If Your Client Does Not Achieve Success, Neither Will You

How many times have you wondered why your clients chose your competition over you? Hint: they do not leave because of the high price — they leave because your service did not bring them value or they are not aware of it. If your client does not achieve success, your company does not as well.

It’s that simple.

Because of that a new, client-oriented branch has been brought to life — Customer Success Management (CSM). Its role is to bring benefits to the client and to bring a higher revenue in long-term. In other words, CSM can be seen as a modern philosophy of building and developing a business.

It can be defined as a proactive relation with the business client, which uses technology and contextual information (e.g. info gathered during a phone conversation). This information gives an overview of the health of the client’s account in order to ensure a gradually improving quality of the product and the value it brings. You can find in-depth definition of customer success on the Lincoln Murphy’s blog.

It is difficult to give an ideal definition of success, because it is understood differently by every individual client. A customer must feel and be aware of the benefits coming from the service he or she bought, otherwise the business relation will be very weak. The unspecified term “satisfaction” does not guarantee customer retention (although high satisfaction correlates pretty strongly with higher bottom line: check here, here, here,here, here, here, here and definitely here). However, if the client’s satisfaction is accompanied by productivity and profitability, the chances go up.

Your client does not have time to learn

Managing your customers’ success is focused on engaging them in using the product (product adoption) and on moving them from the stage of a user to the stage of a partner.

The results of research conducted by SurveyMonkey, the largest online survey distributor, learned that lack of time to understand new tools or processes was the reason why 27% of professionals did not want to adopt. Another reason is the lack of training and knowledge that the working methods could be improved.

Interestingly, 61% of respondents of the survey said they’d be happy to learn something new if it improved their current workflow. However, only 31% said they’d actively seek it out. Here’s where the importance of customer success comes into play.

The numbers don’t lie

In order to understand the return on investment coming from that approach, let us look at some numbers:

  • A good customer service influences the fact whether clients buy or not. Research coming from McKinsey has shown that in 70% the decisions are made based on how the client was treated by the company.
  • A good customer service lowers the risk of ending a business relationship.81% of clients are ready to renew the plan after experiencing a satisfying customer service. On the other hand, 95% clients have taken action (e.g. stopped being a company’s client or had complaints) because of the negative experiences related to the customer service.
  • A good customer service is directly related to increasing revenue. Research conducted in 2011 by American Express has shown that 70% of Americans are ready to spend 13% more money in a company that ensures perfect customer service.
  • A good customer service should be responsible for obtaining new clients. During the same research, American Express learned that a happy client talks about their positive experiences to about 9 other people.

We learned the same at UsabilityTools in 2014. Introducing a position responsible for staying in touch with the client increased the amount of renewed plans.

Key areas

Customer Success Management influences numerous areas. Below some of them:

  • Onboarding. The first step after the sale is engaging the client to use the product. This process is widely known as onboarding, and is related to configuring, installing, and starting a project. The aim is to make sure that the client will know how to use the product and will efficiently move from the old system.
  • Customer Support. This type of support is often reactive. A CSM’s role is to change that relation into a proactive one, oriented towards the goals of the client. A CSM searches for repeatable behaviors, which signal that there is a problem with using the product, and which could negatively influence the received benefits of the product.
  • Technical support. Sometimes it happens that the client is facing a problem, which we were not able to predict. A helpdesk’s role is to react to the problem reported by the client, and to deliver solutions to make sure that the client receives the benefit of the product. A technical support team should study every report in order to check if there is a method to monitor actively such cases in the future, so they can be solved even before they occur.
  • Product development. During every conversation with the client we learn more about his or her needs. Some of them emerge only after the purchase. That kind of information is invaluable, and once shown in numbers, it shows repeatable needs, which provide clear guidelines in what direction should the product go. This approach prevents from creating features that clients do not need or want, and at the same time limits wasting resources such as time and money (check my Quora answer for a simple framework).
  • Customer retention. Assuming that we ensured that the clients received the benefit from the service, the process of renewing a plan should be smooth. In case of changing the conditions of the cooperation (upselling), the negotiations could take longer. It is important that the client does not see a CSM as a person trying to get more money of them. Renewing a license should be a result of receiving help from a CSM.

What characterizes a good customer manager?

When we look closely at companies such as Buffer, KISSmetrics, or UXPin, we can see that their dynamic development was not by chance. What these businesses have in common? They are focused on the relationship with the client and ensure that every interaction brings the client closer to success.

If we own a business in the B2B segment, we need to remember that it is a highly competitive market, and the client is constantly searching for new solutions. Using the argument of low price during building a business relationship is secondary and highly risky. The competition can always offer the same service for a lower price. A long-term value of a satisfied customer is much higher than in the case of a customer who only receives what he or she paid for.

A Customer Success Manager is an owner of a relationship with the client, while making sure that the client successfully uses the service and is satisfied. CSM is a new and a developing branch. In each company, the processes connected with implementing a client-oriented approach look different. However, be sure that it is profitable — the number of growing CSM positions is a proof of that.

If we start to think actively about the worth the customer service is supposed to bring, we can expect loyal and satisfied customers. A high-level customer service is an integral part of every company.

I wish you all success in being creative and efficient in improving the standards of your customer service.

If you’d like to learn how to ask good product development questions consider downloading free 49 Feedback Questions e-book. Inside you’ll find powerful questions to ask when developing new products or services (SaaS, E-commerce, etc.).