Companies that adopt customer success strategies aren’t just trying to score points in front of their customers.
Okay, while their users obviously do benefit from these strategies, one of the key perks for businesses besides customer satisfaction is a reduced strain on customer support.
If you’re hoping to achieve the same thing, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll be looking at three simple customer success strategies that’ll help you save on customer support. Let’s get started.
- The role of customer success is to help customers outline and achieve their desired outcomes when using your product.
- Customer support vs. customer success: The former is a reactive process that helps solve a specific (usually technical) issue. The latter is an ongoing process that proactively helps the customer get the most out of your product.
- A customer success strategy is a framework of tactics aimed at giving your customers the best chance of achieving their goals.
- Customer success saves on support by providing customers with the guidance, knowledge, and resources necessary to get the most out of your product.
- Three key strategies for building customer success and reducing support strain are: providing customer-centric onboarding, offering self-service and automated assistance, and gathering and implementing customer feedback
What is the role of customer success?
The role of a customer success manager, team, or department is to help customers fulfill their desired outcomes when using a product.
Dictionary definitions aside, the end goal of offering customer success is to create satisfied and capable customers. This can be achieved through a wide variety of means, including onboarding new customers and providing personalized assistance to customers at risk of churn.
Either way, customer success has some pretty tasty perks for businesses too. As customer success expert Lincoln Murphy suggests, ‘you can focus on adoption, retention, expansion, or advocacy; or you can focus on the customers’ desired outcome and get all of those things.’
But not so fast. Even if offering customer success to your users is a worthy endeavour, not all businesses get it right.
The problem arises when these companies expect the role of customer success to be filled by their sales or support staff.
This just isn’t a good tactic. Let’s uncover why by looking at customer support’s true purpose.
What is the difference between customer support and customer success?
The key difference between customer support and customer success is the kinds of problems that each department is trying to solve.
Customer support is a reactive process that deals with any technical issues a customer might be facing. Generally speaking, these interactions usually only take place once, or until the issue is resolved.
As we’ve seen in the definition above, customer success is a proactive process with a much broader scope. Truthfully speaking, it’s all about solving customer problems before they even arise. Let’s take a look at some examples.
An example of a customer support query
If a SaaS team receives a message from an experienced customer who has discovered a bug within the product, customer support should be able to provide them with assistance.
The problem should be resolved and recorded, in case more development work or updates need to take place behind the scenes.
An example of a customer success issue
If a customer is unable to use a product to achieve their desired outcome, yet the product is in full working order, this is a customer success issue.
Basically, the business has slipped up: they haven’t anticipated their customers’ needs.
For instance, maybe the customer has not been effectively onboarded or guided through the product. Another reason for this failure might be a lack of sufficient self-service support options.
Either way, you don’t want to offer your customers this kind of experience. Instead, you want to offer your customers the resources they need to get the best out of your product.
What is a customer success strategy?
A customer success strategy is a framework of tactics that you can use to help your customers achieve their desired ends.
As we’ve seen, these strategies also provide some pretty great benefits for the company too. They might include increasing user retention or increasing their customers’ lifetime value.
How do customer success strategies reduce strain on support?
In a previous example, we looked at a customer who was unable to effectively use a product – despite the product being in full working order.
If the company in this example had put customer success strategies in place, this kind of issue wouldn’t occur. The customer wouldn’t get frustrated, and they wouldn’t need to contact customer support either.
Of course, even the most intuitive of customers will have questions from time to time – and this can be a great way to strengthen relationships and gather customer feedback.
That said, if you’ve got a customer failing to understand the most basic aspects of your product, unfortunately, the problem isn’t them – it might be you.
As Bill Gates notes, ‘your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.’
So, instead of setting up your customers to fail, identify their desired outcomes and provide your customers with the means to quickly achieve them.
Fortunately for us, this is much easier to do than ever before.
How to foster customer success? Three key customer success strategies
Now that we have some much-needed clarity around these topics, let’s take a look at three simple success strategies that can help lighten the load on customer support.
Which will you use to give your support team a break?
- Provide customer-centric onboarding
As we’ve seen, personalising the onboarding process around a customer’s desired outcomes is a crucial aspect of customer success.
What’s truly surprising is how many companies get this wrong. Over 90% of customers think that most businesses ‘could do better’ when it comes to customer onboarding. Ouch.
Painful statistics aside, it’s clear enough that providing customer-centric onboarding is a strategy that’ll set you apart from your competitors.
It’ll also create a more resilient user base that’s less likely to rely on customer support channels. And who doesn’t want that?
What to consider when onboarding customers
Whatever the size of your business, the length, and style of the onboarding process is likely to change depending on your industry and sector.
B2C businesses offering SaaS will commonly onboard their customers using automated software, with 73% of these companies integrating this software into a freemium version of their product.
B2B businesses can also offer automated onboarding for new users, but this usually takes place during a free trial of the product. That said, some customers may still prefer the more personal touch of dedicated meetings. Depending on the product, developer interaction may even be necessary.
Respona’s personalised onboarding
Either way, once you’ve gathered an understanding of who your customer is and what success means to them, you need to make sure you’re catering to your customers’ specific needs. This is key for deflecting support queries in the future.
