In this series of blogs on developing your customer success program, we’ve looked at how you understand and gather data on churn, how you report on customer losses, and how you find out how your customers really feel about your product through tracking your Net Promoter Score (NPS). To make this a valuable exercise for your company, it’s crucial that you also take this insight and feed it back into the way your organization works—companies that do this can dramatically improve their retention rates.
To start implementing organizational change off the back of everything we have covered so far means looking at your customer journey and understanding the touch points with your organization along the route. Once you’ve done this, you can use the data around churn, loss reporting, and customer engagement to identify where you should make improvements in your customer experience.
To create a journey map, start from before potential customers properly engage with your product at the stage of need generation and initial consideration. You also need to look closely at how you engage with customers through the initial evaluation phase, before finally looking at the customer experience from the moment of purchase, to delivery and installation, to the final stage of customer usage.
From here, you can note what steps in the process are going well and those that are not going so well. This should show you the areas you need to work on to improve the customer experience. Once you’ve done this, you need to identify who is responsible for all those interactions, which aside from anything else is a powerful way of breaking down organizational silos.
It’s also important you set key performance indicators (KPIs) for each stage and then measure them regularly. And it’s not good enough just to make those changes once, you then have to constantly test and challenge any assumption you make about your own performance. Assumptions often are wrong or have large gaps in them, so you should always bring customers into your assumptions to validate your thinking.
This is where having good account management in place plays a hugely important role in this process, as having as many conversations with as many customers as possible is critical. A direct line of communication with customers is imperative—they need to feel engaged, and know who and how to contact their main point of contact. If you perform account management well, you become the early warning system and should cut down on the requirement for retention effort in the first place. By a wide margin, the best early warning indicator for me that something is going wrong comes via our channel sales team.
Good account management for both you and your customer provides value in a number of ways:
You are the customer’s connection to his/her vendor. If they see value in you, they will see value in the partnership as a whole. By listening to customer feedback and using that to drive improvement, your customers will appreciate being heard and subsequently see your value as a partner. But you must show you are effectively implementing the strategies presented.
Ultimately, many of your customers will be looking for long-term providers and are willing to pay for quality; differentiate yourself by offering the best service available.
Other blogs in this series:
Kevin Kirkpatrick is senior director, customer success, SolarWinds MSP.
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