How to make successful customers?

At the most simple level, your customers are successful when they achieve value from using your product or service – ideally, you are solving the problem that encouraged them to buy your product.

Or to put it another way:

Success is when customers achieve their Desired Outcomes through their interactions with your company.

Lincoln Murphy

The key for most organisations is to ensure that their customers are achieving this desired outcome as fast as possible after the “purchase” – time to first value. In a world of SaaS if this process takes too long, you are not setting them up for long term success with your organisation, and they are likely to churn – in a month to month SaaS business that could be in less than 30 days from purchase.

At HROnboard we focused on how fast did a customer send out their first offer using the platform – and to drive that metric down to as low as possible. For the Customer Success team, that was the one metric that mattered to us.

At Timely the focus is similar – how quickly does the salon begin taking bookings on our platform. But unlike HROnboard, which is Enterprise SaaS Timely is month to month credit card – we live and die on how “good” we are each and every month. It totally focuses you on your customer.

In both instances, different customer segments achieved their Time to first Value through slightly different journeys. The overall focus is always the same to quickly demonstrate value to your customer after the purchase decision.

The trick to demonstrate value is to ensure the journey the customer has with your organisation is appropriate.

Running a B2B company focused on small business whom self serve with a low average sales price? This experience is most likely mostly low touch – digital. Selling into larger businesses with medium average sales prices, then the experience will be a mixture of low and high touch. You guessed it at the enterprise end the appropriate experience will be mostly high touch.

While this experience needs to start with your sales and marketing messages, I want to focus on post-sale – where your Customer Success team steps in.

The number one priority of a Customer Success team immediately post sale is the onboarding of that customer. This process is the key to increasing the life-time value and ultimately reducing churn. A poor onboarding experience will almost always result in churn – and churn is bad.

The number one goal of onboarding is to have the customer achieve their Success Criteria as fast as possible. The best way to find out what their Success Criteria? Ask.

In a low touch scale model, this is not always possible directly, but there’s no reason your product can’t surface up a number of the key problems your product solves and then ensure your onboarding journey guides the user to that goal. I am always surprised how many products don’t do this simple step.

In a higher touch model, the onboarding journey is a lot easier. You can ask the customer or the sales executive.

This critical step of asking should form part of your onboarding process that is followed for every customer.

You have processes, don’t you?

The onboarding process should cover each step of the journey, the expected outcomes and time frame. I say expected as once you are in the high touch arena, you will find every customer is different, and their journey will need to be adjusted to suit. But this doesn’t change the ultimate goal – to have the customer achieve their Success Criteria as fast as possible.

The final stage of onboarding is once your customer has achieved their success criteria and are receiving value, you need to set them up for upsell. There is no better time to bring up the option of an upsell than when the customer has just seen the ROI your product delivers.

From here, it is rinse and repeat onboarding customers and setting them up for success. You will know if you are successful at this by watching your metrics – a topic for another day.

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