The Keys to Customer Success
How far are you willing to go to make sure your customers are successful with your products or services?
It’s a different way of looking at marketing, but it’s essential to building strong relationships and repeat business.
Customer Success? Not Don Draper's Problem
Traditionally, marketers are focused on convincing customers to believe something, and it’s almost always an idea that will help sell the product.
It’s the part where Don Draper gets up, takes a slug of whiskey and says, “It’s not a slide projector, it’s a time machine.”
Only it is your problem, because if your customer is not able to use your product or solution successfully, they’re not likely to buy again, or say good things about the product to other potential buyers.
That makes customer failure a silent killer of lifetime value.
And it’s a difficult problem to address because the issue is often less about your product and more about your customer’s understanding of how to use it.
If you sell someone software to, say, do their own taxes, and they’re happy with the software but in the end they still aren’t able to do their own taxes, next time they’re not going to buy the software, they’re just going to go to an accountant.
This isn’t about customer satisfaction. Customers can be satisfied that they got what they paid for, even if they aren’t able to use it successfully.
Yes, I am saying your customers may not be competent to use your solutions. The question is, what do you do about that?
How far are you willing to go to ensure customer success?
The traditional way of handling this is the old money-back guarantee. However, guarantees don’t actually do anything to ensure customer success. In fact, guarantees generally are not redeemed unless the product obviously falls short of its promises enough to make the customer angry. Otherwise, they don’t bother.
So what can you do that actually impacts customer success?
3 Ways to Support Customer Success
Education is one of the easiest ways to help. We’ve talked about content marketing before, but many marketers today take their content much further to show users exactly how the product is used and works best to achieve their goals.
That’s why makeup companies like Maybelline are providing video tutorials of exactly how to use their products to create the looks their customers want. And makeup companies have embraced the flood of YouTube video creators who do the same on their own channels.
You see the same tactics out of home good stores helping make sure their customers can successfully use their products to decorate.
You even see it in some competitive online video games, where tutorial videos are essential to making sure new players can be successful and want to keep playing … and buying expansions or downloadable content or however else they monetize it.
Education is even more important in expert-level business products. Companies like Cisco and Adobe have provided guides and educational material to business customers and prospects for years.
Taking that a step further, these software makers and many others, like IBM and Salesforce, have cultivated robust customer communities that serve as both peer-run customer support groups and enthusiast clubs that encourage customers to do more with the products and discover new ways to be successful with them.
These community movements have now blossomed into huge live conventions and world tours like Dreamforce, Adobe Summit and many more. And you know what, those events make money!
As marketers, you experience that marketing first hand. If you’re using any marketing software, you’ve likely seen your provider’s educational services.
They’re trying to ensure you’re successful with what you bought from them so you continue to buy it.
Perhaps the most extreme example of ensuring customer success is something we see more and more in business service providers: Agency services.
Data providers like Infogroup and KBM Group offer products that potential customers may not have the personnel or expertise to make the most of.
So they also offer full-boat agency services that will help clients handle their data and plan campaigns so they can use the advanced data products with success.
Printers often do this, too. Many not only print your mailings, but also write, design and mail them as well.
So, if you find yourself looking for better ways to ensure customer loyalty and repeat business, think about what it takes for your customer to be successful with your products or services.
If you can help them be successful, they’ll help you do the same.