Why a SaaS Customer Success, Customer Experience, and Voice of the Customer Strategy is CriticalSaaS solutions focus on these 3 pillars to design an experience that keeps customers coming back again and again. By: Tonya Sonsini, Director Customer Experience
Customer Success. Customer Experience. Voice of the Customer. Oh My! Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore. If these phrases seem like the latest buzzwords in the SaaS B2B market, designed to make a company sound fresh and hip, then do yourself a favor and read on.
In the early 2000s when the SaaS business model became mainstream, the technical support service world was challenged with a paradigm shift. We moved away from huge investments in physical data centers and soon enough, everything you could imagine was available to you from the cloud. However, there was an unintended consequence: it became easier than ever to rip and replace a technology from your business portfolio. Companies were baffled. It quickly became clear that no matter how wicked cool you think your application is, it may not be enough to keep the interest of the corporate buyer for long. You were in trouble if you didn’t first understand what was truly driving customer choice and change – so how were manufacturers to unravel this conundrum? From this perplexity, the answer was born: the Customer Success Manager.
Customer Support has always existed, but there is a key difference between that function and the concept of the Customer Success Manager. Whereas Customer Support is reactive, Customer Success is a proactive objective. Customer Support fixes immediate problems that the customers report, and is therefore inherently reactive. Something breaks, so the customer contacts support to get it fixed. With short-term subscriptions and no hardware investments, this linear, point-in-time approach proved insufficient to keep customers from shopping elsewhere.
When you boil it down to the basics, a Customer Success Manager’s job is to ensure that customers are happy, satisfied, and receiving value from their investment. This means they need to take advantage of the buyer’s motivation during the purchase phase and multiply that excitement as they onboard, learn, and consume the product. Caring about the customer’s individual use cases and helping define their success criteria builds trust early in their relationship, as the customer gains quick initial return on investment. Defining measurable metrics, celebrating wins, and if necessary, assisting during bumps in the road shows the customer your investment in their long-term goals.
Customer Success Managers’ goals are simple. Keep your assigned customers happy by helping them reach their goals, with smooth and effective communication that empowers them to maximize their return on investment. With quality Customer Success management, your customer ideally becomes an advocate for your solutions.
Customer Experience (CX)
The phrase “Customer Experience” became mainstream after Lou Carbone, known as the father of the experience movement, delivered a keynote address at the 2013 Retail Customer Experience Executive Summit in Louisville, KY. The premise of the message centered around how to keep customers coming back again and again. To fully embrace this conundrum, budding CX teams started studying the emotional factors, expectations, and behavior drivers of their consumers. This goes far beyond, “Does our product work?” by asking the question, “How does our product affect your life, and does it adapt to continuous change?”
Behavior studies show that expectations and all the emotions that go with them change in different stages of decision making. By understanding that, CX teams can build Customer Journey Maps that tie expectations to the phases of the consumption journey. When you fully understand what your customer expects, you have an opportunity to delight them by designing processes that strive to exceed those expectations.
Once you have designed a process that is sure to please, how do you know if it works? CX teams build Listening Posts to collect the true feelings of the customer. Listening Posts are a combination of transactional surveys, in-depth interviews, and operational data collections that are positioned at key lifecycle stages to measure the experience sentiment. Collecting this data and coding it into standard themes allows CX teams to analyze and identify processes that are working and those that are not.
Voice of the Customer (VoC)
The result of a great CX Listening Post program is a collection of Voice of the Customer data. Collecting a sizable database of customer quotes that are tied to the customer journey is a great start, but just the beginning. The next logical question is, “Now what do we do with this data?”
Voice of the Customer is a macro-level study of customer sentiment that is used to help direct attention to the processes that cause the most customer friction. It reduces the tendency to make anecdotal and subjective guesses through data-driven strategic planning. An extra bonus is that it helps each internal team see the big picture more clearly, from the perspective of the customer, thereby uniting all on the common goal of reducing friction points to design a smooth customer experience.
The main objective of the VoC team is to bring the customer perspective into all strategic decision discussions to make it easier for customers to love the experience of being in a relationship with a SaaS provider.
In summary, each of these functions has its own unique tactical objectives, but they all share the common goal of creating a truly customer-centric organization.
At Secureworks® we have fully embraced all of these disciplines to support customers on our cloud-native cybersecurity platform Taegis™. Our CSM program nurtures the individual relationship to ensure goals are reached, our Customer Experience and VoC programs focus on the macro-level opportunities suggested by our customers to improve our offerings. One example of this in action is: We collected feedback through our listening posts that customers would like to gain a better understanding of the platform through varied on-line training options. We listened and developed new services and capabilities to improve our reach to customers with differentiated learning styles. Additionally, we streamlined communications to provide more sequential clarity of process so customers can onboard more confidently and achieve value realization sooner. Part of our differentiation in our market is that we deliver strong security outcomes for our customers through the trifecta of customer success, customer experience, and voice of the customer.
We all win when we make customers happy, because when they are happy, you enjoy a long relationship. If you are lucky, they buy more, and if you are doing everything right, your customers advocate for you in the marketplace.
If you are interested in how we used third parties to quantify the value of Secureworks and benchmark our success, check out Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study for Taegis Managed XDR.