Although the idea of customer success (CS) is a relatively novel concept in business, in the last decade the field has already grown to play a vital role.
CS evolved as companies uncovered a need to maximise their customers’ lifetime value and ensure that new products were successfully adopted as a means to reduce churn and maximise the potential revenue from the existing customers. The need for CS really began to take off as software-driven services emerged, for which ongoing support is integral to customer retention.
For many, the idea of CS works reactively—if customers are unhappy, companies must change their approach. However, true success begins from the ground up, as early as onboarding.
It is somewhat naïve to see CS as reactive, and it limits the ways companies can engage their consumers and approach their technology platforms to assure greater satisfaction. Technology is central to CS, and it should be front and centre when considering the approach businesses take to ensure success. Planning for success should begin by considering how to build technology platforms that optimise the experience, instead of simply responding to crises.
Adoption starts before use
For most organisations, the role of the CS manager is still under development. Although the goal of CS is clear, the novelty of the field means that the right approach is still largely subjective. Even so, most managers have come to understand that success in many cases equals adoption and integration. Thus, the process of success begins long before customers ever launch the product.
The problem for many CS teams stems from a confluence of factors: the desire to use cutting edge technology at any cost; and not realising that throwing things at a wall to see if they stick isn’t always the best approach.
Indeed, when new technologies fail them, CS teams will quickly revert to legacy systems they’re familiar with, leaving a mess of new and old platforms that may not be compatible. For CS managers, this problem can’t be resolved by adding new tech or working on patchwork solutions after the fact.
The approach to building systems that optimise CS teams’ efforts must be focused on adoption and first use, not first fix. Moreover, decisions have to be made with the stakeholders in mind—not top-down, but holistically. In too many cases, executive teams buy into new technologies that can “optimise” or “streamline” efforts, only to find that CS teams may not need them or want them. The success of any new tool must include serious input from those that understand their business’s technological capabilities and requirements best— and within most organisations, CIOs are those individuals.
Introducing new tools that work together
Undoubtedly, there are several new tech tools that are crucial for companies’ CS initiatives. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, and big data analytics stand out as technologies that can redefine how companies improve their internal processes for better CS.
However, these additions require forethought and consideration, as well as a clear demonstration of value for team members that will rely on them. In many cases, companies are excited to jump on trends and add new “innovations” to existing processes, without considering their real impact on workflows and overall productivity.
This leads to integration or adoption problems that can result in a worst overall CS process, and lead to deteriorated customer experiences (CX). For instance, a CEO might tout the improved response times and intelligence a new analytics platform may bring to a CS team, but if the employees cannot integrate it easily into their existing data flows, or derive real-time value for it, the platform devolves into expensive window dressing.
The solution to this problem is not to add more for the sake of adding, but to deploy tools that bring greater value. Just as CIOs must contend with internal stakeholders when adding new layers to infrastructure, they are well-versed in understanding how to drive adoption and ensure smooth integrations. Moreover, they comprehend the real opportunities and limitations in their companies’ tech stables. This creates potential for greater success when technology is considered a centrepiece instead of an afterthought in building CS processes for long-term sustainability.
To create the optimal ecosystem for CS teams to operate and produce extraordinary CX, the key is to consider how technology will be built holistically. That is, creating tools that are sure to work, and can demonstrate their value quickly and effectively.
For example, adding AI can be revolutionary when accomplished correctly. The ability to reduce workloads and provide better responses for businesses is invaluable. When combined with analytics engines that work or project management systems that can actually streamline operations, the technology readily proves its worth. CIOs recognise this better than most, as their job, more than just overseeing IT, is cantered on stakeholder success.
Finding novel applications is key
Technology serves as a key driver of CS in several ways. More than simply offering tools, it gives CS teams the platforms they need to develop significantly better customer experiences in the long run. Using tools that improve internal adoption can help companies get on the same tech page and use the platforms that optimise their time.
Similarly, embracing AI can help automate many of the more complex parts of parsing data and interactions, proving better insights for managers and leading to smarter CX solutions., Combining these technologies with contextual and machine learning can take them even further by providing systems that continuously build on themselves and improve. More than boosting profits, these platforms result in more engaged and productive team members, which in turn enhances their CS activities.
Nevertheless, the focus when introducing your team to these new systems must not be on simply layering new complications. Instead, there must be a conscious effort made to create systems that can anticipate their users’ needs and provide a smoother CS pipeline that results in better outcomes. Businesses that realise a proactive approach to CS technology is better than a reactive one will always build with an eye on the future, instead of two on the past.
Adi Janowitz, RVP of Customer Success EMEA, WalkMe (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: WalkMe