Ten Strategies to Build Customer Proficiency

Ten Strategies to Build Customer Proficiency

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Ten Strategies to Build Customer Proficiency

The more you can build customer proficiency with your products, the more good things will happen. You’ll increase product adoption, a positive indicator for future purchases. And you’ll reduce the need for customers to contact your Support teams, giving you more runway to scale your Support operations.

Companies need to look beyond just helping customers help themselves and consider how they can build customers’ expertise so they can use and apply products more competently. Proficiency will require companies to move beyond a reliance on self-help-focused strategies and invest in building the foundational technical and business skills customers need to use products fully and successfully.

Leverage these 10 strategies to build customer proficiency, speed product adoption and reduce the need for support assistance:

  1. Define formal onboarding procedures that can assess customer proficiency and recommend appropriate skills development and training.
  2. Establish a skills inventory and recommended training plan as part of onboarding and adoption planning.
  3. Provide access to on-demand self-paced training and skills development.
  4. Provide access to on-demand live coaching to help customers gain experience and build skills in the context of using a product.
  5. Provide access to instructor led in-person and virtual training programs.
  6. Define learning paths to recommend skills development activities and align with available training resources.
  7. Encourage proficiency development by offering customers incentives to develop product-related skills.
  8. Provide skills inventory and assessment tools and services to assess customer proficiency on an ongoing basis.
  9. Define standards of proficiency and offer assessments and skills certification programs.
  10. Make learning fun for customers and reward proficiency development.

Learn more about Customer Proficiency Metrics that gauge the impact of issue prevention initiatives – Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper:
Four Imperatives for Scaling Support.

 

How successful are your efforts to scale Support?

We’re here to help you do better.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about proven, measurable ways for your Support function to run at greater scale. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

 

Support demand is on the rise. What’s your response plan?

Download the ServiceXRG Whitepaper:

Four Imperatives for Scaling Support

Download Four Imperatives for Scaling Support and discover:

  • The most effective approaches to scaling support — proven in high-volume support organizations.
  • The 4 top strategies to scale support and reduce demand.
  • The best practices that make these strategies effective.
  • The metrics that enable precise tracking of your efforts to scale support.
Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

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Stay Current with Customer Outcomes: Six Best Practices For Ongoing Assessments

Stay Current with Customer Outcomes: Six Best Practices For Ongoing Assessments

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Stay Current with Customer Outcomes: Six Best Practices For Ongoing Assessments

Do you know if customer outcomes for your products and services are improving or declining over time? Customer outcome assessment is an ongoing process; these best practices will shed light on where you’re winning and where you need to do better.

Your customers can be satisfied with many aspects of their relationships with you. But if they’re not achieving the outcomes they expect from your products and services, those relationships are at risk.

To develop and sustain lasting customer relationships, you must have not only a clear understanding of their expectations, but also timely visibility into how and why those expectations may change over time. At all stages of the customer relationship, you must have the insights and ability to help your customers achieve their desired outcomes.

To accelerate time-to-value, sustain long-term relationships, and drive recurring revenue, leverage these six ongoing Customer Outcome Assessment best practices:

  1. Build upon the Sales and Service onboarding process to establish customer needs and expectations.
  2. Define adoption and value attainment milestones to track customer success.
  3. Establish success plans to help customers define their desired outcomes and establish a plan to work towards these goals.
  4. Survey and interact with customers to determine the extent to which customers believe they are making progress against their goals and objectives.
  5. Use Executive or Quarterly Business Reviews (EBR / QBR) to review and assess customer success toward desired outcomes.
  6. Make necessary adjustments to adoption and success plans and modify service resource allocation as necessary.

How well do you understand your customers’ desired outcomes? How effective are you at helping them obtain them?

Were here to help you get the answers you need.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to engage and retain your customers. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

 

Ready to commit to a Customer Success strategy? Learn the 5 critical milestones.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

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Recurring Revenue Rate

The amount of recurring revenue a company receives may increase, stay the same, or decline for a given period. Recurring Revenue Rate indicates the percent change in the amount of recurring revenue at the end of a specified period compared to the recurring revenue at the beginning of the same period. Measuring recurring revenue rate is essential to help identify the factors that lead to revenue retention and attrition and provides an indicator of the overall state of customer relationship health.

