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Customer Success

Customer Success, SaaS

How to Start a Customer Success Program From Scratch by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

If your SaaS company hasn’t leapt on board the Customer Success train yet, it’s likely due to “focusing on other things,” or “we don’t have the budget for that right now.” But prioritizing Customer Success pays big dividends in returning revenue – so much so that it’s gaining the reputation as the ultimate growth hack. That’s not hype – Customer Success is how SaaS businesses raise retention rates and increase referrals while paving the road for cross-sells and upsells.

If you’re focusing most of your resources on acquisition, you’re missing out on one of the greatest growth engines at your disposal.

“Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is,” – Jason Lemkin, venture capitalist and founder of SaaStr

Acquisition may get the ball rolling, but retention is where the big money is. Big, sustainable money that costs less and less to make. And, this alchemy only works when customers achieve the successes with the product or service that they’d hoped for upon signing up.

Statistically, successful customers:

  • Spend more money over time
  • Are highly likely to consider additional products and services
  • Serve as enthusiastic brand advocates that reduce the Cost to Acquire new customers (CAC)

That last point, customer evangelism (aka. brand advocacy), is the most significant benefit of Customer Success and the one that leads to spending less on acquisition efforts, while acquiring more customers.

When your company understands what success means to your customers, then ensures they receive what they need to achieve it, those customers respond – on Facebook, on Twitter, on Yelp, on Linkedin, and in person. They become not just your fans, but your best salespeople, helping your company grow.

But how do you start a customer success program from scratch?

First, let’s start with what customer success really is, because any time a term becomes a “buzzword” it tends to lose its original meaning.

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Experience, Customer Success, Customer Support, UX

8 Innovative Ways to Use CX Metrics to Create Unbeatable Customer Experience ft. @Wootric

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

What we call Customer Experience (CX) is the total effect of each interaction between brand and customer over the course of the entire relationship (and it’s really all about how they feel). Positive feelings = effective CX, whether the interaction happens in a SaaS product, on a social media page, a website, over the phone, in person, or driving on the freeway.

This isn’t the same as User Experience – not at all.

Whereas UX is commonly concerned with evaluation of your product or website – a very limited scope – CX encompasses the entire experience of each customer from end-to-end, including touch points on your website, off your website, offline, on mobile, and person-to-person contact. You need both.

Fortunately, UX can be relatively easy to optimize.

Optimizing CX, on the other hand, can seem like an impossibly large task.

But keep in mind: CX is the sum total of specific, concrete, controllable occurrences. You know exactly when and how your customers interact with your brand, right? (No? You should – if it happens online, it’s all trackable). Your task then becomes understanding which CX metrics to track and how to use those metrics to create unbeatable – unforgettable – customer experiences for all.

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Artificial Intelligence, Customer Experience, Customer Success, Customer Support, Emotion

Use Real Emotion with Artificial Intelligence for Positive Customer Experiences by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Just yesterday my partner and I hit a snafu: Our bank had not paid our homeowners insurance, resulting in a panic-inducing email titled “your policy has expired.” Adulting in overdrive ensued.

The bank’s call center was a byzantine maze of pre-recorded messages, and it took three calls just to navigate it to the point of talking to a human being. Just when I was contemplating slamming my phone onto the pavement, I finally reached a person. A person who was clearly chagrined that I’d made it through the labyrinth undeterred. What a grump.

Not finding any help there, I then called my insurance company, which connected me directly to a person — a real, live person! — who cheerfully told me she’d contact my bank, sort out the mess, and call me back. And she did.

It was glorious.

This, friends, is why customer service, and in particular automation, has earned such a loathsome reputation.

Customers don’t want to be pitched from bot to bot, like projectiles in a pinball machine.

That doesn’t make us feel like valued customers. That doesn’t make us want to work with the company again, if we have any other choice. And forget about recommending the company to anyone else (at least, anyone we like).

But what if we could change that paradigm? What if we could create automation that was intelligent enough to give us the answers we need, and send us, quickly and efficiently, to the very best human agent capable of solving our problems?

