Artificial Intelligence, Customer Experience, SaaS

Blended AI will Improve Customer Experience (CX), But Keep It Human ft. @Wootric

“We believe that in 2018, the use of blended AI will help improve sales outcomes and reduce customer servicing costs. But, there are implications.” – Forrester

When it comes to delivering prompt, effective service to customers, human customer support agents have their limitations. For example, for all but the biggest multinational companies, customer service isn’t available 24/7. And even during regular working hours, the supply of sales people, customer success managers and support agents is finite, causing wait times, call abandonment, and dissatisfaction (in other words: bad customer experience).

Artificial Intelligence-powered technology is even more limited – even though it’s available 24/7, even the swiftest systems can’t handle anything more than simple or common inquiries (yet). And when was the last time you called customer service with a simple problem? Too many situations are unique. Try to have your problem solved by an algorithm, and even worse CX ensues.

But do you see what I see?

I see two puzzle pieces coming together. Two halves of a potential whole. Two wrongs making a right.

What if we blend them together?

Read More on Wootric
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Customer Success, Guest Posts, Retention, SaaS

How to Become Indispensable for Your Customers With Customer Success by @ritonium

This is a guest blog entry by Rita Theologi — Growth Agent at 24sessions ⚡ winter addict 💙 professional people watcher 🧐.

The other day I was in a meeting with our Customer Success team and the big question popped:

“How will we become indispensable for our customers?”

When it comes to Customer Success, your product is the means for your customers to achieve their desired outcome. The means, not the reason. What they need from you is to provide them with everything necessary to be successful and achieve this outcome.

Even though we did not reach to a solid answer – also I guess it’s different for every case anyway – there were lots of insights from all team members so I thought it might be interesting to share my thoughts and start a discussion. 😊

When it comes to Customer Success, your product is the means for your customers to achieve their desired outcome. The means, not the reason. Click To Tweet

Related resource: Nichole talks about Desired Outcome in depth in her Everyone Hates Marketers podcast on 4 Vital Things To Do Before Marketing Your New Startup:


So what does it mean to become indispensable?

We use a plethora of tools every day for different tasks and we tend to stick to certain ones. But it’s not necessarily because we can’t do without them. There are so many options for everything, after all. It’s because:

  •  We achieve our desired outcomes
  •  The product blends well with other solutions (ex: how Slack and Zapier integrate with other tools)
  •  The solution becomes a part of our routine

Of course this doesn’t mean we’ll use them eternally, but if a tool ticks all three it’s more likely to stick to it for longer even if a not-so-good experience comes along the way. 😊

So it’s not about becoming indispensable the traditional way but it’s more about your customers not giving up on you by choice.

How Customer Success comes into the frame

A Customer Success Manager is the mediator between product and customer and always leans a bit more on the customer’s side of things. In fact, a successful Customer Success Manager mainly focuses on how their customer will achieve what THEY, the customer, define as success. What’s more, for the latter it might be that this outcome has nothing to do with the product. The product is just a choice they make along the way. That simple.

The good news is that if your customer is successful with your tool, then they’ll become your advocates which is basically like your best salespeople, selling for you indirectly, with immediate results and no cost.

The checklist: does your product tick all three to be indispensable?

✔ Customers meet their desired outcomes

No matter how hard your try to improve your product and offer the best service out there, the real value will come from how it helps your customers achieve their goals. Does your product bring ROI? Do your customers save time and money in the long-term? Of course, building and implementing a customer success strategy is different for every company and there is no one-way road. The only thing that is the same is the end-result: it has to be what your customers use to achieve their desired outcome.

✔ It blends well with other solutions 

It’s essential for your solution to combine smoothly with your customer’s other tools without sacrificing efficiency. This is where a Customer Success Manager works closely with customers to make sure there is no friction. Even though sacrificing your product’s efficiency is a no-no, you may end up offering your customers only half of the capabilities of your product just because they only need half. But no worries. Just make sure it will bring them to number one above and in the future the ground will be set for upselling and expanding your services. 😊

✔ It becomes part of a routine

The more successful your customers will get (and you want them to get as successful as they can) the more concrete their process will be. As soon as your product becomes a steady part of that process your customers will feel comfortable enough to continue using it  and make it solid part of their pipeline. And that is exactly what you want. The more comfortable your customers feel with your product the more unlikely it is that they change a recipe of success.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Churn, Customer Success, Customer Support, Guest Posts, Onboarding, Retention, SaaS

The Most Valuable SaaS Customers Everyone Forgets by @lovevalgeisler

This is a guest blog entry by Val Geisler.

In the world of software, there’s a lot of talk about conversions. Everyone’s high on customer acquisition and lead gen and building a growth team and sales pipelines and ads managers and top-of-funnel and email list building, to name a few.

“Let’s give life to this customer base!” can be heard as the rally cry at sales team meetings around the world.

But there’s a way to grow your MRR without looking at new customers at all.

In fact, the most valuable customer you have is the one who you thought was dead.

Let’s talk through why cancelled customers are your greatest ally in the race to increasing MRR and how you can win them back… for life.

According to research from TARP Worldwide, it’s five times cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one.

And that goes for cancelled customers too.

Even better news?

