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Customer Success

Customer Success

An Early Customer Thinks They’ve “Outgrown” Your Product: A Customer Success Close-Call ft. @Zendesk

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Sometimes, you can save a client relationship (and make it so much stronger.) Which is what happened with Zendesk, as shared by Sary Stefanki, Sr. Director of Global Customer Success.

Zendesk really does everything right. Their Customer Success program is robust. They deeply care about their customers. Sary explains, “As we grew, we created a customer success program that identified customer goals and developed metrics so that there was a transparency around where we stood on all those goals. We boiled these success programs down to concrete success plans, mapped back goals to our Zendesk products and ID’d the metrics we needed to hit.”

To strengthen alignment from the top of the company down, they concentrated on communicating their goals “up, down, and across teams, so that everyone knew the customer goals and we were aligned on all fronts.” Zendesk has become well known for its cross-departmental communication and interaction.

But Zendesk didn’t start out that way. This company has grown by leaps and bounds, making headlines in 2010 for a record growth rate of over 300 percent.

Read More on Wootric


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Customer Success

Learning from Customer Success: “It was like a Gut-Punch — No Warning” ft. @JayNathan at @PeopleMatter

learning-from-customer-success-failure

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Some say the mark of success isn’t that you never fail, but how you react when failure occurs. Failure happens, but when handled well, something far more powerful can happen: Growth.

Jay Nathan, SVP of Customer Success at PeopleMatter, workforce management software used by Del Taco and Charlotte Russe among other brands, was taken by surprise with his first cancellation: “The first major cancellation I received after taking responsibility for retention was like a gut-punch – no warning.” He reacted like any of us would: Try to figure out what went wrong, see if there was anything he could do to stop it, and figure out how to prevent nasty surprises like this in the future.

Read More on Wootric


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Customer Development, Customer Success

How to Become Customer-Centric like @TrunkClub, @InVisionApp & @Atlassian

customer-centric

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You’re all about your customer – I hear you. You make what they want, deliver what they need, and bend over backwards, forwards and sideways to help them if they should run into trouble. Maybe you’re doing everything right, but maybe your company still isn’t customer-centric.

A truly customer-centric company involves their ideal customer from the beginning, in the product development phase (aka. customer development) to accurately target problem-solution fit. From there, a Customer Success strategy takes over, building into the product, company model and marketing whatever it takes to deliver the ideal customer’s desired outcome. Then, the customer-centric company keeps tabs on their success rates through something like a regular NPS survey, and adjusts accordingly.

Read More on Segment


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Customer Success, Tools

25 Tools to Integrate Customer Success into Your Business ft. @Segment

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Predict churn, reach out to customers at just the right time, improve retention and increase new sales, upsells and cross-sells—the promises of a robust customer success program are practically a recipe for success. They might even sound too good to be true, but they make fundamental sense. When you provide your customers with the support they need to achieve their desired outcome, your success and their success go hand-in-hand.

That is the philosophy behind “customer success.”

But don’t think of customer success as a handful of tactics to reduce churn. It will serve you much better to embrace customer success as a high-level strategy to accelerate and sustain growth in a competitive market.

With the right stack of tools, integrating customer success practices into your business is relatively easy and painless. Here is a list of our favorite solutions for helping your customers reach their desired outcomes.

Read More on Segment


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Customer Success, SaaS, Sales

What To Do After You Close The Sale: Why Acquisition Is Good, But Retention Pays Better

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When you make a sale, what is the first thing on your to do list? Happy dance? Happy hour? A night out on the town?

May I make a suggestion?

How about making another sale? And another, and another.

This isn’t a fast-talking sales technique or a short-lived marketing gimmick; it’s the result of customer success done well. When you have a robust customer success program, you can start celebrating multiple sales within much shorter periods of time.

As you know, the new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Numerous studies show that current customers are far more likely to buy again than prospective customers are to buy the first time. Customer success capitalizes on this, and so can you.

Read More on Drift


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

Customer Development, Customer Success

Don’t Make Your Business about You – Your New Mantra? Or the Worst Advice Ever? ft. @VioletaNedkova & @LincolnMurphy

dont-make-your-business-about-you

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“Figure out what people want and give it to them. Excuse me? I’m supposed to be a robot? I want to see what I want, then see what they want, and then see what they want from me.”

Violeta Nedkova

To be fair, Violeta’s next words were:

“From there, you can build your groundwork and start giving value.”

