The desired outcome of this stage is to ensure that your customer’s objectives are being met, expectations are being managed and that the value delivered is being communicated back to your customers. The fundamental programs your customer support team should have:
- Business Reviews
- Value Reporting
- Voice of the customer
Let’s look at these in detail…
Business Reviews refers to the ‘process for assessing your customer’s success with your products and services. The definition of Customer Success should be based on your customer’s effectiveness at achieving their designed outcomes.
A couple things you should assess for your customers include:
- How frequently are they engaging with your service?
- What % of your customer base is actively engaging with your service.
- Current business value:
- What specific features or services are they gaining value from?
- What results am I delivering to them or helping them achieve?
- Expansion opportunities:
- What other products or services can help them address an important and unaddressed need?
Business reviews should be conducted first internally and then externally.
Internally, the account manager, customer support and the product team should discuss and review the value delivered to your current customer. Your customer support team can share expressed frustrations and desires experienced through their interactions with users. Your product team can share on upcoming products and services that may be of value to the customer. The role of the account manager is to effectively integrate their knowledge of the customer’s needs with the company’s value offering; maximizing the value delivered to their customer.
Externally, the account manager should actually sit down with customers to talk about how they feel about your organization and ways for you and your team to improve. The cadence should vary on the customer segment. You should have at least a quarterly check-in with your key accounts, ensuring you are frequently listening and acting on their feedback. For mid and smaller accounts, you can provide annual progress reviews.
Escalation: the processes and mechanisms for escalating customer problems, removing bottlenecks, and minimizing impact on customer relationships.
A well-designed escalation process is almost like an orchestra, successfully bringing new players in and out of the resolution process as needed.
|A basic escalation process could look like the following:
Once the account manager is brought into the picture he has 2 main responsibilities. The first is to remove necessary roadblocks to resolution. For example, the account manager might be able to leverage his account expertise and escalate the problem to the right champion or individual on the customer side. The second role of the account manager is to mitigate the risk of customer dissatisfaction. By proactively contacting the customer, explaining the situation at hand and the measures taken to resolve it; the account manager can avoid problems escalating to the top of the enterprise.
The speed and cadence at which different individuals are brought into the customer support process should depend on the problem at hand. Problems that are mission-critical to your customer should be given much more attention and have a lower tolerance for slow resolution time.
You should also distinguish your escalation process by the quality of the relationship your customer has with you. For example, if a customer is a ‘Red’ or ‘At Risk’ account, you should support them in a way that matches their expectations. Failing to adapt to the level of service your customer expects is a sure way to lose customers.
Value Reporting: the process by which you communicate the value gained by using your products and services to your customers.
One alternative is on a per-use basis. For example, you can leverage every time a customer uses a product and benefits to ‘inform’ them. A common example is the use of discount codes on purchases and e-commerce sites frequently tells customers ‘how much money they saved’, rewarding them with instant gratification. The goal of this per-use case is to create micro-moments of appreciation and euphoria between your customer and your products. Beware of abusing this means of communication, as customers can quickly become desensitized and even unhappy to receive these messages.
Another alternative can be through periodic digital communication. You can automate weekly or monthly emails that give a specific stakeholder a summary of their product’s usage and any relevant customer metrics they may care about. For example, you may report ‘time in app’ by their customer base, or total transaction volume. The tradeoff to consider is that most customers easily ignore or overlook these emails or newsletters. This method is extremely useful if you are looking to scale ‘value reporting’ with a large set of non-key customer accounts.
In the enterprise B2B software case, the most effective technique for value reporting is through in-person meetings led by customer account managers. Account managers should aim to meet once a quarter with their key accounts and share the progress and value delivered to the customer over the most recent period of time. They can leverage the engagement data collected by their product and support teams, and share these as well as other relevant metrics with the customer. This method requires a high-touch approach to communicating with customer; but allows for the most intimate degree of discussion interaction with your customers.
Voice of the Customer
Voice of the Customer: the way you collect and manage customer feedback.
In the enterprise software space, you will most likely receive multiple forms of feedback. Traditional channels include surveys, Net Promoter Scores, and customer focus groups.
If your business is dependent fostering strong relationships with your customers, you can build a customer advisory board where you invite a select group of your key accounts to meet with your company executive team periodically to advise on ways to increase the customer value.
The desired outcome of a “Voice of the Customer” program is to be able to channel customer inputs and feedback into your organization; empowering your organization to better align your value proposition to your customer’s needs.
The goal of this post was to provide you with toolkit of programs you can employ to ensure that your customer’s objectives are being met, expectations are being managed and that the value delivered is being communicated back to your customers.
When done effectively and continuously over time, you’ll be able to grow your customer relationships, build loyalty and advocacy, and unlock the potential for sustainable growth!