I have a game plan you can use to win back those cancelled customers using three under-utilized retention strategies. But before we dive into that, let’s talk about the three kinds of customers to consider winning back (and the scary ones to steer clear of).

Vampires

Let a customer service team get to talking for just a little while and you’ll start to hear stories about customers who sent in dozens of tickets, made daily feature requests, cost the company hours (sometimes dozens and hundreds of hours) in support time, and eventually churned.

These customers are vampires.

They suck the life out of your team and then disappear.

As the founder of Teachery.co, Jason Zook has dealt with his fair share of vampire customers.

“Not all ‘real’ customers are ideal customers. There’s a lot to running a software company and doing customer support, while also running a sustainable business.”

Vampires are customers you can take a hard pass on. Unless they change their habits and come crawling back to you, there’s no need to go chasing after them.

Which brings us to…

Ghosts

As Director of Marketing at Animalz, Jimmy Daly is a time-strapped human with more things to get done in one day than any one person can handle.

So he signed up for TaskRabbit, a task completion service seemingly made for people like Jimmy.

Only problem was…. he was too busy to use it.

“I signed up for TaskRabbit last year, checked it out but never actually used the service. Until I do, I’m in limbo – a segment of users who has expressed interest in TaskRabbit but never really acted on it.”

Customers like Jimmy–those in limbo–should be celebrated. You’ve done the hard work of converting them from casual browser to interested signup. But just because they didn’t convert yet doesn’t mean they won’t ever convert.

As Jimmy said,

“The Internet is a busy place and it’s easy to get distracted.”

So what’s a marketer to do about those customers stuck in limbo?

Are they just ghosts who haunt us daily? Customers who might have been?

No.

While technically a segment of their own, your ghost customers can be a valuable resource in the fight against churn. They won’t impact your true churn numbers (that is, if you use a free trial) but they will impact your win-back rate. Just like…

Zombies

The walking dead, the un-dead, living dead… zombies go by many names (but they rarely say hello!)

And you have zombie customers lurking just around the corner.

They’re the customers who did convert to a paid account. Who were with you for a month, three months, 12 months, 2 years…

They loved your product at one time. But they left.

They’re still out there, the living dead, using another product or still searching for the right fit for them.

Why?

That’s what we need to find out.

Zombies, however can be immune to traditional communication.

Email overload and the onslaught of endless push notifications have made people nearly immune to re-engagement efforts, even if they like the product, but especially if they were “meh” about it in the first place. This noisiness means it’s getting harder and harder to successfully pull users back into your product to help them build a habit of regular usage1

So what’s a business owner to do?

Stand out.

Look, zombie customers are the very best customers you can try to win back. They are already familiar with the platform so they require little onboarding, they likely gave you clues as to how you can win them back, and they’re still out there, waiting to hear from you.

Reviving the un-dead isn’t an easy road, but it can be easier than creating a brand new customer.

Your Scariest Metric

The first thing you need to know to start reactivating already churned customers is what churn is for your business. While the basic formula for churn is always the same: Churn rate = # of customers lost in a period / # of customers at the beginning of the period.

(image courtesy of smile.io)

That period, for almost every purpose, should be Annual.

And SaaS churn rate experts talk often about the “good churn rate” of 7% Annual churn.

That translates to roughly 0.5% monthly churn.

According to Lincoln Murphy,

“This means companies with acceptable churn only lose about 1 out of every 200 customers (or dollars) per month. On the flip side, a high churn rate is the reason you ended [the year] with a whole bunch of new customers… but had about the same amount of revenue.”

And you want more revenue.

If it’s not already, churn will quickly become the top metric you’re discussing in your all-hands meetings. Your team will start to look at retention strategies–ways to keep existing customers happy and out of danger of churning.

Churn matters, yes.

You should care about it and be proactively working toward reducing it.

But how can you get on the offensive line? How can you put some of your team on defense (traditional retention strategies) and flip the script for your offensive line?

Those same retention strategies you use to keep existing customers can be repurposed for those cancelled customers you can still win back.

With that end goal in mind, here are the slight shifts you can make to those traditional retention strategies so that they win over your otherwise lost customers.

Hey, You!

It’s easy to look at managing your customer’s support tickets and feature requests as something you only do with current customers. It’s also easy to look at it as a “one and done” situation. Neil Patel’s retention strategy for support follow up takes a single instance and turns it into a world of care:

A typical service request and solution looks like this:

Customer: We have a problem.

Support Team: I’ve helped you. Have a nice day.

I recommend that you add another layer of follow-up to this process:

Customer: We have a problem.

Support Team: I’ve helped you. Have a nice day.

Bonus Follow-Up: Hey, we helped you a couple weeks ago. How are things going now? Anything else we can help with?

But what would happen if you did that same follow up months later?

“Hey, you submitted a feature request a few months ago when you were a customer of ours. Totally appreciate that you might have found a new solution for X in your business, but I wanted to let you know that we did build exactly what you requested. Here’s the run down and I’d be happy to share more if you’re interested.”

Reaching out to cancelled customers who submitted a feature request for something you’ve recently built can open the flood gates of “new” customers.

