Customer success can either be the most reliable source of revenue for a company or an expensive cost center. In her SaaSiest 2023 presentation, Hélène Hulthin Hagnéré, founder of customer success agency SCHHH, shared her advice for four different areas we need to focus on to operate a scalable customer success organization.
- To scale your CS organization, focus on the journey, people, technology, and metrics.
- Make it easy for your customers to work with you. Set expectations and deliver on your commitments. Take it step-by-step until you know what works.
- Invest in your CSM team. Give them fulfilling jobs.
- Operationalize CSM knowledge and insights from their activities and address the root cause of frequent customer questions to scale the business and improve productivity.
- Stay agile to meet customer needs and learn as you go. As long as your tools integrate with each other and make your job easier, they’ll be sufficient.
- Prioritize churn prevention over having to win back clients.
- Don’t lump all customer data into one group. Create cohorts and measure accordingly for the best data on which to make informed decisions.
How to turn customer success into a revenue center
There are four areas you need to focus on to scale a customer success organization.
- Journey (what): What are the touchpoints, reactive and proactive? What do we do with our customers? How do we engage with them? How do we organize our approach?
- People (who): How are we going to execute on those touchpoints?
- Technology (where): Where do we organize the touchpoints? Where do we structure it? Where do we get the data out of our work?
- Metrics (measure): What is the measure of success? What has worked, what hasn’t, and where to move forward?
Tip #1. Your customers don’t want to learn. They just want it to work, period.
They purchased something that needs to work, and they purchased the value that they need to acquire. The goal is to invest effort after the purchase to get things right and to not have to correct things later on. Otherwise, it becomes very expensive. If we address things right from the beginning, everything is going to be a lot smoother.
Tip #2. Your customer is not an expert in your product or the journey. This is the first time they’ve purchased it.
Set expectations right and upfront. Be proactive and straightforward. Tell the customer upfront what the journey is going to be like. organize the plan in a timely manner and live up to it. It will be easier to be successful because everyone will be aligned as to what needs to be achieved, how we are going to achieve it, and when.
Tip #3. A/B test.
Don’t roll out a big expensive plan requiring tons of effort across product, development, marketing, and sales before you know what works. A/B test. Take small steps, one step at a time. Step by step, you evaluate, you see what works, you see what doesn’t. Continue with what works, then repeat it. Keep on going with your people and technology.
Tip #1. Make every hour count.
A full-time employee works more than 2,000 hours a year. That’s a lot. So how do we make every single hour count? Every call, every meeting, every ticket we answer, every task is done by your team – the insights live there. If we can extract all of those insights and all of those calls and interactions, you will know where to improve and scale.
Tip #2. Give your CSMs a good job.
Happiness is contagious. If your CSMs have a fulfilling job they feel happy about and they’re empowered to make an impact with the customers they speak with every day, they will have better results with the customer base.
Tip #3. Highlight your team’s superpowers.
If you invest in ops, you can highlight the superpower of your CSM teams. All the insights that go through their keyboards is your way to scale your business. If you think about it proactively and train the team to feel proud about their role and the impact they have on the business, they fundamentally have superpowers. That’s essentially being client-centric, not just in slides, but in action.
Tip #1. The less, the merrier.
You won’t have a perfect CS setup. Work together with sales, product, and development to be agile and be able to make small changes and fine-tune everything as you learn. CS is a never-ending story. You are going to have to keep adjusting your journey to meet customer needs. Make decisions based on what’s relevant to your customers but equip yourself with little tools to help and then add it up carefully by use case.
Tip #2. There is no right or wrong.
There are so many options for tools in your tech stack. Some tools are great, some are useless. It all comes down to your audience, budget, timeline, customer milestones that need to be achieved. Every tech stack, as long as the tools can integrate with each other, will be good enough.
Tip #3. Prioritize prevention over cure.
Prevention is a lot easier than trying to win back a client. Save yourself from trying to save a customer who wants to cancel. Learn what went wrong and what you missed. Build a dashboard that will give you the alerts to identify the trends and risks early. You should be able to identify when a customer is in danger of cancelling, not when a customer has already cancelled. If you think about your prevention strategy, you are going to win a lot more.
Tip #1. Can everyone answer: What are the top five most frequently asked questions last week?
What has your customer asked about repeatedly? If you can identify the root cause and solve these frequent issues, you will have more control over the support volume.
Tip #2. Know your LTV:CAC ratio.
LTV can be quite complicated to track, but it’s important to know how much your customers are going to pay back on the investment you made to acquire them. CS can be a fantastic area that keeps on innovating, delivering, and bringing in the revenue. If you make your customers happy, you will have a very high LTV and strong recurring revenue, which are critical to business growth and stability.
Tip #3. It’s a journey. Know your cohorts from day one.
Just remember that the journey takes time. It’s important to measure customer health data by cohort or the data will be useless. Your customers are in different stages of adoption of your product as well as the relationships they have with you. You need to compare what’s comparable and have related groups of data to be relevant and to be able to make informed conclusions.
CS is like swimming
Think about a 25-metre public swimming pool. If you’re facing it, there is no way around it. You just have to swim it. It can be beautiful and gracious. It can also be extremely exhausting. If you have the right technique, if you practice, if you have endurance, if you do it again and again and again, and you try different techniques and you measure how fast you swim or how many calories you’ve burned, you’re going to get better and better. CS is quite comparable. If you commit to it, practice, try new things, and keep learning, you improve your results in an amazing and fulfilling way.