November 20th, 2014   /   Posted by aimee   /   Category: All, Marketing Strategy, Most Popular, Startup Business Operations

Increasing Customer Retention & Enrichment through Customer Success Initiatives


“Customer success is great for a lot of reasons, but one of its biggest benefits is that it provides a very clear view into the health of the company. If your customers are extracting value from your product or services, then you’ll extract value from them.”

— Lincoln Murphy, Sixteen Ventures and Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight

Customer success used to be viewed as a function that put out fires by identifying at-risk customers. Today’s customer success initiatives focus on being proactive, not only in managing and enhancing the customer journey, but also in activities such as analyzing customer segments to identify new product opportunities, service offerings, or customer outreach programs.

Customer success teams have become fairly commonplace across the SaaS industry, and the majority of large and mid-sized firms (and even a good portion of early stage startups these days), already have at least elements of a customer success program in place. But what should smaller companies do who are just looking to get started? Where should the focus be if you can’t dedicate full time resources to customer success? And how can services firms best apply customer success principles to their environment?

Because while many of the technologies that offer customer success products cater to SaaS businesses—Gainsight, Totango, and ServiceSource, to name a few—the reality is that the bigger picture view yields a much more strategic focus on putting the customer first and taking a customer-centric approach to marketing, sales, and delivery.

Below are some of the core areas of focus that any company should consider to increase retention, gain more referrals, and uncover new revenue opportunities.

  • Analyze your retention and renewal rates. Look at your current and historic rates and build benchmarks specific to your organization. This will become your first indication of a shift in the business, and whether something is going unusually well or unusually poorly, it is important to understand how to replicate or remediate.
  • Create a customer health scorecard. Key metrics could include factors such as product usage: Are your customers using your product or service regularly? Business outcomes: Are your customers getting the value they initially sought out in your product or service? Customer satisfaction: What positive and negative feedback trends do you hear from customers?
  • Understand each department’s role. Core departments that need to be involved include executive, sales, marketing, and customer service. Make sure each department’s leaders understand their team’s role in managing customer expectations and sharing information across the organization.
  • Launch scalable marketing programs to efficiently enhance customer success. Marketing programs can help drive usage, referrals, and upsell. Ideal programs will incorporate personalization and can be customized to target behaviors or behavior patterns.
  • Conduct customer segmentation analysis. Make sure you know who are your most satisfied, profitable, ‘best’ customers, and build new marketing and sales programs to find more customers like them. Segmentation can take many forms—company size, job function, company maturity, and countless other characteristics.
  • Build in multiple touch points to check in with customers. Don’t wait until there’s an issue, complaint or renewal—whether you assign sales, marketing, or customer service team members (or ideally, a combination in tandem) to the task, ensure that at least someone is reaching out to clients regularly for feedback and to ensure satisfaction and drive usage—and that your team is then taking action on any feedback collected.
  • Develop formalized client onboarding programs. If you don’t already have a formalized onboarding program, now’s the time to get started. Understand the process, tools, and education each of your client segments need to ramp up and be successful.
  • Assess opportunities for product or service enhancement, as well as new product / service development. As you build out more formalized touch points for client feedback and input, ensure this information goes back to product management, marketing leadership, and engineering. The insights you gain can not only lead to enhanced offerings, but potentially new products and revenue streams.

Most organizations don’t have the resources to go from zero to implementation right away. Start with an examination of your metrics to help you identify the lowest hanging fruit, and then continue to prioritize and tackle program components one by one. For outside support to help manage this undertaking in collaboration with you, contact us for an exploratory discussion.

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