The Key to digital Customer Success

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Hi, Markus here. Welcome to a free edition of the Customer-Value-Led-Growth Newsletter.

Every week, I share strategies, guides, and frameworks to help you create exceptional value for your customers and company.

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Over the years I’ve signed up for 25+ different software tools.

As what’s called a “solopreneur” these days I’m the archetype of a self-service customer.

Perfect for PLG products or at least the PLG motions of a product serving customers in various sizes. 

Now, past research says that up to 50% of customers log into a product only once and never return. 

With up to 75% of customers gone within the first week. 

For most of the products I signed up for, I fall in either category.

In today's post, I’m going to share why and the key to effective digital Customer Success.

The problem 

First, I’d like to provide more context. I’m not exactly what you would call an “early adopter”.

Neither do I sign up for products randomly because they could conceivably be helpful. 

I’m choosing carefully and only signing up for products where I can see a clear benefit in advance. 

At the sign-up, I usually go through a questionnaire asking me about

  • my industry

  • my role

  • the number of employees

and occasionally what I intend to use the product for.

What I have never been asked about are

  • the goals I’m trying to accomplish

  • the problems I need to solve

  • the skills and knowledge level I possess

As a result, I have either been routed in the wrong direction, none at all, or got overwhelmed with options.

The reason why digital CS motions fail: You don’t show me that you know me and I get nothing done. 

The solution

There are 3 success factors for digital CS motions but most companies forget about the last one:

1. Quality

Customers don’t want to go through the same low-quality content they can find on 349340 blog posts. They want specific guidance on how to solve their problems.

2. Efficiency

Customers don’t want to watch a 60-minute tutorial explaining all the 349 customization options of a specific feature. They want the 5-minute version showing them how to use the feature to solve their problems.

3. Accuracy

Even the best guides, tutorials, and knowledge bases fail if customers don’t find what they are looking for. Customers don’t want to read 20 articles where they might find the answer they are looking for buried somewhere.

All digital CS needs to start with an effective digital customer discovery uncovering the customer needs. 

If you can put up a questionnaire and ask me useless questions you can do the same by asking me smart ones instead. 

Disclaimer: Setting up an effective digital discovery is a shared exercise between CSM-, product- and engineering teams.

How to implement the digital discovery

One of the most frequently asked questions in my courses (for real) is how to apply my approach to customers in the digital CS segment.

The answer is to leverage the processes and insights from working 1:1 with customers in other segments.

When you are working with larger customers you can spend a lot of time understanding their goals, their problems, and their resulting needs.

You can ask follow-up questions, ask your customers to walk you through their processes, etc. until you’ve gained a thorough understanding.

1. Customer goals

For most products, the number of potential goals customers can accomplish by using it is limited.

There might be a total of 5 possible goals and every customer falls into 1 bucket. If you are leveraging that knowledge, you can build a questionnaire where customers can choose between these 5 options.

Do customers have more than one goal? Add a “timeline” and ask what they are trying to accomplish first.

What if there are more options? Maybe your product covers a total of 20 different goals. Are they equally distributed?

Most likely, they rather follow an 80/20 distribution. 80% of customers are pursuing 5 different goals with 20% of customers sharing the remaining 15.

You can apply this by adding an “other” option on top. This is recommended as choosing from 20 options might overwhelm your customers.

If the goal distribution looks like this, it’s questionable whether you should even serve these 20% but that’s a different story.

2. Customer problems

Similarly, you determine the problems customers need to solve (first) in the next step.

Customers might share a common goal but that does not mean their problems exist for the same reason.

If you are e.g. selling sales software Customer A might be missing their quota because of a low booking rate while Customer B struggles to nail customer demos.

Understanding the problem and why it exists might require asking 2-3 questions. Do what’s necessary but if it takes twice as many your process might be flawed.

3. Skills and knowledge

The final part of your investigation should be about determining your customers’ current capabilities.

In most simple terms, you could distinguish between the 3 levels of

  • beginners

  • intermediates

  • professionals

A beginner could e.g. be described as having never done the job before while professionals have been doing the job every day for years.

Real-life examples could be SaaS founders who have never done any marketing before versus the project manager of a marketing agency. 

They have very different needs in terms of training and education. Again, create these categories based on the insights from working with your larger customers. 

It’s important to define what each level means. Asking your customers to rate themselves from 1-10 is completely useless.

Last words

Based on the answers you get from asking 3-5 questions you are routing customers to the relevant resources in the right order.

In the beginning, you should make sure to reach out to these customers and follow up to evaluate whether they

  • went in the right direction

  • have the right resources

  • were able to apply their learnings

As with almost everything in CSM, building an effective digital motion has a learning process.

Don’t expect a perfect “translation” from working with customers 1:1 to 1:n right away.

Instead, aim for continuous progress until you achieve a high success rate (95%) for determining customer needs.

If for whatever reason you can’t implement the questionnaire directly into your product you can build a workaround. 

Using external survey tools and routing customers to the right resources with tools like Zapier.

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