Customer success should be about the customer, about using your product to add value to others.
Customer Success Management (CSM) is an area where a lot of individuals are paying attention to at the moment. Technology and software companies evolved the concept of customer success and are thus mostly responsible for the mainstream popularity of the term. If you are big on technology in the commerce or service industry, you must have heard people say things like,
“Customer success is primarily tied to Software as a service (Saas).”
The popularity of customer success has its benefits. However, it has also attracted a lot of misconceptions. The fact that well-meaning individuals peddle some of these myths does not make them any less harmful. At worst, they could throw you off your trajectory, causing you to implement strategies that would deny your customers. In the best-case scenario, you will only have wasted your time following the advice of these hacks.
In this post, we will be busting some of these popular myths. (Apologies in advance if you find that some fact you believed to be genuine actually was a myth.)
Customer Success only relates to SaaS businesses
We will start from here, seeing as I already mentioned it above. This is a constant refrain you will find with even supposed experts of customer success. However, its popularity does not make it any less untrue. Customer success relates to Saas businesses AND every other type of business. From telecoms to laundry services and even betting sites like csgo bets, every business can benefit from the tools used in customer success. As long as you are catering to customers, then you need to pay attention to customer success.
You can apply customer success to any role as long as it leads to customer satisfaction and retention. Rather than wondering if customer success relates only to Saas businesses, you should be asking: “how can I apply customer success to my peculiar business?”
Customer success = customer support
This is also something people who have a little understanding of customer success say. There are certainly some similarities between the two concepts, but they are not the same. Customer support refers to the system put in place to receive and address complaints from customers. Do you remember the person you called when you had an issue with your internet provider? That is a customer support staff.
Customer Success Management requires an entirely different set of skills. Companies that implement Success Management Strategies understand that being proactive is the best way to predict a customer’s reaction. Thus, they guide the customer through the journey, leading to the desired outcome they want.
CSM is anticipatory and not reactionary. It predicts customer behavior and provides a solution for needs even before they arise.
The difference between customer support and customer support management can be illustrated by imagining the difference between taking your car for routine maintenance and having it towed in when it breaks down on the freeway. In the former scenario, you do not wait for the problem to arise first before seeking the solution.
This is not to say that customer support is not necessary for business growth, far from it. The ease with which a customer gets a hold of your support staff and has an issue resolved is a critical component of your customer success metric. However, in order to be accurate and appropriately apply the skills required by each term, you should know that customer success is not the same as customer support.
Increased product use equals customer satisfaction
“If they are using the product this much, they must love it, right?” Wrong. This is an assumption a lot of CSMs make. They believe that once the customer logs infrequently and makes use of the product, then the customer must be getting value from the product. Well, this is not entirely true. Constant product usage can be indicative of customer satisfaction, but could also be because:
1. The customer is unaware that alternatives even exist.
2. The customer lacks viable alternatives.
3. The customer has invested so much into the business and cannot afford to go somewhere else.
4. The product is integral to its business.
What this means is that eventually, if the customer finds an alternative, they’ll dump your product. Hence, in addition to product usage, you need to ask some other questions, such as: Why are my customers logging in every day? What features are they making use of frequently? Are they getting value from my product?
When you answer these questions, you’d have a comprehensive view of your customer’s behavior. Regardless of the rate of product usage, if an integral feature of the product is being ignored, you should be concerned.
Customer support depends on machines solely
Truly, some arguments could be made in support of automation in customer management. For instance, CSMs have to rely on automation for greater coverage. Automation is the only means to reach out to customers en masse concerning new features, weekly reports, or upcoming events. These sort of impersonal messages are effective for establishing contact, not necessarily for building relationships. Customer success thrives on the relationship built and sustained with the customers; hence automation is insufficient as a strategy.
Customer Support Management will, of necessity, require team members to incorporate strategies that involve personally reaching out to customers. Just imagine how much it would mean to you to get a personal email from a brand whose product you use. No matter the level of automation a company uses, it can never displace or match personal interaction. On the other hand, without automation, a company can only hope to reach all of its customers.
If anything, the two are interrelated and codependent. An effective CMS realizes and incorporates this.
Customer Success involves a lot of hand-holding.
This myth is directly below the one on automation because of how closely related they are. Newbies often assume that if automation is not the way to go, then a full-on strategy involving constant interaction with customers is ideal. This is also wrong.
