What Customers Need To Be Successful

What Customers Need To Be Successful

The end-user view of technical support and customer success.

Customer success is not simply a vendor strategy; it’s what should happen after customers buy your software. When customers buy or subscribe to your product, they have expectations about how the product will help them with their business. They view your product as a tool to drive their business forward — a means to a business end.

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Improve Customer Experiences by Understanding What Users Want and Need

Improve Customer Experiences by Understanding What Users Want and Need

The ability for a service organization to maintain an acceptable level of customer satisfaction and deliver a reasonable customer experience begins with a company’s understanding of what its customers need, want, and expect. When customer expectations are not well known or more importantly not managed – the instances of dissatisfaction will rise.

Availability of Service

Customers’ expect support to be available when they need it. This means that regardless of when the customer needs help they should be able to get it.  This includes both service hours as well as the policies and programs that define entitlement to services.

Satisfiers

  • Robust self-help resources.
  • Free (or included) assisted support.
  • Generous warranty and support policies.
  • 7 x 24 x 365 coverage.

 

Dissatisfiers

  • Restrictive support policies.
  • Limited service hours.
  • Costly service fees.
  • Poor self-help resources.

Knowledge of Service Representative

Customers expect that when they contact you for support the person that provides assistance is knowledgeable and capable of resolving the issue in a timely manner.

There is nothing worse than a situation where the customer feels that they know more than the “expert” providing assistance.

Satisfiers

  • Skilled support reps.
  • Empathetic.
  • Empowered.

Dissatisfiers

  • Unfamiliar with the product.
  • Needs to escalate to someone else.
  • Unable to comprehend problem.

Rapid Response

We live in a world where we expect instant gratification.  Customers expect their problem to be acknowledged quickly and that a response will be provided in a reasonable time.

Satisfiers

  • Immediate acknowledgement of problem submission.
  • Expectations set for the time it will take to get help.
  • Response and follow-up within timeframe established.

 

Dissatisfiers

  • No acknowledgement (e.g. e-mail or web-based cases).
  • Excessive amount of time to receive a response.
  • Failure to set or meet expectations.

Professionalism

Customers want to be treated respectfully.  Most service organizations place a significant emphasis on soft skills, but all it takes is for a customer to feel like they have been slighted for the entire service experience to go downhill.

Satisfiers

  • Acknowledgement that there is an issue.
  • Understanding about the current relationship (e.g. the customer is important).
  • Please, thank you, and apologies when appropriate.

Dissatisfiers

  • Condescending tone.
  • Inability to defuse an escalating situation.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Not hearing the words “sorry.”

Rapid Resolution

Customers want the fastest resolution they can get and are looking for the commitment and effort to quickly work to resolve their issue.

Satisfiers

  • Expectations for the time to resolve.
  • Meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • A shared sense of urgency.

Dissatisfiers

  • No firm commitment to resolution.
  • Failure to meet expectations.
  • Lack of urgency.

Quality of Product

While not a characteristic of service excellence it is frequently cited as a characteristic of the service experience.  Customers don’t want to have to rely on Support for product quality issues, but are often appreciative of help using the product more effectively.

Satisfiers

  • Little or no need for help with errors and bugs.
  • Help using the product more effectively (how-to / application of product).
  • Proactive notification of issues.

Dissatisfiers

  • Excessive issues with product quality and performance.
  • Little to no resolution through fixes and updates.
  • Too many updates.

Complete Resolution

Customers’ expect that the solution offered is complete and effective.  Customers are seldom happy when told to try something and call back if it does not work.

Satisfiers

  • A solution that works the first time.
  • Commitment to see the issue through to resolution.
  • Ability to by-pass the normal queues to reconnect on an open issue.

Dissatisfiers

  • A sense that the rep has brushed off the issue with a suggestion.
  • Solutions that do not work.
  • The need to contact support repeatedly for the same issue.

Self-Help Resources

Customers want to help themselves on their terms and often do not want to rely on service.

Satisfiers

  • Depth and breadth of self-help resources.
  • Answers to their specific problem.
  • Easy to use (search, navigate, etc.).

Dissatisfiers

  • Limited self-help resources.
  • Difficult to use and navigate.
  • Knowledge articles that are difficult to understand.
  • Outdated resources.

Proactive Updates

Customers want to be made aware of updates with an option for their technology to be proactively updated (don’t force the update).

Satisfiers

  • The ability for products to update themselves (don’t force the update).
  • Flexibility to configure how and when products will update.

Dissatisfiers

  • Inability to configure how and when updates occur.
  • A call to support acknowledging that they know about an issue (but made no effort to communicate it proactively).
  • Updates that cause more problems than they fix.

 

 

Support Metrics, Benchmarks and Reporting

Support performance measurement is challenging. Contact me to learn how ServiceXRG can help you gain better insights into Support performance through the use of enhanced metrics, benchmarking and better support performance reporting.

  • Are you measuring the right support metrics?
  • Do you have access to necessary inputs and insights?
  • How well is your Support organization performing?
  • Can you generate the reports you need?

Contact us now to learn how we can help you gain greater insights and optimize Support performance.

Chat with us (see link on right side of screen), send an e-mail to tsweeny@servicexrg.com, or use our contact form.

