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We tend to like doing business with companies that put us, the customer, first. There is nothing better than going to restaurants, stores, and shops where you can tell they put us, the customer first. It usually leaves us with an awesome experience we tell our friends about.
Just like the example above, in the software industry we prefer to do business with companies that that take care of our needs. They put us first by helping us solve pervasive problems with simple—yet powerful solutions.
Raymond Albert Kroc was an American entrepreneur best known for expanding McDonald’s from a local chain to the world’s most profitable restaurant franchise operation, according to biography.com. Kroc, included in Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th Century’, said this about putting customers first:
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc.
At ClientSuccess, we believe that when customers are first in your organization, everything else falls into its proper place. When the customer is true north, the product is built around what customers need in order to be successful; marketing is concerned about sharing the success of customers and attracting the right kinds of new business; finance strives to create a seamless invoice and payment process; and sales ensures the process is efficient and in the best interest of the customer. When all departments across the organization work together to ensure the customer is true north, then customer success is truly the goal of the entire organization.
How can your organization achieve this? How can every department ensure that the customer is true north and that every consideration, question, or opportunity has the customer in mind, first and foremost?
We’ve compiled 6 questions to ask internally of your executive team to ensure that every department - from marketing to sales to administration - has their compass set on customer success.
While this question may seem obvious, it’s the most important question to consider when making sure your compass is set towards customer success. What do your customers actually want from your organization? What do they need from you in order to be successful? What are their goals, and how will your product or service help them reach their goals and KPIs? An all-too-often problem that organizations face is that they are trying to be all things to all customers, rather than focusing in on the core areas of their business.
Is your organization guilty of over promising and under delivering? There’s nothing that can break a bond of trust faster than committing to something - whether it be a product update, a marketing event, or even a pricing structure change - than not following through. If your organization has made commitments in the past that haven’t been delivered upon either in a timely manner or haven’t been delivered on at all, then your customer compass needs some adjusting. Organizations that strive to ensure their customers are true north focus on under promising and over delivering and surprising and delighting their customers.
When your customers are looking for information about a product, service, or even a how-to guide, is it easily accessible to them? Do they know where to locate the information? One of the most common frustrations of customers, regardless of industry, is easily locating information that they need. Creating a content repository can be time consuming and expensive, but it’s worth evaluating your current processes to be sure that customers can find the information they need when they need it. There’s nothing more aggravating for customers than having to save every Wiki, blog, email newsletter, and email - all with various links to documents.
It’s important to understand that your customers are using countless other products and services, all of which they need to understand fully and keep up on. Ensure your organization stands out by keeping all of your content across product, services, marketing, sales, and finance organized and easily accessible.
Customer Success Managers (CSMs) and other team members across your organization are interacting with customers on a daily basis. CSMs build meaningful relationships with customers by engaging with them, asking questions, and working with them to solve problems and deliver meaningful solutions. When customers give feedback on processes, products, services, or even team members, how do you ensure your organization acts on that valuable information? Do you have a process in place to ensure every piece of feedback is listened to and evaluated to determine if an action should be taken?
When customers provide feedback, they want to ensure that they are listened to and understood and that their voice is considered - even if not everything is implemented.
Does your internal team have the tools they need and the empowerment to make decisions on behalf of customers? Are your team members constantly having to go up the chain of command to solve even the simplest issue for customers? Customers expect that your CSM team and others they interact with directly have the tools they need to resolve issues and solve problems immediately. If your CSM team hasn’t been given the information or the empowerment to be successful, then how will your customers be successful? Investing internally to ensure your CSM team and others that are customer facing are highly qualified is never a waste of resources. The more you invest in tools, training, and resources internally, the more you invest in your customer's’ ultimate success with your organization.
Just like anyone, your customers enjoy feeling appreciated. As an executive, it’s important to encourage your customer facing team members to write hand-written thank you notes or to send a small gift after a positive exchange with a customer. Did a customer give a great piece of feedback regarding your product? Did a customer go out of his or her way to speak at a recent event? Did a customer stay up all night trying to fix a problem they were encountering? All of these scenarios are appropriate for a kind word or a thoughtful gesture, such as a gift. Showing appreciation to customers - even during a difficult situation - will show them that you care ultimately about their success not only as an organization, but their success as individuals.
Has your organization evaluated which way your compass is facing? It’s easy to get off track and point the compass towards product, marketing, sales, or revenue. While all of those things are important, the customer is the most important of all. Without a successful and thriving customer base, none of the other aspects matter to the business. Begin asking your executive team some of the questions above to determine if your compass is pointed towards your customers. If it is, that’s awesome - keep growing and improving! If it’s not, begin prioritizing where you need to make adjustments to get back on track.
Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can approach customer success with the customer at the center:
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.