5 Best Practices for Improving Customer Success for Small Businesses

Customer “service” is a term of the past. In working with entrepreneurs, we’re seeing a massive shift from customer support to focusing on customer success. Novo’s Head of Customer Success offers up best practices for small businesses to strengthen their customer success strategy.
by
Employee Interview, Strategy
August 20 | 6 Minutes

Customer “service” is a term of the past. In working with entrepreneurs, we’re seeing a massive shift from customer support to building customer success. Today, it goes beyond helping a client or customer learn how to use our products and services effectively, to improve the overall customer experience (CX). Founders are recognizing this shift and the importance of making Customer Success the heart of their small business.

Wanting to learn more about this transformation in support, I turned to Brian Kale, Head of Customer Success here at Novo. In just a little over 7 months, he has been able to build a successful support team with the necessary tools to ensure our customers receive the attention they need. Here’s what Brian had to say about 5 best practices small businesses can use for improving their customer success strategy.

 

There’s plenty you can do to make customers feel heard and cared for while offering solutions for their concerns, even if you don’t have a huge operation (although it helps). 

1. What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Success?

Customer support has existed for ages. The model that once specialized in going no further than addressing the issue is no longer the business standard. Customer service has a reactive nature, meaning it will only happen when there’s a problem. Customer success is about proactiveness and building unique experiences. Look for opportunities to let your customers know you’re there for more than just the problems. Through periodical feedback requests, promotions, and events you might think they’re interested in, you’re creating engagement that raises your relations with them.

Novo Tip:  Ask yourself questions like,

  • Is my customer using my product correctly?
  • Have I addressed all of the challenges to the issue? and most importantly,
  • What else can I do to better my customer’s experience?

2. Why Should I Use Customer Support Platforms?

The digital era enables you to track your customer support efforts across multiple channels, like never before. Make the most of your metrics by integrating all of your digital avenues (email, social media comments, etc.) into platforms that will provide the ability to measure your performance effectively. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of where you are can help you keep tabs on your customer strategy at a holistic level.

If you’re addressing your customer’s concerns through Gmail, you’re missing out on valuable data.” commented Brian when we asked him what rudimentary measures businesses should take for customer response.

Tag-friendly customer support and engagement platforms like Zendesk, LiveAgent and HelpDesk, can provide you with the ability to classify and keep track of issues brought up by customers. These platforms can provide you with reports and metrics that help to illuminate your strengths and weaknesses, and they create a file history you can easily track.

 3. What’s the Cost of Bad Customer Support?

Bad customer support will have a detrimental impact on your company. Research has shown that US businesses face $75 billion in losses each year due to poor customer support. It’s incredibly important to highlight positive feedback and mitigate the negative. This statement might seem obvious, but the context of customer support feedback is critical to business success. According to American Express, more than 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after a single instance of bad customer support, so the stakes have never been higher for delivering positivity.

We asked Brian about the ratio of positive to negative CX feedback when it comes to customer outreach, and discovered that takes on average 12 positive touchpoints to erase a negative one! In other words, negative touchpoints are issues with your service (complaints, malfunctions, service cancellations), and your customer approach must look to increase the number of times you’re engaging about positive subjects. Just think about in the context of social media, the fact that the average American tells 15 people about their poor customer experience.

The idea isn’t to simply message your customers saying “What’s up?” It’s about looking for opportunities to interact beyond problem-solving.

4. Does Onboarding Affect Customer Support?

It is much more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one. Everyone wants growth. However, the question is whether you can handle new customer volumes if old ones are reporting too many inconveniences. The way to achieve this is to ensure your customers know how to use your product efficiently to reduce usability complaints. That’s why familiarizing your customers with your product should be a priority. This means your team can focus more on technical issues without having to do walkthroughs of your service so often. Find out how your small business can best explain its product; it could be a presentation, a video tutorial, an FAQ page, or a more technical guide that aims to cover all bases or at the very least the basics.

5. Should Customer Support Questions Be Automated?

Once your customer success team has set up their reporting tables to address customer queries, the best way to fight a cluttered inbox is to respond to them as soon as possible. Like previously mentioned, there’s going to be recurrent concerns that you’ll be addressing, and this is where using customer-tailored platforms with the right tools will work in your favor as well. They have messaging templates to help you automate responses, which can be used to answer commonly asked questions, which will not only save your team time but also improve response times. Also, these messages won’t be sent until you edit the details of each specific case, but they’ll save you time and energy from having to re-write the same answer to an issue you’re familiar with.

90% of cases, you’ll have seen before. We’ve built macro-responses to common questions so you’re on your toes for the 10% that are more complex.

They will also help you get into the rhythm of replying quickly, which not only denotes true attention to the customer, but it also reflects well on the metrics of your support. A McKinsey study shows 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, so keep in mind that customer journeys through your company are defined by how much you care.

The Takeaway

The idea behind customer support is to have a response to your customers’ negative sentiments, and ultimately, fix them or at least it used to be. The work of customer success is to go beyond the times when things are going wrong and connect with users when everything is going right. Letting your customers (or users) know you’re interested in their success is invaluable and will bootstrap your business image to one that truly cares about its customers. Customer support might not rank high in your department investment, but it should. Aligning your company towards enabling immediate responses will strengthen your brand image, improve customer retention, and ultimately increase acquisition over time.

 

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