How SaaS Companies Hire & Scale Customer Success: Perspectives from Leaders at JobScience & brightwheel

Great news! Your company is growing fast.

If you are responsible for scaling the Customer Success team though, it can be daunting. You need more CSMs to support all of the new customers your Sales team is bringing in the door.

How do you recruit? Who do you hire? How can you ensure new hires succeed? What are some of the hiring pitfalls to avoid?

At the latest Customer Success Meetup in San Francisco, moderator Emilie Davis of Periscope Data asked Sabine Gillert, VP of Customer Success Operations at Jobscience, and Eddie Nguyen, VP of Customer Success at brightwheel, to share their customer success hiring expertise, and attendees were not disappointed.

Sabine and Eddie have entirely different backgrounds giving exciting, diverse perspectives as they answered questions. Eddie has a strong history of working with early-stage startups and helping them grow from a few team members to hundreds, while Sabine works with a leading SaaS business in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Traits you should look for in Customer Success candidates

The first question asked was: What are the universal traits for customer success managers to be successful in the role? This is the question most of us need to have answered as we are searching for the right person for our team. 

To start Eddie laid out four qualities he looks for, keep in mind this is for early-stage startups hiring for customer success:

Grit: The hire has to be willing to work hard as it’s sometimes necessary for a startup role.

Empathy: Both internally and externally. It makes sense that empathy is needed for customers and clients, but the internal part is an interesting tidbit to consider. No doubt there will be issues that developers, sales, or even marketing has mistakenly caused, and it won’t help to blame them, it’s much better to acknowledge a mistake, help the client, and move forward.

Learning Mindset: Managers have to be interested and willing to continue learning, especially at an early stage company, as there will continuously be changes and they will need to learn steadily.

Leadership: Sometimes customers need to be led through their issue. Other times they may expect or want too much from the company and that will need to be conveyed. There will also be times when a CSMs will need to internally advocate for a customer to management, sales, and/or marketing.

Sabine added additional skills that are important for customer success:

Listening Skills: Customers can sometimes bring their frustrations to the conversation. The manager will need to listen, identify the core problem(s) and propose solutions that will help on all levels.

Curiosity: Just as Eddie mentioned Learning, curiosity is a necessity. Managers will need to investigate issues, ask why things are the way they are, and possibly propose solutions. Customers don’t usually know what they don’t know, and further, they won’t usually give a lot of details, so the manager will have to go the extra mile in some cases.  

When pressed for attributes for building your team out and hiring to improve the team you have, our two experts suggested:

Attitude: Someone that has a great energy, that can be happy about handling issues that require going the extra mile.

Process & Data-Orientation: You’ll need someone on the team that can dig into data and find opportunities while also being specific about following procedure and sticking to policy.

How do you hire for Customer Success? 

Hiring should start long before an ad is placed. Either the company desperately needs a hire (and should have started the process weeks ago, which is standard) or they are looking ahead and know that will need to have people available as new accounts come online.

With that in mind we wanted to know how the experts handle hiring, what approach do they take?

Sabine and Eddie had very similar answers to this question. Sabine suggests knowing who you would like to hire ahead of time, and approaching them before you need them.

Eddie also starts the process before hires are needed. He begins with leveraging the people at his company for intros on Linkedin. He also throws recruiting parties to get to know prospective team members.

Like a sales process, he plants seeds, so he has someone ready when they are needed. This keeps the pipeline full and hiring easier to manage than posting an ad and hoping the right person comes along.

At the other end of hiring is firing. Sometimes we hire the wrong person for a fit on our teams, and Eddie and Sabine seem to have experience here as well. Both experts suggest breaking ties with the employee as quickly as possible; it’s never good to prolong it or start looking for other opportunities for them. Sabine further suggested that every employee has a 90 day probation period and this helps with identifying poor fits.

What is Customer Success?

This was an intriguing question to ask as it would often seem like a simple answer.  You might just jump to the conclusion that every company’s CS team would be there to help customers be successful. But, both experts had unique perspectives to share.

Sabine started with a quick question: “What does it mean to your organization?” She followed up with “What do you want customers to achieve?” and added that at her company customer success also means protecting revenue and staying focused on what you have to do to do that.

Again, Eddie had an altogether different answer from his early stage startup experience. “Customer success represents brand and voice. It’s about supporting customers, harnessing the knowledge you gain and teaching the rest of the organization. It evolves being an innovator for customers and making sure everyone gets an amazing experience.”

Two strategies for training CSMs

Once you have new employees on board, it’s time to train them for customer success within your organization. Depending on how you handle management, you’ll probably have your own way of dealing with training new hires. Sabine offers extensive training programs where hires do not talk to clients until they are confident and have gone through time being shadowed by someone with experience.

Eddie’s approach was entirely different; he puts customer success managers on the phone with clients on Day 1 to expose them to the environment and help them learn what they’ll be handling. He likes to present an environment where it’s OK to make a mistake, and the manager doesn’t have to be afraid they’ll be fired for messing up. Even in these cases, answers to support issues are usually approved by another team member before going back to the customer, so there is a failsafe in effect.

How do you retain Customer Success talent?

It’s no good getting new employees on board if you can’t keep them happy and with the company, so we wanted to see what Sabine and Eddie thought about retaining talent.

Both suggest understanding and getting to know the person and what is going on in their life. Sabine likes to give them space and flexibility to handle issues so they can give it their all at work. She says it’s best to understand they are people and that it isn’t all about salary.

Eddie added that you want to first hire who is right for the company, and find out how committed they are regarding staying with the company — what are their goals? can you help them succeed? Then understand their currency, some people are motivated by money, some want recognition, others want more trust to work on tougher projects. Find out what they like so you can give it when they perform well.

Additionally, Eddie suggested that when you ask for feedback, you should take steps to appreciate the input, and take action to make changes needed. No one will leave feedback if it isn’t acted upon.

Interesting Hiring Lessons

One of our last questions for Sabine and Eddie was about their most significant learning experiences in hiring. We all have them!

Sabine had a particularly useful one about working with mentorship/ apprentice programs. Her company took on five college students in 2016, and they thought it would be just like any hire.

They quickly realized these hires required more time, management and investment because it is so early in their careers. You have to make sure they are supervised. Recognize the investment these programs require because you’ll want to do everything you can to make them successful.

Eddie summarized his lessons by saying that up until 100 people, you do unscalable things to grow, you want effectiveness. Then you’ll start to hire for efficiency, you’ll keep giving managers customers until you hit a ceiling, and that ceiling is different for every business, but you won’t know what yours is until you get there.

In the world of Customer Success, many things are new and changing, so it’s helpful to hear from others that have been in the field for years and can share their experiences. It is clear from the approaches that Sabine and Eddie shared that different strategies can be equally successful. CS leaders who are growing there Customer Success teams must  determine what practices make the most sense for their SaaS company. Good luck to all!

Each monthly meet-up gathering in San Francisco is packed with Customer Success Managers from SaaS (Software as Service) companies who want to learn the latest insights from experienced Customer Success leaders. If you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can still benefit from the expertise shared at these monthly meetups.  Whenever possible, the organizers post a video of the event on their meetup page courtesy of Success.ly. The September meetup was hosted by Cloudflare

Measure and improve customer health. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

CES: New Ways SaaS Companies are Using Customer Effort Score

Effort. We’re taught to praise it, get really good at avoiding it, and really, would rather do without it. Effort is hard and uncomfortable. As human beings, we’ve designed incredible digital tools to reduce effort as much as possible. Today, “user-friendly” isn’t just a selling point anymore, it’s become a basic expectation among customers – to the point that if a task isn’t intuitively easy to complete, consumers will drop the product and go elsewhere.

Effort is a big deal.

So why are most companies not measuring customer effort, or only relegating it to a customer support metric?

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a newer metric originally developed for Customer Support. In that context, it measures customer service satisfaction by asking customers “How easy was it to get the help you wanted today?” That is valuable information for your Support department. But Customer Success and Product Development departments have been latching onto the idea for so much more.

The core CES question is: “How much effort did this task require to complete?” – typically on a scale of 1-7. And that question, followed by an open-ended “Care to tell us why?” question,  can be used in a number of ways to yield more relevant feedback from customers on numerous fronts.

In-app CES Customer Effort Score Survey

Customer Success and Product Development teams in particular have been adding CES to their customer journey metrics to get feedback on onboarding and ease of feature use.

[ctt template=”3″ link=”1b54y” via=”no” nofollow=”yes”]”Anytime you have a workflow you want a customer to complete, #CES is a great question to ask.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Chief Customer Officer, Wootric[/ctt]

How Product teams use CES to improve UX & feature adoption

Customer Effort Score fits in seamlessly with Product goals because user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) depend largely on ease of use. Product teams are starting to use CES to get feedback on how well the UI supports new feature adoption and to identify moments where customers begin to feel frustrated and lost.

Frustration is an emotion that is closely linked not only to churn, but to a decreased rate of customer advocacy.

“The revenue impact from a 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.” – Forrester

Frustration metrics” like rage clicks, error clicks and form abandonment are also useful to track, and can alert dev teams to issues they may not have expected, but adding CES to the mix can shed more light into just how hard customers perceive tasks to be. And with an open-ended follow-up question, they can even tell you why. When 40 to 60 percent of software users open an app once – and never log in again – anything that reduces friction during those early critical stages will have major impact.

Canva, a design tool for non-designers with a freemium sales model, has one of the smoothest onboarding sequences, which begins with a 2-minute tutorial that shows users the value they’re about to get while giving hands-on instruction on using the tool. Instructions ask users to complete fun design exercises, like putting a hat on a monkey or selecting different layouts and backgrounds, which builds users’ confidence.

Canva onboarding

Canva onboarding example 2

SaaS guru Lincoln Murphy says, “The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, and if it’s confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential of your product, you’re in trouble.”

Canva may hit this out of the park, but for businesses struggling with smoothing out their onboarding flow, CES surveys – especially those that can be deployed while the users are in the app – becomes tremendously valuable.

But it’s not just about reducing friction and frustration – retention really is about ease. A Customer Contact Council survey of more than 75,000 consumers found that the most important factor in customer loyalty was reducing effort – defined as “the work they must do to get their problem solved.”

How Customer Success teams use CES to reduce churn

Customer Success managers know that one of the most important purposes of onboarding is getting the customer to experience value from the product – as soon as possible. This has it’s own metric, called “time to first value,” and the shorter it is, the more likely the customer will be to continue using the product.

CES for onboarding

CES now helps Customer Success keep a pulse on the onboarding experience of each new customer. The customer onboarding experience in Enterprise SaaS can involve training and implementation advice delivered by Customer Success Managers, in addition to the elements like videos, documentation and walk-throughs in the product itself. Unfortunately, “the seeds of churn” are sown if that process is painful.