To do this, make sure you clarify both the customers’ goals and what they are going to learn about your product to help them achieve those goals.
For instance, with dedicated onboarding software, you can add simple checklists within your product for new users. It’ll help them navigate your app or site with user milestones, giving them a quick win along their journey towards value. Check out the example from GrowthMentor below:
You can even create multiple checklists for different user personas, meaning that each customer can get a bespoke journey.
You can also feature subtle hints and tips throughout your product, just in case your customers need that extra bit of help. It means more capable users with less rudimentary support queries.
Offer self-service and automated assistance
Automated self-service options are becoming more and more popular amongst customers.
In fact, 60% of American consumers prefer self-service options to regular customer service or support channels.
Why is this the case? It all comes down to convenience.
Self-service helps customers answer their own queries more quickly. It means they don’t have to wait around for customer support.
So, by providing your customers with automated self-service tools like chatbots, FAQs, and interactive product guides, this strategy makes sure you’re catering to your customers’ growing appetite for solving their own problems.
The end result is reduced customer support costs and improved time management, thanks to a more self-sufficient user base. It allows customer support to focus on the more escalated queries and technical issues.
What to consider when offering self-service
When aiming to improve self-service and reduce support tickets, it’s best to approach your site and your product as if you were a completely new user. While you might know your product inside out, your customer is nowhere near as knowledgeable.
So first up, tackle your user journey.
Even if you think your site or app is logically laid out with the most intuitive approach to the user experience, chances are that some customers are going to struggle – and it’s these customers who can add strain to customer support.
To stop this problem in its tracks, consider customer feedback and behaviour analytics tools to gain an understanding of the user journey in its current state. Wherever your customers experience friction, this is a prime location for a self-service tool – be it a chatbot, an FAQ, or a knowledge base.
With self-support software, you can even provide users with on-demand support via an in-app resource center.
Whatever tools you choose, the next step is making sure that these tools provide an intuitive and informative experience. If you don’t, some customers will still turn for a support ticket.
For example, a chatbot that speaks using hard-to-follow jargon is only going to cause more customer tension. Linking to a knowledge base that’s not kept up to date is going to have the same effect too.
So, make sure your user journey and your self-service tools are working in perfect harmony, and test, test, test!
For instance, if you use a chatbot as an automated FAQ tool, make sure you’re tracking important chatbot analytics like customer deflection, unrecognized customer queries, and customer satisfaction (CSAT).
If you’re receiving too many unrecognized queries, for example, your chatbot hasn’t been created around your true user base. Customers are asking questions that the chatbot should, but doesn’t, understand.
On the other hand, if your customer satisfaction ranks highly and your chatbot is deflecting customers to your FAQs or knowledge base, you can be assured that you’re saving any unnecessary strain on your support channels.
Gather and implement customer feedback
Just because you’re giving customers the knowledge and ability to learn and solve problems by themselves, that doesn’t mean your job is done. Without listening to customer feedback, you miss those pesky little issues that lead to more customer support tickets.
Instead, let your customers be heard. It’ll help you put in place some valuable improvements. You’ll develop a more engaged and knowledgeable user base too.
Research proves that this is a strategy that’s definitely worth your time: 85% of small and medium-sized organizations say that customer feedback has been beneficial to business. You just need to consider how you’re going to open up a dialogue with your customers.
What to consider when gathering customer feedback
When asking your customers for feedback to reduce customer support strain, there’s a few things you want to keep in mind.
First of all, while there are many ways of gathering feedback, you want to make sure you’re gathering the most actionable and useful data possible.
There’s no point in asking all your customers for a generic thumbs up or a thumbs down on your product as a whole.
A feature survey example from Userpilot
Userpilot has covered these types of feedback tools before, but here’s a quick primer: as each name suggests, these feedback tools differ in length. This means they can be used in different settings to gather the most valuable insights your customers have to offer.
For example, a microsurvey could be put in place within your knowledge base or chatbot. That way, customers are able to rate the service and let you know how efficiently their problem was solved – without a disruption to their user experience.
A long-form survey could be saved for gathering detailed product feedback from your most loyal customers. As you’ve already forged a relationship, they’ll be more likely to respond in-depth, helping you to identify areas in which you could improve.
Either way, by proving receptive to feedback, you can expect a boost in customer engagement, as well as less support strain in the future. It’ll help make your product better and your customer relationships stronger.
Customer success strategies in summary
So there we have it! After reading this article you should have a good understanding of the following:
- The role of customer success
- The difference between customer support and customer success
- What a customer success strategy is
- How customer success saves on support
- Key strategies for using customer success to limit support requests
- How customer-centric user onboarding can reduces support strain
- The benefits of self-service support
- Why it’s important to gather and implement customer feedback
As we’ve seen, whatever your business’s size or service, customer success strategies like those listed above can improve the user experience journey overall.
While some smaller businesses might not have the resources for a customer success manager or team, even the simple strategies we’ve explored can make a huge difference to staff workloads and customer satisfaction.
The simplest way to truly offer customer success is by booking a demo with Userpilot. By adopting software that helps your customers achieve their goals, you’ll relieve the strain on your customer support system.
Chris Thomas is a Content Marketing Executive at Talkative, a video customer service platform that provides businesses with a smarter way to talk to their online customers.