Customer Success 6 min read

Customer Success: Your #1 revenue strategy in 2020

Robin van Lieshout • June 4, 2020

At inSided we’re pretty mad about Customer Success. It’s our overall company goal to offer up best-in-class Customer Success Community platforms for B2B SaaS companies. We are already hugely proud to serve awesome companies like Gainsight, Mixpanel, Zapier and Miro, helping them build out their customer communities and boost customer success with our platform.

This makes us pretty well placed to see what’s happening in the Customer Success world and, in particular, how Customer Success Managers are dealing with the current crisis. In this blog post I wanted to talk you through 4 key lessons we have learned from helping our customer base and give you concrete examples on how inSided is keeping up in these times.

1. Keep engaging

First of all, you need to keep engaging with your customers. This is especially important now, not least because engagement is one of the strongest leading indicators for renewals. Don't be that silent vendor—you’ll most likely find that your customers are more than willing to talk to you, in fact, they want you to reach out at a time like this.

Think about it: What would happen if your CFO asked you to review the software subscription list in your own company. Vendors that you have a really good relationship with, who have provided you with additional best practice content and that truly listen to you—don't you think these are the vendors who have shown their value and are the ones you want to keep on board? So building engagement, whether 1-to-1 or with 1-to-many communication is super important, now more than ever.

Here are a few of our recent engagement strategies:

  • Sharing concrete customer case studies through our new podcast series: Online content is getting more attention than ever before. We thought it would be of great value to our customers and prospects to create a podcast series sharing tips and tricks on kickstarting communities, and insights into the current state of the Customer Success industry from our customers and CS experts. You can check them all out here.

    ShootProof launching a community in a crisis
  • Stepped up our efforts to connect customers to each other to learn from peers: The beauty of customer communities is that you don’t always have to do all the work. Your customers can create content and be inspired by each other, without you even being involved.

  • Encouraging more product ideation & feedback from customers to keep them close to future roadmap developments: It’s great to give customers a feeling of where your product is going, and give them the opportunity to voice their opinion on it. True engagement of course happens if there is two way communication. Our own customers submit ideas for our product, and other customers can actually vote on these. In the spirit of two way communication, we then also give each idea a status and discuss those in the product team. Especially among the smaller companies in our customer base, we have actually seen this is the biggest driver for customer engagement.

2. Really think about the additional value your product can bring

It’s important to be able to pivot your company’s value proposition. In the current situation your products might be even more important than before—in ways your customers might not have imagined. Or maybe ways you didn’t even consider before.

So brainstorm internally on creative use cases, how specific untouched features might be positioned in a way that are relevant today. It’s your responsibility to make sure your customers know. You have to take what’s there and be sure to maximize value, even if that means shifting strategy for a little while.

Here are a couple of things we’ve done at inSided recently:

  • We refurbished our event module to let customers easily promote webinars: A lot of our customers already posted events on our platform but it wasn’t always easy to find them. We had some basic functionality to improve this on the shelf for quite some time, but didn’t give it our full focus. Then COVID happened, and we thought: What would really be helpful to add for our customers? As companies wanted to promote their online events more, we decided to refurbish our events module, and give it away for free to all customers so they could get more value from our product.

    inSided events moduleSnapshot of the inSided events module
  • Offered a temporary increase in volumes & seats for impacted customers
3. Redistribute your resources

It’s important to really think about how you and your organisation can re-distribute resources. What do I mean by that? Well, we all know growing and retaining existing customers is now the #1 priority. Recurring revenue is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t ensure that those customers will renew their contracts.

So, what can you do to put more investment in this? I was recently speaking with a company that raised tens of millions of Euros in funding, is growing 200% YoY, and has a marketing team focusing on in-person events. Safe to say they have a little more time on their hands now. They called me, asking to set-up an online community to fuel online conversations. Makes sense, right? Here the marketing team shifted from a prospect-focused marketing strategy to a customer-focused strategy to drive growth from existing customers.

The same can be said for the CEO. Get them on board to help out with customer communication in these times. Customer success & customer communication shouldn’t only be done by CSMs—it’s a shared goal and a shared responsibility to maximize the value your customers are getting out of your partnership.

Here are a couple of shifts we’ve made at inSided:

  • Get support from marketing by investing more in customer marketing.
  • CEO blogs/communication to existing customers: Yes they even convinced me to start blogging, which actually drives a lot of traffic, but most of all—it increases trust and confidence in our company from our existing customers.
4. Continuously work on your technology stack

Just as customers are reviewing if you are still relevant and critical to them, you can, and should, do the same with your own Customer Success technology stack. Have a better look at the software you are using.

We see a lot of CS teams using software that’s not specifically built, or bought, for CS. For example, there might not be a need for separate tooling when it comes to an educational knowledge base, community, product-feedback tooling or digital adoption software.

Make smarter choices, merge, save costs by choosing the right all-in-one platforms or use additional functionality in existing tools. CS is still quite immature when it comes to a predefined tech-stack. Software is all over the place. Show your CFO you care by contributing to the company’s bottomline with smarter choices, while maintaining focus on a centralized, excellent, customer experience. 

So there you have it, our 4 key learnings from the past few months. Do you have any others? Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions or ideas, we'd love to hear from you. 

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By Robin van Lieshout

CEO & Co-Founder at inSided, with over 15 years of community experience. Robin is responsible for overall strategy, company culture and finance. Connect on Linkedin

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