1990: A vendor receives a large upfront payment from a B2B software industry. Knowing it would be difficult to change the vendor for the software company, the vendor pays little attention to customer success. Instead, it focuses more on new customer acquisition.
2006: As SaaS emerged, it turned the table. As changing vendors became accessible, the churn rate increased. Vendors have now become more cautious about customer retention.
2009: The first customer success platform came into the market and the rest became history.
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What is customer success?
Customer success is a proactive, data-led approach that helps customers use your product more effectively. It offers a fantastic growth opportunity for businesses when done right. Today, having a dedicated customer success function within an organization is not a luxury, but a need. A survey report revealed that 95% of their respondents mentioned customer success is well-defined in their organization. From this report, we can clearly infer that B2B businesses of all sizes are now focusing on customer success.
At the core of customer success, you aim to deliver what problem your customer needs to be solved. When you want to stand out in a competitive ecosystem, focusing on customer success and doing it right can be a game-changer for your business.
The top three goals for customer success are:
Improve customer retention
Boost customer loyalty and referrals
If you’re just starting your Customer Success journey, here are the top 10 trends you should know and follow in 2022.
10 customer success trends to follow in 2022
The rise of customer advocacy
While the main focus of the customer success team is to delight the customers to stick around, in 2022, we are observing a strong emphasis on expansion and customer advocacy. To build strong brand advocates, you must have a successful customer management process.
The idea is that if your customers see value in your product, they are likely to spend more, continue their subscription, and even recommend it to their peers. So it’s safe to say that customer advocacy can drive revenue for your brand.
This argument can be backed by a research study by Salesforce that found that 95% of customers become loyal to a brand that they trust.
Here’s a beautiful example of customer advocacy from Cisco.
“ When Cisco became aware of their brand advocates who love to showcase their networking expertise, they leveraged the opportunity through advocacy marketing. Cisco initiated a Cisco Champions program that encouraged these advocates to talk about the brand across their social media channels. Cisco, in turn, offered them various opportunities to network with their peers where they could highlight their expertise and improve their IT skills. Additionally, Cisco rewarded its advocates with exclusive invitations to events, early access to Cisco products, etc. The result of this initiative was phenomenal:
The program managed to generate 55, 000 Cisco-related tweets
Encouraged the influences to write over 200 Cisco-related content on their website
Cisco garnered 8000 social media mentions and over 44,000 hits.”
To make customer advocacy happen, remember the customer success team must collaborate better with other teams, especially the marketing team, to make customer advocacy a reality for your organization.
Mapping your customer journey
Mapping the customer journey is one of the significant trends we have seen in 2022. The foundation lies in data-driven actions at each touchpoint during the customer journey. Smart technology and data-driven insights can help the CS team understand the customer behaviors and their needs to add personalized delight factors at the right time. The customer journey doesn't end with purchasing a product. The journey begins after the customer has purchased the product, and there are a lot of scopes to improve that experience.
But before doing all of this, creating a customer journey map is super important because it helps to:
Understand customer touchpoints. So that you know which are the touchpoints, you should focus on more and which are working well. And ultimately create a better customer success strategy.
Measure customer experience and find ways to enhance it. However, measuring customer experience across different channels is not an easy task. A KPI dashboard like Dataflo helps you gauge if you’re in line with what you have planned for and makes it much easier.
Set your goals and work towards them.
Marrying Customer Success with AI
AI is reshaping every business function, and customer success is no different. Today, most customer success software is powered with AI that scans tons of data, customer behavior, customer engagement details, etc., to understand what actions can lead to retention.
The traditional software, although has access to data, cannot use more than 1% of the data. It is bound to miss important insights if the configuration rule is not set right.
AI-powered customer success software is great at finding patterns and drawing inferences from tons of data. What's more, it can also offer corrective measures based on its previous findings. This superpower of AI is going to reshape the future of customer success. AI-driven customer success can bring in value, and help mature the customer success practice.
For example, AI can retrieve metadata from the Help desk and CRM, product description data from the customers' products, engagement data from meetings QBR, email support tickets, etc. Analyze all of these to help you understand what helps to prevent churns, drives renewals, upsells, etc.
Another advantage of having AI-powered customer success software is having a system of records in a single dashboard that captures all the customer insight data. This is a major advantage as it helps in associating insights with actions that otherwise might get overlooked.
As AI tools are reshaping customer success, automation is catching up fast. Customer success managers now automate repetitive tasks like collecting, organizing and accessing customer information. Customer success managers use various automation tools to automate:
Sharing action steps with new uses for self-onboarding
Customer success community
We see a shift in community management from marketing to the customer success team. Communities have evolved to a great extent in the last few years. Communities are no more a place where customers go to ask questions. It’s now a hub for strategic content where customers engage and consume content. Soon, the community will be supported by experts like industry analysts, business leaders, content aggregators, operational professionals, technology experts, and so on.