Let’s Make a Deal

Around the end of the year you can find inboxes stuffed with offers to “go annual and save!”. One last push to get customers to put the expense on this year’s taxes and lock them in for another year, huh?

And, sure, you’re thinking that you send the offer to your whole email list which contains customers who’ve cancelled so you’re covered, right?

Wrong.

Remember how zombies tend to be immune to traditional messaging?

You have to grab their attention and speak right to them.

So send those upsell emails to your current customers, sure. But draft an entirely separate message for your cancelled customers.

Tell them about product updates, position changes, or any other relevant–and exciting–detail.

Then make them an offer that matters.

The customer success experts at Groove found that upselling is a true power move, if you have the right offer and the right audience.

In the book Marketing Metrics, the authors share a fascinating finding from their research:

The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.

Check out this graphic for extra emphasis:

While you could argue that cancelled customers are not existing customers, they fall much closer to the Existing Customer than they do New Prospect. After all, they were a customer of yours at one time.

Speak directly to them, not to the masses, and they just might sit up and pay attention to your upsell.

Human With a Capital H

People love to talk about themselves. Ask someone what they’re working on or what inspires them or what they’re most passionate about and you’ll have a friend for life.

Caring about your customers seems obvious but, unfortunately, it’s not.

As a retention strategy, it pays off in dividends to get to know your customers, where they struggle with their business and/or your product.

An advocate for the human experience, Kevin Fontenot has an idea for growing SaaS companies:

While it might not be possible to get to every customer depending on how many users you have, it’s important to have those one-to-one conversations to improve your product and your retention rates.

But what about those cancelled customers?

Guess what? (just guess…)

It’s the same!

Send a message out to a selection of your cancelled customers. Get on the phone with them (Skype or Zoom is best so you can screenshare as needed). Spend actual time talking to actual human customers.

Don’t know where to start?

Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling:

About them:

  1. How would you describe your job title + role at work?
  2. What are you working on right now?
  3. What is the biggest problem you’re facing that keeps you awake at night?

About your product:

  1. What was happening in your world that led you to sign up for [product] previously?
  2. What happened during your trial that convinced you [product] was the right solution at that time?
  3. What were you skeptical or anxious about when you signed up? Is that what ultimately prevented you from using [product] long-term?

Take notes or record and then transcribe the conversation. Use some of the above tactics like following up with an offer (double tactic!). People like to be treated like people, not machines. Act accordingly.

If you’ve followed up with your cancelled customers, cared about their business, and given them a customized offer, you likely have won them back by now.

Keeping them around (again) is all in building the habit.

Build the Habit

James Clear, an expert in habit building with the research pieces to prove it, noted in one of his foundational articles on habits:

In his best-selling book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains a simple three-step process that all habits follow. This cycle, known as The Habit Loop, says that each habit consists of…

The Trigger: the event that starts the habit.

The Routine: the behavior that you perform, the habit itself.

The Reward: the benefit that is associated with the behavior.

The image below shows how these three factors work together to build new habits.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
This same cycle can be observed in a common copywriting technique called the Problem-Agitate-Solve formula.

Something happened.

Something else makes that thing stand out.

You get to a solution that rocks.

It’s everywhere from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey to nearly every movie, sitcom, and fiction book ever produced.

If Hollywood can profit off of getting people hooked, you can too.

And since humans are in the constant rat race of either chasing pleasure or avoiding pain, it’s natural that we develop habits around those things we find pleasurable.

Do you know what someone who was a customer before and is giving you a chance again will not find pleasurable?

The same onboarding they’ve already been through once.

Creating customized onboarding for your newly won-back customers can be a beautiful beginning to a restarted relationship.

At Appcues, Ty Mangin regularly waxes poetic about personalized onboarding (it is, after all, what Appcues does best). Ty says,

People will often have different use cases for your product that don’t easily correlate with their role or location. In these instances, giving users the option to choose how they want to get started will steer them in the right direction and minimize the chances of them getting lost in the product.

Coffee is For Closers

Of course, testing your efforts is the only way to know what works. And you should Always Be Testing.

Choose a segment of your cancelled customers and try a few of these techniques.

Record the results and then pick another segment. Find out what’s effective and go all in on that strategy.

Since we started out talking about churn, let’s wrap up with a new measure to check:

Your win-back rate.

Bring that growing number to your weekly all hands meetings. Talk about it in relation to your churn rate (you’re still implementing changes there, right? good.)

And then make sure those customers who came back to life stay that way.

The last thing the world needs is more zombies.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Customer Experience, Growth Hacking

CMOs: Don’t Get Replaced by a Growth Marketer in 2018 – Become One

What is “Growth Marketing” and why should CMOs be gunning for a job title change in 2018? It’s not just a shift in nomenclature, it’s filling an important success gap for both companies and consumers. In short – growth marketing is the future. Those who adapt fastest will be poised to succeed, while those who don’t may find their jobs on the line. The stakes are high.

Why the shift? It all hinges upon Customer Experience (CX).

According to a recent report, Forrester predicts:

“30% of companies will see further declines in CX quality and lose a point of growth” in 2018.

Do you smell blood in the water? Because we do. When growth slows, CEOs look to CMOs to fix it – and if they can’t, they’ll find someone who can: A Growth Marketer.