But I’m a fan of the provoking, out of context soundbite. I just love how she neatly phrased the prevailing wisdom and then dashed it on the rocks.

I got into a debate with someone on Twitter recently about this – they posted an article about how your business is not about your customers, it’s about you. I posted a rant in response, essentially saying that they were clearly trying to make non-ideal customers happy instead of making ideal customers successful. My argument is: If you make your business about you instead of your customers, you’ll be your only customer – because you’re the one you’re attracting!

Think about it. If all of your copy is about you, written to appeal to you, who are you going to attract?

But, over time, cooler heads prevail. I realized that for some entrepreneurs, like Violeta for example, their ideal client really is them. Or people very much like them. People who hold the same values, want the same things, have the same aesthetic tastes. For business coaches and life coaches, there is a tremendous amount of mirroring that happens in marketing.

But then a friend told me about one of her clients, a middle-aged British guy who was VP of marketing for a major budget bridal-wear chain, who preferred high-end, luxury brands to the budget-friendly one he worked for. If he created marketing that appealed to himself, he couldn’t be further from his target market than if he built a billboard on Mars. His target market was the budget bride, and the things that are important to her weren’t even on his personal radar.

“Don’t make your business about you” should absolutely be that man’s mantra.

It absolutely should not be Violeta’s.

But what about you – the SaaS founder or marketer? Where does SaaS fit into this theory?

For the vast majority of products, unless yours is particularly personality-driven, I would recommend the “Don’t make your business about you” approach. Identify your ideal customers – the ones who have a severe problem you are uniquely able to solve (and who are willing to pay for it) – and get to know them.

In depth.

Understand what their day-to-day life looks like. Learn what they do all day at work. Find out what frustrates them, what wastes their time, what drives them crazy, and what inspires them. Discover what they wish for themselves as people and as employees. Then, make your product and your marketing all.about.them.

But if you skip this crucial step, well, I’ll let Lincoln Murphy tell it.

You see, either way, whether you are making your business about “you” or not – you’re still defining your ideal customer. Maybe that ideal customer is you (well, people similar to you). Maybe your ideal customer couldn’t possibly be more different.

I guess, in the end, it really is always about the customer.


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

Customer Success, Startups

The One Thing Fast-Growing Companies Do Best ft. @Inturact

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The new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road, requiring marketing for brand awareness, cultivating interest, and encouraging taking action. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Marketing Metrics estimates that the probability of selling to an existing customer is as high as 60 to 70 percent (whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 and 20 percent). Customer Success capitalizes on this, and so do the fastest growing companies.

Read More on Inturact


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Customer Success, SaaS

11 Articles on Customer Success that Will Change Your Business by @NikkiElizDeMere

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Really, if you followed the advice in just one of these articles, your business would change for the better – in real, measurable ways. I’m talking about increasing acquisition and retention, and turning your Customer Lifetime Value charts into something that looks like an artistic rendering of Jack’s magic beanstalk.

These aren’t empty promises. They can be backed up with hard data, like this article from Shopify and RJ Metrics: What Sets Top Performing E-commerce Companies Apart? Customer Success is heavily focused on retention, and companies that nail retention grow faster than their competitors by leaps and bounds – making 2.5x more than other companies within their first three years, primarily by marketing to existing customers. Marketing to existing customers only works if those customers are A) Happy, and B) Have already achieved success.

Forbes called Customer Success “The Best Kept Secret of Hyper-Growth Startups” – an article that begins with an even more impressive number, supplied by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin: “Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is.”

But what is success, exactly? Is it satisfaction? Is it happiness? Is it something else entirely? To answer that question, we turn to Lincoln Murphy, the man who coined the phrase “Customer Success” in the first place, and then spent roughly 6300 words defining it. Surprisingly, it’s not an eBook. It’s a blog post. One that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Customer Success in SaaS – and then some. Read Customer Success: The Definitive Guide here. Highlights include:

Customer Success has its roots in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) world and my original definition was very much SaaS-centric.

But since then, companies that are not SaaS, or even technology companies at all, have recognized the transformative power of Customer Success and embraced it as their new operating model.

If you aren’t familiar with exactly how Customer Success is transformative, I’ll lay that out for you below in great detail in this guide.

Simply put; No Customer Success = No Your Success.

If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering “Well, okay then – how do I start?” I’ve written a few thousand words on that topic myself, including: Customer Success for Dummies – What Every SaaS Startup Founder Should Know, with sections like “how customer success works, with real, actionable tips.”