Sarang Bhatt, Customer Success Manager at Wootric uses Wootric’s own CES survey to assess the onboarding process. “I find it very useful. We may not get a 7 every single time, but when we do miss the mark, we can close the loop with the customer and improve our processes for the next cycle. This is all because we have proactively solicited honest feedback via CES. Customers see a CES survey before NPS, so it gives us a chance to learn whether we are on track and make adjustments.” 

CES for monitoring customer hand off from Sales to Success

Customer Success teams are also using CES even earlier in the customer journey to measure the ease of transition between Sales and CSMs.

One of the most common causes of frustration for customers is answering questions asked by Sales, only to have to repeat their answers once they’re handed to a Customer Success Manager. The interdepartmental communication ball tends to be dropped during the handoff because customer information is siloed by department instead of shared freely. Customer Effort Score serves as an alert when these types of communication failures affect UX

In fact, Customer Success can use CES to monitor many (if not every) success milestone to see how easily customers achieved them – from the customers’ perspectives. Mapping CES onto the customer’s journey by checking in at success milestones effectively transforms CES into part of the overall customer health score every CSM should be tracking.

Not familiar with customer success milestones? These are often a checklist of tasks your customers must complete to use your product successfully and get closer to achieving their ideal outcomes – what they really want from your product. You can chart them out visually in a customer journey map.

CES for Advocacy

Using CES in customer success has another benefit: advocacy. Users are more inclined to become brand advocates – sharing positive reviews publicly – after positive support experiences. So an in-app CES question that follows high ratings with a timely advocacy ask can help spread brand awareness.

How Customer Service & Support use CES

CES surveys are most often deployed via email after customer support interactions. A user has a question, contacts customer support, receives an answer, and is then asked to score the interaction based on ease.

Why ease? Because research shows that the most important attribute of satisfaction is ease, which makes it the most logical metric to use instead of, or in addition to, other satisfaction metrics like length of wait time or even resolution of the problem. The CES question gets straight to the heart of whether the customer service experience increased satisfaction.

Don’t throw CSAT away though – customer satisfaction metrics provide broader feedback that is still extremely useful.

What to do if CES is low

What if the rating isn’t high? Close the loop! Put a process in place, or use a software platform like Wootric, that takes less than ideal customer effort scores and allows you to close the loop with the customer by reaching out to them individually or triggering appropriate automated responses.  Take action — create a cross-functional team to review feedback and prioritize actions you can take that will ease the pain and create a better experience for your customers.

Trends Tab CES in Wootric Dashboard
CES Trend in Wootric Analytics Dashboard

As you track CES over time, you’ll be able to see the results of your efforts in the score and in your customer retention numbers as well!

Sign up today for free Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Overcoming Challenges in Retail with Mystery Shopping

As a retail brand, there are certain elements your company deems important in order to uphold your brand image to your customers.  It’s imperative that each frontline employee represents the brand according to the standards set for service delivery.  But with so many disparate locations, how can you ensure this is happening?  Especially in light of the problems facing the retail industry today. It’s harder than ever for a site manager to maintain these standards, and for the larger corporation to know how best to monitor, motivate, and train personnel to meet these expectations.  Retail site operators face numerous challenges today such as:

  • Shrinking margins/credit card fees
  • High employee turnover
  • More savvy customers
  • E-commerce (competition and/or complementary)
  • Multiple layers from corporate to the frontline (game of telephone)

Mystery Shopping Helps Your Business in Spite of the Challenges

Mystery shopping is designed to break through all of these challenges to objectively monitor, evaluate, and report the consistency of the customer experience delivery at the frontline.  In mystery shopping, expert, unbiased mystery shoppers offer you a complete, unvarnished, and unemotional view of the quality and consistency of your customer experiences at the ground level across all of the channels where you do business. This gives you the information and insights you need to protect your brand, continually improve your customer interactions, and correct problems before they impact your business.

Mystery shopping can help you understand if your business is struggling with things like items being out of stock, wait times that are too long, dirty bathrooms and rude cashiers, so you can take action and improve the experience.

There are many types of mystery shopping, but a few that are useful to retail are:

  • Customer Experience Shops – reveal the behavioral, attitudinal and subjective elements of the customer experience
  • Customer Lifecycle Shops – objectively understand your customers’ experience throughout their entire interaction with your brand – from the decision-making process through final purchase and product service
  • Competitive Shops – discern best practices and other CX dimensions from competitive brands
  • Regulatory Compliance Shops – ensure frontline compliance to federal or state-regulated mandates

Mystery shops can also be conducted in a variety of channels, so if your business operates a call center, brick and mortar locations, and conducts business via the internet, mystery shoppers can assess each of those channels to ensure consistent service delivery across them all.

Mystery Shop Performance Affects Your Business Outcomes

When first implementing a mystery shopping program, it’s of utmost importance to get buy-in from all levels of your organization.  It’s especially important that your site managers first understand the need to adhere to corporate-defined customer experiences and the consistent, operational expectations the company has for all its sites.

Why is it important?  In short, focusing on the customer experience increases sales.

Research shows that your company’s CX maturity is directly related to business outcomes.  The most mature companies in CX practices see a three-fold improvement in financial performance and customer retention than those who only dabble in CX.[1]

In addition, we’ve seen example after example of how sites that score higher in mystery shops also record higher sales than lower-performing sites.

A graph of Mystery shopping vs revenue

These are just a couple of examples you can share throughout your organization to make the case for a focus on CX and the benefits of implementing a mystery shopping program.  Coupled with training on your brand’s specific standards, your frontline will have what they need to fully participate in a program that allows your brand to get an objective view of how your frontline performs on the items that are important to your customers and your brand.

Understanding the Business Impact Motivates Operators to Perform

Once site managers understand that focusing on the customer experience can impact their bottom line, they are more likely to participate in a program that makes sure they adhere to the brand’s standards for the customer experience.  Even if the product you are selling is great, it’s the engagement with the employees that makes a difference to customers. An engaged workforce best maintains positive customer experiences.

At that point, a mystery shop program can help a site manager:

  1. Understand what’s expected of his/her operation and staff
  2. Objectively view the consistency of the customer experience delivery at the frontline

In turn, this helps the c-suite and other stakeholders determine strengths and areas of improvement at sites and across networks. Identifying areas for improvements drives initiatives to update training, create new programs based on incentives/penalties, develop rewards/recognition programs, update existing processes and expectations, etc.

This benefits each level of the organization.

  • Corporate – Assess strategy and operating procedures
  • Field Support – Target support to units needing the most help
  • Site Operator – Obtain real-time feedback and solutions for improvement
  • Frontline Employee – Clear expectations on delivery
  • Consumer – Knows what to expect from your brand, more likely to return, contributing to increase in sales

Communication of the Results Must Be Clear and Useful

The tool your business uses to report the results out to your stakeholders must be clear and useful.  Your stakeholders should be comfortable accessing reports in order to easily identify strengths, pinpoint opportunities, and understand how to address those opportunities.  This will help them view the program as an overall benefit to their business.  They get to celebrate victories and successes with their teams, and can also easily address where improvements are needed in order to continue to focus on the customer experience, thereby increasing sales.  When site operators can easily take action on improving their performance, they begin to see their bottom line improve, which in turn gets them even more excited and engaged in the program.

Unify Your Brand

A mystery shop program can help break through the problems facing the retail industry today. Site managers can keep up with corporate standards, and corporate can be informed on how best to monitor, motivate and train toward their expectations. Mystery shopping will ensure that each frontline employee represents the brand as it should be presented. It will unify your brand and streamline your success.

[1] Source:  MaritzCX Program Market Sizing Study (Population Benchmarking Study) conducted Oct 21-22, 2015 (n=1000); MaritzCX CXEvolution Study conducted August 2015-February 2016 (n>5,000)

Tips on Improving Customer Experience from Six CX Experts

Why is Customer Experience becoming the primary way companies differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market? How does CX pave the way for growth? How do you measure it accurately (and actionably) – and how can you leverage customer feedback for happier customers, more referrals, and more sales?

We asked all of these questions and more of CX experts at the top of their field – and their answers will inspire you.

Customer Experience Experts on Growth

Customer Experience is inextricably linked to growth – when you give the customers not only what they want, but also what they need in a way that leaves a positive impression, you’re making an investment sure to pay dividends.

“Customer experience drives growth. Data supports this fact. Forrester showed that CX leaders, on average, grow more than 5x faster than CX laggards. The companies that have made CX a priority focus on understanding the customer’s needs and wants and spend a lot of time understanding the journey a customer takes. They ensure the customer voice is heard (either through direct interviews or other opportunities to provide feedback) at each touch point of the customer journey, make sure actionable insights from feedback gets back into processes and close the loop with customers to advise them of the actions they took. They do this because they understand the post-purchase phase of the customer lifecycle is where growth occurs.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

Customer Experience Experts on Tracking CX Metrics

What’s the best way to improve the experiences your customers are having? Opinions differ, even among experts, but everyone agrees that what gets measured gets done.

“An organization should have many tools available to them and not lean on any one of them too heavily. They should look at a combination of CES, NPS, CSAT, loyalty, and emotions metrics. In addition, measurement shouldn’t be taken in a vacuum. Testing and analysis should occur regularly and consistently so you can view trends and then take deep dives to determine the reasons the trends are what they are. This will help you improve your CX performance.” –Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“If you want to get started with measuring and improving customer experience, I recommend you begin by tracking Net Promoter Score. You’ll get a metric that everyone in the company can rally around improving, and the rich feedback you get from customers will give you guidance on how to do it.  Over time you can build a sophisticated customer feedback strategy that incorporates a number of CX metrics, but I advise that you get the ball rolling as soon as possible. There are a number of low cost/no-cost SaaS platforms out there, including Wootric, that can get you started quickly.”  –Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

The Net Promoter System is the most effective way to gauge customer experience at scale. The better your customer experience, the more likely your customers will be brand enthusiasts or promoters. And the more promoters you have, the higher your Net Promoter Score will be.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

The social media sites that have perfected the art of public reviews are the best customer experience gauges available.  Yelp is a great example for the service industry, Capterra is a grand example for the software industry.  Monitoring those channels is a passive way to manage these gauges.  If you want quality, meaningful results, you will have to intentionally drive customer traffic to those platforms. Be brave. Invite them to be honest.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

Customer Experience Experts on Retention

Sure, you can keep customers even if you provide a lackluster experience – if you’re the only game in town. But with competitors coming out of the woodwork, nobody has any market cornered for long. Offering superior CX is the only way to win the kind of loyalty that becomes the mortar paving the road to retention.

