Customer Success isn’t Customer Support. So, although you may be providing a service and supporting your clients with issues and challenges while they’re using your product or service, that’s different from the objectives of Customer Success.
A support team will work reactively and support clients through product and service-related problems and challenges. This might be via a ticket system, over the phone, or via email. A Customer Success Team, however, will be working much more proactively. A Customer Success Team is responsible for helping the client be successful while using your product. They educate the client on the value of the product or service, reduce churn, and increase lifetime value. HelpScout do a great job of breaking down the difference between Customer Support and Customer Success in their blog post here if you’d like to learn more about the differences.
If you’re not yet working on Customer Success related tasks in your business and you want to learn how, by doing so, you can increase your MRR and reduce your churn, this post is for you.
Recognising Customer Success
If you’re working in a startup agency, working as a solo consultant, or even in an established small agency, the chances are you’re wearing multiple hats to get stuff done each week. Part of the tasks that you get done probably already involve some aspect of Customer Success!
If you don’t have an official ‘Customer Success’ aspect to your business yet, it’s important to identify the tasks you already do that come under the Customer Success umbrella so that you can start to work more intentionally, and potentially grow your CS Team. If you’re not working on any of the below tasks on a regular basis yet, it could be time to introduce them!
Are you already having conversations with your clients about upgrades or plan/product switches so they can get more value from your product? Are you already having monthly, quarterly or yearly conversations with clients about subscription renewals? Do you manage client accounts and make sure their payments are successful? Perhaps you reach out to clients when you notice that they aren’t using your product as intended, or when they’ve stopped using it altogether? Is anyone responsible for the onboarding experience of clients and the offboarding of a canceling client? All of these task examples come under the Customer Success umbrella and contribute toward the goals of retention and account growth/expansion. If you’re already doing some of these tasks, it’s a good idea to block them together in a doc so you can start to get an idea of what the Customer Success role really looks like, in terms of workload, for your individual agency. Once you’ve got a good view of the tasks that need completing, you can begin to see just how much work is involved and if you really have the capacity to do it all using your existing team.
When to create your Customer Success Team
Now that you’ve got a better idea of the tasks that are included within the Customer Success role you should be able to estimate how long these tasks will take. You’ll also have an idea of which tasks need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly.
Armed with that information, you can now make a decision on whether these tasks can all be handled within your existing team or if your current team’s time would be better off spent on other areas of the business. You don’t want a developer half handling a client account, or a designer being responsible for client renewals. Pushing and pulling people in different directions usually means people are tackling a lot of things all at once, half-heartedly because they just don’t have the time to do it all properly. Blurring the lines when it comes to people’s job descriptions almost always leads to disaster. If your employee doesn’t leave out of frustration first, your client will.
Customer Success deserves your full attention, your clients will thank you for it (and so will your MRR)!
Hiring your first CSM – Customer Success Manager
If you’ve decided (either on a part-time or full-time basis) that it’s time to get some help with CS, then business is probably boomin’! When client management becomes too much for your existing team it’s a great sign that you’ve got more clients than you can handle, and you need help fast. It also means there’s more opportunity than ever to increase your MRR through account expansions when you invest the time and attention required.
Before you jump into getting some help, you’ll want to make sure that all of the responsibilities of your first CSM are clearly defined. Hiring too early is real! Hiring too early without full preparation of the role can lead to chaos in your business and you’ll spend more time people managing than making your clients happy. Taking the time at this stage to clearly define the role, responsibilities, expectations, and workload for your first CSM will pay off in the long run. It’ll lead to less employee turnover due to frustration and your clients will notice that you’ve invested in keeping them happy.
On that note, keep in mind that if you’re hiring for a full-time position but there isn’t enough work, or you hire for a part-time role and your CSM can’t complete everything they need to during the week, this too will lead to frustration. Unrealistic expectations of your CSM due to your poor planning at this stage will hurt your bottom line.
Preparing for the CSM role
Ready to hire your first CSM? Awesome! If you’re not quite there yet, scroll down to read up on what you can do in the meantime to increase your MRR using Customer Success in your existing team.
Preparing for your first CSM hire should take a bit of time in preparation. The time you invest in preparation now should reassure you that you’ve done everything possible to ensure the CSM’s success in your business.
First off, everyone likes to feel a sense of achievement at the end of their workday. It’s what keeps most people motivated and engaged, and CSM’s are no different. Admittedly, the CSM role can be quite monotonous at times. We handle a lot of recurring day-to-day tasks that just need to get done to ensure the cogs keep turning. Having said that, the role is varied and a CSM gets to engage with clients more than pretty much anyone else on the team. Building relationships is a huge part of the CSM role. But, given the fact that some of the CSM workload can be repetitive, it can be tricky to keep that sense of accomplishment rolling day in day out! Working without a sense of accomplishment can lead to burnout, so to prevent this, consider setting up these tasks in a daily checklist format before your CSM starts. That way, the day-to-day repetitive tasks get checked off and your CSM knows when those jobs are done. This simple sense of accomplishment can go a long way.
You’ll have a ton of other tasks that you’ll need your CSM(s) to complete, so once you’ve got them all down, this list can help you put together a decent role and responsibility job spec. Consider onboarding, offboarding, upgrade and expansion efforts, tracking product usage, etc.
Remember that estimating how much time these tasks should take daily/weekly will help you to identify whether you need to hire full-time or part-time cover, giving you a good foundation to scale your CS team.
Increase your MRR using Customer Success in your existing team
Hiring a CSM isn’t always the answer, especially if your agency is fairly new or you’re a consultant managing a handful of clients. You can still focus on Customer Success to increase retention rates and account expansions with relatively little effort until you’re ready to scale.
Balancing workload while you’re considering a new hire is often a real challenge. One of the main reasons people struggle with the workload as they’re scaling is because they don’t use enough automation in their business.
Consider failed payments. Do you really want to be monitoring all of your client accounts to make sure their subscription payments have gone through? If you don’t, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table, not to mention providing free services! One way to automate is to use software like Baremetrics Recover. Baremetrics allows you to set up automated recovery emails when a payment fails and notifies you if that recovery has been unsuccessful, which means you only need to get involved when it’s necessary. This one automation alone can save you tons of time and money. There are a few options out there depending on which payment processor you use to take client payments.
Similarly, you can offer upgrades and show your clients the value of your product or service by using automation. Consider enrolling new clients into an automated email sequence that slowly guides them through higher-level services – you’ll be surprised by how many people upgrade once they recognize the extra value they’re missing out on. Once you’re all set, simply monitor and adjust based on the results you get.
There are tons of automation options in the WordPress world that can support you with account expansions and churn reduction. Taking advantage of them early on will help you scale up your business.
Making a decision on whether to grow or create a Customer Success team really just comes down to how much your willing to invest in your current client base. Customer Success can help take you to the next level by focusing on expansions, working toward lower churn rates, and building relationships with clients who become raving fans of your product or service.
Have you started building out your Customer Success team yet? What pushed you to take the leap? If you haven’t, why not?
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