It’s the real, actionable tips that are missing from many discussions about Customer Success. The one you have to begin with, however, is this:

Identify your ideal customer.

This is where Customer Success and Customer Development come together, because both require that you answer the same essential questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • Why are they here?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?

You can read more about the intersections of Success and Development here.

From there, you have to take a long, hard look at your product to find out where Success Gaps may exist that you need to bridge. A Success Gap is the space between what your product does, and what your ideal client needs to accomplish. For example, if your SaaS product handles mass email communications – your customer’s success isn’t sending those emails, it’s in their open rates. To fill that Success Gap and ensure that your client is achieving his or her desired outcome, you might want to host a webinar on writing email titles that guarantee higher open rates.

Get it? Not quite? Don’t worry, Lincoln Murphy is ready and waiting to explain why the Success Gap is “A Huge Opportunity You Haven’t Considered.”

Now that you’ve identified your ideal customer and uncovered potential Success Gaps, it’s time to create Success Milestones.

As a wise manager once said: What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.

These Milestones should, ideally, be built into your app so that users can track their own successes (and your sales team and/or success team can keep tabs on their progress as well). Typically though, companies get this backwards.

If you think Success Milestones look like this…

Trial Sale Onboarding Use Upsell Renewal

We need to talk.

Those are YOUR milestones! They track your success, not your customers’! Each of your customers might have their own set of Milestones, and it’s your job to ensure they can track their progress towards reaching them, whatever they may be.

Even if it’s:

Buy product Send emails people love in less time Get home in time for daughter’s soccer game

If you’re still confused as to exactly how this tracking works, Jason Lemkin explains “Client Success owns the customer from point of inception (sometimes pre-close) all the way through the entire life and lifecycle of the customer. Sales closes the customer, and Customer (or Client) Success takes it from there.” Considering Jason Lemkin founded and grew EchoSign within a scant few years, it’s advice well worth heeding.

Need the Cliff’s Notes version? Totango claims to have developed “The Simplest Guide you will ever Find” to Customer Success. I think they may be right. In 12 slides, they take you from what the Customer Success process should look like, what trouble signs to look for, and how to maximize Lifetime Value.

If you still have to sell the idea to the Higher-Ups, you’ll need one more link: The Real ROI of Customer Success Management: Expanded Revenue, Preserved Revenue, and New Bookings. Alternately, you could sell it as a new and improved marketing program.

Here are a few fun catchphrases to use in your pitch meeting from Gainsight’s Why Customer Success is the New Marketing.

“triple digit retention numbers”

“turning customers into advocates and creating new revenue streams”

And, “These numbers tell us that building a marketing program around customer success is arguably more profitable than acquisition programs for mature businesses. In fact, the data shows that it’s a 5x more cost- effective use of your time.”

It’s compelling stuff. Once you understand what Customer Success is, and what it can do for your business, it’s hard not to love it. After all, when you do it right, your customers will love you.


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

Customer Success, Tools

The Customer Success Toolkit – And Why We Shouldn’t Even Call it That ft. @LincolnMurphy

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Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When discussing tools for Customer Success, let’s first address the elephant in the room: Way too many companies approach Customer Success from a tool-first perspective. If you look at Customer Success like it’s something that can be accomplished with the right “stack,” you’re missing the most important part of the picture.

The tools will help you manage Customer Success, but it’s more of a philosophy – one that belongs in the very DNA of your business. For an outstanding definition of everything Customer Success is, and can be, read The Definitive Guide.

As of now, Gainsight is the leader in the very new space of Customer Success Management. The company’s tagline is “The Customer Success Company,” promising reduced churn, more up-sells, and more sales in general. Big claims, but it delivers.

Customers are deeply impressed by Gainsight’s ability to predict churn and help them reach out to customers at just the right times. These genuinely actionable insights come from analyzing several data sources, including product usage, support, billing, as well as marketing and survey data. Then, out of this primordial soup of numbers, Gainsight forms analytics and workflows so customer success teams know what’s happening – and what they should do about it.

This last detail is what has boosted Gainsight into its leading status. As Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight says,

“Lots of systems can analyze data and present dashboards; but what do you do with that? How do you ensure all CSMs are working with customers in the same way? From a consistent customer experience to onboarding CSMs, this centralized workflow system powered by customer ‘insights’ is so powerful.”

