Sep 23, 2022

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Why Customer Success and customer education are your BFFs in uncertain times

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This is a guest article by Andrew Brown, content marketing manager, Northpass

Searches for customer retention peaked in early 2022. 

Searches for customer churn neared their all-time high around the same period.  

Why? 

The pandemic. Or, more specifically, the uncertainty it caused companies of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a page in the playbook to turn to. 

Companies couldn’t rest on their laurels; it was hold onto their customers or float into the abyss. 

Searches for Customer Success and customer experience lagged a bit, peaking only recently.

Why?

Again, uncertainty, but as the pandemic wanes, companies are coming face-to-face with two more fiery hoops: Uncertain macroeconomic conditions and shifting consumer demands.

Today—and for quarters to come—staying in business will require a steadfast commitment to staying in the black, but doing so in a way that makes customers feel like they’re more than a number.

You can do that with an investment in Customer Success and customer education. 

Here’s why both of these are important and how they can help you weather the latest storm.

From “grow at all costs” to “grow sustainably”

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

If you were to get 100 CEOs in the room a few years ago and asked them a simple question,  “What’s your top priority?” I’d wager that 99 of them would say revenue growth was their north star.

Since the dawn of business, this was the name of the game and why the venture capital space continues to soar. 

Between 2017 and 2022, the venture capital & principal trading market in the US grew at an annualized rate of more than 11%.

Listen, we’re all suckers for a unicorn and love quadruple-digit growth stories.

The problem is that the rapid ascent for many companies came at the expense of literally everything else. It’s why we’re seeing so many layoffs, employee turnover and companies struggling to stay afloat. 

Frankly, companies spent too much money too quickly; it was grow at all costs. 

Fast-forward to today and that business model is no longer an option.

Now, strategic growth is the name of the game and efficiency is the all-star point guard.

Say it with me: Every. Penny. Counts. 

Companies are seeing the writing on the wall and investing in strategies to drive those necessary efficiencies—one of those ways is by investing in Customer Success and other strategies that improve CX

Salesforce co-CEO, Bret Taylor, said it best during a recent earnings call: “The focus of the conversation has shifted meaningfully towards productivity, efficiency and time to value.” 

If you can excel in these core areas, you’ll remain on solid ground; if you don’t, the winds may sweep you away. 

Where Customer Success and customer education fits in the equation 

Customers of all stripes have made it clear that the experience and relationship they have with brands are important—76% of customers say that experience plays a role in brand loyalty.

At the same time, business leaders are realizing that reckless growth isn’t the answer in 2022 and beyond. 

Ok, great, but where do Customer Success and customer education come into play? 

To understand that, let’s break it down by the core tenets outlined by Salesforce’s co-CEO: productivity, efficiency and time to value (TTV).

Productivity

On a fundamental level, Customer Success and Customer Success managers (CSMs) operate to ensure someone is successful with a product or service. Switch “successful” with “productive” and the meaning is the same.

Said another way, CSMs aim to ensure every customer realizes the value of the product or service and can use it to achieve some intended outcome.

Customer education aids in this twofold. On the one hand, a customer education program consolidates resources, making it easy for both CSMs and customers to find what they need to be productive. At the same time, it empowers CSMs with the knowledge and resources they need to gain an in-depth understanding of the product or service.Think about it: If they aren’t power users, how can they help your customers become ones, too?

They can’t.

Efficiency

When considering the efficiency benefits of Customer Success and customer education, you must look at things from two angles.

A customer education program empowers new customers to learn before the onboarding process begins—some will even start before they sign the dotted line. Not only does this accelerate this stage of the customer journey, but it removes a lot of the friction associated with traditional onboarding programs.

Additionally, a customer education program translates to less hand-holding from CSMs. When you make learning readily available via an academy, your customers can learn on their own time.

This takes some of the burden off of your CSMs and removes the need for you to hire an army of them.

Given the uncertain macroeconomic climate, every penny saved is gold.

Time to value

Many aspects of a customer education program (assuming it’s powered by a learning management system) can be automated, ensuring customers immediately have the resources they need to ramp up and realize product or service value.

From an internal training standpoint, CSMs can stay in the know about your product or service so that they’re always in the position to provide immediate value to customers.  

It gets better. 

Not only do Customer Success and customer education deliver on those key benefits required to survive and thrive in the modern business world, but they drive revenue, too.

In fact, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t.

Pretty sweet, right? 

Customer Success and customer education: The saviors during uncertain times

Growth is still important to companies of all stripes. It always has been and always will be. 

What’s different is the strategies companies leverage to drive that growth.

Gone are the days when a fancy marketing campaign or flashy product was enough to stay in business. 

Do those help? 

Absol-freaking-lutely. But they’re not the be-all-end-all they once were. 

Surviving and thriving in today’s—and tomorrow’s—business world requires a steadfast dedication to finding the best ways to drive productivity, efficiency and value for your teams and customers.

Customer Success and customer education do all of those with aces, which is why they should be your BFFs moving forward.

Looking for more customer education resources?

It’s easy for customers to mistake a lack of product knowledge with the belief that they have an intrinsic product-fit issue on their hands. That’s why customer education is at the core of preventing subscription churn. Learn how to use customer education to drive product adoption that lasts in our blog, “Customer education in SaaS: How to grow user competence, confidence, and capacity for change.”

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