Happy customers define company success. After all, your customers are your company’s biggest assets. In fact, recent research from Aberdeen Group reveals a strong correlation between positive customer experience and loyalty factors, such as brand evangelism, higher customer satisfaction, lower customer loss rates, incremental revenue from existing customers and more. On the other end of the spectrum, Aberdeen found that poor customer experience impedes revenue growth and marketing effectiveness. So, how can you make sure that you never skimp on customer experience, and always deliver the utmost service?
Listen and listen.
Take the time to understand your customers and their individual needs. Ask them about their challenges, and listen to them. Relate to their pain points, and describe how your product is addressing their needs with real-life examples.
In addition, listen to what your customers need to succeed. What are their goals, and how do they define success? Once you have clearly defined what success means to your customers and understand what they are trying to accomplish, as well as what their expectations are, you need to cater the customer experience toward those goals, and provide an easy-to-use product that helps them and their businesses.
Create an intuitive product.
The product itself plays a huge role in customer success, especially in dealing with a freemium model, in which frequent use of the product is vital. Therefore, having a product that is easy-to-use and instinctive is imperative so that users can simply discover new features and solve real business objectives as they continue to interact with the product. This makes looking at customer feedback and usage data to inform your product direction incredibly valuable. This way, you ensure customers will continue to solve more business problems as they dive deeper into the product.
Cater to learning preferences.
While an easy, intuitive solution is important; customers will often still require assistance to get started and help to fully understand how to use it. Knowing your customers includes recognizing and adhering to their personal preferences, especially when it comes to training customers on your product and responding to their questions. Make sure you have lots of self-service options when it comes to obtaining information about your product and learning how to use your solution ‒ including written data sheets, how-to videos, live and on-demand webinars, as well as the option to chat with someone live for a walkthrough of the solution. Some people absorb information and learn best visually, while others prefer audio or video. You must appeal to various learning styles and cater to each one.
The same holds true for customer support. While it is important to empower your users and allow them to find answers on their own, you should also provide proactive help. Some customers prefer email communication, while others like instant message chat. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers; maybe they are busy and looking for a quick response by chat, or maybe they are not too technically savvy, and need written step-by-step instructions. Whatever their preferences may be, make sure you are taking them into account during your interactions.
Map out your customer journey.
It’s critical that you map out the journey of a successful customer and measure existing customers alongside that. Key metrics can include duration of onboarding activities, adoption of new features, addition of new users and referrals, time taken to resolve issues, customer satisfaction levels and retention rates. For example, you should know where you want your customers to be on day one, five, 30 and so on. By monitoring customer usage data, you will know which customers are on track and which ones need a nudge.
You should also be reaching out to your customers via email and one-on-one phone calls to check in and make sure they’re achieving their business objectives with your product.
Take the good with the bad.
Not every day is sunshine and rainbows, and that is okay. Let those negative occurrences be teaching moments, learn from them and ask for feedback. Ask what went wrong, and how you can fix it in the future. This will allow you to win back those customers, or at least be better prepared if it happens again. If you make a change as a result of feedback, communicate that to customers. They want to know they’re being heard, that their opinions are valued and they’re generating change.
Customer success is still an evolving discipline, and it can always be improved upon and optimized. Although the specific tactics may change, it will always be built on a foundation of truly helping the customer in a meaningful and measurable way.
Lynn Tsoflias is the vice president of customer success at Insightly, a San Francisco-based company that provides a customer relationship management (CRM) and project management solution for small businesses. She serves as the voice of the customer and is responsible for managing the onboarding process for new customers and delivering the highest level of customer service and experience. Prior to Insightly, Tsoflias worked at ClearEdge Marketing, ArrowStream and Microsoft.