“I spend a lot of time with SaaS startup clients whose number-one goal is to improve recurring revenue. What I’m really excited about is a lot of my early stage startup clients are eager to put CX in place now so they are ready for when they scale. They know how vital CX is to corporate growth.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“Customer experience is one of the two core pillars of customer retention — the thing is, you can’t grow if your customers don’t stick around. Keeping customers around is harder than ever—and delivering an unparalleled customer experience is the only way to win. Today, companies must curate a timely, relevant, and personalized customer journey, nail customer support, and take advantage of every opportunity to surprise and delight.” – Jes Kirkwood, Former Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

Efforts toward retention should start early in the customer relationship. At Wootric, we ask our customers the Customer Effort Score question to get feedback on our onboarding process. When we don’t get top marks, we get an opportunity to make things right with the customer immediately and get back on track. All because we reached out and proactively asked for feedback early on.” –Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

Customer Experience Experts on Leveraging Emotion

Emotion is a vital, yet often underappreciated, component of decision-making – but CX experts know that winning minds isn’t enough. Customer Experience is a game of winning hearts.

“In my experience working in varying industries, customer trust is a byproduct of an amazing customer experience. Whether it’s helping them with a purchase or teaching them how to use software; the make or break is how they feel when they walk away from you. If they walk away with complete trust, that type of experience translates to growth.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

“We’ve found that it’s often the accumulation of small annoyances that does the most damage to a customer’s perception of a brand and their loyalty as a purchaser. Frustration metrics (things like rage clicks, error clicks and form abandonment) are a great way to quickly spot and fix major things that are actively blocking customers from achieving their goals and/or contributing to an overall negative experience.” – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“As a Product Designer, I understand that even more than having a great graphic design and program, the product needs to generate an experience that connects customers emotionally with your brand/service/product. Meaningful relationships are created by strong experiences. It’s how customers become allies for the marketing team for both referrals and acquisition.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

Customer Experience Experts on The Future

CX is a quickly-evolving field as new technologies make it easier to create better experiences, track those experiences, and leverage those experiences into engines for retention and growth. What does the near future hold – and what do you need to do to stay on top of the wave?

“I believe that CX will only become more important as it gets easier for newer, more nimble companies to disrupt larger slower companies. Technology will continue to get better at helping companies quickly and easily see where they’re letting down their customers – like causing them frustration and anger, complicating their progress toward their own goals, and missing opportunities to surprise and delight.”  – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“Right now brands are inundated with CX feedback–social, surveys, support tickets–and it’s all over the place. Companies that take a systematic approach to aggregating and analyzing all of that Voice of the Customer data in one place will have a competitive advantage.  AI–in this case a combination of machine learning and natural language processing–is making it possible to glean insights from those thousands of qualitative comments.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

“Companies will need to focus on two areas:

  1. Creating consistent omnichannel experiences that cover digital. CX tends to be fragmented which hurts customers and companies. A better approach is to create a consistent experience across channels, and companies miss the boat on digital because they have gaps in their technology. Companies should focus on setting up a strong technological foundation which encompasses the entire customer journey
  2. Investing in AI. While current AI applications include chatbots for many tasks (Facebook Messenger currently has over 100,000 chatbots), a common application is to use AI for lower level customer service tasks. At more advanced stages, AI will be invaluable to CX in predicting sales and service behaviors and in augmenting engagement, to name a few.”

      – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“As technology continues to evolve, customer expectations will continue to rise. Delivering a hyper-targeted, personalized customer journey will become standard practice—customers won’t accept anything less. Creative marketers will find unique ways to surprise and delight, setting the bar even higher. Any companies that are already falling behind will struggle to keep up.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

“The challenge I have here, in a behavioral health company, is to discover and solve customer issues before they realize it themselves. I also see a need for increased availability – even offline – for when customers need emotional support, which we can do by being proactive using AI and passive data.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

A lot of companies are turning toward value-added membership campaigns. I personally feel these first round of loyalty driven offerings are based too much on the fear of losing market share, less on value added that builds and increases the trust of the consumer. The evolution of CX will force many companies that want to be successful to bite the bullet and put their money where their mouth is. The good news is, the future is bright for the consumer.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support  / SaaS Consultant

Experts Agree: The Future is About Using Technology to Serve Customers Better

From customer success goals to metrics that measure emotion, to carefully planned and tracked customer journeys, Customer Experience reaches into every aspect of how companies relate to their customers. You can look at CX as the end result of how business decisions ultimately affect customers, or you can look at CX as the guiding light that becomes a company-wide compass for customer-facing decisions. Either way, it’s clear: To survive and grow, today’s businesses have align behind the customer experience.

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Why CX Governance Matters

As the type of person who is constantly seeking connections of all sorts – physical, emotional, strategic –  I find myself drawing parallels between my personal and work life on a daily basis. And given I have three young children, this can not only be quite comical and frustrating, but also incredibly enlightening.

Never was this truer than last night, as I heard “Mommy? Mommy!” for about the 15th time, a good 45 minutes after we’d put them to bed. Any parent who’s read the book, Go the F**k to Sleep (Adam Mansbach, Akashic Books, 2011) knows exactly what was running through my head. But trying to channel the skills of my supermom friends, I sucked it up, and patiently asked, yet again, what my middle child needed to be able to fall asleep. And as I lay with him and finally heard his breathing even out, it hit me. Between my work travel, the kids’ activities, and other community commitments my husband and I have, we’d been running to and fro for the last several weeks since school had resumed. We’d been doing dinners in shifts and on the run, bedtimes had been late due to the Indian Summer we were experiencing, and we’d been lax on rules we’d always had in order to keep things running smoothly.

We have always been a family that has thrived on routine: schedules, accountabilities for each person, family rules, and standards of quality. And, as last night yet proved again, when we fall out of our routines, there are very clear signals that appear.

And as I lay on the top bunk in my son’s dark room pondering how we were ever going to reestablish our routine, I realized what I was experiencing personally sounded remarkably similar to what work lay on my desk downstairs – a client proposal for establishing CX Governance. And, like I was feeling, my clients sometimes feel the idea of CX Governance can be overwhelming. So let’s break this down piece by piece – because, while the first step can be tough, the process of establishing CX Governance itself, and the benefits, are so rewarding.

What is CX Governance?

An archer taking aim while the sun is setting in the background

CX Governance is the structured approach an organization takes to soliciting, responding, and taking action on feedback from customers.

“Structured approach” essentially means an organization is being deliberate about how they manage all things related to the experience their customers are having with their brand. And while being deliberate may seem simple on the surface, consider a global CX program encompassing multiple regions, diverse lines of business, 45+ languages, interfacing with millions of customers around the globe; Suddenly, we see the value of the basics: goals, accountabilities, routine (cadence), rules, and standards.

Goals

Our goal for bedtime is 8 PM, with no extra trips upstairs after the kids are down. It is a goal that is easy to measure, and has easy-to-spot indications of success or failure. The same goes for organizations – the first step in establishing CX Governance is to establish clear goals about what you are trying to achieve with your CX program and ways in which you measure your progress toward goal achievement. With this step completed, you can now begin to answer questions about who you need involved in your CX Governance structure, what each person’s role is, how frequently you need to meet, and your team’s rules of engagement, or expectations of each other.

Accountabilities

In our household, my husband and I oversee the operation and planning, but with the schedules we keep, there’s no way we can also manage all the tasks required to keep our family happy and healthy. The same thing applies to CX Governance – roles and accountabilities are critical, from the C-Suite on down to the front lines. Without a lead advocate, one who has influence on CX and business strategy, as well as CX level of investment, a CX program may get off to a great start, but wither as interest and resources get reallocated to the next shiny object. And yet, even with the greatest of advocates and resource backing, without those who truly understand how to leverage these for impact to key areas of the business – contact centers, sales, marketing, back-office support – the program will not drive return on the investment being made, and will be forced to back burner for other programs and initiatives showing demonstrable impact. With CX program goals and KPIs in hand, you are well-positioned to identify those individuals across the organization with the greatest bearing on goal achievement. And it’s these folks who are best positioned to help you make connections between their work and your company’s CX aspirations.

Routine (Cadence)

A metronomeAs demonstrated in my example above, routines are critical to sustainable operations in my household. And yet, even with the best of intentions, our life can get messy. Even the best laid plans can fall apart. As we all can attest to, our organizations are in a constant state of flux. In this environment, the value of establishing a routine, or “cadence” by which you can review progress on CX initiatives and projects becomes apparent. It is an opportunity for those core CX Governance team members, each juggling numerous and diverse work efforts, to come together to jointly focus on progress and strategically plan for the future.

Rules and Standards

One of our family’s rules has always been that electronic devices are only weekend entertainment devices – they are not allowed during the week outside of homework. Sometimes we forget the value of rules – but then things like last night happen. Upon my 16th trip down the stairs, my husband offered an astute observation: “You know, this happens every time he uses his iPad instead of burning off energy outside.” So simple, so basic, something we’ve always known, but in the flurry of daily life, something we stopped paying attention to. Rules keep us safe, rules keep us happy, rules keep us functioning at optimal levels.

The same goes in CX programs. Think back to the global organization I described – multiple global regions, languages, cultural norms, lines of business, and most importantly, customer needs. There is no doubt these things call for some level of program customization. But before that customization is done, one must consider both customer and business needs. For example, often an individual consumer is a customer of multiple lines of an organization’s business; is this individual being asked for feedback by both entities? If so, is this being done congruently? Or in such a way that the customer may wonder if the right and left hands are talking to one another, which ultimately impact brand perception. And who among us hasn’t received this question from the C-Suite: “So, how do these results compare across lines of business/regions/fill-in-the-blank?” Without the CX Governance team establishing detailed program rules and standards, the program could be at risk for delivering on its stated goals.

The Final Word

When I present this idea of CX Governance, I’m often met with groans, and comments like “we need to be agile,” and “we need to keep it simple.” And frankly, I couldn’t agree more. When CX Governance is done right, it allows for agility, flexibility, autonomy, employee discretion, and minimal complexity. I had an employee say to me once, “I’m pretty independent, but let me know where the guideposts are and I’ll fly.” Establishing these “guideposts” is exactly what CX Governance done right should accomplish – it should allow your employees – and your CX programs – to fly!

And yes, in case you’re curious, today begins the process of reestablishing our household routines, which we know will result in all of us being more productive and pleasant – which ultimately makes our time together so much more enjoyable!

Wall of to do items

The Customer Journey Mapping Guide to Getting Started

A customer journey map is a diagram of all the places customers come into contact with your brand, online or off. Each of these touchpoints influences the customer, and by analyzing customer behavior, feelings, and motivations around each touchpoint, you can begin to identify opportunities to establish more positive relationships by giving customers what they need at any given stage of their journey.

The goal of journey mapping is to gain a deeper understanding of your customer, how they interact with your brand, and how each interaction affects your relationship. It’s also a way to ensure that the brand experience remains consistent for each customer across touchpoints.

“With the number of touchpoints a customer has with a brand increasing with the proliferation of technologies and channels, the need to create a consistent experience is critically important.” – McKinsey & Company

But the big picture goal is why there is so much buzz around customer journey maps now:

Customer journey maps can move you towards more conversions, greater customer loyalty, and improved customer experience from end to end (or from end to forever, if you are subscription-based and there’s no bottom to your sales funnel).

