Before we get started, can we get one thing straight? OK. No matter your industry, clients (or customers) are the heartbeat of all of our organisations. We simply can’t function without them.
It’s quite easy, and extremely common, for ‘customer focus’ to just be thrown into a business as a mission statement. We’ve all heard it; ‘customers are our main priority’, ‘our customers are always right’, ‘we always put the customer first’. But let me tell you; your promised customer focus just isn’t enough.
Customer success is not just about box ticking for their satisfaction; a company can’t exist without a customer’s continued prosperity, positive feedback, mutual respect and advocacy. This is a shared responsibility, something all departments and employees should live and breathe. It’s a culture, an overarching commitment, a framework that underpins everything you do.
My everyday is client services, you shouldn’t be surprised by my preaching.
Something that really stood out to me at INBOUND 2020 was something Heidi Lasker said in her talk about customer success. She said, and I wholeheartedly agree, a positive customer success culture is a competitive differentiator. You’ll win more deals with an aligned, collaborative success culture. How we make people feel, especially in troubling times such as these, is absolutely crucial and will continue to set us apart from others. We don’t just need customers, we need our customers to be our advocates.
Bit more convinced? OK, now what? According to Heidi Lasker, it’s as easy as this:
- Build foundations and core values
- Banish silos to connect all functions
- Use data, data and more data to measure effectiveness
Build foundations and core values
To build foundations, remember the four pillars;
- Empathy. This one is a given; put yourself in your customer’s shoes to understand why they feel a certain way. Acknowledging this will lead to common ground and mutually beneficial outcomes.
- Context. This is the ‘why you do what you do’. In order to get buy-in from all departments, work needs to be meaningful and everyone needs to fully understand both your mission and the strategic values aligned to customer success.
- Feedback. Simple: ask for feedback and then actually use it. Both parts are important, and you can’t have one without the other. Lasker summarises it well: Ask, listen, respond and adjust.
- Transparency. Again, simple: not only does it build trust, customers want transparency and they appreciate it. Customers would rather just know to avoid endless ‘beating around the bush’.
Banish silos to connect all functions
One big threat to building a customer success culture is operating in silos. If teams are working independently and keeping juicy details to themselves, important information isn't being passed between departments. You need to get the big boys and girls on board to banish silos, I’m talking C Suite level. You don’t need to build a big case, they just need to know these key points:
- Customer retention and increased lifetime value helps to decrease customer acquisition cost.
- If you do it, and do it well, it results in customer advocacy which is your strongest marketing tool.
All teams have to understand the big picture, even if they don’t interface with customers. At FINALLY we have an account management team who represent our clients internally, but every member of the FINALLY team knows how much of an impact our full service offering makes. Trust in our counterparts is huge; all roles matter because when everyone can see the impact they are making, they are more invested.
Data and metrics
Here, you’re looking for trends in the customer base and keeping teams accountable with objectives, whilst measuring how you’re doing through key results. Measure, re-measure and measure again. Include both qualitative and quantitative information; I’m talking biannual NPS scores and satisfaction surveys.
Data and reporting opens up the conversation to everyone, internally and externally. The trends you find can guide the actions you take.
Customer success summed up
If you’re still with me, thank you. You’re a people person like me. If I lost you somewhere around ‘before we get started’, let me summarise:
- We can’t function without customers
- It’s not enough to say you’re customer focused
- A positive customer success culture is a competitive differentiator
- Empathy is crucial
- Feedback is only useful if you actually act on it
- Every role matters; this is a shared responsibility
If you’re interested to hear more about how FINALLY handles customer success, or want to share tips you have from your own organisation, connect with me on LinkedIn or give the FINALLY offices a call.