As a profession, Customer Success is getting out of firefighting mode and into a more proactive way of managing our customers. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. No longer is our role solely defined by customer saves and heroically preventing churn by over servicing our customers.
We now have the opportunity to fix the root causes of all these emergencies. We now have the bandwidth to tackle improving the overall customer experience.
Up until now, marketing has been the sole owner of defining the customer experience. Given the emphasis on landing new business, the focus of most marketing teams has been on the “land.” Little attention is spent mapping out the journey after that. As Customer Success Managers, we try to shelter our customers from a poor experience with our company.
But we soon find that we can’t bubble wrap all of our users in white-glove Customer Success love. We need to advocate for a better Customer Experience. We need to drive the change.
Customer Success is ideally suited to measure and improve the overall customer experience because we are empowered with data, resources and the pulse of the customer. We are in the trenches every day and know what’s working and what isn’t. Customer Success can spot root causes in a data-driven way and rally our entire company around creating a better overall customer experience.
Moving out of a reactive mode means we can now discover the root causes of a negative customer experience. Demandbase’s David Lieberman was able to do this by mapping the entire customer journey. This revealed gaps in the interactions with their customers and highlighted the way in which the entire company needed to work together to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Mapping the customer journey – from first moment they discovered your brand … all the way through to renewal and beyond – is a crucial step. You have to first identify your weaknesses before you can address them.
Once you’ve mapped the customer journey, it’s time to isolate any snags or blockers that are impeding your customers from getting to value. Whether it’s inconsistent messaging on your website or support tickets that take five different hand-offs to solve, you need to highlight all of the areas that are having a negative impact on your customer experience.
Addressing these problems at the root cause has multiple benefits: it drives alignment for your entire organization as everyone has a role in improving customer experience … and it is generally cheaper to fix issues upstream. It’s far better to take the time to update your website to make certain it represents current product capabilities than to react to the escalation later when your customer demands that your product do what it says it can do.
How do you know if you have a good customer experience? Ask your customers and utilize that data as the basis for your improvements.
When you have a poor customer experience, it is rare that only one team or person is responsible for it. Most likely every single hand-off and every single customer-facing department has room for improvement. In order to avoid finger pointing, ensure that these assessments and discussions are built around data.
Quantitative figures like NPS scores, engagement rates, survey results and usage data are great data-driven starting points for these conversations. Remember, you’re already sitting on a lot of this critical data (community metrics and social media sentiment), so really turn up the volume on your listening tools to ensure you’re ingesting every aspect of your customer experience.
Customer Success and Marketing need to work together to define and measure the customer experience, but the only way to truly improve it is for the CEO to adopt a Customer Success mindset. This includes making sure that all the goals across the organization are aligned toward ensuring the best possible customer experience across every touch point.
The stakes are high, especially in SaaS; there’s no shelfware here. If your customers aren’t quickly getting to value and enjoying the experience, they’ll move to your competitor. But if done correctly, an amazing customer experience can help you turn customers into advocates, which has a demonstrable impact on your bottom line.
The ROI on mapping the journey, aligning the organization, and implementing these changes is significant. It’s time for Customer Success to help drive this change.
Catherine Blackmore is a thought leader and innovator in the area of Customer Success, with over 20 years of experience helping a diverse list of clients from small businesses to Fortune 100 clients. As Chief Customer Officer at Bluenose, Catherine is responsible for the experience and success of all customers. She also owns strategic initiatives around category-awareness for the Customer Success discipline in order to engage and educate the market.
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