Posted by: Howard Tarnoff, Founder and Managing Director of Customer Success, LLC
Over the holidays, I spent a great deal of time looking into what I like to call the Prospect Experience. In our first blog, we talked about how necessary it is to break down silos within your organization, and why many organizations need to better streamline their customer success process to do just that. So, let me connect the dots.
What many organizations fail to realize is that this process shouldn’t just start once someone becomes a customer. Instead, it’s key to start investing in your customer's experience before she has signed with you—and should even start with the very first steps of the Prospect Experience.
This is because at the beginning of the prospect journey, she is searching in places where marketing can’t even find her. Although these seekers have identified a business outcome they want to solve—for which your solution might be the right fit—it’s impossible for your marketing team to influence them your way because they’re only looking for social recommendations and talking to their peers.
Although marketers may think that the solution is to bombard potential prospects with even more messaging, you then run the risk of alienating them. If marketing’s voice is too loud, it can drown out the voice of your happy customers—which is what prospects really want to hear.
So, rather than driving away future customers with too much marketing, how do you support your happy customers instead?
Holistic Customer Success at every step of the way
Throughout the traditional buying journey, prospects usually become aware of your Customer’s Experience far before they make a buying decision. This is important because their evaluation of your organization won’t just be based on their appraisal of your solution. It’ll also be based on what they can see of your commitment to their success, such as how they support customers and celebrate their successes.
This will serve as a key differentiator when making their final buying decision. For example, Company A and B might have a very similar service… but at the end of the day, if it’s difficult to do business with Company A, whereas in Company B, customers are asked for input and have opportunities to share their successes with the solution, prospects will feel supported even before signing on with you.
That sharing of successes is what influences companies in their buyer’s journey well before they ever talk to the company, because prospects will see that customers are happy and engaged – which is much more trustworthy than marketing messaging alone. That’s why it’s important to make it as easy as possible for customers to Advocate on your behalf.
You also have to show customers who are willing to engage with their peers about their successes with your solutions that they can reap rewards from doing so. They have to see that, in talking about their successes, they’ll see benefits like becoming thought leaders in their field.
Once you have a system in place that allows your customers to feel valued for their contributions, it becomes a self-fulfilling circle. The people who are engaging fully with your organization are those who will be blogging about your solution, or commenting on LinkedIn. They’ll be speaking at events and talking to analysts. This participation then feeds the pool of potential customers that marketing can’t touch with direct insights about your business.
Holistic Customer Success in every part of the business
As we stated in our last blog, this approach to CX relies on the full participation of your company. Anyone who touches the customer experience in some way needs to be fully bought in to make it successful… and you might be asking yourself, why would anyone else in my organization care?
To sell Holistic Customer Success within your organization, you have to find the message that will resonate within each part of it. For example, your salespeople will care because they’ll have customers who are ready, willing and able to share successes with prospects. Sales management will see that their sales efficiency rises when new opportunities are peer-influenced and educated before the sale. Product marketing will see more input from customers on product releases, from those who are truly committed to being part of a customer experience community.
Even your engineering and product development team will start to see the benefits. With a group of happy customers who are ready and willing to share their feedback on your new products, the development team won’t need to spend as much time internally testing. The feedback they’re getting will also be more useful as it will be coming from the end user’s perspective rather than only from engineering. Plus, with an engaged and excited customer base, they’re likely to see a growth in early adopters—which benefits everyone else too.
How to measure Holistic Customer Success
Of course, to most organizations it all comes down to the hard KPIs that can be measured and tracked. Some of the categories that can be measured as KPIs are:
The bottom line is that real value will first and foremost be seen in an improved customer experience even at the prospect level. In supporting your happy customers throughout their time with you, and by rewarding them for their success, you’ll soon see why Holistic Customer Success affects the entire organization.
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