Gainsight makes it possible to operationalize a rather complex process in ways other products in the category don’t. But with a little elbow grease and the right tools, you can build a customer success stack.

But first, a question: What type of Customer Success do you want to embrace? Lincoln Murphy puts people who say they want customer success into two camps.

“‘Customer Success’ is either a handful of tactics you use to save customers who might churn out… or it’s a high-level strategy used to accelerate and sustain growth over the long-term regardless of market conditions. Customer Success is just glorified Support with some Account Management (Quotas!) thrown in, or it’s a total shift in how you view – and profit from – your relationship with the Customer. Hint: If you’re not looking at it as a high-level strategy, you’re doing it wrong.

If Customer Success really is as important to a business as people say it is – and I believe it’s actually much more important than most people say – than it needs to be operationalized at least as well as other parts of the business. You can’t afford to buy a real Customer Success Management solution? I’d say, you can’t afford not to.

You can't afford to buy a real Customer Success Management solution? You can't afford not to. - Lincoln Murphy Click To Tweet

Are you ready for a change in the paradigm of how you view your business in relation to your customers? Or are you just looking for a new term to boost the morale of your customer service department, or maybe a new way to talk to your sales team about up-sells? These tools will help you do that too – but, from personal experience, I can tell you: Customers can tell the difference. They sense it when their interests are truly your own. They also feel it when you’re out for yourself first.

Customers sense it when their interests are truly your own. They also know when you’re out for yourself first. Click To Tweet

To truly reap the rewards of a customer success program, the end result should be vibrant, active, energized customer advocacy of your product – and that can only happen when the relationships between you and your customers are based more in their successes than your own.

Here are the tools to make that happen.

The Customer Success Toolbox

(Not all of these tools are necessary, and many can be used with each other)

Customer Success Frameworks

Customer success starts with your ideal customer – if those last two words result in a vague mental image of a happy customer, you need this:

  • Ideal Customer Profile Framework – Your Ideal Customer Profile – ICP – dictates (or should dictate) everything from the features and functionality of the SaaS product you build, to the words you use and the emotion you invoke or tap into in your marketing.

Customer Communication

A huge part of customer success is actually talking to and connecting with your customers.

  • GoToMeeting – Work can happen anytime, anywhere. GoToMeeting with HD video conferencing is a simple yet powerful way to collaborate in real time.
  • Intercom – Intercom is one place for every team in an internet business to communicate with customers, personally, at scale—on your website, inside web and mobile apps, and by email.
  • Respondly – “Way to Tackle Twitter as a Team” Respondly keeps your team perfectly in sync on Twitter, so you can deliver support in a fraction of the time.
  • Talkus.io – Chat with your website users from Slack.

Vianney Lecroart, Founder at Talkus.io:

“We started Talkus with a blank page asking ourselves “Slack as a platform? So what would that look like – a help desk designed and created only for Slack?”

It’s a live chat + email helpdesk (phone and SMS support is in alpha) where you never have to leave Slack to talk with your users.

Basically, you have one Slack support channel where your support team is. It works like an email inbox (not like a chat). Each time you have a new request for chat or email, Talkus posts a sentence (ticket) in this channel and it updates the ticket when things happen (someone is handling the request, close the ticket and so on). So if the channel is empty, it means you have nothing to do (congrats!) and if it is full of tickets, good luck!

Here are a few nice things we have:

As you see here, we display users’ weather, location, and local time. It’s really useful to create very personal introduction like if it’s 4AM, “Hello John, how we could help you in the middle of the night?” or if it’s snowing, “Hello, made a snowman today?” You cannot imagine how happy people are when they receive personalized messages.

Since customer support teams never have to leave Slack to do support, it’s much faster to handle a new customer. Change channel, click and chat. The user is slow to answer? Just go back and you’ll receive a slack notification and CMD+K to switch again. No need to switch between your email ticket system, live chat system, Slack, and whatever else you have going on.

You can use all power Slack features. If you chat with a user who has a technical problem, just /invite your dev in the channel so he can directly help. You want to send a file? Just drop it in the channel. You can even use all other Slack integrations, like /giphy!”

Customer Health

How happy (and successful) are your customers with your product? Put your finger on customer pulse with these tools.

  • GoodData – Powered by advanced business intelligence tools and technology, the GoodData platform leads the industry in SaaS Business Intelligence.
  • Wootric – Measure Net Promoter Score inside your web application. It just got easier to improve your product, increase your promoters, and woo your customers.

