If customer service is a school coach, customer success is a personal trainer. The former is reactive, transactional, and focused on serving as many people as quickly as possible. Trainers are proactive and flexible, designing programs around what the trainee wants to achieve.
But just like athletic trainers, customer success people need two things to succeed: engaged trainees and the right tools. Although a customer success staff can’t control who purchases from their companies, they can help those people feel heard. And once customer success workers have their buyers’ ear, they can use tools to deliver more value. They work in tandem with your marketing team — and can be one of the strongest tools in your marketers’ arsenal.
To shape up your customer success program:
1. Make Outreach More Personal
How many emails do you get per day asking for product feedback? Thoughtless email blasts may technically invite you to reach out, but their impersonal nature tells another story.
Make users feel valued by customizing outreach with workflow automation tools. Include the customer’s name, the product she purchased, and the date of purchase. Contact her a few days after purchase; if you offer a service, do it once a month or so for as long as she’s a customer.
At the same time, make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you. Embed available call times in the body of your emails. Use poll widgets to learn just how common certain issues are, inviting customers to reach out to discuss their particular challenges.
2. Do More with Social Media
Consumers regularly complain to and about brands on social media, often due to simple misunderstandings about the product or service. Keep an ear on online conversations to address customer needs quickly before they spiral into negative brand narratives.
To spot users in need of help, invest in social media software. Although expectations differ by industry and customer base, 42% of social media users expect brands to respond in under an hour.
Just as importantly, use social media for shout-outs. If someone suggests a useful product update to customer success, ask to feature him on your Facebook or Twitter. This tactic also works well to win over customers on the verge of an upsell.
3. Conduct EQ Training
When you contact a customer who hasn’t gotten what she wanted from the product, expect hard feelings. How does spending money on products that don’t deliver make you feel?
Keep your customer success staff from being swept up in unhappy customers’ emotions. Invest in emotional intelligence training. Although there are paid programs available, why not put one on yourself?
Pair reps up, with one playing the customer. If the customer is ecstatic about the product, can the agent get on his emotional wavelength? Say the customer is angry or sad: Can the partner keep things positive while getting to the root of the issue?
(Interested in EQ training? Contact us today. We’re rolling this out soon!)
4. Roll Out an Option for Video Conferencing
About two-thirds of communication is nonverbal. Your customer success people can’t be in the room with every customer, but they can offer to hop on a video call with those needing extra help.
Videoconferencing is particularly effective with emotional or hostile customers. If the customer can’t seem to calm down, seeing a calm agent cues her to relax. What if a customer is convinced the agent is only trying to push products on her? Use videoconferencing to build trust by displaying attentiveness.
Be sure to choose a video conferencing service that offers screen-sharing. Especially if you have a complex SaaS product, navigating an interface while the customer watches may be the easiest way to communicate.
If interface confusion is common, you shouldn’t delay relaying the details to your product development team.
5. Never Neglect the Follow-Up
When a customer calls in with an issue — the customer service model — the follow-up email feels natural. Is the customer satisfied with the solution? Customer success may serve a different purpose, but follow-ups are just as critical.
If a customer was fully satisfied and asked for an upsell, send a personalized thank-you message. Even if another customer indicated he was using the tool and had no further feedback, email him afterward to thank him for his time.
Six in 10 companies have lost a customer because the customer felt the business was indifferent to them. Something as simple as “Thanks for your feedback” with the user’s name at the end of the message goes a long way.
Customer success may be a different ballgame than customer service, but the same rules apply. Treat customers like human beings, keep an eye online, and say “thank you” at every opportunity.