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Could you build a car without guidance? Most people, including myself, couldn't. But what if you were given not only the assembly instructions, but also a trained mechanic who would accompany you every single step? That sounds a lot easier, doesn't it? The same principle applies to your own customers.

When customers make a purchase, it is often associated with negative expectations. They hope that they have chosen a sustainable solution that they can master with confidence. They rely on your product or service to meet their short- and long-term needs. Unfortunately, there is no manual that explains how to make a good purchase. That means customers rely on you to help them achieve their business goals. Much is at stake, but if your customers are successful, so will you.

What if you could significantly improve your chances of success and those of your customers? Similar to the example with the mechanic helping you solve a task, you can improve your customers' chances of success by using a Customer Success Program invest.

What is customer success?

Eva Klein, VP of Customer Success at HubSpot, explains: “A company's customer success team helps customers get the most out of a product or service. This requires close collaboration with the sales, marketing and product departments. ”Customer success teams build symbiotic relationships; all parties involved benefit from the joint collaboration well beyond the first purchase. These teams focus on finding new solutions so that their company can continue to serve the interests of its customers. You are also responsible for outstanding customer service.

Customer Success vs. Customer Service

You may be thinking, “I already have a customer service team. Is there a difference? "

What is the difference between customer service and customer success?

The difference between customer success and customer service is that, as part of customer success, you are proactively committed to customer success, whereas customer service is more reactive. If customers have a problem with a product, they call customer service to have it fixed. Customer success teams, on the other hand, are keen to solve problems before they even manifest. With this proactive approach, you can support your customers in the long term and not just offer temporary solutions.

Why do you need a customer success program?

Higher sales:

At HubSpot, we strive for healthy growth for our customers and, ultimately, for ourselves. Because our studies show that customer success comes first in growing companies. HubSpot Research has shown that 70% of companies rate the success of their customers as "very important" with increasing sales. For companies with stagnating sales, the figure is less than half (49%).

In the same report, HubSpot Research found that 55% of emerging businesses consider investing in customer success programs “very important,” while only 29% of companies with stagnant growth think so. This study shows that companies that invest in their customer success teams often have increased total sales.

Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities

Customer success programs are the perfect opportunity to increase communication with customers. A study conducted by Mainstay found that companies that pursued a customer success strategy benefited from a doubling of customer interactions compared to the time before implementation. Such an increase would give your team additional up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Your Customer Success Manager could then, for example, anticipate problems that certain customers will face and immediately offer them your premium offers as a solution.

Lower customer acquisition costs

When you help customers achieve their goals, they will associate your own success with your business. This reduces the cost of customer acquisition (Customer Acquisition Cost), as your customer retention rates increase at the same time. Instead of looking for other service providers, customers like to come back to you because of their positive experiences.

Another plus is that happy customers like to share success stories with others and recommend your company to potential customers. These satisfied customers become your brand advocates who market your business to prospects. As a result, with an increased recommendation rate, you spend less time finding new customers.

Lower churn rate

With a customer success program, you can more easily find out which customers are likely to churn and how you can address them. The Mainstay study showed that companies with customer success programs were able to reduce churn rates to around 2-3%. These companies created customer guides and set up automated notifications that warned of an increased likelihood of churn. With these tools the contact with dissatisfied customers could be cultivated and a switch to the competition prevented.

Are you not yet pursuing a customer success strategy? Then the steps below will help you to develop such a success strategy for your company.

How to develop your customer success program

1. Identify the customer's end goal

First of all, find out why customers are buying your product. For example, you probably won't buy a wrench just because you've always wanted one. However, if you wanted to build the car we talked about, you would probably need a wrench. Every customer has a specific end goal in mind when they buy something. It is therefore crucial that you know how your product or service paves the way to this end. After that, you can then use buyer persona tools to segment and organize your customers based on those desired outcomes.

One approach would be for you to first identify the customers who best fit into your customer service program. If you want to help your clients be more successful, then you should be concerned about selecting the ideal candidates for your program. With the help of a customer behavior analysis, you can find out who would be best suited for this. You can also analyze social media mentions, product usage reports, and NPS® (Net Promoter Score) to get data on the end goal of customers.