But customer journey maps can be complicated to create, and their results can be difficult to track and interpret from end to end. Many businesses are tempted to ignore it altogether in favor of lower-hanging fruit to increase conversions.

However, that hesitancy to use journey maps is quickly disappearing as more companies are seeing the results from properly mapping their customer journeys.

And, if your company is struggling with the question: “Why aren’t customers completing (or repeating) purchases?” – there is no better time to create the map that will lead you to that answer.

SaaS companies optimize the customer journey with this 4-touchpoint approach from InMoment.

Customer cartography: Where to begin

“We found that a company’s performance on journeys is 35 percent more predictive of customer satisfaction and 32 percent more predictive of customer churn than performance on individual touchpoints. Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across functions.” – McKinsey & Company

Gather a cross-functional team

As customers go through the various stages in the sales funnel, they cross departments from marketing to sales to product to customer success and customer service.

So it only makes sense that, when choosing your team for your customer journey mapping project, you have a representative from each of these departments involved. Having a cross-departmental team is vital to gaining the kind of understanding that is the whole point of the exercise.

“When a manager takes the lead to form a cohesive, customer-centric, interdepartmental team, it not only facilitates learning and accountability throughout the whole company, it can even change company culture for the better.” – Jessica Pfeifer, VP & General Manager, InMoment.

Define customer segments

Once your team is assembled, ask Marketing to list out each key customer segment.

Customer-Journey-Map-for- a-segments

Example of a segmented journey map

It’s extremely likely that each customer segment’s journey will be different. They’re likely finding you, and communicating with you, in different ways depending on demographic and psychographic variables.

That means, unless you only have one ideal customer persona, that you’ll actually be creating several customer journey maps, one for each segment.

Plot touchpoints

Once you have your segments identified, it’s time to plot out your touchpoints for each one. How and when does your customer interact with your brand, your product, your team?

You can decide whether you will tackle the pre-acquisition journey, post-acquisition journey, or the whole thing.

touchpoint customer journey map

With touchpoints, there are the ones you have control over, and the ones you don’t. There are the ones you can track easily, and those you can’t. If your company advertises via billboard, for example, that can be hard to track, even if you survey customers.

Of the ones you can control and track, online touchpoints are the easiest. So start there. Ask your marketing team members to fill you in on what the top of the funnel looks like, what links are bringing people to your website, and how those people first heard of you. In the post-acquisition phase, Customer Success and Support own certain customer touchpoints, and are likely already gathering feedback about them from customers. These touchpoints may include the end of the onboarding cycle in SaaS, order delivery in ecommerce,  a customer support interaction. The Product team may articulate journey points that are driven by behavior, such as feature adoption in SaaS or a purchase threshold in e-commerce. 

And, if the team doesn’t know already, don’t be afraid to ask the customers themselves – every step of this journey should be grounded in real customer data. At the same time, don’t let the exercise become overwhelming. You and your team may already have an intuitive sense of the journey. Get something documented and work to refine it over time. 

Flesh out your map by gathering customer data

Of course, you need more than touchpoints for your customer journey map. You need to know what’s happening at and around each touchpoint. You have to get inside the minds and hearts of the customers at every juncture to find out what they’re thinking, feeling, and needing to do.

Of these three, understanding customers’ emotions shouldn’t be given short shrift: 69% of consumers say that emotions count for over half their experiences.

Unless you have robust research from marketing and customer success departments already, you may want to gather all of this data, asking members of each segment – around every identified touchpoint – these questions:

  • What they’re thinking at that touchpoint
  • What they’re feeling at that touchpoint
  • What they need most at that touchpoint (use this as an indicator of buyer stage – awareness, research, choice reduction, purchase)
  • What their ultimate goal is (why are they here?)
  • What they do/did at that touchpoint (or use a session recording program to see exactly what they did, like hitting the “back” button when they land in the cart, etc.)

To get a pulse across your entire customer base, consider tracking core CX metrics. These include Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score. You can use your customer feedback software program to deploy at specific touchpoints, alerting you to places where people are experiencing trouble that will require more of your attention.

You may also need to conduct analytical research, taking a deep dive into your website/product analytics to find what users are doing and where they might be experiencing difficulty.

And don’t discount the data your customers volunteer on social media and review sites. You can gather valuable anecdotal evidence from a social media listening tool – as well as from the stories of your own customer success and customer service managers.

With this data, you can start to build a customer journey grid for each segment persona, for each purchase stage, and each touchpoint, with an overlay for what they are thinking, feeling, wanting, doing, and most importantly, what they’re hoping to achieve.

The customer success component

This is where we add Customer Success to the mix, ensuring that at each step, we have a crystal-clear understanding of each customer segment’s success milestones and ideal outcomes, so we can bridge any gaps between them.

Including customer success metrics, particularly success milestones, in customer journey mapping isn’t mentioned or suggested often. I believe this is because customer journey mapping has been traditionally focused on the top end of the funnel – Acquisition, Decision, and Purchase phases.

But SaaS is different. The funnel doesn’t end with the purchase. The goal isn’t to sell once or twice, but to retain customers via subscription, which requires continually providing and increasing value.

SaaS businesses – you need to chart much more than any other industry and make each post-purchase touchpoint count towards getting your customers closer to their desired outcome.

And that focus turns touchpoints into stepping stones towards success milestones.

In practice, this means you’ll need to consider how touchpoints, especially after purchase, can be used to help your users make real, tangible progress.

Examples of customer journey maps for SaaS, eCommerce, and brick-and-mortar stores

There are so many ways to map your customer journey, and it can be difficult to decide what has to be in, and what may be less important to you depending on your type of business and your goals. Here are a few examples from different types of industries that are mapping their customer journeys effectively. 

First, let’s look at two of the main ways you can organize your data: Linear or chart.

Linear: Works best when customers have fewer options for how they interact with you, or when you want to map the customer journey along a timeline.

Customer Experience map

Chart: Works best when you have touchpoints that meander in a nonlinear fashion.

Chart format customer journey map

Clearly, both types of charts can hold a lot of widely-varying information. And there are many more ways to map customer journeys too, like with emotion-centered maps.

Emotion-centered-customer-journey-map

Or journey by departments

Customer Journey map with department touchpoints

By need

CX-Map-by-customer-Need

However you choose to create your chart, be sure to include what the customer feels and needs at every touchpoint, as well as how you can improve the one and deliver the other.

Here are some more examples by industry. Notice that no single chart has everything.

SaaS example by InMoment (formerly Wootric)SaaS Customer Journey touchpoints and surveys

SaaS example by Telefonica

Saas Customer Journey

eCommerce: Lancome’s Brand Experience Map in two ways

Experience journey

lancome cx journey

A slightly different angle:

lancome-brand-exp-journey

Brick-and-mortar: Starbucks

Starbucks Customer Journey Map

Improving customer experience (CX): Start with a simple customer journey map

As you can see, there are many, many valid ways to approach journey mapping.  The examples above reflect deep thinking and research — the result of intensive project work by these companies. Use them for inspiration.  Don’t let them stop you and your team from drafting a simple journey flow to get the ball rolling.

By dedicating even an afternoon to a cross-functional knowledge-sharing session you will likely come away with:

  • a more robust understanding of how your customers interact with and “experience” your company.
  • a basic journey map
  • 3-5 “low hanging fruit” opportunities for improvement

Your goal with all of this is to improve customer experience. Remember, there is a good reason for that. As Jake Sorofman, Research VP, Gartner says,  “As competition and buyer empowerment compounds, customer experience itself is proving to be the only truly durable competitive advantage.”

Good luck on your journey!

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Customer Experience Quotes from Experts on the Cutting Edge

“Customer experience” is a phrase that is generating increasing amounts of buzz. It’s grown from a philosophical understanding of the effect of customer/brand interactions into a metric to track, a goal to obtain.

We’ve collected customer experience quotes, definitions and statistics from industry sources to help you understand the power of improving CX.

What is Customer Experience?

“Customer Experience is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.” – Harvard Business Review’s Adam Richardson in “Understanding Customer Experience.”

Forrester puts it in even more amorphous terms: “Customer Experience is how customers perceive their interaction with your company.”

The first definition gives companies the illusion of control over CX – after all, you can manipulate engagement metrics, study touchpoints. But Forrester throws a monkey wrench into the works. Because CX isn’t about you. It’s about the customers – and their perceptions of you.

The expert CX quotes we’ve gathered explore Customer Experience from all of these angles and show just how much impact results when brands and customers align.

The CX Status Quo(te) Roundup

Sections below:

Why Customer Experience (CX)?

               (Source: Why CX? Why Now?)

  • “As competition and buyer empowerment compounds, customer experience itself is proving to be the only truly durable competitive advantage.” – Jake Sorofman, Research VP, Gartner

Customer Experience (CX) Best Practices

  • “There are perhaps signs of a realization here that CX is more than just customer satisfaction (CSAT); you actually have to drive word-of-mouth recommendations and give your existing customers more reasons to keep coming back to you.”  – Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner

What is Customer Experience Management (CXM)?

  • “Customer experience management is the practice of using customer insight to design and execute a cross-functional CX strategy.” – Gartner for Marketers
  • “CX management is a team sport and should engage all departments from supply chain to HR to ensure success. The advocacy of the CEO or a top executive is important in making this happen; creating internal pressure to support the vision the CX leader produces and implements.” – Olive Huang, Research VP, Gartner

Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

  • “The revenue impact from a 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.” – Forrester 
  • “Different teams and different executives can have heated debates about your product….Who’s right?  Net Promoter Score is.  It’s the voice of the customer.  If you have a high NPS score, you’re doing something right here, no matter the feature gaps or other issues.  If it’s low — take action, my friends.  Stop being so proud of yourself.  Your customers aren’t.” – Jason Lemkin, Venture Capitalist and Founder of SaaStr
  • “Bain analysis shows that sustained value creators—companies that achieve long-term profitable growth—have Net Promoter Scores (NPS) two times higher than the average company.” – Bain & Company
  • From The Predictive Ability of  Different Customer Feedback Metrics for Retention – Evert de Haan et al
    • All CX metrics (CFMs), except the CES, have a significant impact on retention at both the customer and firm levels.
    • Changes in top-2-box customer satisfaction, followed by the official NPS, have the highest impact on customer retention.
    • The predictive power of CFMs differs across industries, i.e. there is no single best metric across industries.
    • The usefulness of CFMs differs depending on the level of analysis, i.e. comparing customers or firms.
    • Combining CFMs tends to improve predictions. Therefore, firms might be better off using a dashboard of CFMs.

