After a year of rapid digital acceleration, many SaaS companies grappled with high volumes of new customers. This is a positive trajectory, but it presents a challenge for your customer success efforts: How can you scale your support and CS while still delivering a memorable, quality customer experience? Fortunately, experts at Totango and Zoom have some answers.
Here are some helpful takeaways from Totango CEO Guy Nirpaz, Anne Ting (Totango SVP of Marketing), and Marco Innocenti (Head of Customer Success, Operations & Enablement at Zoom).
Latest Customer Learnings From New Research
For the past eight years, Totango has conducted an in-depth survey and presents the findings in the “State of the Customer Success Industry & Salary Report.” In the report, they pursue the latest customer success trends and predictions, including significant challenges, top goals, team organization, key benchmarks, compensation and various technologies.
The most recent report gathers data from 1600 respondents, the largest pool to date, and the findings are quite striking compared to previous years.
Today’s Critical Challenges For Customer Success
According to the Totango report, 77% of respondents said that scale was their top challenge. Says Anne Ting, “When we see that so many companies are growing and that there’s an influx of customers, it becomes more difficult to manage them and to have very personalized journeys at scale.”
When you see a spike in customer volume, the same strategies from the past may not work anymore. The priority for many CS teams has turned to deliver cost-efficient, personalized processes that are consistent, repeatable and measurable.
As you begin to scale, it’s critical to remember two things:
- The Importance of Data
“When you think about us all becoming more so, digital citizens in the last year, the volume of digital signals and digital interactions has grown tremendously. Being able to find that data, identify, categorize and then look for patterns of behavior so you can engage properly is critically important,” Ting says.
- Preparation is Key
Ting continues to point out that planning is everything. She notes that the companies that already had systems in place to handle high volumes of customers were more successful in dealing with growth and scaling. And despite assumptions, those who automated processes and adopted a one-to-many approach proved to perform better.
Marco Innocenti emphasizes the importance of planning by describing Zoom’s flexible hybrid model of human and automated customer success, which came in handy during their rapid-fire growth in 2020. This strategy allowed them to assess the situation and divert resources depending on priority or volume. He says, “You start dialing levers around the data on [customer] health scores and things like that, and then you start to triage what’s important.”
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Who is Involved in Customer Success?
In the past, customer success was an effort conducted by single teams and departments. But over the years, this has changed, and today, customer success is firmly a cross-company effort.
According to the Totango report, last year saw a significant uptick in cross-departmental CS involvement. Marketing, sales and support teams are breaking down siloes to create a more holistic customer experience.
How Customer Success Drives Growth
Customer success is one of the most powerful growth levers a business possesses. Ting indicates that the focus has turned to growth loops through expansion and advocacy.
If you consider the Success Flywheel, you’ll see a loop of the four following segments:
- The Free Access to Evaluate
- Rapid Onboarding (The First Value)
- Growing Value Through Nurturing
- Referrals to Other Buyers OR Expanded Relationships
No longer is CS so heavily focused on churn alone. Now, the real growth and value come from your customers. When they enjoy their experience, they’ll possibly refer other buyers or expand their business with your company. Strong CS translates to company growth.
Key Takeaways For Scaling Growth
- Design your CS for scale.
- Customer success is a company-wide effort.
- Customer success is a business model for growth.