First, the great new trend in job descriptions were Growth Hackers. Then, a cool new kid on the block showed up with an improved way to look at customer relationships: Customer Success Managers. In this article, we’ll review what Customer Success is about and what you need to know to make sure you don’t lose clients over ignoring this new trend.
Pre-Digital Age software business
Before the Digital Age came along, the software business was highly deceptive. Huge sales teams pushed their products to the public, with small engineering teams behind them who were often left out of the loop. Competition was scarce and that made the customers pay upfront for a product that was often disappointing and didn’t work as it should. The consumer market being much smaller those days, it was easy to blame any issues that came up on user configuration or implementation.
But that era has ended now. The pre-Digital Era model for business does not work anymore. This is the time of freemium, in which most products are free to attract costumers in the beginning – so they can convince them later to turning into paying customers. Paying upfront for a software does not happen anymore – at least that’s the case for most apps and programs in this competitive market.
This is not a very lucrative model for companies anymore, yet it is much easier for customers. Many companies are creating digital products these days, but very few of them are able to make a profit. If you download an app and you’re not paying for it, someone else is. It might be the premium users, the advertisers – after all, digital companies need to make money somehow.
The new subscription-based model
One often quoted sentence is “Every Product is a Service Waiting to Happen”. This is quite almost always the case in the digital world. This reality was brought upon by SaaS companies. If you’re in the UK and looking out to develop your own app, it’s highly important to reach out for SaaS recruitment agencies in London who will help you get the right people developing your app.
This new subscription-based model creates the need to repackage software as services, based on main touchpoints for which the company eventually expects users to start paying eventually. In this model, there is not a pay upfront system, but Monthly Recurring Revenue.
This might become a problem for teams that have the right engineers and developers for their SaaS product, but who miss the goal when it comes to the multiple touchpoints that are included in the service they’re offering customers. No matter how good your product is, sometimes it takes more than a good product to succeed.
Turning your product into a service
How to convert users into paying customers or even brand evangelists is a whole different matter than just putting your product out there. Creating a service out of a product requires focusing on all points of what is called the “Customer Journey”: how people interact with your product and which are the “wow” moments that people go through while using the service you provide. Relationships are based on more than just products, but services, and for managing that you need a team that’s focused on Customer Success.
What is the role of the Customer Success Manager?
A Customer Success Manager usually takes care of the post-conversion process. This conversion might mean downloading an app or signing up for a free trial of your product. Customer Success involves other disciplines like customer support, retention, community management, account management and data analysis. Customer Success Managers look deep into each part of the customer journey and make sure that customers realise the value of your product as early on as possible.
By using customer data, Customer Success Managers solve any possible issues before they are even mentioned by the users. Customer Satisfaction is the metric they most look upon, and their biggest fear is churn. Understanding the reasons for churn is the best way to prevent it, and many companies are already working towards making it less likely that users discard their app.
Major digital brands have already developed a complex map of the key points and interactions with their apps that make or break the customer experience. By developing this map, they were able to develop features that make new users move quickly through the key moments of their product (service) experience.
As an example, Twitter found out that users who followed five or more users during their onboarding period were more likely to continue using the app, so the brand designed a way to make users follow the necessary number of people through their signup process.
But figuring out how to keep away churn during the Activation and Onboarding processes is just a part of the Customer Success Manager’s role. These include being active in the customer community, following up users who leave the app to figure out what went wrong so that can be prevented in the future.
However, the most important factor in this game is product usage. Customer’s usage data of the service helps Customer Success Managers identify key customers who are close to churn and avoid it. Customer Success also works close to the Product Team to make sure any issues that might be causing churn are addressed within the developers’ team be it with new features on the app, or a few changes in the onboarding process.
These are the main improvements that Customer Success brings to the table in the overly competitive digital world of today. It’s important both for Product Managers and their teams to understand how Customer Success helps them focus both on how to improve their app to reduce churn and also keep on getting new paying users. In the subscription-based model of our days, it’s essential to have customer success managers in your team.