Without customers, a business will die, but making the best use of current technology trends will ensure that your customers find success with your business. Today, companies are provided with the largest array of customer acquisition options in history. That said, the trends we’re discussing here have more to do with keeping the customers you have than with finding more. That’s what sets “customer success” apart from “customer service.”
As a relatively new field, customer success is still defining what it stands for. Reduced churn, enhanced communication, predictive intelligence, proactive customer service – these technology trends are enabling even the smallest customer success teams to make a significant impact. In all of these trends and strategies, you will see a common thread: AI. In and of itself, AI is the technology to watch when it comes to important advances in Customer Success.
Below you will see six key trends that are helping businesses of all sizes achieve greater levels of customer success today and for the foreseeable future.
Enhanced Team Communication
Customer success requires a cohesive overall experience for your clients. By encouraging the customer success team to be involved in the major decisions made by adjacent departments and giving them a way to voice their opinions, customer feedback and data can lead to direct improvements.
The teams most likely to benefit from working closely with customer success team members are sales and marketing. Of course, “customer success” doesn’t necessarily have to be its own department. Its practices could, instead, be directly infused with the way these existing teams operate. Customer success tactics are not isolated to one department; the technologies that they use can apply to nearly every part of a company, and in fact will not work efficiently without a considerable amount of integration.
Being able to segment your customer base is only the beginning. Customer Success agents are capable of not only determining the overall direction your customer service and experience efforts should take but also of assigning success plans to individual customer groups.
It should come as no surprise that the more you know about your customers, the better you can anticipate their needs. By having the technology to collect data, analyze it, and see where your customers tend to get confused, stuck, or just drop out of your funnel altogether, you have the power to fix those issues.
By working closely with those in marketing and with user experience teams, Customer Success will have a better chance of seeing the markers of these behaviors, too. Remember, each technology and trend builds upon the others.
Technology Trends Boost Efficient Onboarding and Convenience
Different customers will want different things. As customer service technologies and AI have evolved, customers have come to expect more options than just a helpline to call. A successful company will take the feedback its customers give and see the common questions or places where people get stuck – then it will fix those issues. That’s a proactive step toward customer success.
By refining the onboarding (training) process in this way, Customer Success Managers and teams are emphasizing the importance of new customers. Having the tools and training available for all to use may also help you retain a few existing clients who had lost touch with what your product or service is capable of.
For instance, a mobile app builder uses the onboarding process as a time to get their new client set up with the product and gets to know the client. During this process, the client will learn how well the app builder knows how to build apps, and understand the app builder’s experience with selling them.
Emphasis on Retention and Evolved Outcomes
Today you can track customers throughout each and every interaction they have with your company. That data can make it easy for you to guide them to the desired outcome. That means a plan extension, regular visits, upsells, and so on.
All that data, as well as your own trial and error, can give you a map for success with like-minded customers. What’s the best way to get a brand new customer to their next purchase? How do you get someone on a monthly plan to move up to an annual subscription? If you’ve moved past your major onboarding issues, the next step is to evaluate and update your goals for each customer group. Artificial Intelligence is slated to become a major component here as it can identify specific markers and move customers into the appropriate pool as necessary.
The customer retention trend is not new but it is important, and the hard facts are in: it costs about seven times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain a previous or recurring customer. Having a grasp on Customer Success theory and trends is what will keep your retention rates high – that, and taking advantage of the ability to manage individualized customer outcome plans with the help of Artificial Intelligence and specialized tools.
Shifting to a Proactive Process
Until recently, nearly every small customer service team was too overtaxed even to consider what proactive measures might be. Always being in a position that is one step behind is never the ideal position to be in. But now, by building on top of other technologies, customer service teams can take measures that anticipate and fulfill a customer’s needs as soon as they arise.
By focusing on providing some self-support options that are relevant to the average user’s experience and tailoring the onboarding process to an individual’s needs and actions, customer service teams reduce the need to play catch-up. Customer success is achieved in a more hands-off approach – it’s not necessarily done on a case-by-case basis, that’s the job of customer service agents. Those in a Customer Success role find themselves in a position to minimize the burden placed on customer service teams while providing actual customers with a better overall experience.
As the boundaries of Customer Success are set, it is important to realize that the best tools and technologies in this area are focused on proactive measures. Too often a Customer Success department (or individual agents) will fall into reactive, customer service-like patterns. While customer service is important, being able to take a step back and focus on the overall flow of customer interactions with your company is an essential strength of your Customer Success department or strategy.
Integrating Tools and Technology Trends
Many Customer Success teams are being bogged down by the very technologies they need to do their jobs. Across the board, it’s hard to keep jumping from platform to platform to track a particular customer group, implement a given solution, or communicate with another team member.
As this year progresses (and into the immediate future), new tools specifically geared toward those in a Customer Success role will be developed and released. Implementing these, or creating your own, will be critical to making the most of what a Customer Success team is capable of.
The work a Customer Success team can do is only made possible because so much of the minutia is taken care of by technology – specifically, minor AI and support software. Without the right tools, any CS team will flounder.
Use Technology Trends to Cultivate Happy Customers
Just by having a solution that allows all of this data to be tracked, marked, and sorted will give your business a significant advantage. It will make your customers happy, too. How great would it be to have a business anticipate your needs and send you the kind of help you need when you need it? That’s what real customer success is, after all – keeping the customer happy. Top app makers are only as successful as their customers are, so they put a lot of emphasis on customer success.
Which of these technology trends is your favorite? And why? Share with us in the comments below.