2. Build a customer success team

We recommend building a customer success team to show customers that their success is important to you. Without this commitment, customers see new offers more as suggestions than as necessary elements of an optimized success strategy. Offering a customer success team is a clear statement to your customers: You are committed to helping your customers succeed. The trust between your customers and the team grows over time, and because of this relationship, your customers are more inclined to purchase additional products.

It is important to choose the right Customer Success Manager; ideal candidates work well in a team and have excellent communication skills. It is best to start your search in customer service. Your customer service staff not only know your product inside and out, they have also been solving your customers' problems for years. So you are already geared towards helping your customers succeed. It should therefore not be difficult to refocus your efforts on long-term solutions.

3. Get the right tools

Before you even consider a customer success strategy, decide whether your program should be “manual” or “automated”. With the manual variant, you have to develop your own plan and carry out all the tasks that arise. Alternatively, you can use automated software programs to help you manage your customer success efforts and measure their impact. Features offered include automatic notifications and status reports about customers, with which you can track the development of each customer. We'll show you a few examples later in this blog post. At this point, however, before developing your customer success program, we recommend that you consider whether using software makes sense for you.

4. Develop a promising strategic plan

This step is to examine the customer journey to see where your business can make an impact. Take a look at your customer journey map and think about the possible challenges for each milestone. Then define specific actions that your company will take to overcome these hurdles and thus guarantee customer success. If you don't have enough ideas, it may help you answer the following questions:

  1. What results would you like to achieve at the individual contact points in the customer journey?
  2. What would customers benefit from most at the respective contact point?
  3. At which contact points does your product or service not meet your expectations?
  4. At what point in the customer journey could the competition influence your customers?
  5. How can you identify and track customers who are dissatisfied with their development in the customer journey?

At this point, you should also think about the communication strategy of your customer success team. Some companies assign a single employee to each account; other companies distribute multiple accounts to one team. Also think about when and how your employees will interact with customers. Your efforts should be seen as helpful by customers.It is therefore extremely important that you choose the right time and channel to interact with.

5. Determine the metrics of your success

Before you make any changes, it's important to determine how you want to measure customer success. Customer success is useful for both parties. So don't forget to measure the success of your customers as well as your own. To measure the financial impact on your company, you can collect the two customer success metrics Customer Lifetime Value and the cost of customer acquisition. To analyze the impact on the customer, it is useful to look at data such as the Net Promoter Score, the churn rate, and the interest in the company on social media. Combine the two perspectives to get a deep understanding of whether both parties involved benefit from the team.

6. Make changes step by step

It can be tempting to implement all of the changes at the same time once the customer success program is in place. Exercise patience! It pays if you don't implement all of your customer churn ideas right away. Customers can feel overwhelmed when suddenly faced with multiple changes at the same time, even if they are to their advantage. It is also difficult to measure the success of any single intervention when multiple variables have been changed at the same time. So if you implement one change at a time, you will know exactly what works and what doesn't. This leads to even growth.

Implementing a customer success program is a demanding task. Software that is geared towards customer success can help you minimize the stress. Are you unsure which software is best for your company? Let our recommendations inspire you.

Customer Success Software

1. HubSpot

HubSpot offers the so-called Service Hub, which contains a variety of different customer success tools. Users can now benefit from free functions such as live chat, shared email inboxes and a service ticket system that supports them with customer care. You can also add a knowledge base to your website that customers can access should the team be unavailable. HubSpot even offers chatbots. These can be programmed in such a way that they can cope with a wide variety of tasks without the intervention of an employee.

Price: Free entry, premium versions available

Source: HubSpot

2. Totango

Totango is a customer success platform that helps companies set goals for their customers. Totango's tools offer status assessments, thanks to which you always know whether your customers are actually achieving the set goals. The platform also supports continuous testing, and adjustments can be made at any point in the customer journey.

Price: varies

Source: Totango

3. Amity

Amity is a customer success tool that centralizes data from other software products. A number of integrations can be linked to your Amity account to easily consolidate customer information. Once this data is uploaded to Amity, the tool generates guides and notifications based on customer behavior. Amity offers additional features that make it easy to share information with the whole company.

Price: varies

Source: GetApp


Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

Originally published April 1, 2019, updated 04 February 2021

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