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Eight Essential Customer Onboarding Practices

Eight Essential Customer Onboarding Practices

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Eight Essential Customer Onboarding Practices

If customers cannot use your product, then they may learn that they can do without it. Worse, they may find a competing product that they CAN use successfully. Both of these outcomes pose risks to Customer Success and recurring revenue—risks that effective customer onboarding practices can avert.

A successful customer onboarding process is the vital first stage of any productive, long-term customer relationships. It demonstrates your company’s commitment to setting up customers to use and adopt their new product as needed to achieve their desired outcomes — of setting them up for Success!

 Customer onboarding can occur via automated or guided processes. In either case, the core goals are:

  • helping customers engage with your products by eliminating barriers to use
  • introducing them to necessary self-help, assisted support, and training resources that can help assure continued Customer Success

To accelerate customer time-to-value, sustain long-term relationships, and advance recurring revenue goals, implement these eight proven customer onboarding practices:

  1. Communicate with all new customers. Use automated (e-mail, recorded videos) and guided (phone, video conference, on-site, in-program) methods to initiate contact.
  2. For customers with named or assigned account resources (TAMs, CSMs, etc.), introduce the customer to the account team and share contact information.
  3. Assess the customer’s ability to access and apply products.
  4. Identify and remove barriers that may inhibit initial use of the product with setup assistance, training, support, and recommendations for self-help or self-guided resources.
  5. Introduce customers to the services they are entitled to through a welcome kit that describes service program entitlements, including steps for getting help, and how to submit new support cases.
  6. Communicate expectations, responsibilities, and timeline for major onboarding milestones to ensure the best possible time to value.
  7. Establish outcomes and milestones and monitor customer adoption progress to ensure successful initial onboarding.
  8. Assess customer expected outcomes and begin development of adoption and success plans.

How effective are your current customer onboarding practices?

We can help you make them better

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to engage and retain your customers. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

 

Ready to commit to a Customer Success strategy? Learn the 5 critical milestones.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

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Essential Customer Success Activities

Essential Customer Success Activities

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Essential Customer Success Activities

Customer Success—and the recurring revenue it generates—results from a series of intentional, interrelated activities performed throughout the customer relationship lifecycle. As shown in this graphic, effective customer success activities comprise a continuum:

 

Essential Customer Success Activities

Effective Customer Success activities fall into 6 distinct categories.  All are essential, yet recent ServiceXRG research revealed that half of companies surveyed are doing only half the job:

Customer Success Activities Commonly Used

Source: ServiceXRG 2020

Customer Success Activities Defined

Onboarding Activities

Onboarding activities aim to remove barriers that may inhibit successful product use. Onboarding can encompass activities to welcome and introduce customers to the resources necessary to use new products, as well as verification that customers can access and use products.

Onboarding activities can include:

  • Initial welcome
  • Kick-off-meeting
  • Goals and objectives inventory

Success Planning Activities

Success planning helps customers realize the full potential of products. These activities can increase understanding customer business objectives, introducing customers to product capabilities, and aligning services to help yield tangible business results.

Success Planning activities can include:

  • Goal setting
  • Account planning
  • Journey mapping
  • Business reviews

Activities to Drive Adoption

Adoption activities occur throughout the product ownership lifecycle. They are designed to advance Customer Success by encouraging the full and successful use of product features and capabilities by all targeted users.

Adoption activities can include:

  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Best practices
  • Templates

Health Monitoring Activities

By monitoring the customer ownership experience, your team gains insights about the extent to which customers are using products successfully. Early-warning signs of low adoption or low success rates trigger corrective actions.

Health monitoring activities can include:

  • Usage tracking
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Intervention

Customer Retention Activities

Customer retention activities facilitate the contract-renewal actions that are necessary to assure sustained customer relationships and continuation of recurring revenues.

Customer retention activities can include:

  • Renewal notification
  • Budget planning
  • Follow-up
  • Win-loss analysis

Up-sell and Cross-Sell Activities

These expansion activities focus on the growth of customer relationship value by offering additional capabilities or capacity. This is where Customer Success activities pay off in additional, and ideally recurring, revenue.

