Eight Strategies for Keeping in Touch with Customers

Eight Strategies for Keeping in Touch with Customers

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Eight Strategies for Keeping in Touch with Customers

Inactive customers may be less costly to serve, but they’re more likely to churn. Keeping in touch with customers is essential to developing, retaining, and growing customer relationships—and these eight best practices can help.

Healthy customer relationships require an ongoing dialogue. This dialogue consists of a mix of:

  • Regular interactions through digital media
  • Self-help materials
  • User communities
  • Direct interaction with your Support and Customer Success team members

To accelerate time-to-value, nurture long-term relationships, and drive recurring revenue, leverage these eight strategies for keeping in touch with customers:

  1.  Develop a communications plan based on onboarding programs, success plans or journey maps to determine type and frequency of contact.
  2. Proactively communicate with customers on a regular basis through newsletters, social media, blog posts and contact by Customer Success team members.
  3. Introduce best practices and new ways for customers to use and apply your products through workshops and webinars.
  4. Extend relationships beyond technical points of contact to end-users and executive stakeholders.
  5. Prioritize proactive contact based on customer relationship value.
  6. Look for opportunities to expand quantity and quality of interactions through digital outreach.
  7. Conduct periodic Executive or Quarterly Business Reviews (EBR / QBR) with customers.
  8. Proactively contact inactive customers to determine the reason for inactivity and what actions, if any, can be taken to preserve the relationship.

How much customer interaction is enough? How can you better keep in touch with your customers?

I’m 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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Six Steps to Effective Customer Success Planning

Six Steps to Effective Customer Success Planning

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Six Steps to Effective Customer Success Planning

Customer Success doesn’t just happen. It requires intentional, meaningful engagements across the product lifespan. Take these 6 steps toward more effective Customer Success Planning.

Sounds obvious, but it isn’t always: Customer Success Planning starts with how your customers (not your company) define success with your products and services. When you clearly understand what your customers’ expectations are, your organization can then align resources to help them achieve their desired outcomes.

It is possible that a customer’s expectations will only “scratch the surface” of what your product can do, or what they can do with it. This is the most fertile ground for nurturing Customer Success and growth — because when you can augment their desired outcomes with an enticing and useful positioning of what’s possible, you’re exceeding expectations.

The Success planning and management process is ongoing — from the initial Sales engagement, through product adoption and use, to value realization. Knowing this, you can help your customers define and achieve their desired outcomes by developing success plans.

To accelerate time-to-value, sustain long-term relationships, and drive recurring revenue, leverage these six steps to effective Customer Success planning:

  1. Engage customers to understand their needs and expectations of your products. Use automated (e-mail, web-based surveys, etc.) or direct engagement (phone, video conference, on-site) methods.
  2. Identify customer-focused success criteria and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  3. Work with customers to develop a success plan.  Use the plan as a basis for aligning resources and setting expectations for service types and levels.
  4. Define journey maps to attain specific outcomes.  Introduce the practices and methods necessary to achieve defined goals. Journey maps may address the needs of many customers or be tailored to the needs of a specific customer.
  5. Establish success metrics to indicate progress against a success plan or journey map.  These may be standalone indicators of success or part of an overall customer health metric.
  6. Keep success plans up-to-date and relevant through periodic business reviews to assess progress against the current plan.  Regular interactions may be conducted informally or through Executive or Quarterly Business Reviews. (EBR / QBR).

 

How effectively do you help your customers plan for success?

I’m 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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Five Customer Engagement Best Practices to Develop, Retain, and Grow Relationships

Five Customer Engagement Best Practices to Develop, Retain, and Grow Relationships

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Five Customer Engagement Best Practices to Develop, Retain, and Grow Relationships

Authentic customer engagement is vital to long-term positive relationships with the people who use your products and services. From onboarding to adoption and value realization, your organization should be generating a regular cadence of customer interactions. How do your current interactions stack up to these five customer engagement best practices?

Effective engagement activities start with understanding your customers’ desired outcomes. They continue with interactions that help them plan for success with your products and services.

Within all those interactions, it’s critical that clear expectations be set for the type and level of services you can provide your customer. When all members of your team know these expectations, they can then focus of meeting them—and strive to exceed them.

