This month’s guest post is brought to you by Condeco’s arguably most customer-obsessed CSM – Erika Villarreal. She’s about to bust five myths that all too often hold CS teams back when it comes to implementing and running digital-led customer success programs. Let’s hear it!
Digital customer success has been a hot topic lately.
Let’s start by defining what digital customer success is, and for this, I’m going to quote Brian LaFaille’s definition as I believe it is the most straightforward and simple definition out there:
“Digital customer success is personalizing (and automating) customer journeys at scale.”
Many companies are starting to evaluate digital strategies to continue to grow and drive adoption at scale. This strategy plays a very important part in a business because it improves inefficiencies, reduces overall costs, and allows your CSMs to serve more customers.
Building a digital engagement strategy is no joke. The biggest challenge is making sure that your customers’ experience isn’t impacted during their journey. Because digital customer success is still new, it’s surrounded by many myths and misconceptions that can sometimes create confusion for teams looking to implement this strategy in their organization.
So, it’s time to bust five of the most common myths of digital customer success.
Myth #1: Digital Customer Success is only for low-touch, low ARR accounts
Digital customer success is a strategy that can help your business scale, no matter the size or the value of the account. The more you can do with less, the better. There are discussions out there that say that digital customer success should only be focused on low ARR accounts, but truth be told, digital customer success can also be implemented in high-touch accounts. The end goal of digital customer success is to provide end-users the opportunity to learn and adopt at scale.
Repetitive tasks occur on both low-touch and high-touch accounts, and digital customer success is all about automating as much as possible. I have personally experienced both sides of the coin. I’ve been a CSM for accounts with ARR value below $5,000 and for accounts with ARR value above $100,000. And in both cases, there’s an opportunity to automate part of the customer journey, especially when trying to drive product adoption.
Myth #2: Getting CS software should be your first step in building your digital strategy
Sometimes we’re eager to find the solutions to our problems with technology and we think that if we find the best software out there, it will fix all our problems. We like to think of software as magic. Don’t get me wrong, it can be. But it won’t be on its own.
Yes, technology plays a very important part in your digital CS strategy, but it’s not the first thing you should be looking at. So, what is?
- Segmenting your customer base
- Defining a clear customer journey
- Identifying the milestones for each stage of your journey
- Creating well-defined processes
- Organizing and structuring your data
- Choosing your tech stack
Ever heard of the phrase “Junk in – junk out?” There are many great tools out there that can help you deliver a great experience, but before even considering buying anything, you must make sure that steps 1-5 are nailed down.
Myth #3 – Customers will suffer when transitioning from a high-touch to a low-touch digital model
Here’s a story. I’m currently a Senior Customer Success Manager for high-touch accounts with ARR value above $50,000. The company has been growing like crazy. But guess what? We’re not hiring CSMs at the rate the company is growing, which means our CSM team is handling more customers than we can take. Ring a bell? Probably, as this is very common in the CS industry.
CSMs are trained to prioritize their engagements based on account value, risk of churn, possible expansion. When CSMs have more accounts than they can handle, some of those accounts are not engaged as expected, even though they are high-touch customers. I can confess, sometimes I don’t have time to engage with all my accounts as I wish I could. Some customers, even if assigned to a CSM, sometimes don’t make it to the priority list with the time available.
So, transitioning these customers into a digital model doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get a worse experience than having a CSM assigned who has no time to engage with them. Of course, making the transition requires great communication. Make sure you communicate the transition with a positive message, rather than a punishment.
Myth #4 – You can’t start your digital strategy without someone from CS Operations in your team
First, let’s talk about CS operations. Customer Success operations focus on improving your processes to get things done faster, better, and more efficiently. The main skills of a CS operation role include being analytical, data-driven, process-oriented, and problem solver.
Sometimes, organizations don’t have the budget to get a CS Operations role for their team, but this not necessarily means that you can’t start building with what you have.
Of course, it makes a lot more sense to get someone with the experience, but… this doesn’t mean you can’t get started. Is someone in your team good with data? Have you identified someone who is always proposing changes to current processes? Someone who is running analysis and looking for solutions to current problems?
You’ve hit the jackpot. You can leverage someone in your current team to get started. Start from the beginning, prove to your leadership team there is a need for the role and eventually get a full-time person.
Myth #5 – Sending digital communications to your customers will make your touchpoints look less human
Truth to be told, I have received automated emails that for a second have felt like a human is behind the screen talking to me. Do you know why? Because it was a human who wrote it, it was personalized and it was sent at the right time.
Digital, automated emails don’t necessarily need to translate into a bad experience for your customers. Sending the right communications to the right people at the right time is key to your success.
I’ve also seen this go bad. Have you ever received an email that speaks nothing to you? Probably was sent without any segmentation, was not addressed to you and you didn’t identify with anything the email said. This is the perfect example of a digital strategy gone wrong.
Digital-led models pave the way for growth
Digital customer success is the best way to scale your SaaS business. If done right, it will help improve your customer’s experience, increase product adoption, improve efficiencies in your team and drive growth. If you are not currently thinking of a digital strategy – it’s time to start.