This is the future I see as imminently possible, at least if we use automation intelligently to create more positive, relevant, and enjoyable user experiences.

Forget bots for a moment — let’s talk about people

For automation to be an integral, genuinely helpful, part of customer support (and customer success — we’ll get there), the customer support process needs to be grounded in a basic understanding of what humans need to be happy — and what customers need to be successful.

The first thing to know is: Every problem is emotional.

We tend to take people at their word. They tell us the problem; we logically try to fix it. But, whatever they say the problem is, and however logical the solution, there is always an emotional component. We’re human; emotions are part of everything we do.

When neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people who had sustained brain damage to areas of the brain that generate emotions, he found that the subjects were unable to make even the smallest of decisions. Their logic and reasoning abilities were fully functional, but if they were asked to choose between pasta and risotto for dinner, they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t feel one way or another.

The conclusion: Almost every decision is an emotional one.

What this means for customer service is huge:

If your customer service interaction produces positive emotions, you have the power to generate positive decisions.

Think: making sales, upsells, generating referral traffic — you basically turn customer service into a marketing, sales and retention engine.

All of that potential income is what’s at stake in every customer interaction.

Not sure emotion holds that much purchase power?

A study out of Missouri University of Science and Technology reported that “consumers’ emotional responses” while on e-commerce websites were predictive of purchases. It might seem obvious, but they essentially proved that we buy from stores we enjoy. And there’s no better place to create a joyful experience than customer service.

Positive experience is the start of a positive association, which builds upon itself over time. One transaction or interchange turns into a relationship. Zappos, Wistia, and MailChimp are three companies that have a business approach which accentuates the positive, and, as a result, their customers are both passionate and loyal.” — Walter Chen, co-founder of iDoneThis, for Kissmetrics

Eliminate Pain Points

So how do you create positive emotional experiences? First of all, don’t add to the customer’s pain by forcing them to run the gauntlet of automated options they neither need nor want.

Pain is emotional, and reducing the pain your customers feel will go a long way towards creating a positive experience. Just think how happy I was to find a HUMAN BEING on my first try with my insurance company!

The worst pain is caused by a-thousand-cuts annoyances, and when you can relieve those small irritations, the customer’s experience will be more positive — and studies show those positive experiences are directly linked to customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Read more on Medium


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Product Management

How to Get Product Managers Excited to Work with Customer Success by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

A Customer Success team is only as good as its information. After all, if they waited until the customers told them what’s wrong — they’d be Customer Service. In order to take a proactive role in helping customers achieve their desired outcomes, Customer Success has to know:

  • Their customers — what they want, what they need, and how to bridge the gap between what your product does and this desired outcome.
  • The onboarding process — where new customers tend to get stuck, where they drop out, and what can help them get over those hurdles instead of churning.
  • Usage — how well is the product working for the customers? Where they stop using it. What they’re hoping to find — and don’t.
  • Growth opportunities — when the customer will benefit from using more of the product, or an additional feature. Basically, when it would serve their interests to upgrade.

Customer Success is Who covers the What, Where, How and When — but my question is:

Why aren’t other departments clamoring at their door for these insights too?

These are insights that can benefit the entire company, reducing churn, raising revenue, and giving the business every piece of information it needs to become an integral part of its customers’ lives.

But, most of us come from a tradition of strict departments. You do your thing; I’ll do mine. Which, along with a combination of territorialism and downright inefficiency, leads to data silos.

These are MY numbers and nobody else can have’m!

And I’m sure some companies have good reasons for keeping everything compartmentalized — but when you have a Customer Success department which, naturally and necessarily, has its finger in every pie, it’s absurd not to use them as the resource they are.

But I’m preaching to the choir.

Most of you reading this are Customer Success. So you don’t need me to tell you how important your insights are or how much good they could do.

You need a way to get your insights heard.

Because you can’t give your customers what they need by yourself.

You need Product Dev.

This is about how to form that partnership in such a way that Product Managers become more interested in what’s going on with the customer and want to get involved — instead of staying one step removed.