Read More on Wootric
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Customer Development, Customer Success, Language-Market Fit, SaaS, Startups

How to Nail the First Step to Scalable B2B SaaS Growth: Customer Research

By Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré & Trevor Hatfield

We’re in the midst of writing our SaaS Growth Playbook – a zero bullshit, actionable guide to growing SaaS businesses that are set up to scale from the start. It’s an ambitious undertaking, because so much has been written about this. Really great books like The Startup Owner’s Manual (currently highlighted and bookmarked past recognition on our desks), The Lean Startup and Lean Analytics, Value Proposition Design, and that whole “Jobs to be Done” thing? Is that a book yet? Because it seems like every founder we’ve spoken with in the last two months can’t stop talking about it.

Yes, there are a lot of good ideas out there. Great ideas, even. But that’s the thing. There are so many ideas. What we’re doing is taking the ideas we know work – because we’ve seen them work time and again in real businesses we’ve consulted for – and explaining them clearly, quickly and actionably. With zero fluff – because ain’t nobody got time for that.

At the core of all of these methodologies (and what we’re writing) is this:

Getting to know your customer really, really well.

And that is hard. For any size business. It’s as hard as it is vitally important, because everything you do, from developing your product, to marketing your product, to creating a brand that drives customers to you – it all starts here.

So few startups get this right.

And established companies? They get this wrong all the time.

Take Campbell’s Soup, for example. Few brands are as established as Campbell’s Soup. That red and white label, immortalized by Andy Warhol no less, is iconic. And they ditched it. Recently (you may have noticed?).

They completely rebranded their labels in an effort to appeal to their new target audience: Millennial moms. So they took inspiration from Pinterest and Tumblr and made these really weird microwavable packets with faces on them.

Weird, right? But that’s what companies do when they want to be “hip” without actually asking the people they’re trying to be “hip” for what they want.

It turns out, Tumblr-like labels didn’t hit the mark. What Millennial moms really wanted was a change inside the can. Clean, whole ingredients. Once Campbell’s realized that, it changed their marketing entirely and the result was refreshingly relevant.

Now, most of us don’t have Campbell’s Soup kind of money. But we can all aspire to do customer research before investing in a re-brand – right folks?

That’s what this is about. Saving money by doing the hard thing first – talking to your customers to find out what they want.

But first, you have to define who, exactly, you need to talk to.

And that starts by developing a hypothesis.

The Hypothetical Customer

“I think my customers are ________. The problem they have that I can solve is _________.”

Go ahead, take a stab at it.

“I think my customers are SaaS founders. The problem they have that I can solve is too much conflicting information and no guarantee that the pages filling up their bookshelves actually work.”

That is our working hypothesis for our book.

If you have a few types of customers you intend to serve, come up with a hypothesis for each segment.

This is the easy part! You’ve created or at least ideated your company with a customer and solution in mind. Now comes the hard part: Validating your hypothesis, or chucking it into the bin.

Most books spend hundreds of pages circling around this topic. We know, we’ve highlighted the good stuff. But what it comes down to is this.

  • List everyone you know who falls into the category of customer you’ve just described. List everyone you don’t know personally, but seem like they would fall into the category of customer you’ve just described. See if you can come up with a list of 20 people.
  • Now, email each of those people and ask to set up a 15 minute call. Or, if they’re local, you can sit down with them in person and buy them a cup of coffee. Make it clear you’re not selling anything, and that you value their expertise and time. And, if you’re shy about asking for a favor, thank them with a Starbucks gift card or trade some of your expertise and time. Reciprocity isn’t just a marketing hack – it’s important in all stages of business.
  • Ask them these three things:
  1. What jobs do you need to do around [what your industry/product/problem is]? Have them walk you through their process and record the exact words they use. For example, if you’re selling an HR solution that helps companies hire qualified people faster online (shoutout to Vervoe!), the tasks a business owner, manager or HR person need to do is create a job posting, sort through resumes, figure out interview questions, and spend hours interviewing people.
  2. What’s hard about those jobs? Let them rant about how hard they work and what grinds their gears, how they’ve failed or got outcomes they didn’t want. Record everything.
  3. If those issues were magically solved – what do they love about their jobs? What would they love about their lives? What would solving that problem allow them to do with that time instead?

Sure, there are a million and more questions you could ask – but these three focus on what jobs these customers need to do, what their pain points are surrounding those jobs, and what their ideal outcomes are.

We’re using a little of the Startup Owner’s Manual, a little Lean, a little Jobs to be Done, a dash of Customer Success – and a lot of experience here.

The answers you gain will start to show you some truths about your hypotheses.

  • You’ll start to see that some kind of ‘ideal customers’ are more ideal than others.
  • You’ll check whether the problems they have match the problems you think they have.
  • You’ll compare the language you use to describe those jobs and problems with the language they use.
  • And you’ll uncover insights you can’t even begin to guess at right now.

You may have to go back to the drawing board and re-write your ideal customer hypothesis – and that’s okay. It’s progress.

And you’ll definitely come away with language you can use for marketing – it’s one of the most valuables takeaways of this exercise.