Lisa Abbott, Director of Marketing at Wootric:

“Wootric is the in-app Net Promoter Score platform for boosting customer happiness. ‘In-app’ is important, because it is often the best way for SaaS businesses to engage with their customers. Our elegant survey delivers off-the-charts response rates (vs. email), and runs automatically for a constant pulse of rich, contextual feedback.

And, with our Javascript or SDK, it is a quick 5-minute install. No need to set up campaigns, or constantly update customer email lists. Our dashboard handles analytics and provides an easy way to close the loop with customers. This means teams can focus on aligning around their customer’s success, and do less NPS administration and number crunching.”

  • Totango – We help you know when your customers are ready to move to the next level, need a little more product coaching, or are doing just dandy.

Kaiser Mulla-Feroze, Chief Marketing Officer at Totango:

“Totango has a unique, differentiated way to manage customers based on a deep understanding of user engagement, service utilization levels, business results and ROI delivered to customers. Totango monitors customers much the same way a Fitbit monitors activity levels and vital signs. Totango’s software then goes a step further to help teams put in place action plans, best practice playbooks, and automated campaigns (e.g., a “get well” plan or an “up-sell” campaign) to improve customer health.”

Customer Support

Ideally, you’ll be able to catch problems before they rise to the level of a customer submitting a support ticket. For those times when you can’t…

  • Desk.com – Customer support software that makes customers happy.
  • Zendesk – Zendesk makes it easy to support customers when they need your help. Zendesk also makes it easy for them to help themselves when they don’t.

Customer Success Training

Because a crack-customer success team doesn’t happen by accident.

  • Learndot – Software that integrates with your existing systems that is designed to train customers to achieve success, fully branded and customized to attract and convert prospects.

Internal / Team Communication

Customer success is a team effort, and team efforts require some coordination.

  • Calendly – Say goodbye to playing phone and email tag for finding the perfect meeting time with Calendly.

Claire Suellentrop, General Manager at Calendly:

“Calendly is a scheduling tool that helps customer success teams scale their efforts and stay proactive. This looks different from team to team, but some of the biggest value-adds we’ve heard from our users include:

Making the onboarding process more efficient, since customer success specialists can offer regular group training calls to clients with similar needs

Giving customers a better experience, since they can book a support or training call at their convenience (no need to wait for confirmation of their proposed time or reach out only during office hours)

Freeing team members from phone and email tag, allowing them to run their day—not be run by it.”

  • Confluence – Create anything your team needs – meeting notes, product requirements, knowledge base articles – on the web so everyone can contribute.
  • Gmail – Google-owned, web-based email service.
  • Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Calendar, etc.) – An all-in-one suite to communicate, store and create.
  • JIRA – JIRA Software offers flexible issue and project tracking with best-in-class agile tooling for software teams.
  • Slack – Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
  • Targetprocess – Visually manage complex work and focus on the things that matter – Targetprocess gives the visibility and transparency you need across your organization. From Kanban and Scrum to almost any operational process, Targetprocess flexibly adapts to your management approach and organizational structure.

Alena Kuzniatsova, Marketing Director at Targetprocess:

“Targetprocess helps its customers to achieve success by enabling agility: you can use Targetprocess as a project management tool supporting any flavors of Scrum, Kanban and other Agile approaches and the tool adapts to your own processes and workflows. On top of that, Targetprocess is a visual tool which means it gives your superior visibility across projects, programs, teams and departments. The visibility is very important for understanding what is happening in your organization at each given moment and where you can improve. The remarkable flexibility and visibility provided by Targetprocess set it apart from other Agile project management tools.”

Analytics & Metrics

Data-driven doesn’t even begin to cover the importance of tracking data for customer success. These tools make it possible to see what your customers are doing, and where they might be failing.

  • Heap – Heap is web and mobile analytics that automatically captures everything. You can analyze data instantly and retroactively.

Lenny Eskin, Head of Demand Generation at Heap:

“Heap is a new approach to analytics. Whereas other analytics tools require manual tracking code, Heap automatically collects all user interactions such as clicks, form submissions, page views, etc. This lets people get the business insights they need instantly and retroactively, without writing any code. Anyone in an organization can use data to drive their decisions.