Customer Experience Failure

         Forrester’s data shows that:

      • 84% of firms aspire to be a CX leader, but only 1 out of 5 companies delivers good or great CX
      • The top four challenges facing CX professionals are organizational culture, organizational structure, organizational processes, and peer support and alignment.
      • Firms lack discipline in six competencies to execute great CX consistently: customer understanding, design, measurement, prioritization, delivery, culture.
        • Only 16% believe their customer-facing employees can summarize the full arc of the experience
        • Only 36% require prototyping and iteration
        • Only 50% have modeled how overall CX quality influences customer behavior
        • Only 49% know what key experiences are
        • Only 33% of rms require soft-skills training for customer-facing employees
        • Only 33% formally evaluate how customer-centric executives are before offering them a job

CX: Companies have a long way to go

(Source: Why CX? Why Now?)

Customer Experience (CX) and Growth, Loyalty & Retention

      • “55% – Customers would pay more to guarantee a good experience
      • 13% [of dissatisfied customers] tell 15 or more people (if unhappy)
      • 72% tell 6 or more people (if happy)” – Slideshare: CX for Executives, Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar

Great CX Drives business results

(Source: Why CX? Why Now?)

      • “Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experiences.” – Peter Kriss, Senior Research Scientist at Medallia and the Director of Research for Vision Prize (Source: The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified)

CX drives Sales

(Source: The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified)

CX and Loyalty

(Source: Customer Experience Leads to Recommendations)

      • “As a SaaS startup grows, recurring revenue begins to fuel the company. Not too far into the future, the existing customer base begins to contribute more of the startup’s revenue than new customers and bookings. Each startup will observe this revenue composition transition at a different point in its evolution because it’s a function of growth rate and churn rate. This evolution demands a focus on retention, upsell and cross-sell.” Tomasz Tunguz, VC at Redpoint (Source: The Strategic Shift In Revenue For SaaS Startups As They Scale)


Renewals as a percent of revenue

(Source: The Strategic Shift In Revenue For SaaS Startups As They Scale)

Customer Experience Transformation

      • “The customer of 2020 will be more informed and in charge of the experience they receive. They will expect companies to know their individual needs and personalize the experience. Immediate resolution will not be fast enough as customers will expect companies to proactively address their current and future needs.” – Customers 2020, Walker
      • Organizational culture remains a top priority for CX transformation among CX Executives and CMOs (CX + Marketing). – Forrester (Source: Twitter)
        Org Culture is top of mind for CX Pros
      • “Every organization, every company across the line needs to go from a relatively anonymous relationship to a one-to-one relationship with the customer. They need to think, ‘How do I connect with my customer in a whole new way?’ No industry is exempt from this transformation.” – Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce (Source: 14 Memorable Quotes from #ET13)
      • “Analytics, personalization, digital store, and omnichannel tech are high priority / key investments for most firms in 2017.” – Zhi Ying Ng, Forrester Analyst (Source: Twitter)

12 CX Technologies to watch

      • “Customers are evolving in five key ways, which is driving customer empowerment: willingness to experiment, self-efficacy, information savviness, device usage, digital / physical integration.” – Forrester (Source: Twitter)

Customers are evolving in 5 key ways CX

(Source: @Forrester)

Customer Experience is the New Brand

If Customer Experience is the subjective sum total of a customer’s life-long experience and perception of a company – it’s really your brand. Consider:

Brand is not a thing. It’s a perception. And by no means today is the brand controllable.” – Dipanjan Chatterjee, Forrester VP & Principal Analyst (Source: The new brand framework, how emotions fuel your brand energy [Podcast])

In an eerie echo of the first Forrester quote, “Customer Experience is how customers perceive their interaction with your company,” brand and CX are drawing closer and closer together, becoming nearly indistinguishable from each other. This, as much as anything predicted or observed by the experts cited above, is the future of business: Your brand is only as good as your customers feel about it.

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

The Loyalty Metric: A Brief History of Net Promoter Score and How to Use it in Practice Today

More than two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 list currently use Net Promoter Score, a customer loyalty metric introduced by Fred Reichheld in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, “The One Number You Need to Grow.” One number. And to get to that one number, you only have to ask one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this [product/brand/company/service]?” Anyone who scores 0-6 is considered a Detractor. Passives rate 7 and 8. Promoters are those who score 9s and 10s – extremely likely to recommend.

The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting Detractors from Promoters. Scores can range anywhere from -100 to 100. It couldn’t be simpler, or more powerful. Since 2003, the popularity of that one number has grown exponentially, spawning specialty apps to track it and spurring researchers to study it. The most recent study by Temkin Group of 10,000 U.S. consumers showed a direct connection between NPS and customer loyalty across 20 industries. In 291 companies, NPS was highly correlated to the likelihood of repeat purchases from existing customers. In fact, promoters across those 20 industries were 92% more likely to make more purchases than detractors (not surprising), were 9 times more likely to try new offerings, and 5 times more likely to repurchase. Promoters were also 7 times more likely than Detractors to forgive companies if they made a mistake. Loyalty is lucrative. The ability to measure and improve it is imperative. And that’s where NPS comes into play.

Calculating Loyalty Used to be Hard

The CEOs in the room knew all about the power of loyalty. They had already transformed their companies into industry leaders, largely by building intensely loyal relationships with customers and employees. – “The One Number You Need to Grow,” Frederick F. Reichheld Reichheld’s NPS origin story begins in a boardroom with chief executives from brands like Chick-fil-A and Vanguard. They’d gathered to discuss what they were doing to increase customer loyalty, and when the CEO of Enterprise Rent-a-Car spoke, everyone listened. He’d found a way to quantify loyalty that didn’t use traditional, complex and faulty customer surveys. His solution was a poll with just two questions:

  • How would you rate the quality of your rental experience?
  • How likely are you to rent from us again?

The simplicity of this approach allowed for faster results – nearly real-time feedback – that could then be relayed to the company’s far-flung branches. But Enterprise did something else as well: They only counted the customers who gave their experience the highest possible rating. Why ignore the less happy customers? Because concentrating on the happiest customers let the company focus on a main driver of growth – the customers who returned to rent again and recommended Enterprise to their friends. Today’s NPS hasn’t ventured far from Enterprise’s system, and it is still has two-parts:

  • “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this [product/brand/company/service]?”
  • “Why did you give us that score?”
Setting up an NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Leverage customer feedback and drive growth with a real-time approach to NPS.

How SaaS companies use Net Promoter Score in practice

NPS has risen in popular estimation from ‘a nice number to know’ to the most important number you can track for growth for a reason. But to understand that reason, you have to see how real companies are using this information. Receipt Bank is an award-winning bookkeeping platform that saves accountants, bookkeepers, and small businesses valuable time and money, and all of their business is subscription-based. While every business can benefit from NPS, growth of subscription-based businesses are inherently tied to customer loyalty – customers have to choose, over and over again, to come back. Receipt Bank had a challenge though. They recognized the value of measuring user NPS, and so were sending monthly emails to survey sample groups across their user base. However, this method was time-consuming to set up, and resulted in their NPS score only being updated on a monthly basis. With new initiatives being constantly released across Receipt Bank to improve the customer experience, monthly sampling just didn’t provide the quality of insight needed. In addition to the delay, users were reluctant to respond when presented with another email task to complete. Conversion rates were low. With the happiness of users on the line, Receipt Bank needed a fast, efficient way to gauge how well their product performed. To overcome these challenges, ReceiptBank tested triggering their NPS surveys in-app — while users were logged in and using their product. Their hunch was right, and their survey response rate jumped ten fold in the first 48 hours.

Quick path to high response rates & real-time NPS

Segment offered an ideal implementation solution: It is a central data and analytics platform that allows Receipt Bank to turn on tools for their teams as needed. Every team has its own data needs and its own list of preferred tools. In addition to tools that let ReceiptBank report on marketing campaigns, message their customers, A/B test, and find fresh user insights, they used Segment to integrate Wootric, a customer feedback management platform that delivers the NPS questionnaire in-app, to measure user experience. “Because of Segment, Wootric was simple to install and within a few hours, we had live NPS data like we’ve never had before,” says Steve Lucas, ‎Customer Experience Manager at Receipt Bank.

Delivering the NPS question in-app, while customers are using the product, continues to result in higher response rates. Not only that, but in-app surveying allows for a more representative sample of their active users, providing more powerful insights into their customers’ happiness. “We’ve seen a much higher response (10x) using in-app messaging to obtain our NPS data. Having a real-time NPS pulse has really helped us support our users better and resolve root causes to improve the CX for our whole customer base,” says Steve.

Improved Net Promoter Score = higher loyalty

“The combination of closing the feedback loop effectively and identifying common experience shortcomings has allowed us to improve our NPS score by at least 40% in just 6 months,” Steve reports. Once a company establishes its baseline score, it can then pursue A/B testing and other means to continually improve it. Receipt Bank, like most companies, combines the basic NPS question with a qualitative, or open-ended, follow-up question that asks users to explain their answer. Armed with these insights, companies can test improvement ideas to see what works best for their best customers. NPS is also a valuable addition to Customer Success programs. Wootric reports that Customer Success teams use their constant stream of customer health data to save accounts at the first signs of trouble, identify promoters ready for upsells, and celebrate clients’ successes – reinforcing their positive perceptions of the product. NPS works on multiple levels to alert you to trends in your user base, and reinforce your users’ positive perspectives of your company. It’s no wonder that promoters are more likely to become repeat buyers, upgrade their accounts, try new offerings, and recommend your company.

Taking action by Net Promoter Score segment

Now that you know who is a Promoter, Passive or Detractor, what can you do about it? Promoters offer the most immediate wins. Clearly, they’re already finding success with your product, so the question becomes: Could they be even more successful with an upgrade, expansion, or additional feature? But don’t just focus on selling, even though Promoters may be ready to buy. Show your appreciation. Make them love you even more. These are your best customers! And, most importantly, empower them to become vocal advocates of your brand. Don’t be afraid to immediately ask them to leave reviews for you, Tweet about you, or participate in your latest Instagram hashtagathon. Encourage them to join an “inside circle” of community members in a private Facebook group or section of your site. Making your best customers feel appreciated is the best thing you can do to attract more of them. Passives are tough cases. They’re just not that impressed, and your job is to figure out why. Hint: They’re not achieving the success they’d hoped for with your product, in all likelihood. Why is that? It’s worth your time to find out. Detractors do not like your company and/or your product. And for some of them, it can’t be helped – but don’t worry. They’re probably not your ideal customers. Some of them shouldn’t even be using your product in the first place, like a guy who wants to heat a frozen pizza quickly so he buys a toaster (instead of a toaster oven). But others have legitimate grievances, and they are worth winning back. First, determine whether or not they are your ideal customers (did they want the toaster oven?). If they’re not, point them in the direction of a product – even a competitor’s product – that will get them the results they want. They’ll be so impressed. Non-ideal clients waste time and resources, are never happy, are always willing to jump ship for cheaper competitors anyway, and are more likely to be detractors than promoters. By sifting them out, you can put your focus on target clients who will love you, promote you, and not drive your customer service department crazy in the process. Everybody wins! However, if detractors are your ideal customers, find out why they aren’t willing to recommend you. Did they have a bad experience? Are they not achieving their desired outcomes? All segments, however, benefit from receiving responses to the feedback they so generously give you. So remember to acknowledge their effort with something as simple as a quick, personal thank you.

