How to define and deliver success to your customers

If you wish to achieve long-lasting customer relationships, there is only one way to succeed: by delivering success to them. As you probably know, your customers don’t want to buy your product, they want to buy solutions instead — and this makes sense. Your product or service is just a way for them to achieve success. And success will only be achieved once the customer reaches their desired outcome, and this is what you should be aiming for.

Go find out what success means to your public. Simply do this. However, there is a common mistake people make when trying to find out the meaning of success to their customers: they attempt to define it by themselves. And that is a huge, unforgivable mistake.

It doesn’t matter what you think success is to your customers, especially because you might fail as you’re not them. Instead, the definition of success that matters is the one that comes from them. And there’s only one way to find out.

Ask your customers

RD Station example: The Digital Marketing Success Map

I remember the day our CS Team had a meeting to discuss the meaning of success to our clients using our Marketing & Sales Software, RD Station, back in 2014. Everyone in the room contributed with ideas based on experiences with their own customer base. It attracted our attention to see so many different concepts appearing even though we were talking about the same product. That was the moment we realized we couldn’t define it without asking the most important opinion: the customer’s one.

At that moment a huge effort to understand success was born: it was the beginning of the project to deeply understand the needs and desires of our customer base. And that’s how we built our Digital Marketing Success Map (only in Portuguese so far).

The project to build the map involved many people from all company’s departments — even the CEO — and took approximately 6 months to be concluded. Over this period the group worked on many actions:

  1. Dividing our customer base into 5 main personas:
  • Digital Agencies
  • Startups
  • SMB
  • “Medium” (companies with more than 200 employees but low digital maturity)
  • “Top” (big companies with good digital maturity)

2. Qualitative phase, in which we had to:

  • Brainstorm to create hypotheses, discuss and create a survey based on these hypotheses
  • 100h of interviews with approximately 80 customers

3. Quantitative phase, in which we had to:

  • Survey 1000 customer companies to recheck and validate the data found in the interviews. We received back over 200 answers to consolidate all data.

It seems to be simple only looking at theses bullet points, but actually it took months to collect all data, discuss, compile and finally understand the meaning of success from our customer’s point of view. And here is the most outstanding part of all: we realized there wasn’t only one definition of success but nine! Nine ways to reach success using RD Station. Astonishing, but they all make sense.

The Digital Marketing Success Map

The nine achievements customers seek to achieve using RD Station are:

  • Generate qualified leads
  • Sell to leads
  • Become a reference on internet
  • Optimize conversions of the Marketing Funnel
  • Increase the team’s productivity
  • Reduce Client Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Measure and show results (especially agencies)
  • Learn marketing with experts
  • Customer loyalty

This map made us feel much more confident about tailoring our offering to each client’s specific requirements. Moreover: the map was the starting point for many other initiatives to add more value to customers, such as:

  • Improvement of Sales speech: With the map in hands, sales reps were able to approach more easily new clients and define a more appropriate onboarding project
  • Reconstruction of the onboarding projects: Knowing better what new customers want using our solution, it was time to redesign what to deliver as First Value during the Onboarding stage. Let’s look deeper at the onboarding process now.

Start correctly: understand the First Value and deliver it quickly

With a clear definition of success (or maybe definitions, as in our case!), it’s time to have a deep dive into the steps customers will take to achieve it. At the end of each step there should be a gain, a result that shows they are on the right road. And these first steps must be the onboarding stage.

Going back to the RD Success Map: knowing better the desired outcomes, the following challenge was to understand the first step to move towards each one of them. Our intention is to take the first steps with them, showing they are going to the right direction and delivering a small first outcome according to the desired way to success: the First Value.

It took six months the recreate our onboarding packages based on the Success Map. As a result, we built 6 onboarding packages that contain strategical knowledge and technical learnings customers need to learn to reach First Value and also to guarantee they know how to use our software, even with a minimal usage.

Another important issue is knowing how your company will deliver the First Value. In our reality, as Digital Marketing is still something new for our market (Brazil and now other Latin American countries), most of the time customers need strategical support that goes beyond the product onboarding itself. That’s why we have a team specialized in delivering success through onboarding projects: the Implementation Success Team — the team I manage, by the way :D. Currently there are 6 teams with more than 50 Implementation Success Managers delivering approximately 400 onboarding project per month.

In sum, our role as ISMs is to support new customers by teaching them how to use our software according to their reality and challenges. For this purpose we send technical videos they need to watch weekly, as well as some activities they must do inside the software. Once a week the ISM has a conference call with each client to check the results of the activities, validate, clarify doubts and lead the customer through the next steps. This process takes 1 or 2 months, depending on the onboarding package. You can learn more about what we are doing in the ISM team in this article.

With this operation it is possible to:

  • Deliver success quickly to customers
  • Guarantee they know how to use the product and hence reduce churn requests
  • Increase satisfaction and product adoption

Built the Customer Journey

It’s clear the onboarding stage is important to deliver success in a fast way. However, remember to not only focus on the First Value but on all the milestones that lead to success. That means you must structure the Customer Journey.

Having the whole Customer Journey mapped out is one of the most important achievements for our company because that helps you to:

  • Understand all the steps your clients will take during the customer life and what you should be doing to support them at each moment
  • Produce content to support them (videos, articles, infographics etc)
  • Prepare your CSM team on how to guide customers properly
  • Predict churn if they are not achieving results at each milestone

Mapping the Customer Journey is not an easy job, but it is totally worth it. I can confidently say that this will be a positive shift to your company and customer satisfaction will increase as you are delivering more success and acting more proactively when things are not going right.

If you want to know more deeply about our Customer Journey I recommend the article How to turn the Customer Journey into a methodology by our VP of Customer Success Guilherme Lopes.

That’s all for today. And if you have sharings and even doubts about the success definition and how to deliver it please feel free to comment here ;)