Customer Success teams can use Heap to better understand user churn and engagement. Heap provides insights into retention over time, indicators that help predict churn, and potential up-sell opportunities. Every granular detail on a user’s activity is available, which lets Customer Success teams flexibly segment users to truly understand what keeps them engaged.”

  • ChartMogul – Reporting and analytics designed for SaaS and subscription businesses.

Ed Shelley, Direct of Content at ChartMogul

ChartMogul allows subscription businesses to go far beyond simple metrics and reporting. Our powerful set of tools such as Segmentation mean that you can access much deeper insights into your subscription revenue, leading to more informed decisions towards the rapid growth of your business.

Customer Success executives use ChartMogul to give a laser focus to their efforts. Churn analysis tools like Cohorts identify trends and critical periods for customer churn, whilst Segmentation unlocks a range of Customer Success-specific views of the data – for example, correlating product engagement with churn rate.”

  • Popcorn Metrics – Tag and send user events to mixpanel, KISSmetrics, google, Intercom.io, Customer.io, Trak.io, Segment.io (…) without needing developers.  

Paul Boyce, Founder of Popcorn Metrics:

“If there’s one key lesson I wanted to share, it’s this: Build your customer onboarding process with the single goal of helping users become successful in their job, help make it easy for them, and if you can do that – then they’ll become your customer as a natural consequence. Even better, you’ll have customers that you’ve invested time in and started building a trusting relationship that should last a long time – as both yours and their business grows.

Most of the value from event-based customer service tools (like Intercom.io, Mixpanel and Customer.io) depends on knowing what a user has done on your website – and typically that means needing IT to integrate the tools.  

Popcorn Metrics is unique because it replaces the need for developers, with a low-tech point-and-click service to capture and send user data, allowing Customer Success Managers the freedom to use their favorite Customer Success platforms without being constrained by IT resources.  

Rather than being just another metrics platform, Popcorn Metrics is built for Customer Success Managers to capture and send individual user behavior data to multiple Customer Success platforms. We push data to Mixpanel, Intercom.io, Customer.io, Segment.com, and more.” 

Subscription Management

So much of churn happens through failures to renew – in other words, poor subscription management. This tool makes that part easy.

  • Recurly – Subscription billing and recurring billing management. Recurly offers enterprise-class subscription billing for thousands of companies worldwide.
  • Chargify – Streamline your subscription management and recurring billing. Chargify offers tools proven to reduce churn, provide better customer support, and grow recurring revenue.

Adam Feber, Director of Marketing at Chargify:

“Chargify has been in the subscription management space for 7 years, and in that time, we have become experts at what features and functionality it takes to build and grow a successful subscription-based business. Outside of being easy to create your plans, integrate your website/app, and be up-and-running, we give all of your teams tools to succeed.

For example, sales and marketing can quickly spin up campaigns or apply discounts on the fly to close deals faster. Customer success can identify and engage with at-risk or past due accounts to reduce churn. Support can easily locate plan information and billing history, issue credits, process refunds, and make account changes. Management can understand the health the business through a variety of reports and analytics.

And most importantly, your company can scale without having to worry about building or maintaing proprietary code. This allows you to focus resources on serving your customers and growing your business.”

Up-sells & Cross-sells

Ah, the real meat and potatoes of what customer success has to offer. And these tools nail it.

  • Salesforce – Provides on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) software services to help companies with global customer communication.
    • ToutApp – (Records email communication into Salesforce.) ToutApp helps salespeople close more deals and increase productivity with the power of tracking, templates and analytics.

Integrate Your Toolbox

It’s always nice to have everything you need in one place.

  • Segment – Collect user data with one API and send it to hundreds of tools or a data warehouse. Tip: If you think you’ll be interested in investing in a full-blown CSM tool (like Gainsight) in the future, make sure you leverage other tools that have a Segment integration. Then when it’s time to invest in a CSM, Segment will easily integrate your data.

Diana Smith, Director of Marketing at Segment:

Most companies want to use a lot of tools to do different jobs: customer success, email marketing, advertising, analytics. Segment makes it easy to use all these tools without wasting needless time integrating them one by one. Plus, you’ll operate on a consistent dataset in each tool. Integrate Segment. Flip a switch to send data to every new service.

For example, you can use Segment to automatically start sending your website and app data to customer success tools like Gainsight, Preact, Client Success, and Intercom. Or, if you’re more of a DIY kinda gal, our Warehouses product gives you all of the data you need to understand what your customers are doing. You can create custom dashboards on top of your SQL instance showing everyone on an account, the last interactions they had in the product, their overall usage, the marketing channel they came from, and more.”

