Every successful business became that way by ensuring its customers were successful with their products. Customer success is a recipe for repeat purchases, referrals, and positive reviews.

It’s even more important for subscription-based businesses because the customer’s true value doesn’t materialize until well after the initial transaction.

This reality makes customer success teams essential for maximizing your revenue. Unfortunately, many teams aren’t living up to their potential and are considered an inefficient cost center.

Power up your workday

Reach your goals faster with time tracking and work management.

power up with Hubstaff

Turn customer success into a revenue driver

Traditionally, customer success has been considered a cost center because its role has been lumped together with customer support. This approach means customer success reacts to problems as they arise.

In reality, customer success is a proactive discipline that never truly ends.

Customer success ticket resolution

The team helps users solve the problems that caused customers to sign up for your service. And, in a way that keeps customers around for the long haul.

How to make your customer success team successful

In this guide, you’ll learn effective strategies to grow your customer success team while increasing the revenue generated and retention rate.

1. Write and implement a quick start guide

This goes above and beyond the standard onboarding flow.

A quick start guide focuses on showing your new customers how to get their accounts set up and unlock value from your product.

The quick start guide can be a simple, step-by-step PDF with screenshots, or a video tutorial that walks them through the product. At PayKickstart, we have a 14-day seller’s boot camp.

PayKickstart quick start guide

Each day focuses on a different aspect of the product and gives new and existing users a comprehensive overview. It’s dripped out over the course of two weeks but users are able to go through everything at once if they’d like.

This has helped us solve problems before they arrive, reduce churn, and get users to first value much more quickly.

2. Create and publish a comprehensive knowledge base

Your knowledge base is often an overlooked area where you can prevent confusion and ensure success for your customers.

For the most part, people want to figure out things on their own. Before they reach out to you, they’ll look for the answers. In many cases, they’ll ask for you to point them in the right direction.

Many organizations take this for granted and have sparse knowledge bases that do more harm than good.

Keep in mind that the average company with under 50 employees uses 40 software tools to manage their workflow. A knowledge base like the one below doesn’t help you improve retention.

Generic knowledgebase

Note: I blurred out the identifying details in the screenshot because it reflects poorly on the company. I’d started a trial of the service and was looking for a way to connect our email marketing service. When I saw that article was blank, it made me feel that the company didn’t care.

Contrast that with the Hubstaff knowledge base.

Hubstaff knowledgebase

Not only is it comprehensive, but it’s also well designed and organized. You can find the solution to any general problem here, and would only need to contact support to ask about things particular to your situation.

The faster a customer can find a solution to their problem, the more likely they are to stick around.

3. Check in with customers on a regular basis

Few businesses check in with customers to see how they’re getting along with their products.

The rationale is that if someone is still paying, then they’re happy. That’s not always the case.

In many instances, a customer may feel locked in with a vendor and is waiting for a good opportunity to move to a different service.

You can reduce the feeling of being trapped or underserved to a large extent by just checking in on your customers. Send them regular emails (this can be set up through an email marketing service that supports automations and event triggers) or call them up.

The purpose of these check-ins to understand what they need help with, what features they’re looking for, and to gauge overall sentiment.

When you have this information, you’ll be able to help them as an individual customer while improving your products and service for everyone.

Together, these customer success initiatives increase satisfaction and retention, which can have a large impact on your profit margins.

Retention and profit

4. Use upsell or add-on opportunities

Your customer support and customer success teams are on the front lines of daily customer interactions. This means they’re in a unique position to make tailored upsell or cross-sell offers to your customer base.

For example, a customer reaches out to your support team and explains a challenge they’re having or a use case they have in mind. The support rep can answer the initial question quickly and spend a little time digging deeper into the goals of the customer. This can produce multiple opportunities to present add-on products or subscription billing options that’ll better meet their needs.

There’s a caveat here. Your customer reached out for help with a problem they’re experiencing, not to be sold something else. Upselling through the customer support team should be done subtly. If it doesn’t come from a place of genuine help, the customer will be turned off and may form a bad opinion of your organization.

