SMB CLIENT SUCCESS

90-Days to SMB Client Success 

Written by Tyler Riddell

Tyler is a data-driven storyteller with more than 20 years of marketing experience. He heads up the development of marketing strategy for Peritus' clients.

July 22, 2020

Client Success

It’s important that you build a plan from the top down so it aligns with your business objectives and on the same page with your CEO and board of directors.

Many startups just barrel forward fighting fires until they get to a certain maturity level to build a solid client success strategy.  This carries risks that at some point your reputation will eventually take a hit; all the while a competitor is overtaking market share simply based on the better service they are providing. If you start out on the right path, it is extremely cost effective and much easier to make Client Success a revenue generator.

In this article, I discuss some experiences at a recent startup as well as steps that you should highly consider for creating an SMB Client Success Strategy and Plan.  The first priority is ensuring the top goals of the service organization is in alignment with your business strategy.

1. Define Your Top Customer Success Goals before building out your plan.

High-level goals can include:

1. Reduce Client Churn!
2. Identify/Improve problem areas
3. Identify new selling opportunities
4. Actively engage customers by lifecycle and persona

Client Success Maturity Model
2. Create a Customer Journey (extending your Buyer Journey)
Creating Customer Journey is truly the bible for helping organizations solve many challenges and identify opportunities to improve services and simply provide better customer experiences. Customer experience is what makes good companies great. It also can bring down good companies when they faulter in service levels. The Customer Journey acts as roadmap that can uncovers opportunities and obstacles to avoid in achieving all of your stated department goals.

Client Success stages include:

On-boarding – The point at which a client begins activating their account and getting trained.

Engagement – Early signs of the customer learning and using your product.

Adoption – When a client is using actively using the product and receiving value. How quick to value does your brand promise deliver.

Customer Feedback – Active customers provide feedback, but what is the sample size of feedback are you getting from surveys? Is it 5%? There are ways to increase participation.

Renewal/Upsell – The customer is ready to renew their subscription whether it being auto or manual. In today’s climate, your firm should be thinking about renewal at the stage of On-boarding.

Expansion/Upsell – This is typically when the client is ready to expand their product suite, purchase additional products and services. Clients are also primed for Advocacy campaigns.

Client Success Metrics

At my last Startup, in this example of Customer Journey map, we leveraged a sophisticated scoring system to help grade customers based on several data points, including stage, type of customer, products used and training completion, Net Promoter Score, Check-In Rating (based on a phone call) and number of tickets by account.

The grading scale helped identify “At-Risk” clients providing signals in customer stages that needed attention and improvement. This scoring model isn’t for the SMB faint at heart, but Marketing Automation software can help provide the necessary data to achieve the same goal: Identify customers that may churn or find your best performing customers.

3. Focus your Operational Team (Client Success, Sales, Marketing)

There are many different organizational models to set up your service, consulting and support operations. You must determine how the team will be structured and support clients for your marketplace. You must remember to align Client Success, Sales and Marketing Operations around the client operational plan to succeed. No more siloed departments. That just doesn’t work anymore. Some thoughts for organizing can be around vertical markets, product orientation, or size and type of customer? The key is what will work best for ensuring exceptional customer experience and demonstrating the numbers to prove it.

4. Aligning Client Success Programs and Strategies
When you begin to plan all of your programs, make sure they include measurable targets aligned to achieving your departmental goals that are in turn pointing to business objectives.

For example, 4 programs are designed to achieve #1 Objective – Reduce Churn in our Q4 plan. These are in cohort #1 of your report. Other programs being implemented will help achieve Objectives #2, #3, and #4 and classified accoringly.

Customer Journey

5. Add emotion to the Customer Journey.

Layering the emotional landscape with the “Customer Perspective” paints a clear picture of your customer’s mental state and enables your success engagement programs accurately address their needs.

To the right is a rudimentary Customer Journey overlaying emotion for each stage. Technology adoption was huge problem at one of my previous employers. One of the common concerns from users was ensuring our technology platform was easy to train on, so we developed self-paced online walk-through tutorials in addition to the standard “live” online meetings.

These short-form videos improved on-boarding customer satisfaction significantly and reduced the number of follow up training sessions necessary to properly onboard customers. It also reduced churn caused by onboarding missteps. And, we wouldn’t have known to create these videos if we didn’t integrate customer emotional feedback into our Customer Journey.  

Customer Journey
Client Success Team Reviews

6. Weekly and Monthly Client Success Reviews
The Client Success team’s progress needs to be continually tracked and monitored. Whether you’re just getting out of the gates or deciding your Customer Service model needs a face lift, team meetings at various cadences (weekly, monthly, quarterly) need a formal review process measure success.

If you don’t develop a team strategy, goals and tied to quantifiable metrics, you’ll never be positioned to provide 5-star customer experiences.

7. Set up Client Success Performance Metrics
Client Success metrics can help determine how your team is performing weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Some common metrics to track include Net Promoter Score, Monthly Churn, Recurring Revenue, Onboarded, Trial Conversion, Renewals, Upsells, Product Utilization score, etc. Marketing automation includes configurable scoring models so you can track the right KPIs for your Small-Medium business. 

SMB Client Success metrics

8. Marketing’s Editorial Calendar needs to fuel Client Success.

Hopefully, your SMB business has a marketing person or outsourcing with marketing firm that can focus on delivering high-touch client success experiences.

Customers are your number one asset, so you need to dedicate Marketing resources for nurturing and delivering on that brand promise.

The important point is to listen to what customers need, where they’re active and get into the conversation.

Here some examples of Client Success marketing programs:

 

— “Quick Tips” and “How To” Webinar Series

— Client newsletters – highlighting module of the month, Covid-19 impact, support staff, new customers, etc.

— Automated Customer Satisfaction Surveys; Spot Surveys

— Customer Advisory Board newsletter

— Virtual Events – User Academy

— Create an online Community (influencers, customers, partners, etc.)

— Advocacy and Rewards programs

— Social media live streaming

Client Success Editorial Calendar

9. Activate Your Plan

Its time to consider a new Client Success approach, so you’ll need to develop a comprehensive project plan that identifies all stakeholders, new processes/workflows and the tech stack to support your grand initiative.

As mentioned before, Marketing Automation/CRM software can revolutionize the level of customer experience you can offer clients. The days of organizing all-hands blitz call campaigns should be replaced with continual digital engagement to keep in touch, educate and deliver more value at half the opportunity cost.

 

SMB Client Success Plan
Conclusion
Creating an SMB Client Success Strategy and Plan can be daunting because it requires a global and micro-view of your organization and requires multiple departments to work together to ensure its success. SMB businesses need to shift from pre-pandemic support models to a digital-first philosophy to enhance customer experiences. With limited resources, you can get it done and done right. The Customer Success Journey is an invaluable and fantastic tool to leverage as it identifies all the opportunities for your Small-Medium business to become a market leader in Client Success.
If you need to discover new ways to differentiate your business, Client Success is one area to begin.  Congratulations! You’re ready to put it all together!

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