Today I wanted to share the story of why Aruba Networks has gravitated towards a digital first customer success model and how our digital first customer success program came to be.
Companies are moving towards a digital experience, a move that was expedited not only by the pandemic outbreak in 2020 but also with the boom in B2B SaaS and subscription-based economies. This has led companies to adopt a digital CS led model characterized by automation, customization, and engagement, enabling teams to create better customer experiences in a scalable way.
Particularly for us, we found that over 90% of our customer base was tech touch. These customers are without an assigned and dedicated Customer Success Manager. The influx of customers was leaving our Customer Success Managers stretched for time and unable to provide the 1:1 level of attention to every account. That’s why it made sense for us to adopt a digital first approach to ensure these tech touch customers still receive the critical information they need to be successful on our platform and achieve their desired business outcomes.
How did we go about building our digital customer success program?
It all began with an understanding of what clean and reliable data we had access to. This is necessary for a number of scenarios including understanding and building customer segments, how customer health is tracked, how to differentiate between different customers according to life stage, and whether product data exists to track user behavior.
Next came mapping the customer journey and identifying the different touchpoints. These documents serve as the blueprint to implementing the digital CS program and utilizing it to understand customer engagement. It is important to note customer journey maps are living documents. These maps should be consistently updated as needed.
Mapping the customer journeys and identifying the touchpoints were a direct outcome of our Customer Success MPV process. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It is a framework with the focus to produce the least / smallest amount of functionality to successfully deliver a customer success experience to customers. The key components of the framework are a hierarchy of goals, epics, and issues with their respective owners. Tasks are completed in 2-week intervals known as Sprint Cycles.
Thereafter came content creation which encompassed creating compelling stories that resonate with the audience and incentivize them to take the intended action. And of course, analyzing metrics and deriving insights to continuously evolve campaigns for maximum efficiency and ROI.
Of utmost importance during the content creation process is understanding your goals. This is going to shape your key call to actions and messaging. It is also equally important to understand your audience, who you are speaking to, and how you want to speak to them. It was important to me that my content read as though CSMs were actually sending it to these tech touch customers. That was the reason why Steve, our virtual CSM was born. I wanted to breathe life into our communications and have this friendly digital CSM guide our users through the onboarding process and lead them to critical resources such as knowledge bases and forums that would allow the audience to become self-sufficient with the product.
It is important that your communications be on brand as well. Though I do believe the Customer Success team should own customer facing communications, it is important to be in lock step with other teams such as Marketing to ensure brand, voice, tone, are all consistent so that customers have a seamless and whole experience.
Once the communications are launched, it is important to keep a close eye on metrics so that you can take the necessary appropriate corrective actions to optimize content. I would suggest looking at email metrics and comparing them to industry averages as a good place to start. Some of the key metrics I look at include delivery rate and bounce rate which can indicate if there are any issues with your contact list, open rate, engagement, and unsubscribe, which can indicate if your content is resonating with the audience.
Additionally, there are so many components within an email. Continually A/B test elements such as subject lines, visuals, content, call to actions, and buttons, to improve customer engagement. For example, one of the elements we tested was adding dynamic account name attributes both into the subject line and email content and it has led to an increase in 3% in open rates and a boost in engagement by 4%.
We know that today’s customers expect the ability to interact with businesses across various channels. Taking that into account, we are constantly exploring alternative innovative channels to further engage with our customers. We have kicked off a series of customer webinars to share tips on how to derive the most value out of their investment as well as to keep customers up to date on new releases. We also deliver an Aruba Monthly Insights Review (AMIR) to share personalized usage data, health indicators, and recommended growth opportunities. Lastly, every communication we deliver to customers includes a link to a calendar scheduling tool for our specialized CSM teams so that customers can engage with our team at a time that is available and convenient to them.
I also make it a point to monitor the marketplace to keep ahead on best practices and stay abreast of what our competitors are doing. Attending seminars and workshops are a great way to network and learn from your peers as well.
Additionally, I would also encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to obtain customer feedback. They are on the receiving end of your communications. It is imperative you understand their wants and needs so you can create unique content relevant to their needs.
Teresa Chu is a full stack marketer with skills spanning from writing / storytelling, data analysis to program strategy and execution. Currently, she heads the digital engagement strategy for Customer Success at Aruba Networks. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories, running, reading, and watching classical movies.