Customer success (CS) in the fast-paced digital age should be an easy task, but most enterprises who rely on outdated approaches and Excel spreadsheets are left with siloed, unactionable data. In order to extract actionable insights from customer data, businesses need to have managed engagement models and the right technology, strategy and staffing as a way to provide the best experience throughout every step in their customer’s journey. According to Forrester, 97% of respondents said organizational hurdles prevent them from implementing a CS program. The secrets to effective CS in the digital age starts with turning customer data into proactive action, empowering every employee with access to customer data – not just the CS team – and constantly iterating on customer-centric strategies.
Secret 1: Customer 360 is not enough.
It's not about getting the data in. It's about driving the results out. Enterprises have too much customer data, and 360-degree visualizations are not enough. Many organizations have invested a lot of time and money into the customer 360 practice, but it only integrates data scattered across products, machines and people — creating helpful graphics without delivering business outcomes. Thus, enterprises don’t need more data, they need more data in context.
Instead of data visualizations, enterprises need to connect the dots of customer data to unlock useful, in-the-moment insights and use that data to proactively and intelligently engage with the customer. As organizations grow, it becomes increasingly important to have a powerful and robust customer data platform (CDP) that can ingest all sorts of messy, unmanaged customer data throughout an organization, parsing and organizing that data to easily produce business results across large global teams. This can be a solution purchased from a third party or a platform built in house. Either way, a true CDP that is built with the customer at the center can help connect the dots, proactively monitor customer health by interpreting data and serve up the most relevant insights in the context it can be used.
Consequently, enterprise employees have access to actionable customer data so they can have the most effective interaction possible with each customer, maximizing a customer's lifetime value. For example, a revenue cycle technology provider in the healthcare industry that we worked with had experienced a period of high business growth and needed help to scale its client initiatives quickly. Using the right technology, they were able to actively monitor all customer health and proactively engage throughout the customer journey, enabling them to successfully scale their client success operations and establish better business processes around renewals and expansion. By codifying their client success practices, the company was able to surface actionable insights that trigger the right customer-centric business decisions. A CDP that is purpose-built with the customer in the center empowers a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to customer-centricity, which preempts a customer’s needs and exceeds their expectations.
Secret 2: CS teams need an agile approach.
Most CS technology providers speak about workflow and customer life cycle as if it’s linear (doing one task at a time), but it’s important to operate with the knowledge that the customer journey is not linear at all. For example, a customer could be in business review at the same time that they're in escalation, as well as the feedback cycle. It isn’t a direct path from point A to point B, but instead, it includes multiple workflows taken on simultaneously. Only the right CS tools can deliver an agile methodology to enable enterprises to view and operate on the multiple streams of their customer’s journey to quickly apply changes and improvements as their organization scales.
Using a modular-based approach to CS enables organizations to quickly innovate and scale to their enterprise needs. By breaking a customer's journey into bite-sized portions, organizations can better understand their customer data and present it in organized engagement models so that every employee in the enterprise can contribute to customer retention and lifetime revenue. With the right tools and the right CS team structure, enterprises can quickly learn and iterate on customer-centric strategies to continuously improve the customer experience.
Secret 3: CS is everyone’s business.
A siloed approach to sales, marketing, service and support is outdated. Similarly, CS shouldn’t be conducted in a silo, especially as more customers interact with a multichannel and multidepartment engagement model. Instead, every employee must have access to the most recent customer data and insights for their role in a customer-centric enterprise organization. There’s no value in being data-driven unless every person in a company has an understanding of that customer’s previous engagements, along with the context from all previous touch points. As enterprises move to recurring revenue business models, there needs to be a unified and company-wide focus on the customer. You need to equip large global teams with the appropriate customer data to quickly and easily operationalize customer-centricity.
Empowering every employee with customer data and insights will ensure that customers have the best experiences. To accelerate customer lifetime value and drive long-term business results, employees must be supplied with relevant and useful customer data that empowers collaboration and makes this data actionable. This removes CS silos and allows for speed, effective communication and efficiency. Overall, using a customer-centered solution that facilitates the democratization of actionable customer data is the key to delivering a competitive advantage to enterprises.
CS is imperative to business growth.
Business growth is directly tied to customer growth, so unlocking the secrets to a strong company-wide CS strategy is imperative to the overall growth of an enterprise. The only way to ensure your customers have the best experience in all aspects of their customer journey is to empower employees across your organization with access to customer data. However, it does not stop at just providing access to customer data — teams across your organization must be able to operationalize this data and quickly iterate on new information. As enterprises scale, being purposeful and relentless in creating a customer-centric organization is a key contributor to achieving outsized business results.
Originally published in Forbes