To accelerate time-to-value, nurture long-term relationships, and drive recurring revenue, leverage these five customer engagement best practices:

 

1. Sales Hand-Off

Define an effective hand-off from the Sales to Service team.

2. Onboarding

Provide self-guided or assisted onboarding to all new customers.

3. Customer Outcomes Assessment

Identify customer needs and desired outcomes.

4. Success Planning

Provide self-guided or assisted success planning.

5. Regular Interactions

Assess customer health, provide planning and conduct business and technical reviews.

Key Customer Engagement Metrics to Know and Use

To assess the effectiveness of your Customer Engagement activities, consider the following metrics:

  • Success Plan Rate – Percent of eligible customers with success plan.
  • % Onboarded – Percent of new customers successfully onboarded.
  • Time to Value – The average time to achieve outcomes and realize value from product.
  • Adoption Rate – Percent of customers to reach adoption milestones.
  • Customer Touchpoints – The number and frequency of customer interactions through both digital and personal channels.

 

How effective are your customer engagement efforts?

I’m 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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Healthy customer relationships require an ongoing dialogue through digital media, self-help, communities and direct interaction with Support and Customer Success team members. This article introduces eight customer interaction best practices to engage and retain your customers.

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GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

BLOG

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. 

While products form the basis of a customer-vendor relationship, services are the foundation from which post-sales customer relationships are built and sustained.  Services are a natural extension to core product features and offer access to the expertise, skills, and resources that drive customer value.

By Steve Schneider – Co-Founder, WorkRails

Why selling services can be difficult

Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult?

The ability of Sales to sell services is often complicated by inadequate systems and manual processes that reduce the speed and accuracy of service discovery, configuration, and quoting. Inhibitors to service sales are often systemic and arise from programs that are disproportionately focused on selling strictly new products.

Services revenue is more important than ever, and companies must make concerted efforts to help their Sales teams sell services more efficiently.

10 ways to help Sales teams sell services

  1. Make Sales aware of available services.

Sales teams may not be familiar with the extent of services available to customers or recent modifications and enhancements to the catalog of available services. Actively promote the availability and value of services to Sales.

Develop a comprehensive catalog of service programs with up-to-date program descriptions and critical details. Make the service program catalog available digitally in a single, easy-to-find location like a CRM.  Keep Sales up-to-date about enhancements to the service catalog.

  1. Make it easy for Sales to align customer needs with available programs.

The existence of a service catalog does not mean that Sales will know how to align customer needs to available services. Help Sales recognize service opportunities and provide the tools to match needs to available services.

Provide Sales with digital customer journeys, use case examples, and service configuration guidance (configurators). Consider creating predefined service-outcome-based journeys that package multiple service programs to deliver specific customer outcomes, but also support custom SOWs.

  1. Justify service value.

Every service program and service bundle will have an associated price, even if it is discounted. Customers will want to understand the benefits of service offers for the price paid. Be prepared to help Sales justify service value. Establish guidance to suggest the tangible benefits customers can expect, including faster time to benefit; lower costs to implement and maintain; and the attainment of business performance objectives.

Provide Sales with cases studies and quantification tools to help justify the cost of services.

  1. Simplify service configuration.

Some service programs will provide standard deliverables and resources, other services must be customized to meet specific customer needs. Make it possible for Sales to customize and configure services to meet the specific scale and scope of customer needs. Integrate configuration tools with the ability to create customized service quotes.

Provide Sales with access to easy-to-use sales enablement and on-line configuration tools to capture required information needed to customize service quotes.

  1. Streamline proposal creation.

Creating a service proposal should not be complicated. To simplify service proposal creation, use configured services information to automatically build proposals with up-to-date program descriptions, terms, and conditions. Provide the means to pull information from existing systems and integrate customer-specific configuration inputs to create customized service proposals.

Provide Sales with the proposal-generating tools necessary to generate customer-ready documentation quickly and easily.

  1. Digitize pricing, discounting, and Sales policies.

Pricing should not be a mystery and Sales should not have to hunt for quotes. Provide a digital experience for Sales and Service team members to dynamically create quotes based on customer needs. Add pricing and sales policies to your services catalog and keep all data up to date and relevant in one central repository. Assure that pricing and sales policies are clearly delineated by regions.

