A customer success plan lays out what customer success looks like and how you’ll help your customers achieve that success. The customer success plan is the roadmap that customer success teams use to operate. It ensures that the right resources are being delivered to your customers so that your customers will receive value from using your product.
Your customers have signed up for your new solution and while you are consumed with your customer success metrics and goals, your new customer is probably a little nervous about things. How do they use your product effectively? How can they reach their goals? Will the product work for them as they originally expected it too?
Planning out your customer success plan is just as important as the plan itself.
- Your customers are essentially the one guiding the creation of your plan.
- The creation of the customer success plan is not the sole responsibility of the customer success team. All those who have a close relationship with the customer should be included, such as sales, product, and, naturally, the customer.
Why do you need a customer success plan for your customers?
Well, first, let’s look at the definition of a customer success plan.
A customer success plan is clear statement of “what” and “how” you will deliver value throughout the customer lifecycle. The customer success plan is built by understanding expectations—both your customer’s and your own.
Now, if we break this definition down, you’ll notice key words such as “value” and “understanding expectations”.
In the SaaS business, the importance of value creation for the customer can’t be emphasized enough.
Think about it: Why would you actually invest money in something that doesn’t add value to your life or business in some way? Whatever you buy has to serve a purpose, and as a customer success manager, it’s your duty to ensure that your customers get the most value out of your solution – and we don’t necessarily mean value for money. It’s about focusing on how your product exceeds your customers’ expectations and how you can help them see and realize that value.
Benefits of implementing a customer success plan
Decreasing churn, and thus, increasing retention, is a key component of growing a successful SaaS business. High churn creates a “leaky bucket” situation where, although you may be successfully acquiring new customers, that topline customer growth is being offset by customers who are churning and leaving your business. If your churn rate is too high, you need to acquire customers even faster, making it very challenging to grow your business. Low or negative churn becomes a tailwind that makes growth much easier. A good customer success plan will ensure that customers are happy users of your product, so they will be much less likely to churn.
Upsell and Cross-Sell
Another way that happy and successful customers impact your business is that you’ll have more success increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Upselling is getting your customers to buy into more feature rich, and more expensive, tiers of your product. Cross-selling is selling additional products to existing users. To succeed with either strategy, you first need to make sure that your customers are happy and successful with your core product experience, which is the fundamental goal of your customer success plan. Once you’ve achieved that, your customer success plan can include tactics to move your customers towards premium tiers or additional products.
Increase Recurring Revenue
Both of the items that are covered above have the effect of increasing recurring revenue. Other ways that happy and successful customers help increase revenue are by strengthening your brand and providing you with referrals. These serve as a tailwind in your customer acquisition strategy, bringing you more inbound inquiries and making the sales process much easier.
Saves execution time
It has been commonly observed that the time spent on firefighting issues is always more than the time when you were already prepared for it. Planning takes care of the unprecedented issues in advance so that you are always prepared for any possible outcome.
Step by Step to a customer success plan
Step 1: Identify the customer’s Expectations
To see what direction your customer is headed in, you have to first understand where they are now. Get a sense of the challenges and goals your customer currently has before planning too far ahead.
When you see the final destination that your customer is trying to reach, you can create a plan to help them get there. Keep in mind, your products and services may alter their destination so don’t be scared to bring new ideas to the table.
Step 2: Go from Expectations to Action - Aha! Moments
Your SaaS product probably has one or more aha! moments. These are the moments during the product experience when your customer says “aha! Now I understand why this solution is so important to my business.” Now you’ll need to figure out what processes to put in place to ensure that you are meeting your customers’ expectations.
Step 3: Measuring the success metrics (Based on the Goals)
It’s also important to note that each expectation is tied to its own metric that you can track and measure.
This will ultimately help you monitor your customer health and identify any red flags that you can address before you have to put out fires – which should never be the case!
Step 4: Let’s Talk Strategy and Tactics
The right team to support your customer success plan will depend on the nature or your product, and whether you apply a high touch, low touch or hybrid customer success model. Your customer success team may need to be more or less technical, depending on the nature of your product. All that said, good customer success managers are deeply committed to the success of customers, are personable and empathetic.
Product teams mostly want to develop a product that customers will love, but they feel that most of the feedback that they receive from customer-facing teams is anecdotal. Meanwhile, customer teams talk to customers every day and believe that they know what customers need most, but they struggle to make an effective case to the product team. While intentions are often good, the disconnect makes it much harder to keep customers happy and successful, because these two teams are both essential to the customers’ experience. Aligning product and customer teams is a big topic on it’s own, but some effective tactics include sharing key goals across both teams, adopting a toolset that both teams commit to using and emphasizing regular and open communication between the teams.
Step 5: Choose the right tools
Choosing the right tools can be overwhelming, so focus on the tools that align to the goals of your customer success plan. Some tools, such as customer feedback management tools, will be used by multiple teams. So make sure that all teams that will use the solution are bought in and committed to adoption. After all, the best tools won’t help you if the team isn’t invested in using them.
Now that you have your plan, you have to implement it! The implementation process can/ should involve:
- Quarterly Business Reviews
- Regular check-in meetings
- Communication and feedback (have Q&As, send out surveys)
- Company OKRs
When you follow these steps, you will be able to easily identify what the best way to engage with your customers is, and when. Also, you will significantly reduce churn, which will lead to increased revenues for your business. Pay attention to how your customers are doing, identifying pain points and addressing problems before customers realize there are any. Provide them with guidance so that they achieve success because their success is your success. If a customer success planner is committed and dedicated to seeing customers achieve success, it will become a mutually beneficial relationship.
A customer success plan is an extremely valuable asset to have. It’ll help you define the company’s expectations and goals as well as your customer’s expectations and goals, which, in turn, will help you align them and strategically come up with processes and ideas to achieve mutual success.
If you are still missing out the the essentials, KPI’s, Data flow and a consistent database, check out our latest Ebook Customer Profiling and Database Enrichment.