Don’t be Lazy

Why can’t you just send a survey? Hey, that’s the reaction of most founders, too. Really. If we all agreed to just keep things simple by communicating via text message and Slack, we’d have more time for everything else. But believe us when we say: You need to hear their words.

In person, if possible.

Yes, it takes time and it’s nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. But it’s worth it. People will not tell you on a survey what they will say to your face. They won’t even tell an employee of yours the same thing they’ll tell you, the founder. With an actual conversation, you’ll be able to ask in-the-moment follow-up questions, listen to the tone of their answers and put their words into an emotional context, and most importantly – you’ll be starting a relationship with potentially ideal customers who might become your first customers. Your best customers. Customers that will adopt early and advocate for you.

All of this comes from person-to-person communication. You can’t survey it away.

Keep it Short

A few rules for polite customer research:

  • Keep it short – stick to 15 or 20 minutes. It’s enough to get deep information without scaring people away.
  • Make sure every question you ask is actionable – as in, if you don’t plan to act on the information you get, don’t waste time asking the question.
  • Avoid yes/no questions. The goal is to get voice-of-customer data, which means you need to let them speak and not put words into their mouths.
  • Don’t take anything personally. These people want solutions to their problems, and maybe you have them, but even if you don’t, they’re giving you valuable feedback.
  • Show appreciation somehow. This doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but it should be personal and helpful.

Sort Your Answer Pile

In the course of customer research, you’ll speak with people who may have seemed like ideal customers at first, but then clearly were not.

And others who aren’t so clear. They could go either way.

The answers you need most are the ones from your ideal clients, and to make sure you’re sorting the Ideals from the Non-Ideals accurately, ask yourself this:

  • If I gave this person my product/service/solution, could they successfully use it to reach their ideal outcomes.

This is a Customer Success approach that I really like because it sets you up to work with people who are primed and ready to love your product (and tell their friends about it). It’s also a way to avoid The Product Death Cycle of customer churn, panic, product changes and bankruptcy.

Success Potential relies on several different types of “fit” that the customer has to have to be able to use your product/service and reach their ideal outcomes. Types of fit include:

  • Technical – They have or can get the right technology to use your product.
  • Functional – Your product offers the features the customer needs to achieve their ideal outcome.
  • Resource – They have the time, money or manpower to use your product.
  • Competence – They know or can learn what they need to know to be successful with your product.
  • Cultural – They share your core values, without which you wouldn’t work well together.
  • Experience – You are able to deliver your product in the way they need to succeed, like having a Customer Success agent assigned to them if they need a high-touch approach, or clear in-app walkthroughs if they prefer to DIY. It’s about providing an appropriate experience that gives them support, in the way they need to be supported, to succeed.

There are other types of fit too, and you should feel free to build your own list and keep adding to it as you grow. Understanding fit now will go a long way towards preventing churn, and understanding churn when it happens.

You’ll be returning to your customers for feedback again and again – and if you don’t know which customers to ask, that feedback can get you into trouble! That’s why we’re spending a lot of time on laying the foundations that are so important to building a sustainable, scalable business. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you know – it’s who you know, and how well you know them.


Take the growth out of guesswork and get our Playbook to Grow Your Saas Business With Your Customers.

Customer Experience, SaaS

Tips on Improving Customer Experience from Six CX Experts [Roundup]

Why is Customer Experience becoming the primary way companies differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market? How does CX pave the way for growth? How do you measure it accurately (and actionably) – and how can you leverage customer feedback for happier customers, more referrals, and more sales?

I asked all of these questions and more of CX experts at the top of their field – and their answers will inspire you.

Customer Experience Experts on Growth

Customer Experience is inextricably linked to growth – when you give the customers not only what they want, but also what they need in a way that leaves a positive impression, you’re making an investment sure to pay dividends.

“Customer experience drives growth. Data supports this fact. Forrester showed that CX leaders, on average, grow more than 5x faster than CX laggards. The companies that have made CX a priority focus on understanding the customer’s needs and wants and spend a lot of time understanding the journey a customer takes. They ensure the customer voice is heard (either through direct interviews or other opportunities to provide feedback) at each touch point of the customer journey, make sure actionable insights from feedback gets back into processes and close the loop with customers to advise them of the actions they took. They do this because they understand the post-purchase phase of the customer lifecycle is where growth occurs.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

Customer Experience Experts on Tracking CX Metrics

What’s the best way to improve the experiences your customers are having? Opinions differ, even among experts, but everyone agrees that what gets measured gets done.