Your customer success team should invest the time to get a deeper understanding of the customer’s unique situation. With that information, they can present an offer that’s truly beneficial to the customer and not just your business.

To make this more efficient, segment your customers based on their likelihood to upgrade or purchase an add-on product. For example, you may have historical data that tells you people on a specific plan tend to purchase X add-on or upgrade to Y plan.

For example, you may realize that customers that spend $100 on the first purchase are more likely to buy from you again, leave positive reviews, and have a lower return rate. Knowing this, your customer success team could proactively reach out to them and offer the opportunity to get free shipping on their next order over a certain amount or even give them a discount on the next purchase.

5. Find at-risk customers

Another way to make your customer success team more effective is by helping them understand what an at-risk customer looks like.

Generally speaking, these customers fall into two camps.

  1. Are unable to fully utilize your product
  2. Were once active but don’t interact with your product much anymore

The first group is easier to spot because they’re actively trying to get value out of the product but something is in the way. That could be poor design choices, lack of self-serve help documentation, or something else.

Customer success teams should reach out to these people and request a meeting or phone call to walk them through the challenges they’re experiencing. The goal here is to ensure they have a positive experience and save the recurring revenue that may otherwise be lost.

For the second group, a combination of in-app notifications when they occasionally log in and outreach emails can be effective. The notifications and emails should highlight new features they may be interested in, and actively encourage them to join webinars or schedule a meeting.

The goal of the meeting is to understand why they’re no longer using the application so you can develop a plan to get them re-engaged.

Here’s an example of a webinar notification from Zoom.

Zoom webinar notification

I haven’t been using the software as much lately and this message is trying to re-engage me by sending helpful training that ties into current events.

6. Use Net Promoter Scores (NPS)

NPS surveys are a powerful tool to understand and measure customer loyalty using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. They ask customers to rate how likely they are to recommend your products or services to friends, colleagues, or family. It’s based on a scale of 1 – 10.

People who select 6 or less are detractors, while people who select 9 or more are promoters. Depending on the way people answered, you’ll ask an open-ended follow-up question to understand what you can do to improve their experience (or keep them happy).

Net Promoter Scores

Source

Customer feedback isn’t a one-and-done thing. It’s a continual process.

Whatever NPS score you get should be considered your baseline that will be improved over time. The feedback from the open-ended questions will help you identify areas where you should focus your attention.

When people rate you six or lower, it’s a sign that they’re unhappy and aren’t getting the value you know they can.

Even if they reply to the follow-up question that’s part of the survey, consider sending them a follow-up email to schedule a call. During the meeting, focus on understanding where you’re lacking and how you can do better.

If a customer gives you a 10, they’ll get a different follow-up email.

Of course, you’ll thank them but you also want to leverage their positive experience. Maybe you’ll send them to a relevant directory like Capterra to leave a review, ask for a testimonial to display on your site, or even interview them for a case study.

7. Implement a customer billing portal

The way you handle customer billing can also impact the efficiency of your customer success team.  The entire payment or billing experience can impact on your customer’s willingness to pay, churn, overall conversion rates, upgrades, and so on.

Customer billing should, at a bare minimum, meet the following requirements:

  • Gives your customer control of upgrades, downgrades, and cancellations
  • Allows customers to view and edit their data (address, name, etc.)
  • Ability to update or change their cards
  • Lets customers view their entire billing history

These features, coupled with intuitive design, will reduce the support burden on your team.

Instead of fielding every request for upgrades, downgrades, change of name, updating cards, etc., the customer can do it and will only reach out when something goes wrong.

In fact, most customers will resent being forced to call or jump through hoops to cancel or downgrade an account.

Stepping up your customer success

Your customer success team is an essential part of the equation. When they perform to the best of their abilities, it reflects in almost every other area of your business.

This guide has gone through seven ways to make them more effective and improve your margins. Choose one or two to focus on in the beginning, and slowly roll out all the strategies.

You should see a steady uptick in revenue and customer satisfaction.

Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share.