Background and Career

I have been involved in the world of customer success for the past 15 years, Tom shares. Tom worked for several SaaS organizations across the travel, predictive analytics, and not-for-profit sectors.

He has a passion for delivering best-in-class service quality and value to customers. Over the years, he has had the privilege of working at a number of up and coming organizations that challenged him to grow quickly in leadership roles through changing dynamics and acquisitions.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of being on the frontlines and understanding the customers’ challenges. I pride myself on being a true customer champion by providing the right solutions at the right time. Building and scaling success organizations through this lens lead to happy customers.”

Building and scaling success organizations

We are too familiar with this expression: which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the business context, which one supersedes the other? Does customer experience come first and later the business result? Or the other way around?

However, this question is debated, there is a clear answer, and it comes down to this simple reality.

A healthy relationship does not guarantee new deals or contract renewals. What customers want is a company that understands their business needs and work to fulfill them. That is what will ultimately build that bond and trust.

Therefore, the business’s role is to influence the customer’s bottom line and quickly adapt and succeed using your products, services, and systems.

Tom points out: “a company should not have to tell its customers why they are the best in their market; customer engagement at a personal level and the business semantics play a key role in changing customer perception.”

Customers want value from the partnership they have invested in and ultimately want to know they are getting exactly what they have bought and what the brand has promised them.

Having this clear understanding of why customers choose your platform/service over others allows your organization to react appropriately. Overall, customers want transparency and assurance that their customized products and services will not only meet but exceed their expectations.

Customer experience ties to their needs/requirements

More importantly, customer experiences — and their ever-changing expectations — do not end at the point of sale. It’s important to look at customer interactions through a different lens.

Why? The customer’s viewpoint provides key information on whether appropriate attention or touchpoints across the customer’s journey are in place. Customer needs are not created equal, and each book of business has different concerns to manage and resolve.

The modern customer expects a high level of service from their service providers, so it is critical to know how customers engage with your product, with each other, and how your products drive behavior.

To manage your customers’ expectations and set them up for success, you need to know the following things about them:

  1. How do they measure success? What is the key metric(s) that they are using to measure success? What action do they take to achieve results?
  2. Does a customer demand a high touch or white-glove treatment? What are the customer’s timeframes? 
  3. Look for the pain points. How do business capabilities and resources affect the larger goal or picture? Are there other outstanding business issues that could occur or surface?
  4. What does their experience look like? Even if your customers achieve their goals using your software/product, when their experience is painful and requires more effort than they believe is necessary, you have significantly increased their cost of achieving success.
  5. What do you need to do to better support them and ensure their success? How can you involve, encourage, and empower them to participate while cultivating a culture that takes ownership of issues and develops a team approach in identifying and implementing effective business solutions?

Besides, the organization must understand the time to value and early success means to your customers. Successful organizations must establish customer touchpoints well before the point of purchase to influence behavior and set up the proper expectations.

An organization must establish customer touchpoints well before the point of purchase to influence behavior and set up the proper expectations. After purchase, the organization should follow through or design an intuitive onboarding experience with a high level of service that ensures product delivery and support.

Moving at the speed of customer expectations

Today’s customers want their product quickly, but they do not want a lot of legwork to implement it. They expect organizations to be agile, fast, and easy and stand behind their products and guarantees.

Therefore, establishing an intuitive and streamlined process is critical for sustaining strong customer experiences.

In the world of efficiency and effectiveness, an organization could survive and prosper by designing a CS program that aligns with customer values, maintains regular communication, monitors targets and goals, and upholds the brand promise—at all times!

Customer Success Organizations should:

  • Empower customers and provide them the voice they would like to be heard and listened to.
  • Always being there when the customer needs you.
  • Find innovative ways to enhance the customer experience.
  • When selling products/services, communication of the actual product value is paramount to your company’s integrity. Everyone in the organization must ensure that this timeless value is not be taken for granted just for the sake of short-term gain or personal success.
  • Never leave the customer in a state of uncertainty.
  • Resolve problems effectively and efficiently before they become larger issues or complaints.
  • Develop relationships with the sales team to learn more about the customer’s needs, pain points, and key considerations when purchasing your product. In doing so, the Customer Success team does not need to ask the same questions since customers already answered them.

An organization that builds customer experience strategies that incorporate transparency, personalization (relevancy), streamlined procedures, intuitive feedback loop, and continuous improvement processes is well positioned for today’s challenging world and ever-changing customer expectations.

To take your customer-centric organization to a new level, ensure that your team focuses on creating and delivering value, develops open communication lines between management and its people – transparency is key. It builds and establishes trust, identifies obstacles standing in the customer’s way, and helps them overcome it.

If these things are not there, you will get little traction in creating and delivering value – hence, keeping your customers.

About Tom Kiriakou:

He is a customer-centric executive focused on delivering best-in-class service quality and delivering value to customers by leveraging customer feedback to ensure long-term relationships, drive retention, expand recurring revenue, and advocate.

This article was originally published here

Vincent Manlapaz, is a Customer Success Advocate at Strikedeck. He is passionate about Customer Success and is always willing to learn more! Vincent Manlapaz

Customer Success, Strikedeck, a Medallia company