Jun 9, 2016

Read Time 4 min

Perfect timing for upsells, avoiding flawed CS frameworks, the power of proactive customer education


Fighting Churn Newsletter

Timing is everything in life and love – and in upsells! Knowing when to present an offer to a customer is just as important as knowing what offer to present.

timing is everything

In this great read we get 13 smart tips for achieving upsells for your customers. We recommend checking out the full list but here are three we feel are particularly important:

  1. Be clear on what success means: It all starts here – you must know what “success” means to the customer in the context of what your product offers, not just high-level, but at every phase of the customer lifecycle. Have conversations about how they will define success – and often.
  2. Shorten the time between first value and upsell: The faster you get a customer achieving value – the faster they move through their success milestones – the quicker and more often a congruent upsell opportunity can be presented to them. And, more upsell opportunities in a shorter timeframe will drive up Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV).
  3. Enable self-service where possible: Even in a high-touch, enterprise sales environment, it can be effective and easy to enable self-service for certain things that do not require human intervention. If you want to make upsells happen seamlessly and without friction, surface them at the right time based on success milestones, allow self-service provisioning and watch your CLTV grow.

Three things Customer Success is NOT

What is the best way to manage your customers? This is the billion dollar question that all subscription businesses want to know. And as customer success continues to grow, it is important to take a critical look at common management frameworks and evaluate how well they each work.

But almost equally important is understanding what customer success is NOT, what CS teams should NOT be doing with their time. Here are three common – but incorrect! – frameworks that you definitely want to avoid:

  1. Customer Success is NOT pipeline management: Modeling a CS team’s practices after the traditional sales process breaks down when you start dealing with customers instead of prospects. A team following this model might build a renewals pipeline to prioritize their customers according to their contract end date. But the problem with this approach? Customers will churn at ALL stages of their customer journey. So by the time a customer would get into the pipeline of renewals, they might have often already made the renewal decision. It’s critical to provide consistent and real value throughout your relationship with your customers.
  2. Customer Success is NOT project management: While CS teams do certainly manage projects (campaigns, technical implementations, etc.), customer success itself cannot be managed as a project. This is because one of the main tenets of customer success is to use routine programs to create a customer relationship without an end date. Projects, on the other hand, have defined scope, resources and end dates; they lack the long-term horizon that is critical to success customer success.
  3. Customer Success is NOT customer support: Customer support, as a business function, offers an avenue for customer escalations to be tracked and resolved. In this practice, the trigger for the team is the escalation. But by their very nature escalations are expensive, frustrating and cannot be planned for. With customer success you do not want to be reactive – you want to be proactive and impactful long before escalation is needed by the customer.

Proactive customer education > reactive support

Have you ever tried to get help using a product and had the feeling that, though you’re seeing all the right things, you’re spinning your wheels? The company has an online support center. They have a huge library of support articles. They have a searchable Q&A feature. They have support people who respond to tickets. Yet you still feel lost and frustrated.

The problem in this case — and with many companies — is that they are set up to be reactive when it comes to customer education. On the one hand, this seems to make sense. If someone asks you a question, you answer it, right?

But relying on this approach is missing a big opportunity. It’s missing the big picture context that customers are working in, it’s focused narrowly on showing customers how to use a product instead of educating them about best practices, and it’s missing a chance to demonstrate the real value a product has to offer in their specific profession or toward their business goal. The most innovative customer success programs don’t wait until support is needed. They proactively get to know the context their customers are working in and empower them with educational opportunities.

So what does proactive customer education involve? Check out the full post to learn how to create a customer education program that solves customers’ problems in context.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom comes from Catherine Blackmore, VP of Customer Success at Oracle Marketing Cloud. In a smart and engaging look at how customer success is evolving to deliver customer satisfaction at scale, she talks about the advent of the Customer Success Technologist. She notes that a data-empowered CSM can stay ahead of issues by leveraging customer intelligence to help drive business outcomes with their customers. But with the evolution of the customer success industry, there has been a realization that simply hiring people to proactively manage customers won’t scale:

“While a high-touch model may still make sense for customers that pay six or seven figures, it certainly doesn’t if they only pay three or four. It is time to marry customer data with programs, technology and automation. We’re entering a new era of customer success: the Age of the Technologist. We now have not only the data, but also the technology that allows us to score risk and flag issues that could lead to churn or identify early signals of customer advocacy.”

We couldn’t agree more! In fact, give us 20 minutes and we’ll show you how ChurnZero can empower you to maintain customer intimacy with segments of customers without having to hire hundreds of CSMs!


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