NPS is a journey, not a destination

NPS is an ongoing effort that never really ends, and never should. Keeping your finger on the pulse of how your customers feel about you will become central to how you conduct your business – if you let it.

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Engagement and Loyalty: How Employees Can Be Your Best Customer Advocates

Editor’s note: This is a chapter from the ebook, Unlock the Value of CX. You can download the entire book here.

Forward

Our understanding that there is a connection between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction goes back at least to the Service Profit Chain Model. We have since come to understand that the connection runs deeper than we first thought and, if anything, is growing even more intertwined. Today’s customers expect more than ever before. They not only care about the quality of the products and services they receive but they also care about how the companies they do business with behave. Do they make a difference in their communities? Do they treat their employees with dignity and respect? On the reverse side, we have also come to understand that the employee impact can go well beyond delivering better service because they are happy and have the tools they need to do their jobs. We realize that employees can become as powerful of brand advocates as customers and that employee advocates can be primary drivers of business success. In order to become brand advocates, employees need to be engaged on multiple levels. At the most basic level, employees must be happy with the company as a place to work. They must also understand and believe in the vision that the company has for how it will make a difference in the lives of its customers. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the employee must understand how what they do fits into the larger vision of the company in order to feel connected to the company mission. In this article you will get a brief history of the evidence for the importance of employee engagement in a company’s success. You will also get practical ideas about how to begin or expand your journey as you engage your employees to be true brand advocates who feel a stake in the success of the company and want to deliver on its promise.

Today, organizations are focused on customer and employee experience. What does it feel like to be a customer, client, or employee of an organization? How something feels may seem like a soft and intangible concept, but customer satisfaction and employee engagement have direct impact on organizational results.

Maritz research shows nearly half (43 percent) of customers “break up” with brands over a poor customer experience. Regaining lost customers comes at a high cost and 77 percent of those defections are a direct result of employee attitude. Depending on your industry, these numbers could be higher or lower. There is obviously a relationship between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction—and, more importantly, that relationship is entirely measurable.

In fact, according to Jack Welch, that relationship and how it impacts organizational goals may be all that is worth measuring:

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow.”

The Core Measures Every CXO Needs to Manage the Business

Employee engagement and customer satisfaction determine cash flow. Employees who are motivated to do great work
and invested in their organization’s success will create better experiences for customers. Recall the common scenario of relating a poor customer service experience to friends or family members—recounts often include charades, interpretive dance, and performance art. After all, when people feel wronged as customers, it’s not unusual for them to tell everyone who will listen, sometimes for years to come.

Customer detractors are costly to an organization’s reputation and cash flow, and, unfortunately, detractors can be created by a single interaction with a disengaged employee.

Employees give life to the customer experience, and they can create powerful customer advocates when engaged at work.

Culture, Engagement, and Advocacy

Engaged employees serve customers better. Unfortunately, according to Gallup, 71 percent of employees are not engaged in their work.1 In the U.S. alone, Gallup estimates the cost of that disengagement is between $450 billion and $550 billion per year in lost customers, turnover, ineffciency, and more.2 To address low or dropping customer satisfaction, leaders must address engagement and company culture. When we say company culture, we don’t mean trendy perks or open offices, though those factors may influence culture.

What we mean when we talk about culture and engagement:

Culture: How things get done around here

Engagement: How people feel about the way things get done around here

Culture can include values, investment in employee compensation and benefits packages, programs like recognition or wellness, and much more. Employees who are in harmony with the company culture and satisfied in their work are more engaged in the work of satisfying customers and meeting individual and organizational goals. Only when employees are actively engaged they can become advocates of the organization and begin multiplying that same effect on customers by delivering the memorable, personal experiences that drive loyalty and advocacy.

Navigating the Engagement Spectrum

An advocate is someone who talks positively about an organization or product and passes on recommendations or positive messages about it to their friends and family. Many organizations use the Net Promoter Score (NPS®) system to measure satisfaction, which uses a single question to measure promoters, detractors, and neutral customers and employees. at question, paraphrased, is: How likely are you to recommend [organization or product] to your family and friends? Promoters within the NPS system are likely to become advocates for the organization or product. What’s been called the eNPS uses the same system to measure satisfaction and likeliness to advocate among employees.

Similarly, the engagement spectrum covers:

Disengaged → Engaged → Actively Engaged → Advocate

When employees act as advocates for an organization or product, they can, in turn, transform customers into advocates through genuine promotion of the organization that comes from true active engagement.

Three Practical Steps for Building Lasting Loyalty with Employees and Customers

Companies across all verticals are experiencing an engagement challenge with their two primary constituencies, employees and customers. While they are very different audiences who interact with different units (typically human resources and marketing, respectively), the solution to these challenges lies in integrating loyalty strategies to drive higher results for both groups of stakeholders.

No. 1 — Understand the Customer-Employee Connection

Customer interactions with employees have a far more powerful effect on retention than any programmatic strategy. Beyond the direct impact of employee attitudes on customer loyalty, it is also estimated that 70 percent of customer perception of a brand is determined by experiences with people.

We are moving from the digital age, where experiences were primarily trending toward transactional, to a human age, where attitudes, relationships and personal touch are valued at a premium for customers and employees alike.

No. 2 — Develop a Partnership Between HR and CCO

Success lies in creating a customer experience as a partnership between your Chief Customer Officer and HR. The opportunities for collaboration include developing strong brand communities both inside and outside the company. When employees are engaged and focused on an organization’s goals and delivering value to the customer, they understand the link between their own behaviors and a great customer experience. Stronger relationships equal stronger emotional bonds, loyalty and engagement.

Marketing has historically had an outward focus on the market, industry and sales. HR has historically had an inward focus
on employees, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, performance management, compensation, people policies, and, most recently, culture. While perspectives have historically been different, their goals have always been the same in brand commitment. Marketing seeks to elicit commitment from customers, whereas HR seeks to gain engagement and commitment from employees. What is now becoming clear is that each one is dependent on the other.

No. 3 — Measure the Results

Employee engagement tied into a customer loyalty strategy should be measured by the exact same metrics you would use for the loyalty program itself. This means linking employee behaviors directly to campaign response rates, lifts in spend, increased retention and new product trial. The power of integrating these two strategies will give a much clearer line of sight between what employees are doing and the impact on pro table customer behaviors. If data analysis can clearly show employee interaction improved the customer experience and that led to an incremental lift in a customer spend, the integration is working the way it should.

Increasingly, brands are trying to foster a sense of community. Therefore, having your employees contribute and participate in a brand community would increase the value of content, membership, and engagement—all fostering the employee and customer commitment, loyalty, and a lift in both retention and spend.

Look Inward First

Don’t leave the total customer experience up to chance. Instead, work toward winning the hearts and minds of your employees by supporting engagement. If you look internally first and put strategies and tactics in place to encourage engagement, your employees become your best advocates and customer loyalty will follow.

Our product: What we’ve built, what’s next & why

As the co-pilots of Wootric’s product team, we’re excited to share all the progress we have made in the past twelve months, and also give you all a peek into what’s on the immediate horizon for Wootric.

Expanding our offering while boosting customer happiness

At Wootric we prioritize people, product, and process–in that specific order. At the end of day it’s people who build products and support our customers; process is there for people to be productive, not to get in their way. We are very pleased to see that in this competitive job market we have not only retained all our team members but have also grown the team to deepen our machine learning and big data prowess.

As you can imagine, we work hard to “walk the talk” of boosting customer happiness.  I’m happy to report that Wootric’s Net Promoter Score has improved 7 points year over year. We are especially proud of this trend as we have grown (rapidly) and the capabilities of our platform have developed exponentially. As we drive innovation in customer feedback management, our own customers — like Docusign, Mixpanel and Hootsuite — are seeing the value of our platform and the way we prioritize their success.

Wootric's NPS July 2017
Wootric’s own Wootric NPS Dashboard – July 2017

Ensuring our customers have the insights they need to improve customer experience

Now let’s talk about product. One sentence that would describe our evolution this past year? We have evolved from an Net Promoter Score survey tool to a platform that effortlessly turns all of your customer conversations into insights. In a world where customer experience is the new battlefield for competitive advantage, this empowers you, as a business, to shift from product-led growth to the holy grail of customer-led growth.

Here are new features to back up this evolution claim:

  • New survey types: Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) Survey, in addition to NPS
  • New survey channels: Email and SMS, in addition to in-app web and mobile
  • New Integrations: Salesforce, Mixpanel, Intercom, Slack, Zendesk, Webhooks
  • Email Templates: Mailchimp, Intercom, Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce Pardot, PersistIQ, Zoho, Amity
  • Survey respondent profiles
  • API your way to almost everything
  • Big Data warehousing through partnerships with Stitch Data and XPlenty
  • Accessibility improvement.  Wootric surveys, now compliant with Section 508 standards, can be filled out by the visually impaired — highly valued in education and government services.

Among these features, if we were to pick the two that most impact our customers’ growth, they would be (a) launching our Salesforce Managed Package on the AppExchange and (b) the integration with Intercom. Both Salesforce and Intercom are two-way integrations in which Wootric enriches your CRM and Customer Support software with customer feedback and at the same time allows you to trigger surveys to customers based on events in Salesforce and Intercom. This has a huge impact on renewal and upsells because your sales and success teams have more context into what your customers think of your product and services.

It’s been a fun challenge to keep a balance between new feature development and upgrading our infrastructure to handle our growth.  Our already ‘big data’ platform has exploded this year, with 300% growth in survey responses, and over 800% growth in REST API calls.  (To reiterate: API all the things!)  Our tech stack now includes Elastic Search, PostgreSQL, Redis, and several Amazon (AWS) and Google Cloud (GCP) services.  Our infrastructure and devops are ready to handle the growth we foresee in next 12 months.

But that’s all in the past!

Our current focus is to add more intelligence to our service.

We are working on being smarter about who to survey and when to survey so that you can converse with more of your customers. And, once we have your customers’ feedback, we will provide better and more automated insights through the use of artificial intelligence.

AI-powered insights trained by millions of survey responses

Because the survey data we receive is unstructured text, it’s a great use case for the meeting ground between machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Besides leveraging the Google Cloud Platform, we are creating our own industry-specific machine learning algorithms that analyze open-ended human-generated feedback.  CX Insight™, our text and sentiment analysis product–trained by millions of survey responses–focuses first on SaaS, e-commerce, and media use cases. As with all things Wootric, this has been a customer-led effort. Our customers expect that AI-powered insights will provide them with a game-changing ability to improve customer experience.