All-In-One

The full enchilada. All the bells and whistles. The product that practically created the customer success movement as we know it.

  • Gainsight – “The Customer Success company.”

Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight:

“When it comes to Customer Success Management, like any other part of the business, you need to be clear on what you’re doing before you select a tool, otherwise you end up shaping your strategy around the tool or selecting bad-fit tools that waste time, energy, and resources to move beyond. You need to have a clear Customer Success strategy, know how that strategy will play out across the customer lifecycle and organizationally, and know what success will look like for your Customer Success Management initiative.

Then you can – and should – operationalize by leveraging technology, and Gainsight is the only true Customer Success Management product on the market, that allows you to fully operationalize across the entire customer lifecycle, and across all customer segments (from very low-touch to super high-touch), from ensuring your customers are achieving their Desired Outcomes and triggering appropriate intervention if they aren’t (or if they could use more seats, add-ons, training, etc.), to ensuring your Customer Success Managers are all working from the same playbook and accurate customer information.”

Customer Success Stacks in Action

How do companies combine these tools in the real-world? I asked a few of my favorite startups to share their stacks.

Product Hunt

According to Ryan Hoover, Founder of Product Hunt, their Customer Success stack is a combination of Respondly and Intercom.

Unbounce

According to Tia Fomenoff, Customer Success Manager at Unbounce, their Customer Success stack is a combination of:

  • Intercom for auto-messages and looking up conversation history/general user data
  • Gmail for some personal inbound account questions
  • Calendly for customers to book meetings with us
  • Slack/Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Calendar, etc.) for team communication
  • Zendesk for ticket management and transparency
  • Recurly for customers’ subscription/billing management
  • Targetprocess for delivering feedback to our Product Team
  • and are just beginning to adopt Totango for customer health

ServiceRocket

According to Kendall Beckelhymer, Customer Success Manager at ServiceRocket, their Customer Success stack is a combination of:

  • Toutapp – Records email communication into Salesforce with my customers and allows me to set follow-up reminders that pop-up in my inbox.  Additionally, I can send out personalized email blasts on specific things that are of interest to all of my customers, like key new releases, events, etc.
  • Google Calendars/GoToMeeting – Most of my days are spent talking to customers either in-person or remotely. Google Calendars is my life and GoToMeeting is the tool we use for remote meetings.
  • Salesforce – To track upcoming renewals, up-sells and account status
  • Desk.com (hooked into SFDC) – This support channel which also pushes into SFDC so the CSM’s can get a single view on their accounts including escalated support tickets.
  • JIRA – To communicate with PM/Engineering team on bugs, new feature requests, etc.
  • Confluence – For internal collaboration and this is also where we host our externally facing documentation.
  • Google Drive – For collaboration with my customers.
  • Learndot  – Big fan of getting my hands dirty to solve problems, getting in our product and putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes is the way to do this. Our product Learndot allows customers to run successful training businesses. If business is good than this is an indicator of our team’s success as well. If business is not good then it’s important to discuss this with our customers as well to brainstorm on initiatives, integrations and features to leverage to move the needle.
  • GoodData – This gives great business analytics dashboards on the overall health of each account  

Proven 

According to Alex Bakula-Davis, Head of Customer Success and Sales at Proven, their Customer Success stack is a combination of:

  • For our CRM we went classic with Salesforce
  • For support we use Zendesk, Zopim (chat), and Yesware for email
  • Customer analytics / tracking we use a combination of Fullstory, Google Analytics, along with some home-made tools that have survived the test of time
  • For Customer Engagement and task management we use Totango
  • We use HubSpot for both customer education (blog posts, FAQs), and for reactivation campaigns (workflow emails for cancelled or dormant accounts)
  • Venngage for infographics (mostly for ROI or usage infographics)
  • Join.me for screen share
  • Last but not least, we use the phones! When in doubt, we try to call customers as we’ve found that it’s the best way to get to the problem, or proactively delight them.

Know your ideal customer. Communicate with your ideal customer. Understand what that customer wants, and track whether or not they’re getting it. Then, help them get more of it. These are the basic tenets of customer success, and when you’re a brand new company, you can achieve them with nothing more high-tech than a phone. But when your business grows, your customer success solutions have to scale with you. That’s when you need a stack of tools designed with your customer’s success in mind.


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Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

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