Top 3 Trends in Customer Success Management this coming year
The rapidly emerging business practice of customer success management has grown directly in line with, and as a response to, the SaaS (Software as a Service) economy.
In the new reality of constant churn and product subscriptions and renewals, the key to customer success management is proactive ownership of an ongoing customer relationship.
The onus has now shifted away from the client, who in the past, having bought their license, was responsible for extracting the most value out of their software and back on to the cloud vendor who keenly attempts to avoid a subscription termination or their profits being eaten away in support calls.
Today’s customer success managers are constantly monitoring the customer relationship and after the critical onboarding process, maintain a sharp focus on both retention and expansion, with a view to boosting revenue streams on both sides of the relationship.
Here, we talk to Jonathan Araya, CSM global lead at Tek Experts, about what he feels will be some of the top trends to emerge from this nascent sphere within the sector in 2017.
Trend 1 – Maximizing sales reps time to focus more on selling and less on administrative work
As one might imagine, much of the effectiveness of a customer success strategy comes from linking up the operations of disparate teams within an organization.
Jonathan explains more, “many companies out there in the market aren’t fully aware of what a customer has bought over time. Increasingly moving forwards, and this is an approach we are developing at Tek Experts too, instead of deploying multiple systems and multiple teams, there will be efforts to consolidate knowledge, wisdom and monitoring experience within single teams. Tek Experts is all about knowledge. Every time that one of our agents learns something new, they share it around and we store it in a knowledge base and this keeps us on top of both business processes and intellectual property obligations. We have, over time, consolidated more than 35 different processes and issues within different sectors.
As an example, renewal reps not knowing renewal dates for a particular customer or not knowing how to migrate contracts with their customers moving from one software version to another. By using knowledge bases, sales reps can focus more on selling and enabling relationships with customers, while much of the administrative work will increasingly be covered by automating tools in order to boost efficiency.”
Trend 2 – Reducing shelfware
Shelfware is all about customers not using what they have bought. So, reducing shelfware is about education and really caring about the customer.
Jonathan continued, “It’s about helping customers to maximize the solutions that they have paid for. This may be through monitoring licensing or purchasing credits that can be used in multiple solutions”
It’s also important to ensure that customers are using the very latest version of every single piece of software. So, customer success managers will work across those issues to connect customers to the right solutions and help them install, deploy and maximize the benefits of the software, this means that the customer comes in once more for the next release.
Trend 3 – Maximizing service satisfaction in tech support
Technical support today is one of the biggest pain points across the entire technology sector. Customers calling into a call center, chatting in a web chat, sending emails etc.
“There needs to be better customer case management” said Jonathan. “For example, explore what the customer is saying, and going back to the R&D teams to provide trends and feedback to show that sometimes the products being developed for customers are just not providing the solutions they need.”
The customer success manager, through trending and proactive support, will communicate the pain points to the R&D teams to enhance products and obsolete those products that are no longer suitable for the market. Increasingly, technical support won’t be the solution because the solution will be the product itself.
Jonathan concludes by explaining that it is ultimately the human elements of customer success management that are likely to prevail over the coming year, “Customer success is all about ownership and accountability and someone that not only understands the end-to-end processes but really on boards a customer, ensuring they have someone to go to when something is wrong or they don’t know how to do something.”
Customer success teams can excel the customer’s footprint by understanding what the customer has, what the customer needs and what benefit the customer’s customers will see if we bring them to the next level in software solutions and services.