Customer Success Strategy: Identifying the Blind Spots

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    Customer Success has come a long way in recent years with CSMs becoming more data-driven in their approach. But even with the processes becoming more proactive, there are some CS blind spots that you need to be aware of and address in your Customer Success strategy. Let’s take a closer look.

    The Customer Success approach in the SaaS era has become customer-centric, light years away from the reactive and cumbersome techniques that were used a decade ago. CSMs are now expected to know their accounts inside out. True CS rockstars also use advanced methods to keep them ahead of the curve. In this post, I’ll cover what techniques you should adopt now to optimize your CS strategy.

    This is part of a series of articles about Customer Success

    Customer Success Has Come a Long Way

    Before touching on the blind spots, there is a general improvement in how CSMs are going about their work today. The main methodology has become known to all, just like what happened with sales and marketing a decade ago.

    Here are some key components you can find in most CS strategies today:

    • Customer Success Journey Map – This map is a detailed documentation of the customer journey to keep various internal stakeholders in the loop and to improve onboarding or training processes. 
    • Metrics and Data – Customer Success has become data-centric in recent years. Every successful customer success manager is now tracking key KPIs like Net Revenue Retention (NRR).
    • Empowering Customers – With CS becoming a customer-first strategy, extra attention is now being paid to adoption (and churn) levels. Furthermore, customers are also being converted into brand advocates.
    • Syncing with Product Managers – SaaS applications and services need to empower end-users with more in-app freedom and reduced friction while onboarding. CSMs are now more involved in the product planning process.
    • Leveraging Online Tools for Engagement – There are also many third-party tools and solutions that are being used to contact customers – think surveys, in-app user experience evaluation, and email campaigns. 

    While the aforementioned techniques have helped improve results significantly and promoted the creation of stronger revenue streams, there are still three blind spots that are creeping up in more and more SaaS businesses, especially when they are in the process of scaling up fast. Customer Success Managers need to look out for these obstacles to avoid roadblocks and churn escalation problems. 

    Related: Top 10 Customer Success Tools for the Productive CSM

    Top 3 Customer Success Strategy Blind Spots

    As you already know, the modern CSM is like an octopus, with tentacles reaching multiple departments – product, sales, marketing, development, and other business enclaves. With this sea of tasks and paperwork, come blind spots.

    1. Different Customers, Different Use Cases 

    One size fits all is an illusion when it comes to Customer Success. You can’t use the same playbook for all use cases – success metrics and engagement patterns can vary. The modern SaaS user can come from a wide range of backgrounds, needs, and expectations. Customer success playbooks need to be updated frequently to keep up with the different use cases the product introduces. 

    “Your customer base is a collection of unique experiences and potential opportunities. Treating them as a single audience usually doesn’t lead to very successful initiatives.”
    Jonas Stanford, Director of Customer Success, Unbounce

    For example, let’s take a user analytics tool. Some customers will use it to optimize their onboarding, while others may prefer to track adoption rates or funnels with it. Use cases often vary, something CSMs need to be aware of. Today’s CSM needs to harvest actionable data to prepare for new use cases and provide added value to customers based on their unique requirements and business needs. 

    Action Items: Keep track of product changes and features, identify your CS metrics regularly, and update your playbook accordingly. This will help you to create tailored experiences based on specific use cases. Also, look for actionable insights that are unique to each customer, invest in tech-touch engagement tools, and monitor customer usage patterns.

    2. Customer Silence is NOT Golden

    Silence may be golden in many cases, but not in the world of Customer Success. As per recent research, only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers voice their complaints. The rest refuse to upgrade their subscriptions or simply churn and never come back. Occasionally calling customers, sending out meaningless email sequences, and band-aid solutions like discounts are simply not enough today. You must dig deeper.

    Customer success strategy - only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers voice their complaints

    “Be open and flexible so that your customers can reach out and connect with you directly at any given time via their preferred communication method.”
    Sophie Fitzpatrick, Support Manager, Marvel App

    For example, one company can be in touch with you frequently and go dark all of a sudden, while another company can be happy with one monthly call. These are obviously two drastically different situations. Some customers don’t want to be bothered on a weekly basis, while others want to feel involved and pampered. 

    Action Items: Feel the pulse and constantly measure customer engagement vs expectations, send out in-app and email feelers, monitor engagement trends (especially drop-offs) closely, compare customers against their own trends and also with the relevant segments.

    3. Recognize Key Relationships and Stakeholders

    SaaS apps and services in the B2B space are often used by multiple stakeholders within the same organization. For example, your product’s users can be marketing managers, while the decision maker is the company’s CMO. Failing to recognize this relationship hierarchy and treating these two personas as equals can prove to be counterproductive or even damage your business metrics in the long run.

    “Start mining customer stories and data. Each customer has different motivations, concerns, and problems to solve. Also, always adopt a data-driven approach.”
    Joe Daniel, Director of Customer Success, Chargebee

    You need to map out the stakeholders in your book of business and prioritize your Champions. Your Champion needs to be nurtured, updated, and contacted continuously. Other stakeholders might need different resources from you at a lower frequency. Your account has different stakeholders, all different animals with different needs that your CS machine needs to know how to make successful.

    Action Items: Go beyond your metrics, identify the Champion, influencers, users, and decision makers, monitor their position changes, analyze relationships and dependencies, identify vulnerable points in customer hierarchies.

    Related: 5 SaaS Customer Success Pro Tips

    Detect Your Blind Spots With Staircase AI

    Modern customer success management requires meticulous attention to detail. 

    Staircase’s Customer Relationship Intelligence is revolutioning the SaaS CS space by bringing ML and AI capabilities into the fold. This Relationship Intelligence-based solution allows you to map stakeholders and track all hierarchy or status changes. You can also break down customer usage and engagement trends, while comparing them to similar use cases to gain business-enhancing insights and boost your KPIs.

    Keep track of your blind spots with Staircase AI
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