“If you don’t know what you want, you will be unlikely to get it.” -Ben Horowitz-
The first step is determining what “customer success” looks like in your organization. You need to understand who is responsible for customer satisfaction (likely everyone in your organization), what metrics are most indicative of success in your organization, and how you can incentivize those responsible for driving customer growth based on those metrics or goals.
“Customer education is a built-in problem that needs to be addressed before, during, and after a challenging product is brought to market.” -William Craig-
Why? – It gets everyone speaking the same languages, explains to them why your product is valuable, and helps set expectations for what the product should be able to do.
What? – Usually comes in the form of articles, blog posts, SlideShares, eBooks, webinars… primarily awareness-driven content, but can also continue throughout the lifetime of the customer.
When? – Starts very early on, since this is a way to get everyone on the same page. Needs to start before they purchase your product/service, but should continue throughout your relationship.
Where? – On your public-facing website or blog, on other industry websites, in your sales enablement collateral
Do you have lots of great content, but not enough people know about it? We've had a lot of success with the Resources section of our website. See below screenshots of our MSP Resource Center and MSPedia!
This is slightly different than education in that it is more specific to your product. While education is about getting users to use the correct language and help them understand what they can do with their IT and why they should want to, onboarding should be a bit more hands-on and show them all of the different ways that they can apply those best practices while leveraging your technical support.
- Education=RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution eBook
- Onboarding=Continuum University RMM course to teach partners how to use our technology
Some companies bleed education directly into onboarding, like HubSpot does with their academy. It starts as an education tool for Inbound Marketing, but also gives into tutorials about using their product.
Why? – Allows you to front-end any issues that may arise, and prepares the customer to be successful with the product. If they have to continually reach out to account management or support, they will not feel like they are being successful with your offering or that they are being efficient with their time. For instance, do they know which numbers to call or people to contact in the event of an IT emergency?
What? – Onboarding videos about what to expect over the first few weeks/months, web-based hubs with FAQs/documentation, email drips that actually help them be successful, then cross-sell/upsell.
What about Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and quarterly business reviews (QBRs)? SLAs set expectations for what kind of support customers will receive, so you should definitely make sure they have them documented and accessible somewhere. Also, as part of onboarding support, customers should know you'll be helping to set and track goals and that regular business reviews or QBRs are just one way you can make sure these business needs are met.
When? – Depending on your business model, this should either happen during the trial period or directly following the sale. You must make that customer feel success within the first few months of working with you.
Where? – On your website, in their inbox (if needed), or potentially behind a closed customer portal. The easier and more integrated within your environment, the better.
“If you operate an email service like MailChimp, the client’s success doesn’t happen when they send out a mass emailing. Success only happens if they achieve a high open rate.” -Nichole Elizabeth DeMere-
Why? – Customer success isn’t just about leveraging your technology stack without needing to bug support twice a week – it’s about the user’s ability to justify the cost of your services by demonstrating definitive value.
What? – Templates or tools that will, directly or indirectly, help your customer be successful with your offering. Content that they can use to supplement the benefits of your services. An example of this would be a handout on HIPAA that your customers in the healthcare vertical could brand with their own hospital information and distribute to patients.
When? – As soon as they are comfortable with your IT solution. Don’t overwhelm them with enablement while they’re still trying to learn the ins-and-outs of your solution. Give this to them as an added value once they are already feeling minor success.
Where? – It can be public, but it can also have more value if it is hosted in a customer-only location. This gives your customer community a level of value that outsiders don’t have.
Side note: You don't just have customers. You are customers, yourselves. Make sure your vendors are doing everything in their power to drive your success! At Continuum, we recognize that our partners may not necessarily have the time to create custom marketing collateral, just as we understand that there's a learning curve when it comes to actually selling managed IT services. That's why we're constantly creating sales enabelement materials to give partners a competitive edge!
“Millennials spent 30% of their time consuming user-generated content (UGC), and 54% of that group find UGC more trustworthy than content generated by a specific brand.” -Research by Crowdtap-
Why? – This is the pinnacle of customer success. If you can enable user-generated content, it is likely a symptom and a driver of customer success. This will be evidence for other customers that it is possible to be successful with your IT solution, and it will also show them HOW to be successful with it. Social proof and best practices from their peers will lead to further success of your customers. It takes some of the content burden off of the company, and is more trustworthy for prospects. It’s also likely to be the most relatable content for your audience.
What? – The easiest forms of this are customer-written blog posts or customer testimonials. It can also come in the form of information gathered from a community.
When? – Once they have truly become a successful advocate for your managed IT services. Do not try to fake this and do not attempt to generate it too early. Make sure you highlight what true success looks like with your product, and continue to set that bar higher.
Where? – Everywhere you can! On your website, blog, social media, YouTube, at events, etc.
Customer testimonials take your website authority to the next level. Consider adding a few quotes to your home page, and direct traffic to a case study page. Not sure how to go about building customer case studies? We wrote a two-part blog post walking you through the process. You can even download a case study template for your own use! Check out Part 1 and Part 2!
By Gretchen Hoffman
By Gretchen Hoffman