.

5) Decentralizing Customer Success

Companies need to accept the interdisciplinary nature of customer success management. It would be irresponsible to isolate customer success. Customer success must be viewed as a team sport where each department has to play its part.

This does not mean that there is no need for a Customer Success Manager (CSM) in the company. You still need a guy who can not only coordinate but also link it with other departments.

There will be instances where a customer’s grievances can be better understood by another department. For instance, a technical issue will be better understood by a back-end developer than a CSM. The insights which the developer would be able to derive would be invaluable to the company. It would be beneficial for the company to organise these quick and valuable interactions for the customers with the required employees. This is a win-win situation. The employee would be able to grab invaluable insights. while the customer will receive a better and faster reply.

Another example would be to use an AI-powered customer success software which makes them smarter with each interaction. They can be used to access a customer’s data summary by a CSM, research a potential upsell or coordinate with various departments.

Best customer success practices will evolve over time so you will always need to be on top of your game to predict the changes before they actually happen. Also, the best customer success practices for your company may be unique to your company. So, you need to iterate and try new practices. Since customer success is essential for any SaaS company which plans to grow in the future, you must start focusing  immediately.

Rohan is a content intern at CustomerSuccessBox.