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Hot Take: Customer Success Is Essential to Business Success

You’ve always relied on the sales and marketing teams to drive sales and revenues. But even the best salespeople and marketing gurus won’t guarantee success. 

Why? Because customers can always choose to go elsewhere. 

Sure, you can get them to sign a contract… but you can’t rely on keeping them long term. 

You know how much it costs to get a new customer. Those costs are going up every year. And you can’t keep lowering prices to keep current customers.

So what’s the solution? 

Invest in customer success. It’s the key to growing your business.

What Does Customer Success Even Mean?

Customer success involves giving your customers what they want or need before they know they need it.

First, you have to understand your customers’ potential issues or questions about your products or services. Then you have to provide them with the solutions to those issues or questions.

That means being proactive with solutions. Give your customers the answers they need before they ask for them.

When done right, customer success raises customers’ satisfaction levels and improves retention. Happy customers are loyal customers. That’s good for your revenue and the bottom line.

Do You Need a Customer Success Strategy?

Does your business have customers? Then yes, you need a customer success strategy.

You already know it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing customers happy. Customer acquisition costs have increased by 60% over the past five years.

Keeping current customers happy makes sense for two key reasons:

  • It helps to control customer acquisition costs

  • Happy customers will tell others about your business

Successful companies invest in customer success. According to Hubspot, successful businesses are “21% more likely to say their customer’s success is very important” than companies that are either stagnant or in decline. 

So, yes, again, you need a customer success strategy.

How Is Customer Success Different From Customer Support?

Picture a coin. Customer support is one side of that coin. Customer success is the other.

Customer support is reactive. It involves answering customers’ questions and solving their problems when they bring those issues to your attention.

Customer success is proactive. It involves working with customers to provide them with more value, engage their feedback, and create a path to help them achieve success.

Most companies understand and invest in customer support. Adding customer success to the equation produces better results for the customer and your business.

Your coin now has two sides. That’s a coin with value.

What Is Customer Success Management?

Customer success doesn’t happen on its own. It needs to be managed.

Customer success management involves creating a customer success strategy for ensuring the satisfaction, support, and retention of your current customers. It also directs what your reps do to fulfill that strategy.

Every strategy needs someone to manage its application. That’s where the customer success manager (CSM) comes into the picture.

The CSM leads the customer success team and ensures they follow your customer success strategy. They are also responsible for:

  • Creating and maintaining your customer success strategy

  • Helping to develop supporting content and materials for customer success

  • Ensuring your team helps customers get full use and value from your products or services 

  • Training team members on engagement and retention best practices 

  • Grouping customers into segments according to specific criteria (e.g., business type or size, subscription, product or service type) to help customer success reps meet their needs

  • Collecting and analyzing customer feedback on various issues (e.g., retention rates, reps’ performance, product or service issues)

  • Addressing issues or questions brought up by the customer success team

How Do You Achieve Customer Success for Your Business?

Customer success requires three key elements:

  • Developing a customer success strategy

  • Training your customer success team

  • Purchasing customer success software

Your customer success strategy drives everything you do, including training your people and choosing the software. 

What goes into creating a customer success strategy? If you’ve created sales, marketing, and other strategies, you already know the basics. Every strategy depends on what you sell, your customers, your goals, and many other factors.

However, a customer success strategy (at a high level) should include:

  • Creating a roadmap that lays out your customer success expectations and goals 

  • Sharing and implementing the strategy with everyone

  • Analyzing how well your strategy works and where it doesn’t

  • Modifying the customer success strategy as you learn and grow

Success Also Depends on Software

Customer success software enables you to manage interactions with customers through every stage of their interaction with your company. It allows customers to connect with you when they need it, focusing on their success.

Customer success software provides a number of other benefits, such as:

Use Chili Piper’s scheduling app to send automated meeting reminders to customers at each step of their onboarding journey. You can also sync with CRM data to create visibility and control across each touchpoint. 

How Can You Help Customers to Succeed?

Everything starts with creating and applying your customer success strategy. It will guide what you do to support customer success.

Make sure to update and adapt your strategy when there are changes in your company, your products or services, and your customers’ needs.

Customer Success Begins With Education

As previously stated, customer success is proactive. You need to know what the customer needs before they ask for it.

That means knowing what questions they’ll have when using your products or services. Your customers should be able to get the answers to those questions without having to contact your customer service team.

This involves creating resources, such as a knowledge base, FAQs, explainer videos, webinars, etc., that your customers can access to learn about your products or services. It can also include adding live chat or AI chatbots who can answer customers’ questions in real time.

The customer success and customer support teams (which are two different groups) will sometimes share these responsibilities, collaborating on the creation of educational resources and support materials.

Focus on Onboarding

Customer success often depends on what happens immediately after the sale. Onboarding provides customers with the support they need when they first begin using your products or services and start their relationship with your company.

Proper onboarding means giving your customers the tools they need to get started as smoothly as possible. This can mean training, resources, tutorials, introductory and support calls — whatever it takes to prepare your customers for what lies ahead.

The goal is to create an easy and pleasant experience. You want to make — and keep — customers happy. Onboarding sets the tone for the relationship going forward.

Customer Success Should Be Company-Wide

Customer success is not limited to one department. It should be ingrained within the entire organization. It needs the support of the customer success operations team.

The customer success team has to work with other teams to get the support it needs to help satisfy customers. That involves meeting with other teams and ensuring two-way communications.

Chili Piper’s Instant Booker (depicted below) enables you to schedule meetings on behalf of your teammates, which also helps to streamline handoff. 

Customer success must work with product and marketing to create the supporting materials (e.g., training videos, blogs) that show customers how the products or services work. The sales team will explain how to respond to the customers’ primary pain points.

And, of course, customer success must work with customer support to provide a consistent approach to meeting customers’ needs.

Loyalty Follows Customer Success

Customers become loyal to your business when they have a great experience. Customer success leads to customer loyalty. And loyal customers promote your business to friends and family.

So, to promote customer success, make customer loyalty a key pillar in your strategy.

Loyalty results from a customer's positive experiences with your business. 

Create a customer loyalty program that integrates with your customer success strategy. Reward loyal customers for longevity, making additional purchases, and referring your business to others. 

About the Author

David Gargaro has more than 20 years of experience as a content writer and copy editor. His content has appeared in Business.com, ITPro.com, RHB Magazine, Advisors Magazine, and more. In his free time, he enjoys reading, catching up on TV shows and movies, watching hockey, and playing with his daughter.

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