This may not be a groundbreaking concept, but it’s somehow still getting lost:
If you want your customer to be successful, they need to be at the center of every initiative.
Customer success should be your company’s number-one priority. It may seem like a given, but when push comes to shove and your service is lacking clearly-defined deliverables, your customer is not succeeding. And when there’s diminished success, there’s diminished happiness. When success is out of reach, decision-makers begin to reconsider.
So, when it comes to customer success, any B2B sales or marketing model needs to be committed to their client’s progress and growth. Here, we will examine some milestone markers to keep in mind for higher customer success and retention.
Know Your Client and Know Yourself
A wise professor once told me, “a great writer writes about what they know.” While at surface-level I thought to myself, “...duh,” the quote resonated with me throughout the years, even as I work collaboratively with my team today. Anyone worth their salt knows their field or skill at masterful level. When it comes to your customers, it’s crucial for your sales, marketing and success teams to know the client extensively. Familiarize yourself with the customer’s service and/or product line; take stock of their entire operation. Note what their business model and customer experience is like. Also, be sure to use similar technologies to familiarize yourself with the space. Leverage tools like chat platforms, meeting scheduling or workflow automation to make your conversation with customers accessible — this will keep you in step, gain inside and valuable knowledge, and create deeper connections. What can you do today to become more integrated into their world?
Keep in mind that in order to prove useful and bring success to your customer, you must first know yourself and what you can offer. Part of knowing your customer is being completely versed in how you can help them succeed specifically. If you’re a roadside billboard advertising agency trying to help a Fortune 500 company’s new product with their online relevance and visibility, you may be in a bit over your head. The moral of the story is when you’re confident in your abilities as a business, you are in a better position to provide value to your customers. The more you put into learning your product, the more agile you can be and shift your conversations to serve the customer’s situation. What can you do today to expand your product knowledge?
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Have Measured Deliverables and Deadlines
You can pitch and promise your clients until you’re blue in the face, but numbers and results don’t lie. Your client must trust that you’ll deliver — they’ve hired you and are basing this relationship on your time to value. Through goal-setting, you can pinpoint together what the desired outcome and expectations are, how to get there, and how to measure it. If your customer wants to create twice as many leads for Q4, it’s up to you to deliver those success metrics. By forging a thorough, adequate plan on Day 1, you’ll set your customer (and yourself) up for a successful experience.
When the goals are met (or surpassed, you rockstar), it’s time for you to gauge your customer’s level of satisfaction. Most executive leadership will be quick to tell you if they’re dissatisfied, but a happy customer might be a bit harder to spot. Is no feedback taken as good feedback? Not in this space, so ask the tough questions to make sure you’re doing everything they expected. The most important part of your plan is consistent communication. How often are you checking in with your customers and asking the direct questions around their satisfaction?
Plan for the Future
Because of your excellent planning and execution, your client has now dominated the market and is planning for world domination, right? If you’ve got multiple clients, take a look at your portfolio — why are your top tier clients so successful? Take a look at their business models, sales funnels and marketing strategies; what exactly are the reasons for their success?
Finding a common theme between the success of your clients can help you as a service provider. It can help to determine your own strengths. It may also be helpful to learn from successful clients on the roster to gain feedback, replicate the areas of the engagement they proved valuable, and look for areas to improve. When success hits, keep the foot and the gas and begin to find your next avenue to achievement.
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Keep them Around
Customer success and customer satisfaction aren’t the same thing, but they are usually hand in hand. When your clients are peaking and finding their way to the top of the food chain, it is hard to not feel a sense of happiness and satisfaction. And when they’re successful, your opportunities to upsell and climb the ladder increase exponentially. Keep your customers happy and they’ll keep you around. On the flip side, when things aren’t happening for customers as we had hoped, it’s crucial to lose the defensiveness. It’s time to lower the sales or business shield, and emotionally connect with your customer on what the challenges are. If they feel as though you’re there to help them through it, and genuinely have the willingness to go above and beyond with a clear plan, they’ll keep you around then too. While the effectiveness of your product is important, your honest and trustworthy relationship can make a difference in downtimes.
Customers are the center of your business. Everything you do, across teams and systems, should revolve around their satisfaction and needs. After every interaction with your customers, gauge the level of satisfaction and progress made on deliverables. If you’ve done all that you can to learn their business, become an internal expert, and seek indicators of your most successful customers, you’ll continue to have a returning, satisfied customer base!