It is this sort of thinking that pushes CSMs to make constant (often irritating) calls to customers. You probably have gotten one of
those calls that go along the lines of, “Hey, I am Susan from so and so, calling to check in with you.” You may feel happy and elated the first few times, but eventually, the fad wears off, and the calls become a bother.
Of course, there are times you may have to ascertain where the customer is on the success path. However, it should not be frequent or without purpose. Be sure you are adding value to the customer every time you come in contact with them. Thus, before getting in contact with customers, you can gather documentation, smoothen out onboarding, as well as optimize the automation process.
You have to save every Customer
Short answer: no, you don’t.
This is simply because that will be impossible. Trying to save every customer will be akin to setting yourself up for failure. You’ll end up saying things like, “I tried everything, but nothing seemed to work!”
Some customers will have no use for your product. No matter the strategies you employ, they will still churn. When you try to keep them, you will only be prolonging the inevitable. It will thus lead to frustration and bad blood between you and the customers.
Part of your task in seeking to achieve customer success is identifying what your customers want. You then have to take a step further to decide on what they don’t want, and what doesn’t work for them.
Identify the target customers and what parts of your product provide value for them. Then invest time and energy into refining and smoothening them out. If you struggle to keep customers that aren’t meant for you, all of your efforts will end in futility.
Additionally, when new customers come to you, and you discover that your product may not work for them, kindly turn them away.
If you are the kind of person who likes to brag about the number of customers they have, you may not have the heart to turn customers away. But that even is a flawed mindset to approach customer success with. Customer success should be about the customer, about using your product to add value to others. You will find it extremely easy to reject customers when you have the correct view of customer success.
Two things to bear in mind:
- Keep your eyes on customer satisfaction and not the numbers.
- A bird at hand is worth many others in the wild.
Churn is the fault of the customer
It is not.
Customers sometimes leave for reasons unrelated to your product. They may be prompted by factors which you have no control over, or which you cannot change. However, that is often not the case. In a vast majority of cases, churn happens because of YOU.
Now, what factors could cause customers to churn? There are two of them:
1. The product is not a fit for them.
2. They aren’t realizing any value from your product.
If your products are not ideal for your customers then there is something wrong with your conversion process. If an individual gets converted successfully to a paying customer, then the idea, presumably, is that the product should work for them. Hence, when this turns out not to be the case, then something is wrong with this process. You need to take a timeout to restrategize. It might mean tinkering with your leads and marketing mechanism. Additionally, you should learn enough restraint to know that you do not have to sell to every customer. It is better to lose some money in the interim than to amass a high customer acquisition cost that will occur in the long run.
Secondly, churn happens when the customers aren’t achieving any value with the product. This could happen when there is a deficit in product-customer fit. This could also be because the value of the product is not apparent. As you can see, this is also YOUR fault.
You may think, “Well, that may be true, but sharing blames helps no one!” That is also not true. When you realize where the problem is from, you can then make changes to obtain your desired outcome. Hence, if customers churn because of an omission on your part, then you need to pay attention. Churn will not go away on its own. You will have to be deliberate about putting plans in place to put an end to it.
A high Net Promoter Score translates to customer retention
A Net Promoter Score is useful in a lot of instances. It shows you the likelihood of a customer promoting your product. It also can be a guide to determine how satisfied a customer is with your product (in certain qualified instances.) However, you will be wrong to use it as a sole determiner of customer retention.
You could be asking why not. Well, firstly, the Net Promoter Score may be inaccurate or incomplete. There are certain customers you have who may not be bothered to take the NPS survey. Additionally, their response, and score they give you, could be motivated by their state of mind at the time of taking the survey.
Hence, a customer could say, “I am really happy right now, so I’ll give them a 10.” Or, “This came at the worst possible moment, so why don’t I give them a 2.” This gives an inaccurate picture of the state of the customer. More so, regardless of the feedback from the customer, if you fail to follow up, your ratings will go down.
For you to gauge customer satisfaction and retention, you need to have the full picture. Relying on the Net Promoter Score alone will be a terrible mistake.
Now that we have that cleared up, I believe you have the concept of customer success down pat. The idea is that by identifying what the myths are, you will also learn the true state of things. Here’s to better customer retention! Good luck!