If you are a growth-minded B2B XaaS company, then you are likely “doing” customer success in some fashion or another. Whether you have a dedicated team or have operationalized the discipline of customer success across your organization, you are certainly recognizing the value of existing customers and working to deliver continuous value to make (and keep) them loyal. Increasingly, this approach is being supported with platforms designed specifically for enabling your best Customer Success practices. Operationalizing customer success with a platform that not only helps reduce churn, but also facilitates an increase in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is an investment in your future as a XaaS provider. There are several customer success platforms on the market now, and figuring out what works best in your organization is challenging.
As you scour the market, look for the following 5 most important tools or functions to identify the best Customer Success software for your business:
One: Agile Workflow Management
At the very core of Customer Success management is doing the right work at the right time for the customer. This can be the biggest challenge CS teams have in proving their value, as they are often in charge of many accounts that are in varied states of adoption.
Using an agile approach to Customer Success management allows teams to incrementally build relationships, consistently reevaluate the efficacy of processes, increase flexibility and reduce wasted time. Agile Customer Success is a perfect fit for managing the work involved in delivering ongoing value to customers. To help CSMs continually provide a superior client experience, a customer success platform must itself be agile to compliment the agile nature of the CSMs work. An agile platform is one that doesn’t just list tasks, but has customized rules and triggers that create workflows that coincide with, and enhance, customer maturity and health.
Two: Cross-Functional Access to All Account Data
John Ragsdale, Distinguished VP Service Technology Research for Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), affirms the importance of cross-functionality and access, “Everyone is responsible for the success of their customers. People should be focused more on CS as a discipline vs CS as a department. This implicates the need for a cross-functional work management solution.”
As organizations recognize that a customer’s success is linked to more than the charter and work of a single department, the need for full access to all account data across the enterprise becomes vital to the growth of loyal customers. A customer success platform must integrate all customer data from every resource. This includes quantitative data about finance, marketing, support, etc., as well as qualitative and historic data that provides a full picture of all customer touchpoints.
Three: Historical Perspective
When did an account launch? Who is the main point of contact? When was the last touchpoint and what was it about? When is the contract up for renewal? These are all vital questions that your customer success platform should be able to answer easily. Don’t take this functionality for granted. The best Customer Success platforms need to have this information readily accessible and consumable. Customer Success Managers should not need to go hunting to find a full history of an account, inclusive of everything they have done, as well as every other touchpoint the customer has had with your organization.
Four: Time Tracking Capability
Time… spent, elapsed, and allotted. Time data is essential to managing and delivering customer success. Without it, you can’t properly plan and forecast. You can’t be efficient. You can’t manage a team or optimize capacity. The best CS platform will have a tool for employees to track effort and a dashboard for managers to view time spent on tasks and accounts. Ideally, a platform will track duration and actual time spent on an account and an activity. Don’t undervalue the importance of time. It’s the variable in making customer success a true green-glove approach (aka – monetizing it).
Five: Ease of Entry and Intuitive UX
If your CSM platform is not user-friendly, it’s likely that company-wide adoption will suffer. UX is a make-or-break for a CS platform, especially if you’re envisioning an enterprise-wide adoption. Nothing makes employees more resistant to adoption than an unintuitive UX. A recent CIO article echoes this perspective on a great user experience stating, “Without a good UX, software users are unlikely to adopt the software, or they’ll use it unwillingly. Poor software adoption can negatively impact the KPIs the organization aimed to improve in the first place.”
Making the Case for a Platform
Companies that have buy-in from executives for a customer success solution need to properly evaluate the platforms available to ensure the best possible fit for their organizations. Attributes that make a stand-out solution include agile workflow management, cross-functional data access, historical perspective, time tracking capability, and ease of entry/functionality. Bolstra customers have seen a 15 percent average increase in customer lifetime value by implementing such a platform — a statistic that reinforces the value that customer success brings when chartered along with a great platform.