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Imagine you took a poll at your company across all departments and proposed the question, “Which is more important: customer success or customer satisfaction?” You’re likely thinking that customer success and customer satisfaction are one in the same, or at least very closely related. And you’re not wrong. Focusing on customer success ultimately does lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Your CSM team already knows that the customer success function cannot survive in a silo, which is why ensuring customer success is a company-wide initiative – beginning with the executive team – is a critical first step.
But there are several other ways that a focus on customer success can lead to improved customer satisfaction:
One of the biggest responsibilities of the customer success function is ensuring end users are successful in using the solutions and features that they purchased for the entire time they are customers. SaaS or tech-based products can be quite complex, which is why the average user needs assistance in understanding how the product and functionality should be used so they can leverage it to its fullest – continually. This means paying close attention to usage reports and customer health metrics to ensure that as the product evolves, so too does the user’s ability to keep up.
As you probably have experienced firsthand yourself, software that comes with no training or sparse documentation is just plain frustrating to use. Your team may well have rich documentation and a strong onboarding process that is fed to the customer early on, but all too often, users are left on their own after a few months.
Takeaway: Confused customers are unhappy customers, while customers who are trained and empowered will tend to be much more satisfied over their journey with your company. A strong onboarding process can certainly help set customers up for success, but training needs to continue throughout the entire customer relationship. A good time to check in and ‘take the pulse’ of customers is during internal quarterly business reviews (QBRs).
CSMs attend to customers’ needs, but customers won’t be satisfied unless you meet their wants, too. A customer success department that is truly making customers successful must keep an eye on both wants and needs. Even if you’re meeting a customer’s needs, you’re likely to lose that customer to a competitor that can meet their wants, too.
It’s nearly impossible to go a day without hearing words like “churn”, “retention”, and “revenue”. Those 3 phrases go hand-in-hand with ensuring that your organization is set up for long term success and that your customers are happy with your products.
This is why organizations must approach customer success in terms of what you’re delivering (the product itself) and customer satisfaction in terms of the way that you’re delivering it (the customer journey). Looking at it this way, the role of the customer success team encompasses both customer satisfaction and customer success.
Takeaway: In the business of SaaS, churn, retention, and revenue are critical factors in measuring many other key aspects of business such as annual recurring revenue (ARR), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and even projected growth rate. Make sure your CSM team is tuned into leading customer health indicators that can detect issues with customers, such as sentiment, engagement, and ROI, and more.
Another way your customer success team can create long term satisfied customers is by getting to know their individual business needs on a deep level. Teaching customers how to use your products is important, but its value is hampered if you don’t first take the time to learn the customer’s goals, challenges, and opportunities.
Understanding your customers inside and out should be your first step in cultivating a mutually beneficial partnership. And in order to truly know them, you need to spend time asking important questions of each person that you work with — top to bottom in the organization. This means establishing relationships with every person that’s associated with your business, whether the decision-making level or the influencer-level.
Takeaway: Be sure to ask specific questions in order to get to know your customer’s goals and KPIs. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
How Does Your Organization Focus on Customer Satisfaction?