Customer Success is Crucial

“Customer Success is about more than delivering service or support.” – Lincoln Murphy

Referring to the quote above, it is clear that providing the bare minimum service will not lead to customer success and without it; customers might not stay around long enough, as they would not perceive value in the association. Companies and their employees must consistently aim for service excellence through speedy responses and effective resolutions of problems for their customers and must strive to understand the needs and requirements of the customers, fulfilling of which, would lead to their success. Customer success translates to more business and success for the company too – happy customers remain loyal, come back with more business and provide top class referrals and testimonials. Customer success then is the solution for a steady revenue, good profits, growing customer base and long-term success for a company. Given that the return on investment is high, does your company focus on customer success as a means to becoming and staying profitable?

As mentioned several times, customer service is the responsibility of each person in the company and hence customer success inevitably is too. A company must ensure that everyone within the organization understands their responsibility in this regard and in fact, the overall culture and goals must include the aspect of customer success. The challenge however, is that success is a subjective term – it is unique and means different things to each individual customer, making it tougher for companies to understand. Whatever the approach, what companies must not do is use an ‘umbrella’ strategy to cover all its customers. To help customers achieve success, a thorough understanding of their distinct problems, requirements and view of success is essential.

To achieve customer success, a company must use real-time information, harness the power of technology and align everyone in the company towards this common goal. It is about ensuring that customers find value from being associated with your company and using its products – meaning that they are meeting their goals and targets through this association, leading to customer success. Companies must adopt a proactive and responsive approach towards their customers for any visible differences to surface from the start of the association. How does your company measure and determine customer success? It is certainly not enough to define it – must be tangible.

Before a company decides to target a new customer, it would be essential to understand whether the customer would be right for the company, whether the company’s products and services would bring customer success and whether the customer would require the association with the company for a long time. The process of customer success begins right from the time that a company is able to establish that the association with the customer will be beneficial for both – this is a critical part of the association and must not be neglected. The fact is that all the effort and resources that are required to gain new customers would be a waste without doing the groundwork and research as mentioned. Customers too, must fit in with the company’s goals, vision and brand and be willing to cooperate to achieve success for both parties. Acquiring the ‘wrong’ customers would have detrimental consequences – poor experiences, loss of business, customer ill will, negative word of mouth and whole lot of other damaging results.

To achieve sustainable customer success, it is important that companies spend time with them educating them and informing them of every aspect of their company. This must be a repeated activity, throughout the customer’s journey with the company. In addition, every person within the organization must receive training and coaching such that each person understands the kind of support each individual customer would need. Employees must understand the value of promises and endeavour to deliver on whatever promises have been made to the customer. It is critical to reiterate that serving customers and achieving customer success is not the sole responsibility of the customer facing teams. Without combined effort from all, systems and processes will not work effectively leading to poor results for customers. Smart companies weave customer satisfaction into the performance framework for all such that everyone is completely aware of their role’s responsibility in achieving it. When all departments work together, they would be more aware of the challenges faced by each other and the kind of support the customer facing employees required from them. The company’s goals, vision and priorities must revolve around customer success and satisfaction – an outward and growth, mind-set. Employees must view themselves as being responsible for customer success – irrespective of their designation, role and job description.

Employees are more likely to know what they are expected to do with regard to customer success when the benchmarks and goals are clearly laid down. However, in order to cement their behaviour, companies must recognize and reward efforts made that result in enhanced levels of customer satisfaction and retention. It is the duty of the company to provide adequate compensation, good working conditions and able leadership before it expects employees to commit and deliver value. Customer success, then, is a factor of how well a company treats its employees to start with. When customers receive great service, they become happier and perceive success in the association, leading to the growth and success of the company and its members.

Customer success is a very broad realm and covers myriad aspects within the business relationship. Companies must ensure that every interaction is easy, transparent and honest, especially the billing and payment process. Customers should be able to pay with their preferred method and within a payment cycle that is most convenient for them. If this aspect of the relationship causes inconvenience, delays and hassles, it becomes a possible cause of a breakdown in the relationship. Companies must ensure that they provide enough time for customers to pay since if they do not pay, it becomes difficult to extend the same level of service and deliver products. For the company it translates to losses – cannot run a business without a steady cash flow. The whole relationship breaks down – no business for the company and since customers are unable to use the products and services, their success becomes short-lived. It is essential that the company has in place a robust system to check payment defaults and delays and other payment related aspects that could potentially disrupt the relationship. Therefore, a proper system of billing and payment is extremely vital to the company and customer success.

As we said earlier, the relationship the customer has with a company is a process – a journey. By this premise then, a company must understand the systems and practices put together would need constant monitoring and tweaking to keep pace with the changing demands of the customer as also the fluctuating business environment. Right from the time that a company first connects with a customer, to the time of the start of the relationship and during the entire duration of the relationship, customer success must be the overriding principle. A company cannot exist without its customers and they remain only when they perceive consistent value and growth in an association.

The foundation then of customer success is for a company to ensure that customers achieve whatever they have set out for by associating with your company. It’s simple – yet challenging. When a company can focus on this, everything else in the relationship would fall in place. It is a world of connections – the more success these connections bring, the better it is for those involved.

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