A lot of customer support team members have to wear many hats while they’re at their job. A few years ago, a new concept has appeared that has been a source of worry for customer support team managers: customer success. What is it and why does it suddenly matter so much? How does it apply to my SaaS team? Read on to figure it out with our help.
A few definitions
First, we need to understand how we get from customer service to customer success. Customer service is defined by Wikipedia as being “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.” This can mean all the benefits your customer gets from your product.
Customer support is one aspect of customer service, referring to reactive interactions in which the customer can’t reach his or her goals and voices their concerns (or displeasure) to the customer support team. The customer support team will put the customer’s needs at the top of its priorities so it can solve any issues that may arise.
What is customer success then? Lincoln Murphy defines customer’s success as helping customers “achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company” on his “Definitive Guide to Customer Success”. The goal is to empower users to achieve their goals through your app by taking measures that solve issues before they can be a hindrance to your user. The goal is to meet customers’ needs previously, when they aren’t even aware of them.
Customer success as a concept has always existed. It was only recently that it started being accepted as a discipline of its own, meant to have a dedicated team. Of course, in small teams, everyone might be involved in customer success. It might be by preparing new features in advance before your users ask for them. It might be through customer support, making sure everyone who uses your product knows how to use it and achieves their desired goals.
Sometimes, there might be an overlap between teams in helping drive your company towards customer success. And that is perfectly fine, even if you have a large team.
Every SaaS company is different
One of the good things about working for a SaaS team is that there is no cookie cutter approach that will fit every company. That’s true for every step of the process, from development to customer support. However, for small to medium sized companies, the biggest challenge is assigning different tasks to each team member.
What’s important for customer success, whether you have a dedicated team or it is just part of customer support’s tasks, is to act both reactively and proactively. Customer success will involve certain responsibilities, like responding to customers through email, live chat and Twitter; helping new customers through implementation; measuring signs of churn so you can reach out to new customers and help them; reporting customer issues and identified bugs to the rest of the team; and writing white papers or app documentation that can help customers set up your app for their own company or business.
How to find your ideal team structure
This will depend highly on a few factors. First, there’s the size of your support team. Then, the number of customers your have. These two factors should be crossed so you can understand if your team has the right size for the amount of active customers you have already. If you have 1000 customers, your support team has to have at least 5 people working for customer success.
The way you scale your team will depend on the average queries from costumers per month, the average time it takes for customer queries to be solved, and the number of customers per support member. By measuring these factors, you can estimate how many customer support team members you need for your current workload so that there is still free working time for your support team to take proactive measures.
In larger teams, usually the product manager takes on the biggest role of customer success. He’ll outline your major strategy and make sure that the right changes to your project are implemented to appease customers and make them thrilled about your product. Or, as Kathy Sierra puts it, “People aren’t using the app because they like the app or they like you. They’re doing it because they like themselves. What are you doing to enable more of that?” (from “Badass: Making Users Awesome”).
On smaller teams, everyone has to be involved in customer success. From developers to customer support, it’s essential that everyone understands their many roles and the place they hold in their daily priorities.
It’s also quite relevant to figure out which metric do you want to focus on. If you’re focusing on reducing customer churn, then you should spend more time looking for the signs that someone is about to drop your product. There are always plenty of tasks to get done, but if you’re measuring the right metric, you’ll know which task you should be getting done right now.
In the long run, of course there are many metrics you should focus on. However, if you check out one at each time, you solve each problem at a time, making sure you check all boxes and did it all to solve that one issue.
One thing you should also be doing is writing documentation your customers can rely on. You should know which resources do your customers need to become successful with your product. These can come in the form of help docs, user guides, blog posts, newsletters, or all of them. It’s up to you to understand your target and how can you make customer success work for your SaaS product.
Do you think it will be more useful to make webinars and live demos? Your customer support can help you with that, as well as the rest of your team. Who in your team has the right skills for doing that? Will that help you with your target consumers? Those are all questions that matter for customer success.
Your product is unique, and so is your team
The right activities you should be doing will always depend on how your team works, which technical roles are involved in your product customer success, and everything else that entails. If you need SaaS recruitment specialists in London to get new team members, don’t be afraid to reach out to us. We might have that extra element that’s going to make a difference in your team.
There are a few final strategies you might use to make sure customers are successful. One of them is providing a distraction-free environment. As an example, your team members should be able to turn off Slack while they’re doing an attention-consuming task. Give them the time to focus on more demanding tasks without being distracted by the chatter and all the other tasks being assigned.
Other companies recommend that your customer support team has days when it deals with all tickets, and some specific days every week, or every two weeks, to focus on customer success. This way, they can have long meetings focused solely on making your customer successful with your product. This helps if your customer support team is overworked – these days are focused on dealing with tasks that involve a lot more of thought and uninterrupted effort, outside the daily chatting with customers and dealing with issues.
Remember, what’s good for your team will be good for your customers – and that’s how you create customer success stories.