Nine Best Practices to Help Customers Help Themselves

Nine Best Practices to Help Customers Help Themselves

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Nine Best Practices to Help Customers Help Themselves

Many new support cases can be avoided if customers are able to access the knowledge and expertise of Support without needing to interact with live agents. It’s all about helping your customers help themselves — and everyone benefits.

Support teams represent a repository of product expertise and must work to make their knowledge available to customers. Many new support cases can be avoided if customers are able to access the knowledge and expertise of Support. Transferring knowledge to customers to help them become more self-sufficient should be high on the list of strategic imperatives for all Support organizations.

Leverage these 9 self-help best practices to help customers successfully help themselves:

  1. Provide direct customer access to up-to-date solutions to common customer issues.
  2. Provide enhanced search and discovery capabilities to help customers find answers.
  3. Implement formal knowledge management processes to create new and update existing knowledgebase content.
  4. Supplement the support knowledge base with customer access to documentation, release notes, getting started guides, help files available.
  5. Deliver more than just answers to frequently asked questions and develop a repository of best practice guides, examples, same code, templates, etc.
  6. Take advantage of delivery formats including text, video, and interactive guides.
  7. Provide access to self-guided tools and utilities to assist customers with self-diagnostics and issue repair.
  8. Create and nurture and active user community to facilitate peer-to-per issues resolution and sharing of best practices.
  9. Provide access to self-paced training, recorded webinars and other skills development resources.

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?

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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?

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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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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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