Your company has delivered your product, finished the service you were engaged to provide or signed up a client to a monthly package. Your sales team have been extremely helpful and your client appears to be happy. But is the client experience over? This article explains why an excellent ongoing experience, including a client success team, is a key part of your product or service.
What’s the Value of Client Experience?
Client acquisition is just the first step for your company. It also takes a lot of time and money to acquire new clients. For example, your marketing campaigns and sales teams have put their time and budget into attracting a client and working with them through a sales funnel to payment.
If the client has paid your company for a product or service, they’ve probably had a good initial experience. However, if there is only one sale, your clients will have a low lifetime value and, therefore, your company will struggle to grow its revenue.
In order to grow, you need to retain a client you have acquired, keep them as a loyal client, and hopefully get them to refer others. A good ongoing client experience, and returning relationship, is crucial to your company’s growth.
What Does Client Success Look Like?
Your company’s version of ‘client success’ will vary, depending on the core function of your company. Do you sell consumer products or provide services to consumers or other businesses? Understanding your core offering and what your clients like about it is a key part of knowing what client success looks like for you.
Origins in the Tech Industry
The term ‘client success’ started in the technology industry. Software developed from a perpetual licence model that clients bought once to a software as a service (SaaS) model, where clients pay on a subscription basis. This change also caused companies to think differently about the client relationship.
The measure of client success used to be how many individual software products were sold. Now, SaaS companies must increase client engagement to keep those clients subscribed and ensure they see the value in paying more for upgraded software. For a SaaS company, ensuring the client remains engaged means increasing that client’s lifetime value, which directly correlates to revenue. This is why the client success function of SaaS and technology companies is so important.
Client Success in Professional Services
In professional services industries, client success is based on how happy a client is when the company finishes a piece of work for them. For example, how happy a client is with their completed tax return or how a lawyer drafted a contract for them.
Professional services firms tend to rely on the relationship between their senior experts and the client to keep the client coming back. Traditionally, these types of businesses very rarely had teams dedicated to maintaining the client relationship. This is not the best approach, particularly as developments in technology make it easier for companies to track relationships with their clients.
Even in professional services, increasing client engagement and the lifetime value of a client can increase revenue growth. Accordingly, professional services should invest in client success in the same way SaaS companies do. Additionally, they should focus on providing an ongoing client experience, not just keeping a client happy for a single transaction.
All companies, across all industries, should be able to leverage technology to manage their client relationships and dedicate employees to providing a positive ongoing client experience.
For example, in the technology industry, it is common to have a ticketing system to handle issues with the product. If you run a company in a different industry, how do clients let you know that they are unhappy? How do you measure how quickly your company responds to their issue? And how do you ensure your client engages you for more work or returns to buy another product?
Additionally, how can you engage with clients between pieces of work? For example, do you educate clients through content?
You should also ask yourself: What do your clients measure as ‘success’? This varies depending on industry and the product or service. Maintaining business growth, driving up sales and increasing profits are often measures of success.
However, regardless of your industry, your client success program should leverage technology to measure client engagement.
How Do You Continue to Provide a Great Client Experience?
There are many aspects of continuing to provide a great client experience at your company, from managing client complaints to providing additional value and services. If you aim to provide an excellent client experience, you need to measure it and take action so you can provide your clients with greater value.
One key tool to measure a client’s experience is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Once you have this measurement, among others, in place, you can develop a function within your business that manages and implements client feedback.
A happy client should also act as an informal referrer of your company. Increasing your informal referral network can save on sales and marketing costs as well as increase your brand’s reputation.
The Role of a Client Success Team
Many businesses now have a team of employees dedicated to obtaining client feedback and acting on that feedback. This internal team takes these improvements to frontline teams (sales, marketing, and client support) in order for the managers of those teams to improve their frontline processes.
The client success team also gathers feedback to identify systemic process, technology or product issues so that consistent complaints relating to a negative client experience can be dealt with across the company.
There are a number of software applications that have been designed to support client experience functions within companies, including:
- customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as SugarCRM and Salesforce. This software focuses on client information and producing data reports on insights such as where clients are acquired from. It also assists with ongoing relationship management; and
- client success software, such as ClientSuccess and ChurnZero. This software often focuses on analytics and reducing client turnover. Many of these solutions utilise artificial intelligence to provide insights into client engagement. The difference between this software and a CRM is that client success software is more focused on client retention.
Ideally, your company can utilise software to measure:
- your client experience;
- the actions that you take to improve it; and
- ongoing client engagement.
A client’s experience never ends once a sale has completed. Instead, it stretches far beyond that and can be measured and managed. The benefits of increasing your client’s experience include increasing their lifetime value and, in turn, your revenue growth. Client success will look slightly different for each business, but is equally important, no matter your industry.
Many companies now have teams devoted to actioning client feedback to improve client experience and engagement. A client success team should leverage technology to manage your client relationships and improve your client experience, which, ultimately, will also improve your bottom line.
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