The discussion of scaling Customer Success is a popular topic as it is a common problem organization’s face as they grow.
What works as a fast-growing startup – where the Customer Success team’s focus is very hands-on, high-touch and usually quite bespoke, regardless of what the customer’s subscription fee is - does not scale.
Last week in part I of this Scaling Customer Success series we looked at why making changes to an existing, successful engagement model is necessary when the company starts to accelerate its growth and how to create an engagement model that supports scale.
In part II, we review how to transition existing customers to a new, scalable engagement model and why, if done correctly, it is not as risky to do so as organizations may believe.
Moving to a Scalable Customer Success Model with Existing Customers
One of the biggest objections I hear from clients after we have established how to conduct a scalable model is how can they be expected to transition existing customers over to the new, lower-touch model.
The concern is that existing customers will object to this and churn.
Here are the solutions to address this:
First, have alternatives in place before you start taking things away from customers: If you expect to spend less time with customers answering how-to questions because a knowledge base or online educational resources will satisfy this need instead, make sure those resources are ready for customers to use.
Clearly communicate to customers why this transition is being made: Your organization is making these changes because it wants to ensure that customers are successful and having a good experience. As the company grows, scaling a bespoke, high-touch model is no longer feasible and will negatively impact the customer. By creating resources to help customers be successful, the company is improving how it drives customer success.
Provide customers with alternative choices: Offer varying services models that all get the customer to the same final destination of realized outcomes. Customers can then choose which type of engagement model they would prefer to use. If a high-touch model is their preference, they can pay for this higher level of service and the vendor can subsequently get the resources required to deliver this type of service level funded.
Customers welcome continuous improvement and a better customer experience: a company is entitled to make operational improvements. Customers really don’t mind a change if the new solution still helps them to achieve their goals, especially if the solution is an easier and better one.
Customers welcome automation – they need to know about it. Lastly, most of us prefer to use automated tools to move forward on our objectives if they are effective. It is when we cannot find information or resources to help us that we would prefer to have CSMs engage with us directly to find solutions. If customers are complaining about not being able to talk to someone, the problem is likely not that they cannot talk to someone, it is that your organization has not provided the right information and tools that customers require to be successful.
Bottom Line: Scaling Customer Success is an Imperative for a Growing Company
At a certain stage in a company’s evolution they will need to scale, pivoting from bespoke, high-touch engagements to more repeatable and efficient ways of engaging with customers.
It is difficult for organizations to make this change however because it is hard to walk away from what has been working so well to date and to know how to create a new model.
Automated, low-touch and blended approaches play a key role in the solution to scaling Customer Success.
To create a scalable, holistic customer approach identify what customers need along the entire customer journey by looking at the patterns of your most successful customers and then codify that into an engagement model that drives repeatable success and customer experience.
Use concepts of lean principles to determine what elements of the engagement model can be automated, create the automated resources and then let customers know those resources exist.
Customers do not mind switching to alternative resources if they are available to them, easy to use and help them achieve their desired outcomes.