The maturing of customer success (CS) and customer experience (CX) practices grants us the opportunity to reflect on how industry practices have evolved. We have increased clarity regarding best ways to deliver value and experience in the most resource-effective and scalable manner. We have learned that many of the early approaches to building and delivering customer success and support services are often not the best. Sadly, many of these ineffective approaches are still used today.
It is time to flip our approach.
Traditional Approach to CS: High-Touch First
In the early days of CS, the primary focus for many organizations was on how to protect revenues and retain the largest customers. In many cases, this meant focusing on just a handful of large customers, often representing 80+ percent of revenue.
The tendency was to quickly provide high-touch (or “white glove”) services to these customers. These services typically involved providing dedicated staff that worked hands-on with the customers. While often effective, this costly approach requires lots of human resources and is not scalable.
Additionally, this approach of focusing mainly on large customers meant that small and medium-sized customers often received little or no resources to help them reach their goals.
Shifting Customer Preferences
During FLOURISH Executive Roundtables hosted by Zoomin, numerous CS and CX leaders shared growing evidence that their customers – including their largest customers – prefer to solve their problems on their own, without being dependent on CS or support staff.
Customers report that when they have access to the content and resources they need, they can solve problems faster and easier on their own. The old assumption that customers want to talk to a person is not proving to be true.
This provides an opportunity to shift strategy towards making customers successful while also delivering the type of experience they want.
Flip The Model to Increase Success
CX/CS leaders at the FLOURISH roundtables report that they are beginning to flip the model.
Instead of prioritizing high-touch services that only benefit their largest customers, leading organizations are instead prioritizing streamlining access to the content and resources that are needed by all customers. They then identify and provide any additional “white glove” services that are only available to their premium customers.
By embracing a “rising tide lifts all boats” approach, vendors are able to increase the success of all customers and improve the experience for everyone in a more cost-effective and scalable way.
5 Steps to Flip The Model
Here are five steps that can help to flip the model:
1. Identify the barriers that are common across your entire customer base that prevent customers from achieving success with your products on their own. Prioritize this list based on the issues that have the biggest negative impact on customers and that are hardest for customers to solve on their own.
2. Determine the content, resources and tools that enable customers to solve their own problems and achieve success without requiring you to deliver hands-on, live support from your staff. You now either need to build these resources (for content specific to your product) or acquire them from third parties (for content related to non-product specific tools, such as helping your customers with project management or change management.)
3. Provide access to the content and tools you need to deliver to your customers. This involves having intuitive, easy-to-use systems that provide your customers the documents, videos, guides, and related materials. It may also involve taking a product-led success approach, where you embed key reporting, links to your content, and other success resources directly in your product.
4. Once you have built and delivered these resources to your customers, you then need to drive your customers to embrace these resources, getting them to always adopt a “self-service first” approach. Customers should be encouraged to only contact you after they have tried to resolve issues on their own. This requires a change in how you engage existing and new customers to help them see the value in using these resources to quickly solve their problems and increase their success.
5. Once your customers start embracing your content and resources, you can then focus on identifying what additional resources, services, and support you can provide just to your high-touch customers to further enhance their experience and increase their success. Since many of your high-touch customers will already solve a lot of their challenges on their own from the resources you have built, this gives you an opportunity to add some truly high-impact services that will wow these high-touch customers even more!
The flip model described above enables you to better support your entire customer base in achieving success. It requires changes to how you structure your team, and it will shift the focus of your team from prioritizing high-touch customer engagement, to instead focus on developing and maintaining high-impact content that customers can use on their own.
Embracing this approach requires making other adjustments to your organization, such as changing how you staff and manage teams, as well as the tools you need to build to manage content. You will need to shift your internal processes and perhaps your key internal metrics.
Whilst transitioning to a flip model is certainly challenging, once in place however, this new approach is incredibly scalable and empowers driving success with all customers!