In the not-so-distant past, digital customer success programs were born out of necessity, driven by an increasing need for scalability in ever-expanding customer bases. However, in today's digitally empowered landscape, customers themselves are the driving force behind this shift. They are seeking more control over their journey, aiming for self-sufficiency and independence in navigating the customer experience, regardless of their spend level.
This shift calls for a rethink in the way businesses approach customer success, signaling a transition from high-touch, hand-holding approaches to empowering customers through robust, intuitive digital programs.
What is a Digital Customer Success Program?
In an era where customer centricity shapes business models, digital customer success programs take the helm. Picture this: A strategic, data-driven initiative that streamlines the customer journey, encouraging positive customer interactions and driving growth. It leverages technology to track customer engagement, their usage patterns, potential issues and, above all, their success.
The heart of these programs lies in a simple principle - enhancing customer experience. This goes beyond meeting customer needs. It's about outpacing their expectations, delivering an experience that fosters loyalty and encourages customer advocacy.
How do you Know it's Time to Build Your First Program? Knowing when to launch your first digital customer success program hinges on the evolving needs of your customers. In the past, the push towards digital programs often originated from the businesses themselves, aiming to manage large volumes of customers efficiently. However, today's customer behavior is a significant driving force behind these programs.
Modern customers yearn for a level of self-sufficiency and autonomy in their customer journey. They want access to resources, tools, and information that empower them to solve problems, utilize products, and realize value on their own terms. If you're noticing a growing demand for self-service options, an increase in queries that could be addressed with digital resources, or feedback from customers seeking more control in their journey, it might be the perfect time to build your first digital customer success program.
Moreover, this shift doesn't just apply to your high-touch accounts. Even your lower-spend customers are looking for an enriching, self-guided customer journey. If you're experiencing a growth in your customer base, along with an increased demand for a streamlined, digital customer experience across all segments, it's time to harness the power of digital programs.
In essence, the move towards a digital customer success program is no longer a mere scalability solution. Instead, it's a response to the changing customer landscape, underlining the need for businesses to align with their customers' desire for independence, efficiency, and self-guided success.
Should I Have One Program for my Entire Customer-Base or Just my Tech Touch Accounts?
Customer success isn't one-size-fits-all. While a unified program offers a holistic approach, it may fail to cater to specific customer needs. A high-touch customer account may require more personalized attention, while tech touch accounts may find value in more automated, digital-centric interactions.
The idea is to strike a balance. Create comprehensive digital programs but customize them based on your customer segments. This caters to a broader audience, ensuring you touch upon the specific needs of different customer types.
The Difference Between a Program That's Fully Digital (Tech Touch) to a Hybrid One (That Also Includes Human Touch)
Tech-touch programs are digital-native, leveraging automation and analytics to deliver customer success. They're scalable and consistent, but may lack the personal touch that many customers appreciate.
On the other hand, hybrid programs blend tech and human touchpoints. They retain the scalability of digital approaches while capitalizing on personalized, human interactions. These interactions can foster a stronger emotional connection with customers, driving loyalty and customer growth.
It's essential to assess your business model and customer expectations when choosing between these models. More complex, high-value customer relationships might benefit from a hybrid approach, while a fully digital approach may suffice for simpler, more transactional customer relationships.
Which Teams in the Company Should You Involve?
Building a digital customer success program isn't just a task for your customer success team. It's a collaborative effort that should involve various departments.
Sales can provide valuable insights on customer expectations. Product development can share information about upcoming features and enhancements that may impact the customer journey. Marketing can help to effectively communicate the program to customers. And, of course, your IT team plays a crucial role in implementing the necessary technology.
How to Use Customer Hubs to Execute Successful Digital Programs That Are Truly Strategic
A customer hub (like the ones powered by EverAfter) is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a successful digital customer success program. It's a centralized platform, a one-stop-shop, that provides customers with all the resources they need to navigate their journey independently and efficiently. But how do you leverage customer hubs to ensure your digital programs are truly strategic and effective, here are a few ways:
Present relevant case studies - These are real-world examples of how other customers have successfully used the product or service. In a digital customer success program, case studies can be easily accessible to customers and may include information on specific industries, customer challenges, and solutions. When using a customer portal to host the digital program, you’ll be able to present each customer the relevant case studies that can help them see the value in potential expansion opportunities and feature adoption, based on a predefined set of criteria or based on questions asked on the portal, that impact the content presented real-time.
Include success plans - These are tailored plans for each customer, outlining specific goals and objectives for their use of the product or service. Customer success teams might work in collaboration with the customer to design their plan when its a high-touch account, or will include automation rules in order to present the relevant plan to the relevant customer using a set of questions that impact the plan strategy. In a digital customer success program, success plans can be easily accessible and updated by both the customer and customer success team.
Showcase a personalized knowledge base - This is a repository of information and resources that are tailored to each customer's specific needs and goals. The knowledge base may include product documentation, tutorials, and best practices, as well as information specific to the customer's industry or use case. In a digital customer success program, the knowledge base can be easily accessible to customers and updated in real-time, based on automation rules that impact which content will be presented when.
Using a digital CS program through a customer portal software, companies are able to even show specific users within each customer account, the relevant knowledge base content, defined by their user persona. For example, the admin user might see integrations information, while the finance user will see info on how to access the latest billing information.
Why it's Not Just About Onboarding Programs
While onboarding plays a critical role in shaping the customer experience, a digital customer success program goes beyond that. It covers the entire customer journey, from onboarding to usage, value realization, renewal, and advocacy.
An effective program doesn't just make the first impression; it consistently reinforces positive customer sentiment throughout their journey. It continuously demonstrates the value of your product or service, helping to transform one-time buyers into loyal customers and, eventually, advocates for your brand.
Remember, customer success is a continuous journey, not a destination. By leveraging the power of digital customer success programs, you can unlock unprecedented growth, creating a customer base that's not just satisfied, but truly successful.