Read More on Success Hacker


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

Why Setting Expectations is a Customer Success Must ft. @Wootric

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Most customer success articles you’ll read talk about helping customers reach their ideal outcomes – ideal outcomes are the most important thing, the very job description of customer success. But there’s another job that comes before ideal outcomes, one which, if done poorly, will result in churn even if ideal outcomes are achieved.

Setting expectations.

Let’s begin with a cautionary tale – a true story – of a SaaS app that failed to set expectations that matched what the app did.

It’s a fitness app which shall remain nameless, but it’s much like its primary competitor, MyFitnessPal. Unlike MyFitnessPal, it offered a sleek, integrated user interface that seamlessly brought together exercise tracking via pedometer and nutrition tracking, but it also offered something more: A personal fitness coach. (I should also mention that this particular fitness app is one of the most expensive currently on the market – but for such personal attention? Totally worth it.)

Except.

While on the website copy and in the app itself, this company promised a customized approach to getting fit, complete with a personal wellness coach who would be accessible via private chat to offer encouragement at times of crisis and temptation, it didn’t deliver as described.

Within a few days, it became apparent that the “personal coach” is really only accessible via group chat. In fact, if you try to contact the coach via the in-app private chat box (which even has the coach’s picture on it), the coach will never actually see your message – you’ll get an automated reply from a bot.

When all of this was revealed – in the group chat room – every participant was taken aback, and several initiated their free trial cancellations within days.

Even though they liked the app.

Even though they were already seeing the results they’d hoped for.

Yes, even when customers were achieving their ideal outcomes, because of the mismatch between their expectations and the services delivered, they left.

But not before sending feedback – which went unanswered.

It was a customer success failure of a magnitude we don’t, frankly, see very often. And it’s almost painful when you realize that nearly all of their churn was completely, 100% avoidable.

If only they had matched customer expectations to what they were actually prepared to deliver.

What it felt like was a bait and switch.

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Metrics

Why Customer Success Metrics are Critical to Every Department ft. @UseNotion

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Customer Success is, when done right, pro-active. Customer success managers are constantly on the lookout (often with the help of auto-notifications set to deploy when customers show signs of trouble) for what customers need now, and what customers need next. But the quantitative and qualitative data Customer Success Managers use to feel the pulse of the customer base isn’t just useful for their department. It’s useful for every department. Critical even.

How can customer success help colleagues in other departments?

Data Driven + Customer Centric Product Management

Customer Success data typically includes real-time visibility into customers’ health (calculated with a combo of usage data and contextual data). So CSMs know what customers are using most, and are the first to know when a feature is leading to confusion and frustration. That information alone can direct the priorities of Product Managers when they’re creating their product roadmaps, but perhaps the most useful piece of information is this: Customer Success also knows what customers will need next.

For example, if Customer Success sees that customers are doing really well with the product, but could use an expansion or new feature to reach the next level, that information is crucial to data driven product teams (and to the growth of the company). Customer Success teams can implement a system of tagging that allows them to mark similar needs and wants in each customer record. If you’ve got the right metrics tracking tools in place, your team can then regularly deliver this data to product, telling them how many customers are requesting or needing new features and how those needs have changed over time.

For example, if you’re using Intercom for customer engagement, you can create segments based on users that have been tagged by requesting a certain feature. You could deliver that raw data to product, or you can use a tool like Notion that tracks trends in those requests over time, giving product a deeper understanding of the urgency of the need and the ability to do further research into which types of customers are making those requests. The end result is a product team with a richer and more nuanced understanding of the needs of their customers and the ability to craft a more customer centric product roadmap in the long term. Learn more about that communication strategy with Notion’s recent post: How Customer Success Can Deliver Data Driven Customer Insight.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

Product Managers: Why You Should Include Customer Success Milestones In Your User Flows ft. @Wootric & @16v

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

As a Product Manager, you develop user flows to chart how customers move from signup to successfully using your SaaS product. Your colleagues in Customer Success are doing the same thing — mapping a flow of customer milestones to success.

But “success” can mean different things to PMs and CSMs. And, while both teams employ user flows (or customer journeys), what they put on them are very different, reflecting their very different goals.