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Why Your Customers Don’t Renew Service Contracts (and What You Can Do About It)

Why Your Customers Don’t Renew Service Contracts (and What You Can Do About It)

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Why Your Customers Don’t Renew Service Contracts (and What You Can Do About It)

Service organizations — and the businesses in which they operate – are relying increasingly on the subscription model to drive recurring revenue. Therefore it’s increasingly urgent that they dig deep to understand why customers don’t renew AND take strategic action overcome customer objections to renewal.

4 reasons why your customers don’t renew their service contracts

Let’s start with a simple breakdown of the reasons — gleaned from our research — why your customers don’t renew their service contracts with you. In descending order, they are:

  • Cost / Value / Budget — The customer can’t cost-justify renewing.
  • No Longer Use Product — Was it a bad fit? Did they switch to a competitor?
  • Product Reached Maturity — Are they now looking at competitive products?
  • Poor Service Quality — Enough said.

Reasons for Non-Renewal

What can you do about it? Address perceived lack of value.

Among active product users, the most common reason for service contract cancellation is that customers do not perceive that the benefits outweigh the cost of continuing the service.  Others — typically customers using mature products — see little to no risk in not renewing their service contracts. 

Let’s look to see where renewal opportunities lie within these customer populations.

Active Users / Cancelled Service Contracts

For customers that actively use your product but have canceled services, there is still hope for a winback, and the strategy is simple: Re-engage active product users and attempt to convince them of the value of your service.

BUT shortcuts won’t help you.  Email and automated campaigns will not be enough. 

Call these customers. Listen to their concerns. You will learn VOLUMES about why customers canceled (price, lack of use, product issues, etc.). Their feedback is priceless; put it to use. Consider making modifications to your service (better entitlements and/or lower price, e.g.) to make it more appealing.

Active Users / At-Risk Service Contracts

Chances are good that you have active customers that would like to cancel but are not willing to accept the risks associated with lack of service or out-of-date software. The mere fact that they would like to cancel places their service contract renewal at risk.

You still have time to protect these relationships. Work with your potentially at-risk customers to help them fully use and realize the value of their service. Consider the following actions:

  • Interact with customers throughout the relationship — don’t just wait for them to call you. Interaction can occur through a support case, a proactive call to the customer, an informative e-mail newsletter, and publication of useful self-help resources (blog, wiki, knowledge base).
  • Report progress relative to success plans, support plans, and journey maps.
  • Make sure that customers are taking advantage of the services offered through the service relationship.
  • Meet service-level commitments and make sure that customers are aware of your performance.
  • Conduct periodic health checks and account reviews (quarterly business reviews or more frequent, e.g.) with both technical and business unit stakeholders.
  • Leverage each customer interaction as an opportunity to reinforce the value and necessity of the service relationship.
  • Establish a service usage “statement” that highlights the type and frequency of services used. Provide customers with evidence about the benefits they receive.

What about customers who no longer use your product?

The second most common reason for service cancelations occurs when customers stop using your products or have difficulty using them in the first place. Once this occurs — for whatever reason —  you have few options to win the customer back. This only underscores the importance of customer relationship maintenance as I’ve outlined above.

The 3 keys to minimizing service contract cancellations: Onboard, Adopt, Success

The best strategies to minimize service contract cancellations cancelations due to lack of use is to develop good onboarding, adoption, and success practices. These will help ensure that your customers can use and apply your products effectively. Consider the following actions:

  • Develop customers’ product skills by offering easy-to-access and affordable (preferably free) training programs.
  • Help customers define and achieve success through success planning.
  • Define journey maps, and provide coaching and guidance to help customers attain specific outcomes.
  • Do not wait for customers to call with problems, engage customers proactively through automated and personal methods.
  • Offer or extend proof of concept, architecture, and design guidance.
  • Define and monitor customer adoption (extent and frequency of use) and success (impact of use) metrics.
  • Assign success managers or teams to monitor and drive customer adoption and success rates.
  • Monitor product performance and service use.
  • Conduct periodic health checks and account reviews.
  • Offer a portfolio of value-added outcome services.

Optimize Renewal Practices

The actions you take to secure the service renewal are fundamental to success.  Great programs and great relationships can be undermined by simple breakdowns in renewal procedures.  The costliest process breakdowns include not asking for the renewal or asking the wrong person.  Consider the following:

  • Maintain a relationship with the person(s) responsible for renewing the service contract.
  • Target multiple points of contact for renewal notification.
  • If the primary person leaves find out who will assume responsibility for the relationship.
  • Set clear expectations with the customers about budgeting for contract renewals including any uplifts or add-on fees.
  • Notify customers at least two months prior to renewal expiration.
  • Analyze the reasons customers do not renew.

Service Renewal Benchmarks

Renewal begins on Day 1 of the service contract.

From the day you sell a service contract you need to continually work on the retention of that customer relationship.  The worst thing you can do is wait until 90 days prior to the service contract expiration to send a renewal notice.  Each of the reasons for nonrenewal can be mitigated — or at least minimized — through renewal practices I’ve described above.

It’s basic business, but with the subscription model in ascendency, it matters more than ever: Keep the customers you have and find ways to prevent customers from canceling services in the first place. 

Retention is paramount — make it a strategic priority!

We’re here to help.

Reach out anytime to start the retention conversation. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

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