Customer Success is often confused with Customer Service as they sound so similar but they’re actually very different.
Customer service (also known as customer support) is a reactive function, centering around answering customer queries, troubleshooting issues and delivering positive outcomes for customer problems.
Customer success, on the other hand, is proactive – focussing on nurturing customer relationships and building partnerships. Customer Success adds value by anticipating customer needs, providing guidance and expertise to ensure customers get maximum value from the product or service.
Over the last decade interest in Customer Success has grown significantly as more businesses understand the value and opportunities the function offers.
For many businesses today a customer’s main point of contact is often an Account Manager whose role has similarities to that of a customer success manager. A key distinction between the two roles are the motivations and outcomes. Account managers are predominantly focussed on closing a sale and cross-selling or upselling whereas customer success managers build relationships and help a customer succeed through the product.
For account managers, success lies in financial gains but for customer success theirs is entwined with their customers – if a customer is happy, active and achieving value then they are achieving their goal.
Customer Success is crucial for businesses as it provides a barometer of customer sentiment beyond standard satisfaction scores. A good customer success team will not only have a deep understanding of their customers’ business but the ability to use this knowledge to anticipate needs and deliver outstanding, tailored service to meet them.
Maintaining strong product/service engagement through regular outreach communication is also key. Educating customers about your product and encouraging suggestions and feedback via calls and emails provides a number of reciprocal benefits. Customers become part of your journey and invested in the process, creating an environment where you’re able to adapt and mould your product around your customers evolving needs.
Customer success has a direct impact on the bottom line by encouraging renewals and advocacy, maintaining engagement and satisfaction and reducing churn and improving revenue.
No matter how amazing your product, leaving customers to fend for themselves creates unnecessary friction and a breeding ground for discontent. No one knows your product better than you and expecting customers to go it alone with only tutorials for company is a recipe for disaster. The time customers spend figuring out your product is time they could be achieving value. Coaching customers will help them realise value sooner and reduce the likelihood of churn.
Having customer success as part of the ecosystem strengthens your product offering by giving customers the tools and confidence to get the most out of it. They’re also safe in the knowledge that they can count proactive support and guidance.
Customer Success is a really important part of any business where you can have a huge impact not only on the experience of your customers but your business too.
Understanding customers’ experiences and how they use and feel about the product focusses development, building features that help them continually realise value. Happy customers are loyal customers and loyal customers become great advocates which every successful business needs.