Want to build a customer success community?
Start with offering a great product experience so that your customers are happy. If your customer satisfaction indicator is high enough, you’re good to go to build a customer success community.
Pick a channel that’s hassle-free and easy to use. For example, LinkedIn groups and Slack communities are great to get started with customer success communities.
Online communities are good, but offline communities are always great. Look for opportunities to connect with your customers through small meetings, workshops, and full-fledged customer conferences.
“We are investing in our customer success team to ensure we get the best out of our customers. We are looking at different ways to engage with them and using data to help us do this. Our customer success team is also helping us to understand how our customers are using our products and how they are adapting to them.” —Krittin, Founder of WriteCream
More emphasis on communication
Open and transparent communication is the key to customer success. Remember, the last thing your customers want is a lack of half-hearted communication where their queries are left hanging in the air. To address this issue, companies are now focusing more on improving the customer communication skills of their employees who are in customer-facing roles.
Apart from the usual negotiation skills, attentiveness, and being resourceful, emphasis is also being given to dealing with empathy.
Several companies have a product or offering similar to yours in this competitive market. So how would you stand out? Or rather, convince your customers to stick with you? Many companies are now focusing on over-delivering to entice their customers. You can do this by educating your customers about your product, delivering the product updates on time, listening to what your customers say, and addressing their pain points.
“At our organization, customer success is paramount. We continually strive to find new ways to improve the customer experience and reduce churn. In 2022, we implemented several initiatives that resulted in a dramatic increase in customer success:
a. We enhanced our customer support team by increasing staffing levels and training. This allowed us to provide more prompt and effective assistance to customers.
b. We created a self-service portal allowing customers to find answers to their questions quickly.
c. We launched a series of targeted email campaigns that provided valuable information about our products and services.
As a result of these efforts, we saw a significant increase in customer satisfaction and retention. Going forward, we will continue investing in customer success to maintain our competitive edge.” —-- Max Benz, Founder, and CEO at BankingGeek
As brands gather more customer success data, their internal processes will be refined. This means the customer success teams will have advanced playbooks that are more customer-focused and driven by customer data. The playbooks will be redefined based on common customer behaviors and will have proactive measures to support the new mantra of customer success. Advanced and refined playbooks will help the new team members understand the dynamics, so you need to have clear-cut internal processes in place.
Focus on the BEST onboarding experience
How you welcome new customers and bring them on board can play a critical role in overall customer success. For this, the customer success team needs to work hand in hand with the sales team because if your sales team has over promised, the customer success team needs to ensure that all the promises are met. And so companies are now encouraging their CS and Sales teams to work together.
Here’s how you can make your onboarding experience simple, fun, and engaging.
Here’s why we like this sign up form:
It’s short and simple. Not overwhelming the customer with too many information.
Not asking for credit card details.
The side bullet points highlight all the benefits of signing up
This welcome email is just perfect because
It’s short and simple.
It has a single call to action directing to the product page
First time login
We love this first log in email because the account setup process is super clear and easy
The engaging copy encourages the customer to get started.
An onboarding experience doesn't end with the customer signing up. You need to keep the customer engaged with useful tips and offers. And so, follow-up emails come in handy.
We love this follow-up email from Zapier because it has a clear call-to-action
Includes a video to keep the customers engaged
Digital transformation will bring in smarter integrations
Digital transformation is rising at a rapid pace and the prediction is that it will reach $1.2 trillion by 2026. Brands are now looking at different ways to integrate SaaS into customer success workflows. This will help to gather more valuable and actionable insights which can be a differentiating factor in 2022.
Few tips to build your customer success workflow -
Begin with standardizing your process, the most critical part to scale up your customer success workflow
Once you have standardized your process, bring in the right technology which can ease the tasks
Make decisions based on accessible, accurate and real-time data. Remember, the data is a combination of customer's voice, financial insights, engagement touchpoints, and data from the CRM.
The customer success budget is increasing
As teams are globally becoming aware of the importance of customer success, we can see that they are putting more budgets on their customer success team.
This means we can expect to see better resource allotment across departments. For CFOs, it’s time to realize that customer success can improve customer loyalty and retention. Financially speaking, it has a better ROI than acquiring new customers.
Some data points include :
a. 50% of exciting customers are more likely to buy from brands that they trust
b. A 5% increase in retention can drive profits anywhere between 25% to 95%
c. It’s 25 times more cost-effective to retain customers than to acquire new ones
“Customer success is very important to us as it is a key factor in growing our business and being profitable. When you consistently fulfill a promise and deliver value to a customer, you put yourself in a position where you can get more business from them or their friends. This allows us to extend our reach.” - Christiaan Huynen - CEO/ Founder at DesignBro
Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, customer success can be essential in determining your company's success. Your revenue or market share will depend mainly on how happy and satisfied your customers are with your product. These are the few trends reshaping customer success in 2022, and we predict that they will continue to do so in the coming years.
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