“An organization should have many tools available to them and not lean on any one of them too heavily. They should look at a combination of CES, NPS, CSAT, loyalty, and emotions metrics. In addition, measurement shouldn’t be taken in a vacuum. Testing and analysis should occur regularly and consistently so you can view trends and then take deep dives to determine the reasons the trends are what they are. This will help you improve your CX performance.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“If you want to get started with measuring and improving customer experience, I recommend you begin by tracking Net Promoter Score. You’ll get a metric that everyone in the company can rally around improving, and the rich feedback you get from customers will give you guidance on how to do it.  Over time you can build a sophisticated customer feedback strategy that incorporates a number of CX metrics, but I advise that you get the ball rolling as soon as possible. There are a number of low cost/no-cost SaaS platforms out there, including Wootric, that can get you started quickly.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

The Net Promoter System is the most effective way to gauge customer experience at scale. The better your customer experience, the more likely your customers will be brand enthusiasts or promoters. And the more promoters you have, the higher your Net Promoter Score will be.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

The social media sites that have perfected the art of public reviews are the best customer experience gauges available.  Yelp is a great example for the service industry, Capterra is a grand example for the software industry.  Monitoring those channels is a passive way to manage these gauges.  If you want quality, meaningful results, you will have to intentionally drive customer traffic to those platforms. Be brave. Invite them to be honest.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

Customer Experience Experts on Retention

Sure, you can keep customers even if you provide a lackluster experience – if you’re the only game in town. But with competitors coming out of the woodwork, nobody has any market cornered for long. Offering superior CX is the only way to win the kind of loyalty that becomes the mortar paving the road to retention.

“I spend a lot of time with SaaS startup clients whose number-one goal is to improve recurring revenue. What I’m really excited about is a lot of my early stage startup clients are eager to put CX in place now so they are ready for when they scale. They know how vital CX is to corporate growth.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“Customer experience is one of the two core pillars of customer retention — the thing is, you can’t grow if your customers don’t stick around. Keeping customers around is harder than ever—and delivering an unparalleled customer experience is the only way to win. Today, companies must curate a timely, relevant, and personalized customer journey, nail customer support, and take advantage of every opportunity to surprise and delight.” – Jes Kirkwood, Former Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

Efforts toward retention should start early in the customer relationship. At Wootric, we ask our customers the Customer Effort Scorequestion to get feedback on our onboarding process. When we don’t get top marks, we get an opportunity to make things right with the customer immediately and get back on track. All because we reached out and proactively asked for feedback early on.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

Customer Experience Experts on Leveraging Emotion

Emotion is a vital, yet often underappreciated, component of decision-making – but CX experts know that winning minds isn’t enough. Customer Experience is a game of winning hearts.

“In my experience working in varying industries, customer trust is a byproduct of an amazing customer experience. Whether it’s helping them with a purchase or teaching them how to use software; the make or break is how they feel when they walk away from you. If they walk away with complete trust, that type of experience translates to growth.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

“We’ve found that it’s often the accumulation of small annoyances that does the most damage to a customer’s perception of a brand and their loyalty as a purchaser. Frustration metrics (things like rage clicks, error clicks and form abandonment) are a great way to quickly spot and fix major things that are actively blocking customers from achieving their goalsand/or contributing to an overall negative experience.” – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“As a Product Designer, I understand that even more than having a great graphic design and program, the product needs to generate an experience that connects customers emotionally with your brand/service/product. Meaningful relationships are created by strong experiences. It’s how customers become allies for the marketing team for both referrals and acquisition.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

Customer Experience Experts on The Future

CX is a quickly-evolving field as new technologies make it easier to create better experiences, track those experiences, and leverage those experiences into engines for retention and growth. What does the near future hold – and what do you need to do to stay on top of the wave?

“I believe that CX will only become more important as it gets easier for newer, more nimble companies to disrupt larger slower companies. Technology will continue to get better at helping companies quickly and easily see where they’re letting down their customers – like causing them frustration and anger, complicating their progress toward their own goals, and missing opportunities to surprise and delight.” – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“Right now brands are inundated with CX feedback–social, surveys, support tickets–and it’s all over the place. Companies that take a systematic approach to aggregating and analyzing all of that Voice of the Customer data in one place will have a competitive advantage.  AI–in this case a combination of machine learning and natural language processing–is making it possible to glean insights from those thousands of qualitative comments.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

“Companies will need to focus on two areas: 1) Creating consistent omnichannel experiences that cover digital. CX tends to be fragmented which hurts customers and companies. A better approach is to create a consistent experience across channels, and companies miss the boat on digital because they have gaps in their technology. Companies should focus on setting up a strong technological foundation which encompasses the entire customer journey 2) Investing in AI. While current AI applications include chatbots for many tasks (Facebook Messenger currently has over 100,000 chatbots), a common application is to use AI for lower level customer service tasks. At more advanced stages, AI will be invaluable to CX in predicting sales and service behaviors and in augmenting engagement, to name a few.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“As technology continues to evolve, customer expectations will continue to rise. Delivering a hyper-targeted, personalized customer journey will become standard practice—customers won’t accept anything less. Creative marketers will find unique ways to surprise and delight, setting the bar even higher. Any companies that are already falling behind will struggle to keep up.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

“The challenge I have here, in a behavioral health company, is to discover and solve customer issues before they realize it themselves. I also see a need for increased availability – even offline – for when customers need emotional support, which we can do by being proactive using AI and passive data.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

A lot of companies are turning toward value-added membership campaigns. I personally feel these first round of loyalty driven offerings are based too much on the fear of losing market share, less on value added that builds and increases the trust of the consumer. The evolution of CX will force many companies that want to be successful to bite the bullet and put their money where their mouth is. The good news is, the future is bright for the consumer.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support  / SaaS Consultant

Experts Agree: The Future is About Using Technology to Serve Customers Better

From customer success goals to metrics that measure emotion, to carefully planned and tracked customer journeys, Customer Experience reaches into every aspect of how companies relate to their customers. You can look at CX as the end result of how business decisions ultimately affect customers, or you can look at CX as the guiding light that becomes a company-wide compass for customer-facing decisions. Either way, it’s clear: To survive and grow, today’s businesses have align behind the customer experience.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Diversity, Growth Hacking, Podcasts, Product Management, SaaS, Startups

#EveryoneHatesMarketers: 4 Vital Things To Do Before Marketing Your New Startup [Podcast]

“Today I’m joined by my guest Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, an esteemed SaaS consultant, customer service evangelist, writer and community moderator. Her work has been featured in leading industry media such as HubSpot, Moz, Copy Hackers, Forbes, Canva and more.