Provide Sales with a digital platform to generate quotes on demand based on customer requirements.

  1. Automate approval workflows.

Take the guesswork out of pricing and discounting by establishing clear sales policies and approval guidelines. Automated, end-to-end service sales workflows and approvals assure that proposals are aligned with current sales policies.

Provide Sales with clearly defined sales policies related to pricing discount and approvals. Provide digitally enabled processes for creating and routing new proposals to the appropriate internal resources for approval—deal desks or executives— with the ability to capture customer approvals digitally.

  1. Seamless system integration

Selling services should not require extraordinary efforts by Sales. Disparate systems that require time and effort to keep up to date can increase the time to close new service deals and lead to errors and inaccuracies.  implify the service sales process by integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM),  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), and other back-end systems that enable service sales actions such as configuration, pricing, quoting, booking, and scheduling new services.

Remove the burden on Sales teams to update multiple disparate systems by providing seamless system integration across the end-to-end service sales process.

  1. Incent action.

Streamlining and simplifying the end-to-end service sales process will help Sales sell services, but it may not be enough. If you want Sales to take an interest and commit time and efforts to selling services recognize and incent action. Structure compensation, goals and KPIs to properly align products and services.

Incent Sales to sell the right services to the right customers and adhere to established service sales policies and guidelines.

  1. Measure and improve.

Monitor the effectiveness of service sales actions to identify which service programs are most often purchased and w messaging and sales resources are most useful for closing service deals. Evaluate the effectiveness of selling platforms and processes to further streamline the service sales process.

Continually monitor service sales performance and engage with Sales teams to assure that service offers are aligned with current customer needs; sales resources are effective; and that systems and processes are streamlined.

Help your Sales team sell services.

Services and the means to sell them are imperative. With the right resources Sales can quickly and accurately discover, understand, configure, price, and quote services. Effective service sales capabilities create opportunities for recurring revenue retention and growth. Help your Sales team sell services by providing the information, systems, and processes they need.

Service sales can be complex and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

About WorkRails

WorkRails has reinvented how software companies sell services to their customers.  With over $700 billion a year spent on technology services, we were shocked to see the most advanced companies relying on old documents, spreadsheets and predominantly manual processes to drive such an important part of their business.

Through automation, WorkRails makes selling services easy, fast and more accurate for our clients, saving them time and money.  Our SaaS solution powers an e-commerce experience for services employees, clients and partners that increases adoption and reduces errors.  Our clients include some of the top software companies in the world.

Learn More about WorkRails at https://www.workrails.com/

 

Match Customers with the right services.
Close more deals faster.

On-Demand Webinar:

Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

co-presented by ServiceXRG and WorkRails

 

How to Sell Services Faster and More Accurately, from ServiceXRG and WorkRails

Is It Time to Modernize Your Service Portfolio?

Is It Time to Modernize Your Service Portfolio?

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Is It Time to Modernize Your Service Portfolio?

Modern, well-defined post-sales service portfolios that combine elements of Customer Support and Customer Success can significantly increase your ability to help customers use and apply products; reduce churn; and expand revenue growth.

Moving beyond support-only to modernized service portfolios

Traditionally, Support and maintenance programs have been the foundation of many post-sales service portfolios. However, Support offers alone are not adequate to reduce churn and grow customer relationship value. The addition of Success-focused services broadens your offerings to help customers use and apply your products more effectively. Modernized service portfolios — with combined Support and Success-focused entitlements — is the future.

Adding Success entitlements

Establishing a clear focus and intent for post-sales services will help you define the type of service portfolio you need, and also suggest the entitlements to include in your modernized service portfolio. If you are creating or modernizing your service portfolio to offer more than reactive problem resolution assistance, consider adding Success-focused assistance such as:

  • Account management
  • Expert Coaching
  • Onboarding
  • Planning
  • Health Checks and Assessments
  • Skills Development

Support vs. Success — understand the difference as you modernize your service portfolio.