Wootric is at the forefront of a revolution in customer experience intelligence and we look forward to sharing this journey with you.  Thank you.

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How to Start a Customer Success Program from Scratch

If your SaaS company hasn’t leapt on board the Customer Success train yet, it’s likely due to “focusing on other things,” or “we don’t have the budget for that right now.” But prioritizing Customer Success pays big dividends in returning revenue – so much so that it’s gaining the reputation as the ultimate growth hack. That’s not hype – Customer Success is how SaaS businesses raise retention rates and increase referrals while paving the road for cross-sells and upsells.

If you’re focusing most of your resources on acquisition, you’re missing out on one of the greatest growth engines at your disposal.

“Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is,” – Jason Lemkin, venture capitalist and founder of SaaStr

Acquisition may get the ball rolling, but retention is where the big money is. Big, sustainable money that costs less and less to make. And, this alchemy only works when customers achieve the successes with the product or service that they’d hoped for upon signing up.

Statistically, successful customers:

  • Spend more money over time
  • Are highly likely to consider additional products and services
  • Serve as enthusiastic brand advocates that reduce the Cost to Acquire new customers (CAC)

That last point, customer evangelism (aka. brand advocacy), is the most significant benefit of Customer Success and the one that leads to spending less on acquisition efforts, while acquiring more customers.

When your company understands what success means to your customers, then ensures they receive what they need to achieve it, those customers respond – on Facebook, on Twitter, on Yelp, on Linkedin, and in person. They become not just your fans, but your best salespeople, helping your company grow.

But how do you start a customer success program from scratch?

First, let’s start with what customer success really is, because any time a term becomes a “buzzword” it tends to lose its original meaning.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success is how you help customers achieve their desired outcomes, even if those outcomes are outside of the product or service you provide. 

With this as our definition, Customer Success is really about one thing: Giving your customers everything they need to be successful with your product – within and outside of the product.

For example, if a person downloads a SaaS budgeting app, they don’t want to budget per se, but they do want to pay off their credit card debt and start saving for a kitchen remodel. That is what success means. Not using the app. Not budgeting. But finally running your hands over smooth quartz countertops and showing off that Big Chill refrigerator when the neighbors come over.

That is success. Your product or service is merely the means to get there.

Sure, you can pile more tasks onto your Customer Success department, like planning upsells and cross-sells and customer referral rewards programs. But if you don’t have that one thing in place first – their success – you can’t move onto anything else.

You Had One Job

It’s why I advocate building Success Milestones into Product Development’s user flows.

What are Success Milestones?

Success Milestones are when customers receive value – value that they recognize – from using a product. It’s when that budgeting app customer saves their first thousand towards that Big Chill ‘fridge.

Building Success Milestones into your user flow is a useful way to chart what’s happening within the app and link it to wins happening in real life.

For businesses looking to build a Customer Success program from scratch, this is a key concept. Your process begins by understanding your ideal customer’s real life.

You need to understand how your product fits into their lives, helps them achieve their real-life goals, what frustrates them, and what blocks them from achieving those goals.

Which leads us to Step 1.

How to Start a Customer Success Program

Step 1. Get to know your ideal customer really well (through qualitative data)

When your company was merely a gleam in your founder’s eye, there was (hopefully) a process in place to identify ideal customers and find out what problems they needed to solve, which pain points felt the worst, and what they deeply wanted to achieve.

If your founder followed the Lean Startup methodology, customer interviews happened to ensure product-market/problem-solution fit well before Product Development set to work.

But, if your company skipped those steps, you’ve got a lot of qualitative data to catch up on.

Don't panic everything will be okay

Do not panic. You don’t have to start at the beginning, because you have a product and customers already. What you need to do now is focus on the segment of customers who fit into your ideal customer profile.

Your ideal customers are: Customers who love your product, use it, and tell other people about it because they love it so much.

You can identify which of your existing customers fall into this category by tracking brand mentions, but you can also just ask.

When it comes to identifying your best customers, a Net Promoter Score survey is fast and efficient. You can send the survey via email or within your app (a less disruptive option), and ask existing customers “On a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 being most likely, how likely are you to recommend this product to friends and colleagues?”

Anyone who scores a 9 or 10 is a “Promoter.”

Promoters are the people we want to speak with when developing Customer Success strategies because we know, for certain, that they have problem/solution fit. Not all customers do. Customer Success can only do so much, and if there isn’t that problem/solution fit from the start, you can’t manufacture it. So you have to identify it, attract more of it, and nurture it.

Customer Success is as much about identifying customers likely to be a good fit as it is helping them achieve their ideal outcomes.

Ask some of your Promoters – those who scored 9s and 10s –  if they’d be willing to speak with you, or at least fill out a detailed open-ended-question survey, so you can confidently identify your ideal customer’s needs, wants, pain points, ideal outcomes and more. This qualitative data will allow you to create solutions that speak uniquely to them.

Sarah E. Brown, Head of Customer, Community and Brand Marketing at ServiceRocket, uses a Voice of Customer program with NPS to understand how well they’re delivering outcomes for customers and improve marketing at the same time:

“VOC is executed through our marketing function in conjunction with our Customer Success team, and together we are able to identify high NPS customers as brand advocates and follow up with them to create high-value marketing collateral like co-hosted webinars, case studies, podcasts and video testimonials.

Through our NPS review program, we have an incredibly clear picture into our customers who are using our product to achieve successful outcomes. Then we channel them into becoming vocal advocates who bring in new customers and help current customers love our software even more.”

Step 2. Build Your Team

Once you understand who you’re serving and what they’re trying to achieve, you need to put your team together. Sure, you could hire an experienced Customer Success manager or consultant, but you can also look inside your own building – at the Sales department.

A good salesperson already knows your product and your customers, which makes for a relatively easy transition. The key, however, is to shift the sales mindset from selling the product to setting up customers for success.

That can be a substantial challenge. Because sometimes, a customer’s success won’t come from being upsold, and it can run counter to the salesperson’s gut instincts to not jump at an immediate sale, and say “Hey, your company is on the smaller side. I don’t think you need this additional service yet. So let’s focus on how we can help you grow to the point where this service would be really useful.”

Customer Success can, sometimes, mean delayed gratification. But the loyalty you build by giving advice that is 100% to the customer’s benefit is priceless.

When assembling your Customer Success team, there are a couple more very important characteristics to watch out for: You’ll need people who are good team players and great communicators, because the most effective Customer Success teams are those that work closely with Sales, Service and Product to find ways to bridge success gaps.

Step 3. Determine What Structure You Need to Help Customers Reach Their Ideal Outcomes

If you have the resources, investing in a full-service Customer Success platform, like Gainsight, is a great way to begin. But these solutions can be out of reach, budget-wise. If that’s the case, then you may have to DIY and create your own processes.

Things you’ll need to consider:

  • Customer segments – do you have one “ideal customer” or an “ideal customer” for each user segment?
  • Do your user segments require different levels of help to reach their ideal outcomes? Often, one segment of users needs a higher-touch approach than another segment (and no, you shouldn’t base higher-touch vs. lower-touch solely on how much the segment pays – a lower paying segment might have high-paying potential with the right nudge).
  • What are the desired outcomes for each segment? Do they require different resources to reach them?
  • How do you intend to track customer health? What can you identify as “red flags” of disengagement?
  • Do you have a way to mark different customers according to their life stage – and whether/when they are reaching their Success Milestones?
  • If you have an existing product and the ability to track user behavior within it, where do users drop off?
  • Is there a process in place to identify when certain Success Milestones are reached and present opportunities for logical upsells?
  • Where are success gaps happening for each segment? (A success gap is the space between what your product does and the user achieving his or her desired outcome).

Step 4. Must-Have Metrics

  1. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is the foundation for a strategy to increase ROI and sustain growth, but its shortest definition is: The revenue earned from a single customer over time. LTV includes Cost to Acquire a new Customer (CAC) and Churn rate – how quickly customers leave. However, most calculations fail to include cross-sells, up-sells, and the value of referrals for each customer, which increase LTV. To affect LTV, your marketing strategies should take these other factors into account as well. LTV is, perhaps, the most important metric CSMs in subscription-based businesses can track because it’s the best at predicting success… or failure. Cost to Acquire (CAC) is intimately connected with LTV because if your CAC is higher than or equal to your LTV, your business is FAILING! The Cost to Acquire number comes from tracking metrics like  manufacturing costs, research, development, and marketing – everything you need to convince a potential customer to buy. While the equation is simple enough – just divide the total costs of acquisition by total new customers within a specified time period – adding up every acquisition-related activity is where companies get bogged down.
  2. Net Promoter Score (NPS) works better than churn to score how well you’re doing at delivering desired outcomes. Sometimes, an unhappy customer won’t get around to churning – the effort is just too low on their to-do list. But if you ask that customer if they’d recommend you to a friend (the NPS question is “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”), you’ll get an honest answer. Many NPS platforms also allow you to segment your surveys for even deeper insights. This is a great number to use if you haven’t got time to creat a complex customer health score system.
  3.  Churn is important to track, but more so in the context of understanding what causes churn and how you can proactively prevent churn. Yes, you need to know how many people are leaving. But that number is too little, too late. What you really need to track are the leading indicators of churn.
  4. Customer Effort Score – Traditionally used by support teams, CES can also be used to get feedback on user experience in onboarding, new feature setup, and to identify obstacles to users finding value.

Setting up an NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Leverage customer feedback and drive growth with a real-time approach to NPS.

There are others. Groove reduced churn by 71% by using what they called “red flag” metrics, including:

  •         Length of first session
  •         Frequency of logins
  •         Total number of logins 
  •         Time spent on individual tasks (the longer the time spent, the more trouble the user is probably having, and the more likely they are to churn)

Whatever metrics you track, essentially, you need to know how well your customers are doing at any given time, identify when they’re experiencing success, be alerted when they run into trouble, and have a plan in place for helping them to grow and succeed even more (by using more of your product when it can benefit them).

It’s helpful to plan all of this within the context of the Product department’s user flows, which brings us to…

Step 5. Collaborate

Customer Success can’t do its best work separated off from other departments, keeping its data in a silo. It won’t do you any good to collect all of this data on your customers if you can’t share what you learn with departments able to act on that information.

To really begin to see the results of your Customer Success program, you’ll need to open lines of communication with Sales, Customer Service and Product Development so you can work together to identify and bridge success gaps for customers. Better yet, invite one person from each department to be part of the Customer Success team.

One example of effective collaboration is between Product and Customer Success. Customer Success needs Product Development to address product-specific success gap issues, and Product Dev needs to understand the broader concept of ideal outcomes, and where success gaps are occurring, from Customer Success. A good place to start collaborating is to align behind customer feedback. Use that to start discussions and to lay the foundation for the solutions you can find together.

