What is customer success?

Customer success is the process of identifying and mitigating customer needs by anticipating and addressing possible roadblocks, then providing solutions.

Customer success is a never-ending process of identifying customer needs, anticipating questions or roadblocks, and providing solutions to help customers achieve their end goal with the product or service. The process is focused on client-organization relationships that are meant to align each team in the organization with the intent to benefit the customer while benefiting the business.

A business succeeds when customers achieve their goals, and that is at the core of customer success practices. Retention, reuse, and repeat business are likely to occur when a business makes customer success one of their top priorities. A healthy customer success strategy involves holistic outcome-based metrics and relevant processes to achieve metric goals, implementation of technology, and a real-time pulse on the customers’ morale.

Customer success

The businesses focused on customer success tend to take more proactive approaches to customer needs, including anticipating any future issues, identifying possible customer questions or needs, and delivering based on an understanding of customer needs. Businesses should help customers build a roadmap to help them achieve success.

Customer service/support

A more proactive approach rather than proactive. Customers submit requests, complaints, or inquiries via phone, email, or form fill, at which point a team of customer service representatives or team members address the needs of the customer. It is more of a case-by-case approach rather than something prescriptive on a wider scale like customer success.

Account management

More focused on taking care of dissatisfied customers and building out a longer term relationship on a more case-by-case basis. While there are some prescriptive approaches, this method tends to be a bit outdated as it also relies on a reactive model that manages accounts above managing customer success.

Table outlining customer success.

Reduction of churn

Unhappy or indifferent customers tend to churn at a higher rate. A proper custom success strategy is the ideal solution for reducing churn. Online reviews play a large role in acquiring customers—this is an opportunity to improve a product and confront customer worries head-on, whether through direct replies or changes to the product or service. This is also a great opportunity to educate and train members of a customer success team using a trove of customer feedback, both positive and negative, to further develop services and better the customer experience.

Increased revenue

Revenue is based on the relationship with an end user. Customer success teams have opportunities to sell and upsell a product or service when customer success is the proper target of an organization, which provides the opportunity for capitalization. Costs of customer retention are much lower than the cost of acquiring a new customer, and customer success focuses can improve the chances of customer retention to grow and maintain a decent revenue while achieving goals.

Graphic showing the cost of acquiring $100 of revenue from Customer Success.

Improvement of renewal process and churn

Customers hold the power in the modern tech age, and locking them in is less a matter of selling to the customer, and more empowering the customer. They need incentive to continue their subscription or dedication to the product, and the strategy of an organization should revolve around their satisfaction vs. sales tactics.

Positive referrals

Customers tend to talk, and positive referrals are a great way to build a positive reputation through word of mouth. Positive referrals can also be a great opportunity to build case studies and references.

A successful customer is a loyal customer, and vice versa. Organizations should take the time to understand the importance of customer success and why it is important to incorporate it into the standard business strategies. A customer success strategy drives a lower overhead, as customer loyalty is more lucrative—maintaining a customer is less expensive than onboarding a new customer. Some ways to create a strategy include:

  • Create a customer success team.
  • Outline a roadmap that outlines business goals for short term and long term customer success.
  • Analyze results.
  • Modify strategy as necessary.
  • Share strategy across teams, and ensure that they are implemented thoroughly.
  • Choose and implement the necessary tools and software for customer success.
  • Identify customer end goals and a strategy for reaching those goals.

High-performing staff or team

Gather together a team of doers—proactive, innovative, and dedicated to customer success. Unlike account management or associated concepts, a customer success team is dedicated to providing the value and experience that customers expect. Keeping them engaged and constantly at the receiving end of a positive experience is paramount to engaging customers, and a high-performing team is especially important to creating a successful customer experience.

A customer success management tool

The right software is a system that helps the customer success manager keep track of all of the accounts they manage, and interactions with customers in one central location. Relevant data—such as open opportunities, renewals, and orders from CRM, current cases or issues raised with customer service, etc.—are available to help them understand the full scope of the customer account. There should also be a means of tracking goals, strategies, and KPIs the company has defined, and how they are tracking against them.

Select the right software that can connect with customer relationship management (CRM) software that is currently in use, along with any existing products or software that the organization is using. Proper software can monitor products and a CRM from a centralized location, and it has the ability to report trends, stats, and predictive analytics. Customer success teams will also be able to log and analyze connections with customers, including phone, email, chat, and in-person interactions with customers.

A defined customer success strategy

A proper strategy is proactive in customer assistance. A customer success team needs to be guided toward the most effective actions to serve customer success, which can serve the wider business strategy and bottom line. Ensure that strategies at all stages serve the needs of the customer and contribute to their success, as well as the success of the product or service. Be agile and flexible—adjust needs as customers provide feedback and as data is gathered. A proper customer success strategy shouldn’t be so set in stone.

KPIs to measure success

Success must be measured with specific metrics. Take the time to form an understanding of ways to measure customer success, like client retention, scores on surveys, upsells, or new customers. If metrics reveal themselves organically, consider implementing them into KPI measurements. Some measurements may prove less accurate or useful, at which point it is ideal to adjust KPIs.

  1. Monthly recurring revenue
  2. Qualitative and quantitative customer feedback
  3. First contact resolution
  4. Retention cost
  5. Lifetime value
  6. Net promoter score
  7. Health score
  8. Customer satisfaction
  9. Customer effort score
  10. Churn

ServiceNow understands how essential the success of your customers is to your business. That’s why we’ve created the Customer Success Center. The Customer Success Center is nothing less than a one-stop shop designed to provide you with everything you need to accelerate your digital transformation journey, and align your focus squarely on your customers.

The ServiceNow Customer Success Center provides playbooks, answers, roadmaps, role-specific content, and essential resources, all easily accessible through an advanced, filter-enhanced search engine. Along with these advantages, the Customer Success Center incorporates the Now Value Methodology, proven to accelerate success.

Combining valuable resources and expert content all in one place, the customer success center is your destination for customer success.

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