Small gestures have an incredible amount of power. For me, it goes one of two ways: If I get cut off by some jerk when I'm on my way to work, it might ruin my actual morning. But, if someone draws a smiley face on my coffee cup, I'm all of sudden back in the plus column. It's essential to remember that while these small gestures from others can affect you, your small gestures also affect others.
In B2B SaaS, this concept reaches across all teams, but particularly with your customer-facing teams. With Customer Experience, it’s absolutely crucial to empower that team to humanize your brand. And at the end of the day, while we’re all working towards company and personal goals, remember you’re dealing with people. A kind gesture on a support ticket or going the extra mile when receiving a review is going to pay back dividends.
I can think of few people better suited to take on this topic than Julie Hogan. Julie and I caught up a little while back while she was the VP of Customer Experience over at Drift. Julie is currently the VP of Customer Success and Strategy over at Toast but her words rang true then and they resonate so much more now. She’s got a ton of knowledge and wisdom to share in the CS and CX world.
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I call it the ‘services third eye,’ where if you're responsible for a room of people, so whether it's tables you have to clear or wait on, if it's a wedding that you are catering, if it's a bar and you're sort of keeping an eye on how everybody is, you just learn this, this, this idea of making sure people are getting what they need. And I, I now look for that and people I hire.”
Customer success is the process behind helping customers achieve their intended goals. It’s a proactive strategy dedicated to guiding customers toward their goals and providing a solid experience along the way. This through process happens long before a customer ever has the chance to run into an issue with your product or service.
Customer success is core to your business growth. It relieves pressure on your acquisition team by optimizing the customer journey, builds retention efforts directly into the product, and makes it easy to showcase value at every touchpoint along the way. A winning customer success strategy ensures that your product or service is optimized to provide the best possible experience for every new customer. Additionally, it can decrease customer acquisition costs (CAC), increase the lifetime value (LTV), and make a direct impact on your revenue potential.
What to do today:
- Follow Julie Hogan.
- Schedule a time to meet with your customer success team to evaluate your strategy.
What to do next:
Assess and improve, or begin to develop, your customer success strategy.
The customer relationship is at the core of every SaaS and subscription company. And when revenue is tied directly to recurring monthly payments, any negative experiences that lead to churn have a direct impact on your bottom line.
Whether you’re building your customer success strategy from scratch or looking to optimize it, there are four keys that should always be considered as you work to create a first-rate customer experience, that we’ve included below, directly from Julie and Drift.
- HIRING TIP: HOSPITALITY EXPERIENCE TRANSLATES WELL INTO CUSTOMER SUCCESS ROLES.
Instead of looking for a killer resume with a great 4-year degree and an awesome company or two when hiring, Julie looks for the skills and experiences that those who have worked in the hospitality space bring to the table:
“… when you work in a hotel, when you work in a bar, when you work in a restaurant, when you work in service to others, you are around people you are servicing and serving all day long. You learn the muscle group which is how to predict, how to proactively understand what those things are going to be that they need and you learn how to respond to it in real-time.”
- ALWAYS BE LEARNING FROM YOUR OWN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES.
Julie had the unfortunate task of needing to go with one of her sons to Children’s Hospital of Boston. Thankfully he’s OK, but what Julie experienced there from a customer or patient experience perspective floored her.
“I was floored by, from parking our car, to going through registration, to having to get labs done, to going in, every single person we met along the way was incredible. And it struck that in my mind, I don’t care who is the doctor and that’s ultimately the person who’s going to be servicing me, I care about the experience along the way because it’s sort of a crummy place to be and they just make you feel really, really great.”
- YOU CAN’T HAVE GREAT CUSTOMERS WITHOUT HAVING GREAT EMPLOYEES.
One thing Julie believes in, is moving away from the culture that needs to put either customers or employees ahead on the experience ranking or in different categories. In order to be a great company there should be one experience whether you are a customer or an employee.
“So your experience with Drift, whether you’re an employee or whether you’re a customer, is one where we want there to be core values that we live by, that we execute against, and you experience both as an employee and a customer.”
- FOCUS ON THE EXPERIENCE OF THE CUSTOMER, RATHER THAN PRIORITIZING THE INTERNAL PROCESS.
While discussing striving for a 1-1 customer relationship experience and whether it’s something that can’t scale in a larger growing SaaS business Julie had this to say:
“It doesn’t scale because nobody has tried to do it. The blogs you read and the other companies you look at, I call it the tradition of Customer Success or the tradition of SaaS Economics, where when you hear any company talk about their onboarding experience it all uses the same language and if you do a Google search for SaaS onboarding experience, you’ll see some variation of a line into perpetuity and little milestone markers and then words like onboarding, implementation, engagement, handoff, kickoff.
Instead of thinking about ‘How do we make this experience better?’ we always try to improve the process and then suddenly we’re tied to this reporting that backs into that process, and our customers are no longer a customer who pays a certain amount of money with a certain amount of potential, who’s in this industry, who has these needs, our customer is this customer who represents X number of dollars, who’s in this orange and yellow color because their usage is this and that’s how we define our work.”
You can read the full blog here: Four keys to creating a 6-star customer experience from Julie Hogan, Drift’s VP of Customer Success.
What to do within the next year:
Implement your new customer success strategy or optimizations. Ongoing evaluation and revision is part of any strategy, whether new or optimized. Your business will evolve and so will the needs of your customers and employees, so closely monitoring the output is key. And it goes without saying that customer and employee feedback is at the core of your strategy’s success.
Who should own this?
Your customer success team.
Who's up next week?
Next week, Trainual’s Chris Ronzio gives us tips on how to train our teams and scale up their skills to meet their highest potential.
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