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Navigating Customer Success – Spearheading the Strategy around the SaaS Customer Journey

Before I can even begin to talk about the need for an increase in focus on Customer Success management, one must first understand: what is Customer Success?

A typical definition that might come to mind would be to ensure customer satisfaction for the product or services sold. The usual course of action is to exchange, return, or refund the product or adjust the payment plan or service contract to meet the customer’s needs. A sometime costly set of one-time transactions focused on creating a satisfactory experience. Certainly not an ideal practice.

However, with the evolution of SaaS businesses focusing on UX and UI, there is also an evolution taking place in order to make Customer Success more important when goal setting. This is a relatively new concept that many businesses strongly believe will contribute to growth and profit. What better way to set a company apart from the competition than to ensure the customer is fully engaged and understands the software’s value consistently over time, not just as a one-time transaction.

Sounds easy, but for those of us who are pioneers in this arena, we also realize it is not that simple, and we must be the Maestros of the concept. We must ensure Customer Support and the Customer Experience are all intertwined to achieve the ultimate Customer Success results. So how does one begin to structure a department? Train employees? Define measurables?

Let us take a look at a few steps towards building the operations:

  • Customer Segmentation – With varied industries and levels of employees using the software, defining success can also be varied. Bottom line- know your customer inside and out: what they like or dislike, what they need, and their challenges. Fully understand their lifecycle journey. BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS.
  • Customer Engagement
    • Old school approach: Relying solely on the client’s input and feedback before communicating to a customer on improvement strategies. This is a slow-to-respond, reactive approach more often associated with Customer Support and based on a one-time transaction.
    • Modern approach:    Suuchi Inc. relies on the GRID to provide data analytics and visibility to understand a customer’s engagement fully. We have developed listening points in the journey, i.e., adoption, usage, customer satisfaction, etc. It is also equally important to ensure that customer outreach introduces new features and setting up training before requested by a client. Thus, a PROACTIVE APPROACH and is an on-going process.
  • Driving Measurables – So, how does a company know if achieving positive outcomes is a reality within the Customer Success role? As this is a relatively new field, there is no rule book of do’s and don’ts, but one thing is for sure: there is a need to have metrics set. As Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton wrote in 1992 when they devised the balanced scorecard model: “What you measure is what you get.” This philosophy focuses on financial and operational measures along with internal processes which are drivers of future finanical performance.

Some points to consider:

  • Identify your customer segmentation.
  • How many customers to CS staff?
  • How much time per customer segment is required?
  • How do we measure leverage?
  • How do we measure productivity?
  • Identify opportunities for continuous improvement and learnings from best practices.

Simply put, without customer success, there is no customer.

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Written by Donna Spillane

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