— March 6, 2018
Customer success isn’t limited to a single department. Every single person at an organization touches the customer lifecycle, whether it’s marketing at the pre-buying stage or product in the adoption stage. While it can be easy to onboard a customer and keep them stuck in a ‘customer-only lane,’ it’s important to realize that all departments have something unique to share with customers, and because of this the customer journey must travel between departments. This is a strategy principle we call “Customer Success as a Culture.”
First, a customer success team must be in charge of defining the customer handoff. Although this workflow spans multiple departments, the customer success team can be thought of like the coach of a well-oiled team. The customer success team tells the players (in this example, the other departments) which plays to run and how to handle certain situations. Here is a brief playbook on how customer success teams can define customer handoff and streamline the customer success journey between departments.
Align Handoffs, Data Collection, and Success Metrics Between Departments
First, it’s imperative to align departments across the entire customer journey. This means outlining clear touchpoints, data, success metrics, and outcomes to collect at each point of the customer lifecycle.
Here are a few handoff areas to discuss as you align your departments around customer success:
Brand Impact: How is a potential customer engaging with your brand? What data can marketing collect up front to insure fit and success? What types of marketing content have they opened? What is the value point that catches their eye?
Engaging & Evaluation: This is the first step in the ‘sales’ process. What does your customer seem most interested in, product-wise? How is your sales team building value during the sale? What is the customer’s budget? What are the goals and pain points they are trying to solve? How will you help them solve their pains and achieve their goals (business outcomes)?
Buying: Why did the customer choose to go with your company? What are the outcomes they are looking to achieve? What promises were made on both sides? What are they sticking points or risks?
Onboarding: This stage is where customer success finally becomes involved. How easy is the onboarding process for a customer? Were any red flags raised after the initial purchase? How quickly did you onboard the customer? Customer satisfaction during and after onboarding. Did you accomplish the customer’s first value?
Adoption and Growth: Now that the initial group is using a product, it’s time to spread the product across an entire organization. Multiple departments, from product to support and even to marketing, have a hand in promoting adoption across an organization.
Outcomes (Value Realization): What are some quantifiable metrics a customer has seen? What was the ‘ah-ha’ moment that made the customer realize they were seeing value? What are the quantifiable positive outcomes? Is there any success story or case study to be created from this use case?
Renewal: What is standing in the way of 100% satisfaction? Are there any product updates or releases that could appease this account? What made the customer decide to renew?
Customer Success as a Culture
When all departments are aligned to clear success metrics and customer outcomes, it becomes easy to track customer satisfaction and sentiment from the first conversation and progressing throughout the entire customer journey. Understanding what each department is responsible for what at the most detailed level can help an entire organization uncover where inefficiencies lie and where processes can be improved. Having an organization-wide customer journey map in place can also identify hidden value points for increased customer satisfaction.
One thing to keep in mind is that although every department may be looking for specific customer metrics, it’s important to grade the interdepartmental switch. Was the transition bumpy or cohesive for a customer? Did an interdepartmental handoff lead to a customer churn? It’s fundamental for the customer success team to keep a pulse on all of these touch points to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Define Customer Handoffs
Once an organization is on the same page when it comes to what types of metrics and data to look for, it’s time for defining the actual customer handoff. Departmental leaders must make a clear plan of who is responsible for what, where, at which point during the customer journey. This is also where an organization can determine how customer data will be gathered and transmitted between departments.
Although the customer success team is the coach of the customer journey and should be responsible for collecting and aggregating customer journey data, it’s up to individual departments to collect and deliver this not only to the customer success teams, but also to all subsequential departments that are involved in the customer journey. This way everyone is aware of all to dos, red flags, or issues coming down the pike.
Reviewing the Customer Journey
Organizations cannot just forget about a customer once they’re signed, just as a company cannot forget about an account once it’s no longer a critical sales play. Every department presents a unique opportunity for a customer to learn, grow, and succeed with outcomes. How is your team defining customer handoffs between departments?