Customer Success vs. Customer Service
When you hear the term “customer success,” you likely think of the phrase “customer service.” While they are related, there is one key difference between the two concepts.
You’ve undoubtedly had to call a customer service line or chat with a customer service agent online to voice a complaint or find out more information about a product or service you purchased. Customer service is reactionary and responsive. It serves an important purpose (and of course, serves the customer), but it doesn’t have much to do with the entire customer experience.
On the other hand, customer success is concerned with that experience–the entire experience. According to Gartner, customer success is “a method for ensuring customers reach their desired outcomes when using an organization’s product or service.”
The most important facet of this definition is the idea of helping clients reach desired outcomes, which in action, would translate into foreseeing customer needs and providing what’s needed to fulfill those needs before they even have to reach out and ask for help. Customer Success is proactive.
Developing a Customer Success Mindset
Having a customer success mindset in your business will help it flourish, and developing a mindset that is focused on customer success instead of customer service can be tricky if most of your customer support experiences have been reactive. There’s nothing to fear, though. A few simple shifts in your thinking can have your company on the way to fostering customer relationships in no time.
To begin developing your proactive customer success focused mindset, contemplate these questions:
- How can you help your customers achieve their goals?
Focusing on this helps shift your attention away from issue resolution and instead emphasizes customer experience. It’s not that you shouldn’t have plans and resources in place for issues resolution. You certainly should. The point of this is to simply begin to create an experience that makes your customer feel a certain way: taken care of.
- How can you maximize value for your customers?
The traditional focus of customer service has always been to maintain customer satisfaction, but a business with a customer success-focused mindset will instead ensure that they are bringing as much value as possible to their customer. Satisfaction in customer success isn’t a benchmark, it’s the beginning.
- What services can we add that would ensure customer success in the long-term?
Because customer service is reactionary–troubleshooting on-the-spot technical glitches and resolving conflicts–it is inherently a short-term focused function. Customer success instead considers how the customer experience can be optimized over the long-term, throughout an entire customer lifecycle.
Examining these questions and acting on your answers to them will actually force another mindset shift: from constant cost analysis to revenue generation. When the entire customer experience is being considered–not just best practices for reacting to issues–your business will begin to attract more and more clientele and unquestionably increase profitability. This isn’t just the responsibility of one department at your company, though.
Marketing’s Role in Customer Success
When shifting from customer service to a customer success focus, all customer-facing departments within a company will need to evaluate and align their goals and behaviors. One of the most important customer-facing business functions when prioritizing customer success? Marketing.
All marketing is about promising an experience, even if a product is what’s being sold. If you pay deeper attention to the ads around you, you’ll find this to be true. That Facebook Ad for business casual blouses or button downs you always see when scrolling on your lunch break? It’s not just selling you a shirt, it’s selling you the feeling of power and command the attractive person wearing it emanates.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is a disconnect between that promised experience and what is actually delivered. It is absolutely crucial, as HubSpot puts it, that customer success teams have the resources to “ensure that there’s consistency between the experience that’s promised and the one actually delivered.”
5 Tips To Align Marketing and Customer Success Teams
So, how can you make sure your marketing and customer success departments are promising and delivering on the same experience? Follow these simple tips.
- Plan the experience you’re selling together.
Before launching a new marketing campaign, be sure marketing and teams involved in customer success are all on the same page. Marketing is your creative engine, but making space for them to brainstorm with other customer-facing departments often reveals different insights on what customers need and want.
- Explore ways customer success can deliver on that experience.
Brainstorming together is a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Be sure to consider how the experience marketing is selling can be delivered on.
- Reframe how you measure marketing progress.
Measuring marketing progress by lead generation and clicks serves an important purpose, but consider adding new marketing objectives that are more focused on customer outcomes to ensure you’re aiming at the best leads possible. Analyzing your churn and renewal rates and customer feedback is a great place to start this process.
- Make customer data easily accessible by all.
A great big nod to Revenue Operations, making sure departments are sharing tools that house customer data is imperative! Customer success teams should be able to quickly discover how individual customers became customers, as well as any other relevant information marketing may have about them.
- Communicate regularly.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that frequent, clear communication among all departments is the only way a customer success mindset can flourish. Aligning different departments can be as simple as planning monthly meetings between customer-facing departments to touch base, give each other feedback, and assess the whole operation.
For information on how to develop a customer success team in a few easy steps, check out Growth Molecules’ blog article, Customer Success Misunderstood Or Mastered?
About the Author:
Sabina is the Operating Partner at Growth Molecules, a consulting firm that helps B2B SaaS companies simplify customer success with actionable processes and scalable programs. With a 20-year career in global CS and CX, Sabina is known for building teams from start-up to grow-up, for scale via client adoption, expansion, retention and loyalty programs. She has earned her MA in Communication & Leadership from Gonzaga University, and her BA in Public Relations from the University of Southern California, and is co-writing a book about working moms in technology.