When you bring these two departments together, you can achieve all of that and more, like building in Success Milestones into the app itself so users can track their own successes (and sales teams can keep tabs on their progress and introduce upsell suggestions when they make sense).

Step 6. Focus on One Thing at a Time

Is it retention after onboarding? Identifying upsell opportunities? Filling success gaps? Kayla Murphy, Customer Growth, Advocacy and Success at Trustfuel works with early-stage Customer Success teams and recommends focusing on one thing at a time.

“Start with one focus and build processes to go with it. Institute QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) or regular check-ins. Start tracking your usage data and figuring out which metrics give you the best picture of customer health.

Just start.

Many of the teams I work with felt a great deal of analysis paralysis at the beginning of their customer success journey. They were worried about annoying customers, tracking the wrong metrics, or focusing so much on unhealthy accounts that morale dies. You have to start somewhere and no one knows more about your customers right now than you. Start being proactive and consistently evaluate your processes.”

Just start, perhaps, is the best advice.

How it All Works Together

Let’s pretend that customer acquisition is a game of “Who can prove their worth the fastest?”

The players are you and your competitors.

When a new user signs up to try your product, it triggers a series of events – the goal of which is proving your worth before that user gets bored and signs up with your competition.

When a new user signs up…

–          The new user receives a welcome email from a Customer Success agent who asks them what they would most like to achieve with your product.

–          The new user is impressed that somebody cares (they care! They really care!) and replies: “I’d like to sell more balloon poodles at the next county fair.”

–         The Customer Success agent replies “I love balloon poodles! So cool! Would 50 more balloon poodles be a realistic starting goal for the next 3 months?”

See what happened there? The customer success agent keys in on the new customer’s desired outcome, then creates a specific, measurable, attainable goal that they can keep track of. Maybe there’s even a page built into the website that helps the customer track their own progress towards their goal.

These steps don’t need to happen over email (although this is exactly what Slack does during onboarding). They can happen within your product too. Or a combination, like using a simple in-app how-to program to guide newbies through their first several actions. Then you might use customer feedback on their desired outcomes to send them an appropriate ebook or link to relevant blog posts to help them achieve it.

Essentially, you prove your worth by making your customer’s success a priority – and making sure they know it!

Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Improving Survey Response Rates Through Incentives

From time to time customer experience managers will hear the following questions from their internal clients: “Is our response rate too low?”; “What can we do to increase our response rate?” or; “Should we provide an incentive for people to respond?” Like many things in research, these relatively simple questions have somewhat complex answers.

When faced with these questions, the first thing to address is what issue is really being raised. Is the question really about increasing response rates (the percentage of people who respond to a survey invitation), or is it about increasing the total number of responses at a given level of the organization (e.g., dealerships) or is it about improving the representativeness of the responses obtained? Improving the response rate is often not the most effective way to increase the total number of responses and/or improve representativeness.

Increasing the Number of Responses and Improving Representativeness

To increase responses at the unit level and improve representativeness, the first place to look is the sampling scheme. Is the program sampling only a small percentage of customers in an attempt to control costs? If so, it is often more economically feasible to sample more customers and not use an incentive than it is to provide an incentive to increase response rates of a smaller sample.

Another aspect of the sampling scheme to examine is whether important segments of customers are being excluded from 
the sample frame. For instance, in the automotive industry it has typically been the practice that customer-pay (as opposed to warranty) customers are excluded from dealership service experience surveys, even though most dealerships do much more customer-pay service work than they do warranty work. This practice started because of difficulties getting access to customer-pay records. Now that mechanisms are in place for most manufacturers to obtain customer-pay records, these customers should be included in the sampling frame.

Obviously, inclusion of these customers will increase representativeness of the returns because an important part of the dealership’s business will now be included in
the responses.

Improving Response Rates

If the question is indeed about improving the response rate or if improving the response rate is likely to be the best way to improve representativeness and/or the number of responses, providing an incentive to customers to respond is often not the most effective tactic to use. The choice of whether to respond to a survey invitation is a cost-benefit decision for the customer. How much will completing the survey cost
the customer versus what benefit will he/she receive? At 
first glance, one might think that there is no cost to the customer to respond. However, there are many costs and these costs have been increasing over the past few decades. These include:

  • Time–People are now more pressed for time than in years past and they are more often solicited for research than previously.
  • Effort–Many surveys are long and complicated.
  • Hassle/Boredom–Some customers feel “duped” by agreeing to take what they think is a short survey and then finding out it is quite long; many surveys contain boring and repetitive questions.
  • Potential for Loss of Privacy–Many customers worry that their information will not be kept confidential.
  • Potential of Being Put on Numerous Mail/E-mail/Phone Lists–Many customers are concerned that their contact information will be sold to other companies and used for marketing purposes.
  • Potential for Being Subjected to a Sales Pitch–With the increase in Selling Under the Guise of Research (“Sugging”) customers are more skeptical about the legitimacy of survey invitations.

On the benefits side of the equation, in years past customers often felt special and valued because they were being asked for their opinions. Unfortunately, as survey research has proliferated, being asked for your opinion is no longer a unique experience that conveys “specialness.” Customers also seemed more motivated to contribute to the “greater good” by providing feedback about products and services than they are today. Some argue that the younger generations are less interested in the greater good and have even labeled Generation Y the “What’s in It for Me?” generation. Also, those interested in providing feedback now have many ways of doing so (e.g., blogging, posting comments at customer-generated media sites, etc.) instead of completing a survey.

Look at Both Sides of the Customer Cost/Benefit Equation

To increase response rates, researchers should look at both sides of the customer cost/benefit equation by seeking to decrease the cost to the customer and increase the benefits of participation. Some suggestions for reducing the customers’ costs are:

  • Coordinate customer touch points. Many companies inadvertently over survey their customers because different departments or divisions conduct independent research programs.
  • Make the task as easy as possible.
  • Make the survey as short as possible, but not shorter than 
 Sometimes customers can interpret a very short survey as the company not really being interested in their opinions and just “going through the motions” of gathering customer feedback.
  • Make the survey as interactive and entertaining as possible, while maintaining collection of valid information.
  • Give customers the opportunity to choose how and when to respond.
  • Give customers the ability to “tell their story” rather than only answering a large number of specific closed-ended questions. Then use text analytics to gather insights from the customers’ comments.
  • Be very specific about how the information will and will not be used.
  • Avoid “nice to know” questions that are often included “because we have them responding anyway.”
  • Avoid sensitive questions (e.g., income, sexual orientation) unless they are really necessary. If they must be asked, explain to the customer why you are asking the questions and what will be done with the information.

Ways of increasing the benefits of participation to the customer are:

  • Send customers a “thank you” and briefly explain how the information is used.
  • Show customers how the information is being used. For example, some companies have posted signs in their retail outlets telling customers what improvement efforts are being made due to customer feedback.
  • Assure customers they will get a personal follow-up if they request it and they will not get a follow-up if they don’t request it. It is very important that companies follow-up on these promises. Otherwise, it will cause dissatisfied customers to become even more upset.
  • Consider allowing customers to see other customers’ feedback. People are social beings and they often want to know if their experience was typical or atypical.
  • Provide an appropriate reward with monetary value to respond.

Considerations When Using Monetary Incentives

In most circumstances, to increase response rates we recommend investigating the non-monetary methods listed above before considering use of a monetary incentive (or any incentive with monetary value – e.g., a free oil change or a discount coupon for your next purchase). If not done properly, monetary incentives have the potential to bias the responses. This brings us to the issue of what makes an incentive appropriate.

Generally, the smaller the incentive the better. This is not only because smaller incentives are more economical;
 it is primarily because larger incentives have more potential to bias results. There are two main concerns with large incentives. First, as incentives increase respondents are more likely to complete the survey just to get the incentive. Therefore, they may pay little or no attention to the questions they are answering and provide bad information. Unfortunately, bad information is worse than no information at all. Second, larger incentives may bias the sample by encouraging lower income individuals to respond at greater rates than higher income individuals. One thing to take into consideration when using a small monetary incentive is that it should be framed as “a small token of our appreciation” to the customer. If customers believe you are trying to compensate them for their time with a small incentive, they can become offended.

  1. If possible, provide the incentive to everyone being sampled rather than promising an incentive to those who complete the survey. In the case of cash incentives to complete a mail survey, most research has shown that inclusion of a small amount (e.g., $1) is more effective at increasing response rates than promising a larger amount (e.g., $5) upon return of the survey. There are many potential reasons for this, but probably the largest is customers’ skepticism that they will receive the promised reward.
  2. The incentive should be something of equal value to everyone, regardless of their experience. Incentives such as discount coupons for the next purchase or the promise of a free oil change have two major problems associated with them. First, they are more valuable to people who intend
to return to the retailer (e.g., those that previously had a good experience) than those that are unlikely to return. Therefore, they can bias the results. Second, they can be seen by customers as “just another marketing ploy.”
  3. The incentive must match the methodology and the geography. Inclusion of a dollar bill with mail surveys is relatively easy in the U.S. but it is obviously difficult to do for online or phone surveys. It is also difficult to include money in Canadian mail surveys because the one and two dollar currencies are coins and the added weight of including them increases postal rates.

A Quick Look at Some Common Incentives

Inclusion of a Dollar Bill with a Mail Survey. Surprisingly, when using monetary incentives, this is still one of the most effective ways to increase response rates for mail surveys. This technique is particularly appropriate for small survey programs but can become financially infeasible for large programs.

Entry into a Lottery to Win a Large Prize upon Return of the Survey. For mail surveys, this technique is generally not as effective at increasing response rates as including
a dollar bill with the outgoing survey. However, for large programs it is often more economically feasible than using a one-dollar incentive. For smaller programs it is less economically feasible. The use of a lottery is also easier to implement with online and telephone surveys. There are numerous laws and regulations concerning the use of lotteries as an incentive, and it is strongly recommended that a professional promotions management company be employed to manage the lottery.

Providing Discount Coupons. As discussed above, this is generally discouraged because of the potential to bias results and be seen as a marketing effort.

Contributing to Charity in the Customer’s Name.
 In general, this technique is not as effective at increasing response rates as either the dollar bill or lottery alternatives. If considering this alternative, it is important to include a number of relatively different charities the customer can choose from. Otherwise, the potential to bias the sample will increase because those in favor of the charity’s cause might respond at higher rates.

Conclusion

Inclusion of a monetary incentive for customers to return experience surveys is not a decision that should be made lightly. It is fraught with potential problems. In general, non-monetary ways of improving representativeness, the number of surveys returned, and response rates should be explored before considering incentives with monetary value. When considering monetary incentives, it is important to match the incentive to the size, methodology, and geography of the program. Conducting a pilot test assessing the costs (both financial costs and results bias) and benefit (in terms of increased response rates) of several different types of monetary incentives are recommended.

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