You are responsible for making the product functionally work, with enough awesome UX so it’s relatively intuitive for the customer to use. For your team, “success” often means that the product works. It does what it says it will do, and does it well.

Customer Success is responsible for helping customers use the product to achieve their desired outcome. Most of the time, that desired outcome isn’t in the product – it’s outside of it. For example, if I purchase a budgeting app, my desired outcome is to save enough money to sun myself on a Caribbean beach, with a good-looking server to bring me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. The Customer Success manager’s job is to get me there.

You might say it’s a conflict between focusing on the world inside the product and the wide, wide world outside of it.

And that conflict can bring about a deep divide between Product and Customer Success.

Yet, we’re all working towards the same goal: Creating a product people love, need and want more of.

What if you were to bring both user flows together, so the functionality inside the product meets the desired outcomes outside of the product?

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Metrics

7 Essential Customer Success Metrics ft. @UseNotion

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Excellent Customer Success leaders know that the practice is both art and science. Being exceptional in the role means being good with both numbers and people. In a way, it is the perfect marriage of using data and and building relationships. Data helps you build better, stronger, happier, and longer relationships with your customer, because it’s the data that can help you deliver a more responsive, customized and pleasant experience for your customers.

Tracking the right metrics also comes with another benefit: They’re the raw materials you can use to secure more funding for your Customer Success department, argue for changes in processes that impact your team, and back up any feedback you deliver to Product. These are the metrics that prove your worth, help you grow, and enable you to deliver success to your customers too.

Disclaimer: Many of the metrics listed below aren’t solely customer success metrics. In fact, many will be from data sources that aren’t necessarily controlled, managed, or regularly accessed by the customer success department. This can make tracking this data challenging.

We recommend a 5 step process to getting the information you need to deliver a better experience to your customers.

  1. Make a spreadsheet with each of these KPIs listed. Include additional metrics that matter to your team. Fill in any of the data that you have.
  2. Determine who owns the information you need to fill in the rest of your spreadsheet. Once you figure that out, send a personal appeal requesting regular updates for that data.
  3.  Set multiple event alerts to remind you to pester them for their numbers each week or month.
  4. Summarize the pertinent numbers weekly or monthly, so your boss is up-to-date on how you’re team’s doing. Also discuss with your team, so you can track progress to team goals, discuss areas where you can improve and celebrate wins as a team.
  5. Every quarter, re-evaluate team goals and the associated metrics used to track their progress and adjust your spreadhseet accordingly.

Read More on Notion


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

Top 10 Myths about Customer Success — Busted! 💥 ft. @Wootric

image1

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (‏@yazsedky).

We’ve seen so many myths out there about how best to do Customer Success, propagated by well-meaning CSMs and business owners who are trying to translate what worked for them into what will work for you. And we’ve also seen advice that may have worked in the past, but is obsolete for 2017. We’ve rounded up the worst offenders, with a weather eye to those that are just plain counter-intuitive.

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Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Experience, Customer Success, Emotion

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Emotion to Drive Customer Loyalty ft. @Wootric

dont-underestimate-the-power

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Emotion is coming to the forefront of Customer Experience (CX) management, not because it’s warm and fuzzy, and not because leveraging feelings is devilishly manipulative, but because when you use emotion to drive your CX efforts, it becomes a powerful differentiator.

More companies are getting better at the functional basics of customer experience, like responding in a timely manner to questions, streamlining the purchase process, and smoothing out onboarding (not to mention creating a decent product) – which means they need something unique to offer that separates them from their competition.

What is the most unique, even unforgettable thing you can offer? The way you make your customers feel. It’s for this reason the bar for CX is inching up.

The fact that understanding and influencing emotion is a vital ingredient for business success is not surprising — it has been the heart and soul of brand efforts. It is also the foundation of the emotion-recognition techniques (measuring physiological responses) currently in pilot for some retailers and old-school ethnographic research. Forrester 2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer

 
Emotion not only carries the ability to define your company in a sea of competitors, it can also inspire viral word of mouth marketing from people who love you and want to express that to a large audience, whether because they’re influencers with their own followers, or reviewers.

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.