Nichole is going to walk us through the four things you need to do before you can start marketing your startup or new business. Founders tend to skip the basics of marketing foundations, and this crucial step can make or break your business. Listen in for Nichole’s four most important pre-marketing initiatives that you need to know for your startup or to refresh the marketing of an existing business.”

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of marketing foundations
  • Growth hacking pitfalls
  • Customer development work
  • Resources to identify ideal customers
  • Creating your first value proposition
  • Filling success gaps
  • Recommended reading

Transcript on Everyone Hates Marketers


Take the growth out of guesswork and get our Playbook to Grow Your Saas Business With Your Customers.

Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

11 Ways to Check Customer Fit for Customer Success

“You know, I’m on the fence for how much you’d benefit from this” – This was the response to an inquiry I sent yesterday to a woman selling a business development course. See, compared to her target audience, I’m a little ahead of the game when it comes to things like identifying my ideal customer, defining my value proposition and honing my messaging to attract and convert. Okay, okay, I could be teaching the business course – but this woman had a different approach and her marketing had been impressively spot-on. I thought I could learn something from her. And her honest response impressed me even more.

Even if I don’t need the course – I will be recommending it to my friends who are at different stages of building their businesses.

Because that is the power of establishing fit – even when you have to tell someone they’re not a good fit.

That business coach was more interested in ensuring that her clients would succeed than in selling another seat in her class. Which makes sense, because her marketing heavily relies on social proof (testimonials from past successful students) and she wouldn’t have those testimonials if she didn’t carefully select students with…

Success potential.

Is she losing money by telling me I’m not a good fit? No. She’s laying the foundation to make even more money, with less effort, by only working with clients who need exactly what she offers.

Now, multiply this story about a million times when it comes to SaaS, because that is where finding customers who are the right fit for what you provide can make or break your company – fast.

If the shoe doesn’t fit… ‘break it in’ and get blisters? (Uh…no)

When we talk about fit, it’s often in the context of company culture – a term co-opted by HR to find employees most likely to do well. You might say, HR uses cultural fit as a tool to predict the success potential of job applicants.

If we start to use fit as a predictor of success potential in general, however, new avenues open up, especially when it comes to identifying the right customers for your product – the ones who’ll use it, love it, and advocate for it. Yes, we are talking about product-market fit, but not in the way you’ve read about it before. We are going to break it down into all the ways a customer must fit to get the best results, and yield the highest lifetime value.

Read More on Appcues
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Community, Content Marketing, Curation, Guest Posts, Tools

Six Underrated Ways For Startups To Curate Great Content by @TheCoolestCool

One of the keys to great content marketing is the ability to curate great content. Click To Tweet

There are myriad approaches to content curation, from leveraging Facebook and Twitter to using tools created specifically for content curation. Some strategies, like trolling your LinkedIn feed, are old hat; others are still relatively unknown and underrated.

Let’s fix that. I’ve taken the time to write up six underrated ways for your startup to curate great content that your competition is likely ignoring.

But first…

I want to ensure that you understand the role of content curation and what it means. In my ultimate guide to content curation I describe the process as follows:

“Content curation is the act of finding information and resources that your audience would find value in and sharing it through appropriate marketing channels.”

The important thing to note about curation is that it is not content creation. (I’ve also written an article that outlines the differences between curation and creation and why both play important roles in the content marketing mix.)

You see, content creation is like the role of an artist, while content curation is like the role of an art gallery—one creates the art, the other determines which pieces to display. This difference often leads startups to undervalue content curation when in reality it can play just as big a role in driving results.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Let’s talk about some of those underrated content curation ideas that could give you an edge over the competition:

Finesse Your Facebook Searches

Facebook is a staple in content curation, with thousands of content marketers flocking to the site to find hot topics and trending articles in their industries. But you can optimize your curation process by making a tiny tweak to the way you search for content.

How so?

Instead of doing a Facebook search and browsing the first results that pop up, do your search and then click “Links” at the top:

It’s as simple as that. By finessing your search, you’ll get results from relevant, share-worthy sources instead of photos and memes. In the example above, I searched for Bitcoin-related content and sorted the results by Links rather than People, Posts, Videos or Pages. As a result, I got articles from top sites like Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal.

Some marketers undervalue Facebook search, but I’m a believer that it could eventually give Google and Bing a run for their money. But that’s a topic for another blog post. 😉

Search Hot Topics On Reddit

Reddit has always been the ugly duckling of the content curation world—and the marketing world as a whole. The site can be confusing at first, and there are a lot of incorrect assumptions flying around about its marketing potential.

