Overwhelmed with the number of CS tools out in the market today? Well, you are not alone. As the post-sales space evolves, so are the tools that are helping CS teams achieve their goals and deliver customer happiness. In this post, we’ll examine the modern CS tech stack, what do you need, and how does it all work together.
The Modern CS Tech Stack
Before diving into the key components of the modern CS tech stack, it’s important to stress that it needs to be dynamic with high visibility, while also allowing for the sharing of key insights with product, support, IT, marketing, sales, and business executives. This helps with cross-department collaboration and better business alignment to follow your common North Star Metric. Let’s get started.
Knowledge is power. Collecting more customer data will eventually allow you to create actionable insights that are also unbiased. This is extremely important in the customer success field because human signals can become hard to understand due to lack of context and the multiplying communication channels, something that creates siloed data. Simply put, you need to have the right tools for the job.
Understanding customer sentimen§t and analyzing stakeholder relationship changes on an ongoing basis have become crucial aspects of the post-sales lifecycle. Only being on top of these things can help you create a solid playbook and engage properly with your accounts. Furthermore, not being able to do so will impact your ability to detect at-risk accounts and recognize new growth opportunities.
- Product Analytics – Product analytics tools, also known as usage analytics solutions, help understand how customers are currently engaging with the application or online service. These tools give businesses the ability to monitor and visualize the current usage patterns, while also providing crucial behavioral data to reduce friction and optimize the user experience.
- Customer Analytics – Product usage is great, but CS teams need to dig deeper to understand customer sentiment. They need to understand behavior fluctuations and customer text communications across various channels. The ability to track, break down, and act upon these underlying human signals is what is making customer success operations so efficient today.
- Business Intelligence (BI) – The abundance of product and customer data can get overwhelming if there is no “one source of truth”. This is where Business Intelligence solutions come into play. These tools gather all relevant information and condense it into a centralized dashboard for improved visibility. Connecting the dots is extremely important before getting started.
Once the intelligence and analytics streams have been taken care of, CS teams can move on to the next step – creating playbooks. Playbooks need to take the collected data into consideration, especially the current customer sentiment and changes in stakeholder relationship dynamics. The CS playbook should also include customer journey milestones for each and every customer, because use cases can vary.
More importantly, CS playbooks and workflows should never be set in stone. This is because customer behavior and sentiment can fluctuate at any given time. All customer success operations should be customer-centric and be influenced by feedback, communication insights, and support tickets. Churn analysis should also be conducted and findings should be worked into the CS strategy.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – CRM and workflow management is the first thing you need to get started with executing your playbook. These end-to-end platforms help manage all leads, Freemium users, paid customers, and business pipelines. Task management, reminders, and event summaries are also covered by these automated platforms.
- Customer Success (CS) Platforms – CS platforms take center stage when it comes to post-sales operations. CRM platforms are a great foundation, but CS teams need to monitor customer life cycles, detect adoption trends, and identify new growth (upselling, cross-selling) opportunities. CS platforms help enforce playbooks and track metrics, all with customizable triggers and alerts.
- Customer Feedback Solutions – Customers want to be heard, but they don’t want to be bothered and get dragged into lengthy emails conversations. The good news is that modern customer feedback solutions help fire in-app or email questionnaires just with a few clicks to gauge customer sentiment and collect direct feedback. The surveys are fully customizable and schedulable.
- Collaboration Tools – Many brands are now being judged by the level of ongoing professional information and customer support they are providing. Collaboration tools help bypass the bureaucracy and contact the right personas that are seeking help. These sentiment-boosting tools promote collaboration via direct chats, video calls, or push notifications.
- Customer Journey Solutions – When it comes to customer success in post-sales scenarios, fast response times are of the essence. CSMs need to tackle sentiment drops or changes within big accounts with quick onboarding analysis and engagement tracking. Customer journey solutions allow smooth orchestration of these activities, all in an automated manner to save time.
- Support and Ticketing – Customer success and support teams need to be extremely efficient in handling open tickets and support requests today. With businesses scaling up fast and users expecting to reach “aha moments” fast, only comprehensive chatbot, live chat, email, and social media integration can help collect more information about customer needs and expectations.
Read More: Customer Sentiment Analysis
Post-sales is no longer just about replying to questions and enforcing damage control protocols. It’s also about creating communities to improve brand awareness, elevate customer sentiment, and even allow them to engage with each other. This allows the achieving of sustainable separation from the competition, while also creating more account stickiness and increased customer engagement.
Furthermore, deepened relationships and increased customer loyalty means that there are more brand advocacy opportunities that can be tapped into. Besides the obvious benefits of using references and testimonials to close new deals faster, the voice of the customer can then be channeled into all sales, marketing, and support pipelines for sustainable business growth.
- Customer Advocacy and Community Tools – It’s now common knowledge that creating new communities and constantly engaging with customers empowers them. They feel more free to share their real thoughts and exchange experiences with others. Besides turning contributors into advocates, even identifying champions within big and complex accounts becomes easier.
- Customer Engagement – Improving customer engagement requires a proactive approach. Customer success teams need to understand what features the customers are using more and where the friction points are. This information can then be used to create in-app guides and optimize the user journey, while also emphasizing the value of less used features or services.
Last but not the least, there is the nurturing and enrichment aspect that needs to be covered. Having a detailed knowledgebase and FAQ section is always a good thing, but customer success teams need a more intense strategy to reduce the load on support teams and allow customers to use the product more efficiently. This is where the educational aspect comes into play as the “icing on the cake”.
Having this component in place also helps marketing teams. Nurturing and outbound efforts are enhanced as both existing and potential customers can know more about the product’s features and benefits beforehand. This is also important with big accounts where key stakeholders can abruptly leave their positions, making it important to onboard and educate the new replacements.
- Customer Enablement – Customer enablement is all about knowledge democratization. Customer enablement solutions eliminate information hierarchies and make it accessible to all customers – free trial users, Freemium customers, and of course the paid ones. The result – less time is wasted on searching for content and accessing product documentation.
- Learning Management System (LMS) – Business growth is all about upselling and engagement. These goals can be achieved by improving information sharing and better echoing product updates. LMSs help upload videos, text content, and infographics. Furthermore, customer engagement with this media and content can be tracked to create more of what’s working better.
Building the Customer-First CS Tech Stack
Restaurants can have great chefs and waiters, but they won’t go far without quality raw food supplies. The same thing applies to online businesses today. Customer data and human signals are needed to power effective CS playbooks and workflows. Once you have analyzed your customer behavior, broken down communication data, and tracked sentiment, you can truly adopt a customer-centric approach.
Check out our recommended customer success tech stack for 2022 and beyond: