Over the next 4 weeks I’m going to introduce a customer engagement model that is designed to help growing businesses think about where they are in terms of customer success. I’ll be covering one stage each week, from the bottom to the top of the pyramid: Each layer builds on the one below it. Good things come in pyramids!
“But wait,” you say, “Customer Success doesn’t show up until the 2nd step. Why should I read this post if it’s just going to be about product this week?” If you read my recent post on goal-setting you know that there are things that customer success can control and other things we influence. In this model, while customer success only controls the 2nd stage, it can influence the other 3 stages. It’s important to talk about all four stages of customer engagement, because you need to know what stage your company is currently in and how to help move your brand to the peak of the pyramid.
How the Model Works
The 4 stages on the pyramid are different areas where customers engage. Product (you can easily substitute Service if you have a service organization) is your customer offering. Success Team includes all of the customer-facing parts of your organization – support, sales, training, professional services, customer success. Company is your organization as a whole, or how your customers view your brand. Community is the group of customers who use your product or service, and how they engage with each other.
The bullet points on the right hand side of the model are statements a customer should be able to make about a particular stage. For example, you want your customers to be able to make the statement, “Your Success Team teaches me how to better use your product.” Take the perspective of a customer and start saying these statements out loud, starting from the bottom of the pyramid and moving up. If you have a good feel for your customer base, and you’re being honest with yourself, the point at which those statements become false is where your company stops on this model. Think about your favorite brand – they are probably at or near the top of the pyramid. Most organizations are somewhere in the middle.
Let's take a look at the base of the pyramid this week, and talk about how customer success can influence the product or service you offer.
“Your Product provides value that justifies the cost.”
Most customers won’t buy something in the first place that they feel isn’t worth the cost, so this isn’t usually an issue for new customers. However, many organizations have a base of customers that has been around for a while. If this is the case for your company, it is important for the customer success team to perform regular temperature checks on current customers to see how they are feeling about the price vs. value of your offering. In addition, it is critical that the customer success team be aware of competitor pricing as well as new customer offers and discounts. The success team should be the canary in the coal mine if customers start to become unhappy with prices, so make sure they have a way to communicate this back to the rest of your company.
“Your Product does what I need it to do.”
This one seems pretty obvious, and again, may not be a problem for new customers. However, there are 2 cases where the customer success team should step in.
- Product was oversold – in these cases the customer success team owes it to the sales team to clearly communicate what went wrong. Most of the time it is simply a lack of product knowledge on the part of a salesperson or an error of omission. Make sure that the sales leader knows what happened so they can work to prevent it in the future.
- Product has aged – as the market for a particular product develops the needs of your customers will develop as well. If your product hasn’t kept pace the customer success team needs to let your product team know where the gaps are. A formal feature request process can help you make sure this information is getting to the people who control those changes.
“Your Product is easy to learn and use.”
This is the product half of customer adoption. If you glance up the pyramid you’ll notice that there is also a training component that falls into the Success Team stage. However, if your company is depending entirely on your customer success team to make your offering understandable, your product has missed the mark. If this is the case, customer success should be reporting the questions that commonly come up during training or on-boarding to the product team. This information, combined with data on customers who don’t make it through on-boarding or customers who quickly churn, can be a powerful call to action for your company. Tools like WalkMe can make it easier for customers to find their way through even a complex product.
“Your Product makes doing a great job easier.”
Everyone wants to be a rockstar. Your customers expect that your product is going to make them look good, or they wouldn’t have purchased it. This is another area where your customer success team should be doing regular temperature checks. Happy customers let you know they feel like rockstars by giving you referrals and participating in customer stories. They want you to show off their great work. If customers aren’t willing to share how they are doing, this may be a sign that your product isn’t delivering on this promise. If this is the case, customer success can dig to try and find out what the show-stoppers are. Again, a formal feature request process can really help the product team know what to do to fix any problems.
Next week we’ll talk about what the Success Team can do to make sure customers are engaged, and continue to work through this model. I'd love to hear about what you and your team are doing to make sure your Product is engaging your customers!
Need help figuring out where your company is on this customer engagement model? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm created to help companies build customer-centric brands. www.TheSuccessLeague.io