— July 22, 2019
The digital transformation of business has created a customer-centered economy where customers seek short-term commitments and value choice, flexibility, and personalized service. This has irrevocably changed how enterprises need to approach customers. Instead of capturing the bulk of customer value at the initial sale, digital companies now rely on an ongoing process of renewal and upsell that can potentially continue for years.
The challenge is to focus on nurturing customer relationships and prioritizing existing customers rather than hunting down new ones. Like farmers cultivating an orchard, enterprises must promote the growth of customers through personalized engagements that lead to repeated revenue yields, or harvests, throughout the customer life cycle. By constantly helping your customers grow, your enterprise will reap substantial long-term rewards.
How to Nurture the Customer Relationship
The goal in this nurturing approach to customer relations is to yield stable profits over many years. By investing in the long-term success of customers, you can draw repeated yield through subscription renewals and upsells that result from customer lifetime value while also providing consistent value to your customers. And this repeated revenue stream is the lifeblood of SaaS and related enterprises.
In order to retain customers, you need to create a positive customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. As such, your entire enterprise needs to adopt a customer-centered approach. Every time customers engage with you, they should feel understood, valued, and acknowledged.
There are several ways to inspire the feeling that the customer is at the center of everything you do, including:
Share Insight Across the Enterprise
Customer satisfaction is the responsibility of every member of an enterprise. By sharing customer data across functions and teams, you can ensure that every engagement is informed and personalized. This means every customer-facing team member should have access to customer data and that cross-function communication should be encouraged.
Track the Right Metrics
In order to satisfy your customers, you first need to understand them. By focusing on metrics that closely influence business outcomes, you can better provide value. Key metrics include:
- Business metrics that demonstrate how product engagement affects revenue.
- Adoption metrics that reveal how a customer uses the product.
- Outcome metrics that reflect product ROI.
Remember, customer metrics should always lead to action. Take the information and use it to generate customer value.
Prioritize Ongoing, Value-Driven Communication
Every customer communication should be informed by their unique journey. You should be keeping an eye out for changes in product usage, feature engagement, and where a given customer is on their journey. Using this personalized data makes it possible to have meaningful conversations that reflect and enhance a customer’s business reality.
Invest in Current Customers
Your customers can make your enterprise better. By monitoring their interactions with the product and listening to their feedback, you can produce more effective and productive solutions. For example, if a customer is having trouble integrating a product feature into their workflow, it could be a sign that the onboarding process was lacking. By working with the customer to produce a better outcome, you not only improve their experience but also make it easier to deliver value to future customers. As such, customers can play a vital role in updating, streamlining, and improving your process.
Don’t underestimate the value a satisfied customer can deliver to your brand image either. Customers don’t exist in a vacuum. Their experience, both negative and positive, will make its way to the attention of other potential customers.
Tools for Nurturing the Customer Relationship
At the heart of the customer success process lies the customer success platform. This living repository of customer data captures and analyzes information from every customer engagement, including:
- Financial: Contract and transactional data.
- Voice of Customer: Survey responses and satisfaction scores.
- Personal: Behavioral data and demographics.
- Product Usage: Features being used and frequency of use.
- Support: Helpdesk tickets and support status.
- Touchpoints: Logged interactions with anyone in the enterprise.
Use this information to guide customer success efforts and take proactive action to deliver value to customers—value that ultimately sustains both parties.
Nurturing the Customer Relationship is Essential
Thriving in the era of digital service delivery requires us to revisit some old ideas about creating long-term value. Like the farmers that intimately tend their orchards in order to sustain their own growth, enterprises need to develop a nurturing relationship with customers in order to prosper themselves.
Your success is undeniably linked to your customers’ success. Their continued experience of value creates loyalty that leads directly to the dependable, recurring revenue of annual renewal and upsells. If you invest time in making your customer success team and your product essential to your customer’s daily workflow, then they will repay you with years of continued growth.