As a chief customer officer, I believe it’s my responsibility to be the ombudsman for my company. I want the unfiltered truth about how our customers are feeling and whether their needs are being met. I want to understand them top to bottom and inside-out — almost as well as they understand themselves. Because that’s how I can help solve problems, earn customer loyalty and create competitive advantage.
Your company should do the same. Here are four strategies smart organisations can implement to transform the experience of their customers and achieve long-term success.
Lean into analytics and AI
Technology around customer support has greatly evolved over the years. And leading companies are using this technology to take customer support to the next level. Indeed, they’re able to identify their customers’ needs before the customers do. They have deep insight into what has worked — and what hasn’t — and they know how to achieve good outcomes every time.
Your company can do the same, with data and analytics. The more data you have and the more expertly you analyse it, the better able you are to anticipate customer needs and improve outcomes. By closely tracking and monitoring customer experiences and taking a holistic view across all of the products and services you provide to them, you can proactively help customers get the most value.
AI is also playing an increasingly important role in customer success. AI, for instance, can reveal patterns in customer-service issues and quickly surface strategies that have a track record of working based on the experience of other customers. And because AI is constantly learning, it can come up with innovative solutions that help take customer success to new heights.
Instill a winning mindset
Where do great customer success people come from? Are they born or are they bred? I think it begins and ends with the right attitude and approach — a belief that anything is possible. When you instill that mindset across the customer success team, that’s when you really start to drive optimal outcomes.
It’s also imperative for the customer success team to take responsibility for understanding the customer’s goals from the outset and putting KPIs in place to track the outcomes. From there, it becomes easier to figure out where you’re executing well and where you’re falling short.
Become a trusted adviser
Customers are looking for you to be their go-to adviser. They don’t want you to be just a vendor, they want you to be a trusted partner. They want you to help them put in place processes to achieve greater efficiencies and reduce wasted or redundant efforts. They also want solutions and advice that is tailored to their business, not cookie-cutter reports that don’t meet their specific needs.
Reaching the adviser state is when the magic happens. That’s when, all of a sudden, customers turn to you for all kinds of advice — even on topics outside your domain. Why? Because you’ve been so valuable in helping them improve their business, they have developed a deep trust in you. Keep in mind also that the action of being a trusted adviser should not be tied to one person but rather to the whole company. That’s why I’m on a mission to rally our company to be customer-obsessed in every aspect of the business and every job we have. After all, every employee has a role to play in customer success.
Embrace your mistakes
It’s important to be honest with yourself by examining where you’re falling short and figuring out ways to course-correct. Look in the mirror every day and ask yourself whether you’re doing everything possible to the best of your ability. When the customer reached out for assistance, did you simply show up or did you go above and beyond? What did you learn through that process and how can you improve on that? For me, it’s imperative for every organisation to do that kind of self-reflection and hold itself accountable, because that’s the only way to improve and achieve true customer-centricity.
Most customer success leaders are obsessed with stopping or reducing churn. Personally, I have evolved with a slightly different mindset. To me, yes, driving a low percentage of churn with consistency is key, yet I believe it’s all about customer adoption through ease of use with best practices that drives high retention. It’s about helping customers overcome any challenge every step of the way. It’s about anticipating their needs/issues and proactively providing the solutions they need. Because when customers succeed, you succeed.