There is a lot of buzz in the Customer Success space about guiding customers to their outcomes with technology. Some people love it, others believe those that do are selling their souls to the Devil.
Regardless, some of us don’t have another choice but to serve all or some customers with digital strategies. And, if you have to do it, better do it right. So how do you start? Which channels should you use? What do you say? If you’re new to this space, this quick guide is a good start.
So, what’s Digital Customer Success? It’s nothing more than helping your customers achieve their goals using digital channels. In the traditional, high-touch model, your job is to help your customers understand their desired outcomes and advise them on ways to use your product to achieve them. In a digital-led model, your job is the same. But you just use digital channels instead: email, in-app messages, a community platform.
So where do you start? Well, it all starts with data.
Getting the data
How do you know your customers’ goals without speaking to them? You don’t. But it’s our job to ask. In the signup flow, include a few questions about their goals and needs. When your company is just starting out, you can make these open-ended. As your customer base grows, you will start seeing common needs and goals. You can then turn these into a multiple-choice question.
Your customers will also proactively tell you what they need. Go to your Support team and get access to tickets and chat conversations. Read NPS and Churn surveys. Speak with Sales and Enterprise Customer Success Managers. Open your company’s social media profiles and read messages and replies.
Once you have this data, tag and segment it. Nothing fancy. A simple spreadsheet and pivot tables will let you know your customers’ common goals and if they differ by vertical, company size, or industry. Search for common questions, repeated misunderstandings of functionality, recurring questions of “what’s the best way to do this.”
Once you have your data points, it’s time to start thinking about content.
Creating and delivering content
The data analysis will let you know where to start creating content. Sign-up questions will inspire onboarding flows. Support questions can influence FAQs and tutorials. Social media messages are great to discover new use cases and workflows. If you have a small team, you can focus on creating Help center articles and blog posts. If you have more technical resources, you can expand to video, infographics, animations.
Once you have your content ready, you need to start thinking about distribution. Would you create an in-app experience, with tooltips, overlays, or side content? Build an email drip campaign to guide them from signup to success? Maybe you already have a community in place and will share more inspirational pieces and proactively answer common questions.
Once you define what to share and where you will want to start testing. See if the content resonates with your customers. Track email metrics but also engagement with your product. Did they do what you wanted them to do? This is super important. Each message, each video, each email campaign should have a goal. Define the goal and start measuring.
Blending high-touch with tech-touch
Digital CS creates a lot of buzz because people tend to see it as a replacement for a high-touch strategy. This is where I disagree. They are complementary. The goal of a digital strategy should not be to reduce operational costs and avoid talking with customers by using only automation. Some companies might not have another option, mostly the ones with a freemium model and a very large database of long-tail customers. But even those will serve strategic customers. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t include that segment in their digital strategy.
Why? The goal of a digital strategy should be to enable customers to get their jobs done with minimum friction. It should also be different from the high-touch strategy. You should deliver digitally when having a person on a call wouldn’t make a difference. If the value delivered is pretty much the same, go with the digital route. If what the CSM is doing could be done via automation, you’re wasting everyone’s time and adding friction in the process. An example would be QBRs. Never go to a meeting to read slides. Share the slides beforehand, and use the live meeting for Q&A. To dig deeper into the customer’s needs and friction points and offer personalized solutions.
There is a known phrase in the Customer Experience community that summarizes it well: delivering the right content, for the right people, at the right time. I would add: automate what can and should be automated and reserve the live, personalized moments for meaningful conversations.