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How to Build a Killer Customer Success Program

Posted by Dania Lieberthal on October 18, 2017

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Earlier this year, we hosted a webinar outlining the key factors for SaaS companies to consider when building a customer onboarding program.

Today, we’re taking a step back to explore another critical milestone: building a customer success (CS) program. We’ve broken the process down into two distinct parts that we hope will provide a strong foundation for other SaaS companies looking to develop or elevate their existing CS programs. 

Continue reading to learn about two key steps for Customer Success teams: discovery, and establishing your customer lifecycle.

  1. Discovery: Talk to Stakeholders and Set Goals

Like any new project, getting input from all relevant parties will prove invaluable as you begin to shape your customer success program. By the end of the discovery phase, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of:

  • What’s working well?
  • What can be improved?
  • What should our focus be right now, as well as in the future?

To get these answers, sit down with your stakeholders and have honest conversations. That list of stakeholders should include:

  • Your Customer Success team
  • Sales
  • Product & Development
  • Marketing
  • Customers (select group).

Your discovery conversations will undoubtedly yield a healthy number of insights and requests. Often, the points expressed by multiple stakeholders will help you cut through the noise and identify what’s critical for the company right now. It’s also important to track the things you won’t be able to get to right away. Keep this list handy and refer back to it as you define and set goals for each quarter.

After reviewing key takeaways from your stakeholder conversations, you can then set goals based on the following questions: 

  • Should we be in cost-cutting mode?
  • Do we need to double down on reduction of churn?
  • Are we in a steady state where expansion can be the focus?
  1. Establish Your Customer Lifecycle

Now that you have substantial data points around your existing CS program, the next step is to begin mapping out your customer lifecycle.

First, look at the pre-sales process and follow all the way through to renewal or expansion, which typically begins the cycle. What does the full lifecycle look like? Who is involved in each stage, both from the customer’s side, and your company’s side? Be sure to identify clear “owners” of customer health at each stage with your company.

Second, identify what tools are needed at each stage of the customer lifecycle. For example, your sales team may use an ROI calculator to help establish a business case, or your onboarding team could have a project planner to assist with implementation post-sale. At this point, you'll also want to identify the customer outcomes for each stage. You can then share these with your customers as you lead them through each stage.

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Topics: Customer Success

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