 

Up-sell and cross-sell activities can include:

  • Account reviews
  • ROI analysis
  • Goal setting
  • Opportunity alignment

Make a plan to optimize Customer Success activities

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies optimize their Customer Success strategies, create action plans, and apply best practices.

Let’s make a plan to optimize your Customer Success Activities.

Contact ServiceXRG via the chat button at bottom right or e-mail now; or click on my calendar to set up an initial assessment of your Customer Success planning needs.

 

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The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

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The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

Our research has revealed that nearly a third (32%) of Support demand stems from questions related to either installation, configuration, or setup. This understanding gives companies an immense opportunity to reduce this demand—and we see two major keys to preventing Support issues on an ongoing basis.

Preventing Support issues starts with customer knowledge.

The more that your customers know, the more capable they are with your product, the less they will require Support. Therefore, we see the two keys to Support issue prevention as Onboarding and Training. It then follows that effective customer onboarding and training will require planning and action on the part of your organization.

The opportunity for greater Support issue prevention is very real: Currently, fewer than a third (28%) of companies have proactive engagement efforts in place to help prevent Support issues. What’s working for them?

Key #1: Onboarding

Proactive Support includes formal efforts to onboard customers with planning resources, as well as guidance and expert resources to assist with installation and configuration. Proactive Support is also triggered by remote monitoring, alerting, and product “call-home” features.

Formal onboarding allows companies to proactively engage customers before they need assisted support. Onboarding practices and resources may consist of digitally available “getting started” checklists, best practice guides, or self-paced training (“tech touch”). Onboarding may also include formalized planning, account management, and coaching with onboarding experts (“high touch”).

Key #2: Training

“How to” questions are another significant source of Support issues. Companies can head off such questions with formal efforts to help customers develop proficiency with their products. These efforts can include (but aren’t limited to) training, knowledge transfer, best practice guides, and coaching.

Be proactive, be early when it comes to preventing Support issues.

Companies that can help customers with formal onboarding and training programs in the early stages of new product adoption are best positioned to mitigate Support demand because:

  • They better equip customers to use the product(s) (and get maximum value) from the start.
  • They connect customers to the resources they need to resolve issues themselves.

Not only do proactive, early onboarding and training prevent more Support issues, they also contribute to Customer Success and increased customer lifetime value.

What more insights about onboarding and practice customer engagement practices? Download the research.

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics.  This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make a plan to get proactive

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance.

Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

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Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

The time and effort to capture what is learned during the Support case management and resolution may seem untenable and an added cost that Support cannot afford. But the missed opportunities and long-term costs are far higher when insights from customer interactions are not fully documented and analyzed.

Support case management missed opportunity #1: incomplete case records

According to ServiceXRG’s new study on Support Practices and Metrics more than 90% of the time and effort spent on Support case management and resolution goes into issue determination and formulation of a response to the customer. As a result, this leaves little time for some of the most important actions necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Support: advancing product quality and innovation and retaining and expanding customer relationships.

The study further finds that only two-thirds (67%) of companies formally document the circumstances of each case in their ticket management system. Even then, their compliance to completely fill in Support case record details is lower than 50%.

These incomplete Support case records diminish Support’s ability to identify root causes of support demand and plan mitigation efforts such as enhanced self-help, product improvements, and training.

Support case management missed opportunity #2: knowledge base neglect

Only 42%, of companies indicate that a knowledge base article is updated or created when a case is closed according to ServiceXRG’s research. The fact that a case was submitted by a customer indicates that there may be a need for information to possibly prevent future support cases from being submitted or help expedite resolution of a case by sharing knowledge among Support team members.

Turn around your missed opportunities with these Support case management best practices:

Apply structured data collection to assure that submitted cases are complete.

Leverage processes and tools to assure that new cases submitted include all information required to begin meaningful issue diagnosis and resolution. Use structured data collection tools such as web-based forms and conversational chatbots. Discourage use of unstructured case submission channels such as e-mail.

Encourage adoption of web-based case submission.

Electronic submission of new cases using structured web-based form is more conducive to automation. Create opportunities for customers to submit support cases through web forms and incent customer adoption of this channel by providing enhanced service levels or other incentives.

Completely document closed cases.

When cases are closed, assure that relevant data attributes and circumstances of the case have been captured.

What more insights about Support case management practice and metrics?

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make your plan to optimize Support case management—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

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