If you care about your customers, you may consider giving them the best support possible. Why not outsource customer success to the experts?
Customer success and support: an art of building a relationship
Customer success: it's one of the most beautiful, strong, and optimistic terms in business strategies nowadays. It sounds so proudly: "we work for the success of our customers. Our products/services are designed in a way, they lead our clients' businesses to fame and glory". Of course, it is both selling and marketing strategy, but many companies do care about the impact they made to the world and on other entities, believing that together is better.
This is a very proactive strategy and requires good preparation, appropriate resources, and a client-centric approach. There are many areas to monitor, processes to design a reliable customer success program.
Today, we will look at how your customers' success can be a crucial race business, where to search for best practices, and why outsourcing customer success-related for your ecommerce tasks is a good idea.
What is customer success?
Customer success (CS) is all you do to ensure the happiness, satisfaction, and loyalty of your customers. Sounds not very precise? Yes, because it isn't one certain strategy, it's a group of activities you perform for buyers at different stages of their buying journey. Customer success isn't only about the ones that have already made a purchase, it's anticipating the needs of entities that may be your clients in a while. Why?
Because many of those activities need analysis and preparation, you can proactively act and prevent possible dissatisfaction.
Customer success is a long-term strategy that leads to the highest profitability possible on both sides. What does it mean in real life? Customer success teamwork is usually divided into three principal areas:
- customers: how their businesses look like, how they operate, what are the most important business factors and goals, what they struggle with, who is responsible for what,
- products: what the product can do, how it works, recent updates, use cases,
- domain expertise: knowledge about industry, trends, competition, innovation.
Having all this knowledge base in one place, a customer success team is prepared to face various challenges, spot the opportunities together with your customers.
Customer success vs. customer support
We have mentioned customer success and support as two different concepts for a good reason. It is not the same, even if the work done by the customer success team is, of course, a kind of support.
But from the business model point of view, those are two different groups that have two different roles, from which both are very important. What's the main difference?
Customer success is a proactive team, that focuses on making something better out of something already good. They are a kind of navigator for future paths both companies will follow to reach their goals.
Customer support has rather a reactive role, handling all the issues and problems customer raises during the collaboration.
Customer success management
To address all the customer satisfaction and customer relationships key areas, a company has to correctly design a customer success strategy. Well-coordinated activities can prevent losing valuable customers and will increase customer loyalty. How to build a successful team?
The structure, responsibilities, and processes depend on your customers' needs, internal resources, and the complexity of the product. We can extract three phases that have to be addressed in the right way by customer success teams and support.
The first phase, in which the customer success team will be involved in onboarding. Brand new customers shouldn't be left alone with new projects. They need proper training and meetings that will prepare them to successfully use the product. At this moment, the CS team should also start analysing areas that have bigger potential, and can bring more value in the future.
Once the project is launched and the customer starts the full-time work with your product, there is a need to monitor the potential areas of improvement, new opportunities, new needs that may occur. Customer success efforts should focus on maintaining a high level of satisfaction, and show a lot of proactive approaches.
In the meantime, you will face some technical issues, that's for sure. And here come technical teams with help, with their extensive knowledge of the product. The scope and range of support should be clearly defined on a contract basis.
It is the customer success manager's role to put this all together. All the teams should collaborate, and what is important, they should share all the information and data about the customers, to be able to serve them in a complex way. This requires advanced customer success software and accurate customer success operations.
Is 24/7/365 support really necessary?
The main scope for your customer success program is to make them feel comfortable with your service. When they face an issue and must contact the support team, it's already a stressful and potentially irritating event for them. Not being able to get in touch with someone who can help them may raise this stress a lot. This is why 24/7 external assistance is mentioned as something really important for customer relationships.
Not fully convinced? Customers declare to have high expectations for customer service. Many of your competitors got them used to support availability beyond nine to five operating hours. For long-term relationships, it is better to build trust and a professional brand on high responsiveness.
If you are selling your products globally, then there is no way than to operate 24/7. You probably won't build separate teams in different countries to support your clients locally, therefore the one centralised team has to be available all the time, for different peak hours in different locations.
Fine, but you probably throw up your hands saying that your in-house team won't be able to handle such support. It's not easy and requires a lot of resources, but other solutions may help you. If you don't have a dedicated customer success team, the most obvious approach is to outsource it.
Outsourcing customer success
Outsourcing customer success is an inviting approach, but of course, has its pros and cons. As with any other part of business, decision-makers have to analyse deeply the situation before making the final decision. Sometimes it can be a temporary solution, most businesses that are just at the beginning of their journey outsource some tasks to outside teams, as they have neither in-house resources nor knowledge and expertise, yet. Outsourced customer success team, outsourced sales teams, other departments - it's becoming extremely common and you shouldn't fear not having complete control of every process that happens in your company
So, when you should consider engaging an outsourced customer success team?
Benefits of outsourcing customer success team
Let's focus on the benefits of outsourcing the customer success team first.
By choosing an existing solution, you save the time of implementation of the service. You don't have to recruit whole teams, train them, spending time preparing the right customer segmentation and account management. Instead, you gain access to the outsourced customer success professionals, with wide knowledge and ready to start their service immediately.
In such centers, there are very well-trained people, so the level of the service is high. It has a direct impact on customer retention, satisfaction, and customer success. Your customers get all-time access and help - isn't this what was of the most value?
Then, you can skip some difficult tasks that may occur if you are trying to create a local team, for example, you don't need to hire a good customer success manager.
Also, some of the risks and responsibilities are moved outside, so it's easier to manage difficult situations, by having access to better tools and ways to solve the problem.
What are the disadvantages of outsourced customer success teams?
It's not that outsourced customer support and success team is the unique solution that fits all. When it is better to build an in-house CS organisation than choose an outsourced team?
Well, when you hand over the customer success program to an external organisation, you have to be 100% sure that it is in very good hands. An outsourced customer success team will be the front line for your customers, the first point of contact, very often during a painful situation. If they don't hold it well, it will affect negatively the image of your company, destroying the positive customer experience, which may impact your business.
We've mentioned above, that an outsourced team is an instant, ready-to-act group of trained people, but sometimes the knowledge that is needed to handle properly all the support and customer success issues has to be very precise and industry-specific. This may be hard to achieve with customer service outsourcing.
Once you start building an internal team, aligned with your company culture, under your control, it may bring many profits in the future, but of course, it takes time and many efforts to attract professional experts.
External or in-house? Short conclusion
What would be the best advice for your customer-facing business functions strategy?
The final decision, to outsource, or not to outsource will depend on many circumstances, such as budget, resources, product, markets you are operating, etc. What is important, is you need to deliver the best service possible, a continuous one, operated by professionals.
It may be an outsourced customer success team and support, or an in-house CS organisation, driven by experienced customer success managers, ensuring your product helps achieve your customer's goals. Well-operated assistance that leads to customer growth will build a lifetime value, turning your customers into brand advocates and loyal partners.
Remember that long-term relationships will always mean mutual success and more revenue. Good luck!