While we’re all being asked to do more with less, Customer Success teams are being asked to do even more and carry the business through these uncertain economic times. It makes sense — keeping the customers you have is often more cost-effective than trying to acquire new ones. These mandates from above have placed a spotlight on success teams and heightened expectations.
How then should CS leaders balance the needs of customers with the realities of the P&L? How do you deliver more success with the same number of heads or less? What mechanisms are available that can help you scale, deliver a great experience, and be an efficient use of capital?
What costs your team hundreds or thousands of dollars to answer today through traditional means can cost pennies on the dollar tomorrow when served via a community.
Enter Community. While not a silver bullet for all of your woes, building customer communities aimed at the education, support, and success of your customers can help you deliver a superior experience and achieve your goals. Let me show you how.
Better Educated Customers (Enablement, Time-To-Value)
Educated customers are more knowledgeable about your products. It may sound elementary, but many organizations are too reactive in their approach to customer success, largely because they haven’t invested enough in education and enablement.
Building a customer community with a concentration of self-serve knowledge and learning that can be written once and disseminated often (one-to-many or many-to-many as opposed to one-to-one) will help your team become much more proactive and effective. They can then focus on more challenging and strategic customer issues, accelerating their value to customers and the organization alike.
Lower Customer Support Costs (Deflection, Cost-Per-Case)
Knowledgeable customers open less support tickets and email the success team less. Get off of the treadmill of constant email fires and onto a perpetual wave of scalable, google-able information. Company-generated knowledge and peer-to-peer support in the community will siphon off many of the basic questions that your team is tired of answering every day so that they can spend their time more strategically.
What costs your team hundreds or thousands of dollars to answer today through traditional means can cost pennies on the dollar tomorrow when served via a community. As has been well documented, most customers prefer self-service in comparison to legacy channels (support portals, emails, phone support). Everybody wins.
Happier Customers (NPS, CSAT)
Customers that have to contact you less are more independent and happier. They get the feeling that your company is easy to work with, the products are worth the time and money they’ve invested, and tend to be happier overall.
In particular, customers that participate in communities feel a greater sense of connectedness to your company, products, and people that make them. They also meet your other like minded customers and build relationships that create reasons for them to continue to be your customer beyond the utility of your products. Over the course of time, this becomes a major competitive advantage over your competitors that don’t have communities.
More Up-sells, Cross-Sells, And Renewals (CLV)
Happier customers tend to buy more, expand at greater rates, and stick around longer. Crazy, right? The net effects that communities can have on your customer base extend into their decision making on the contractual side. Even as they’re being squeezed on their budgets, happy customers that feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves (a community) will fight internally to keep your products in their stack.
Over the years I’ve seen many win/loss reports in which customers stated some version of “we could have switched to your competitor because the technology is largely the same, but we stayed with you because of the community.” It turns out that many customers are happy to stick their neck out for you and even spend more than they might’ve had to elsewhere simply because the community and the people in it make them feel something they don’t get with other companies. Helping your customers become the best versions of themselves creates an incredible competitive advantage.
More Stable Revenue (MRR, ARR, NRR)
All of this adds up to a greater ability to build a predictable, consistent, efficient business with a stable revenue outlook — a luxury in times like these. Even in the best of times, the overall experience and tech specs of your products alone are not enough to keep customers engaged, happy, and renewing their contracts, so you have to find ways to connect with them and help connect them to each other beyond the surface level things that every company does. Community is the way.
*This article was originally published on LinkedIn on January 17, 2023.
Brian is a strategic community consultant with over 20 years of experience helping top brands like Alteryx, Acer, Comcast, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Sony PlayStation, and Sephora engage their customers to increase satisfaction, lower costs, and generate more revenue through the power of community. Learn more at brianoblinger.com.