Friday, August 12, 2022

The three golden rules of a customer-oriented subscription business

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

You Mon Tsang is the CEO and founder of ChurnZero.

Customer expectations are changing. Not in terms of how much they expect, because customer expectations have always been high, but in terms of what they expect. The defining measure of a great customer experience used to be a company’s ability to be there for its customers. Availability was enough to win loyalty.

Today, many customers expect ever-increasing value. They expect your company to predict and proactively fulfill their needs. They expect you to go beyond surface service to pursue results-oriented relationships. Today’s customers recognize the competition in the subscription market and are looking for innovative experiences based on lasting returns.

Meeting their expectations requires true customer focus and a strong customer success team that can do much more than “be there” for your customers. They should be an anticipator, experts at delivering value and the channel for your customer’s voice across the organization.

Consider these three rules to get there.

1. Prioritize results, not sympathy.

Happiness is fleeting. A satisfied customer is often only satisfied at the moment: for example with a resolved support ticket. Your ability to deal with customers and respond quickly to their requests are not unimportant qualities. But they don’t tell the story of whether a customer will renew.

It’s not about enjoying an interaction; it’s about receiving value from your product or service. As the founder of a customer success platform, I find that the fulfillment of a successful, long-term customer is almost always anchored in quantifiable business value. Achieving customer goals builds credibility in you as a supplier. This proof of integrity makes it easier for a client to forgive your missteps and fight for you in budget cuts, takeovers, or new leadership.

To help your customer success teams prioritize customer outcomes, consider adding a variable reward to their compensation package, such as a retention-based variable. When a significant percentage of your managers’ revenue target is variable, they are likely to perform to achieve it.

2. Set up and scale a service base.

When it comes to building customer trust, consistent service beats arbitrary acts of greatness. A customer success team needs a systematic way to grow the business that doesn’t rest on the shoulders of a few standout individuals.

Customer success teams can learn from those who came before them. They can borrow scaling techniques from more established departments, such as sales and marketing, which have also dealt with the fundamental question of how to scale the service without excellence.

The answer lies in four main areas: technology, training, enablement and operations. Early stage departments should think about developing best practices in each domain and code them as they grow.

Consider creating a customer success operations role to focus on that standardization, especially as your team grows. This role specializes in creating, documenting and refining data, processes, systems, resource allocation and strategic initiatives so that your entire team can perform as well as your best performers. The discipline and structure of an operational role also promotes consistency. This, in turn, can increase accountability, transparency, and trust—the backbone of any high-performing team.

3. Make customer data your guide and glue.

All companies want – or should – get to know their customers better. However, many rely on different sources of truth for different teams, which can create an us-versus-them mentality, reduce productivity, damage the customer experience and take away trust.

To bridge perception gaps and bring people together, equip your customer success team with the tools to unify and democratize customer information across the organization. Share any NPS score and commentary in real time; talk about the big upgrades and bad churns; interview customers during all-hands meetings; and inspire collaboration by being generous with internal recognition for wins and support for losses.

Accessibility of customer data also helps you better predict the road ahead. Pay attention to qualitative data (CSM sentiment, perceived satisfaction, depth of engagement) and quantitative data (product usage, support history, service usage). Then extend that view by aggregating data to identify trends and patterns for a more comprehensive view of churn risk and service expansion across your customer base.

Customer focus is the heart of your business.

People are wired to connect with each other. This is why employees who can talk directly to customers or hear their stories feel an innate desire to help them.

Conversely, when employees don’t know or talk about their customers, problems arise. Customer data will be lost. Teams lose sight of what customers care about. The culture is quickly and quietly shifting away from customer focus.

You can overcome this by aligning your organization with customer success. If you do that, your customers’ experiences and needs can naturally radiate. You will feel their presence and hear their voice in every discussion. You can say goodbye to guessing what your customers want or what they would say if they were in the room. You will already know. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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