But when used correctly, Reddit can give you the edge on your competition. You see, most people think Reddit is simply a place to upload a handful of memes, submit links to their website, run a few ads, and hope you’ll be successful. In reality, the world of Reddit marketing is a lot more complex.

For starters, Redditors hate marketing. As a Redditor myself, I can tell you that I’m 100% with the folks who hate marketing, because most marketers who use Reddit to promote their brands do so really, really badly.

Which is why I’m a huge advocate of two simple steps when it comes to curation:

  1. Understand the community’s interests
  2. Look for content that is on the rise or already popular

To start this process, visit a subreddit and sort the content by top posts, which will help you understand what your audience wants. For example, if you dive into the subreddit /r/Futurology and sort by top posts, you’ll see this:

Now, ignoring the ad at the top, those first three posts are quite interesting if you want to connect with people who are passionate about the future. To me, these results present three obvious opportunities: (1) share these exact articles, (2) visit their source websites (Vox, Inverse) to find more content worth sharing, and (3) look for articles on these topics and brands (clearly Google should be on your radar).

Another way to leverage Reddit as a curation source is to ask Redditors straight up: Where do you find your best content? What are the best newsletters for someone interested in XYZ to subscribe to? Podcasts? Blogs? You get the idea… You might be surprised how helpful communities are to people simply looking for resources.

Subscribe To Industry Newsletters

Just like a magazine subscription, an industry newsletter subscription delivers niche content straight to your inbox. Once you’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters that are relevant to you and your audience, you’ll be regularly receiving articles to share on your social networks.

The key to leveraging industry newsletters as a content curation tactic is finding a few that aren’t necessarily subscribed to by the masses. Look for industry newsletters with fewer than 1,000 subscribers so there’s less of a chance that your audience is already receiving their content.  

Use Existing Content Curation Tools

Content curation tools have recently blown up, and rightfully so. These tools make it 10 times easier to discover and distribute content that your audience would find interesting.

Tools like Crate allow you to find and share content within minutes. By uploading a handful of relevant keywords, you’ll get a feed filled with content to add to your Buffer queue or send out in a newsletter.

Scoop.it is another great curation tool that you can use to quickly and effectively curate your content. Scoop.it is a free site where users can gather information about any topic they want—think Pinterest, but for industry professionals.

Want more? Here’s a list of my favorite content curation tools for your curation toolkit.

Find Goodreads in Slack Communities

Slack communities are filled with passionate people discussing everything from the latest tech to last night’s football game. That means these communities are a great place to find interesting content on just about any topic.

In many Slack communities, there’s a channel dedicated solely to goodreads, making it easy for you to find content worth sharing on your own networks. To take it a step further, some communities even have channels where members are asked to share their content. While this isn’t a thing in all communities, if you can find one where people are encouraged to #ShamelessPlug, why not leverage this opportunity to find content for sharing—and to share your own content?

Dive Into Your Niche In Industry Forums & Communities

Yes, I know that forums and online bulletin boards are straight out of the ’90s, but I’m here to tell you that they are just as relevant today as they were back then. In fact, it’s possible that they’re even more relevant now—because they are more focused.

Passionate people talking about their passions with other passionate people. That’s the best and only way to describe the current landscape of online industry forums.

As such, they’re gold mines for new content—after all, they are filled with people sharing content assets that they believe others LIKE THEM will find interesting.

So if you’re targeting chefs, why not join a forum for chefs and see what they’re sharing with one another? If you’re targeting small business owners, it only makes sense to join a small business forum and see what type of content they’re sharing.

If you want concrete examples, take a close look at Inbound, Designer News, Hacker News and GrowthHackers—all communities that marketers and startups often rely on to find interesting content. Here’s the rundown of what each site is all about:

And trust me when I say this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forums you can leverage for content curation.

Curation Isn’t Easy. But It Doesn’t Have To Be Draining.

Take this list of underrated content curation resources and go uncover some awesome content to share with your audience. Ideally, you’ll end up with a consistent stream of content that you can rely on month after month (and make your life easier!).

I know firsthand that content curation isn’t easy…that’s why I built Crate. I also know that content curation is one of those things you get better at the more you do it. So wherever you choose to troll for content, keep at it, and know that great content can come from anywhere.

On that note, I’d LOVE to hear your underrated sources for curating content! Did any of these help you, or do you know of a strategy that I might be overlooking?

Let me know in the comments or get in touch over Twitter.

Customer Experience, Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

CES: New Ways SaaS Companies are Using the Customer Effort Metric ft. @Wootric

customer effort score

Effort. We’re taught to praise it, get really good at avoiding it, and really, would rather do without it. Effort is hard and uncomfortable. As human beings, we’ve designed incredible digital tools to reduce effort as much as possible. Today, “user-friendly” isn’t just a selling point anymore, it’s become a basic expectation among customers – to the point that if a task isn’t intuitively easy to complete, consumers will drop the product and go elsewhere.

Effort is a big deal.

So why are most companies not measuring customer effort, or only relegating it to a customer support metric?

Read More on Wootric
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