Success entitlements differ from Support entitlements because they extend services that help customers derive maximum value from your products (as opposed to reactive customer issue resolution):

Support

Success

  • Support services focus primarily on issue resolution.
  • Support services help customers implement, configure, and administer products more effectively.
  • Support tools monitor issues and provide recommendations to mitigate problems.
  • Support provides access to updates, upgrades and/or parts.
  • Time to respond and resolve issues, product performance and availability, and customer satisfaction are key indicators of Support effectiveness.
  • Success entitlements help customers achieve business outcomes by helping them adopt and use products effectively.
  • Success provides onboarding assistance to help customers get started with new products.
  • Success consultation and guidance helps customers plan and apply products.
  • Success entitlements help customers use the full functionality of a product.
  • Adoption, success, retention, and growth of recurring revenue are key indicators of Success program effectiveness.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations

Note that Success programs may include support services, but Support programs typically do not include success-focused services. When you modernize and sharply define your service portfolios, you can offer customers a hybrid approach that provides them with both high-value Support and Success capabilities. As a result you can significantly increase your ability to:

  • help customers use and apply products
  • reduce churn
  • expand revenue growth.

Your aim should be to leverage market-leading service principles to define and modernize service portfolios that your Sales team can sell and customers will value. World-class, post-sales service portfolios should offer:

  • services that respond to product issues and offer expert guidance—helping customers adopt and use products effectively.
  • access to skills, resources, and expertise from across all service departments including Support, Professional Services, Education, and Customer Success.
  • flexible program structure and purchase options, enabling customers to easily access the right services at the right time as their needs evolve.

Modernizing your Service portfolio—take the next steps.

Is it time to update your service portfolio or add Customer Success programs extensions and add-ons? Give us a call. We can help you define, price, and launch successful new service offers.
ServiceXRG provides portfolio design and pricing services based on extensive best practices research, competitive analysis, and proven methods to develop programs that your customers want and Sales can sell.

Let’s talk about how to build great service programs.

Contact ServiceXRG by chat (click the blue button at bottom right) or e-mail now, or click on my calendar to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs.

Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

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Beyond NPS: Eight Metrics for Support and Success

High customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores as the desired outcome of Support and Customer Success interactions, while positive, is not enough because it does not connect service delivery excellence with tangible business outcomes.

Why NPS is Not Enough for Support and Success

Support and Success must be focused on the attainment of tangible business objectives. For the customer, this implies that Support or Success interactions must help the customer apply a product successfully. For the business, providing these services must contribute to retaining relationships with hopes of expanding their value. This is why organizations must look beyond NPS (Net Promoter Score) when measuring the impact of Support and Success on lifetime customer value.

Attainment of high Net Promoter Scores, while positive, is not enough to indicate that “promoters” will correlate to the positive outcomes the business expects. The measure of Support and Success must be tangible and focused on “end game” results such as:

  • Can the customer use the product?
  • Can customers achieve tangible business outcomes by using the product?
  • Did support or success services help the customer attain their goals?
  • How will the customers’ ability to achieve their desired outcomes influence their ongoing relationship?

Beyond NPS: The Right Metrics for Support and Success

What is the primary reason for offering Support and Success services?  In most cases these organizations are aligned to help customers adopt and apply products successfully. The rationale is if customer can use and apply products successfully, you will increase the likelihood that you can retain and expand these relationships.  A single, simple measure such as NPS cannot provide sufficient insight to indicate that Support and Success efforts are resulting in tangible business benefit.

Consider the following eight metrics for determining the impact of your post sales services.

Metric

Description

1. Onboard

The percent on that new customers have received formal onboarding guidance.

2. Adoption

The rate that customers have met adoption milestones.

3. Success

The percent of customer that have reached established performance goals or milestones on defined journey map.

4. Availability

The rate that customers business operations have not be interrupted due to downtime or outages.

5. Engagement Quality

The percent of all customer engagements that result in positive outcomes.

6. Retention

The percent of active customers that have committed to renew an existing relationship.

7. Health

The relative health of a customer relationship based on the composite rates of adoption, success, retention, and recurring revenue rates.

8. Net Recurring Revenue

The net growth or contraction of the total recurring revenue relationship value. See How to Measure Net Recurring Revenue

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