It’s not what you do, but how you make your customers feel in Customer Success

In Customer Success, we all make mistakes from time to time. I made one and it didn’t catch up to me until recently. It happened to be the same day that I saw my CEO speak on the topic of Customer Success and creating advocates. He reminded me that while you may have the best intentions when it comes to providing the best experience for the customer, it doesn’t matter what you do – it matters how you make your customers feel. I’ll tell you how I screwed up so you can avoid similar mistakes and I’ll outline other situations where you may be making similar mistakes yourself.

Solving One Problem Can Create Another One

After reviewing our customer lifecycle, we recognized that our customers were regularly taking their foot off the gas once they launched their advocate program. Without getting into the nitty gritty, it was imperative that our customers regularly use our product after they have gone live. As a way to keep the momentum going, we created an email nurture campaign that delivered regular best practices to our customers post-launch. We tried to anticipate possible issues and create tips that would get our customers out in front of these. The trick was to create an email that would get opened. How do yCustomer Success Feelou get “inbox attention” and prevent it from being immediately deleted? The solution was to use a provocative subject line.

We used the subject line “Your X (our product) may have an issue”. We knew that this might startle our customers. That was the point. The first line in the body of the email was “I’m sorry if I alarmed you”. What we wanted was for our customers to read the email and act on our advice. We thought that they would be grateful for these tips. In fact, this email had an 8% higher open rate than the average open rate for the other emails (71% open rate!) and a 4% higher click-through rate (14% CTR!). At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. This is the email I received:

“Can you reframe this email to have a different subject line? We’re all extremely busy right now and we all panicked when we thought there was a technical failure with X (our product), only to read the email and be incensed that it was a gimmick to get us to click…”

I discussed this briefly with my colleague. Should I change the subject line? It did get people to open and act on the email. Isn’t that what we wanted? That’s ultimately what we want but we also want our customers to enjoy every interaction that they have with us. We want them to love what we represent. This email, while it did get the attention that we wanted, didn’t get us to end result of our goal in Customer Success which was to create the best customer experience possible that will help convert our customers into advocates. We changed the subject line that day and then wrote back an apologetic email to the customer and asked for their advice on a revised subject line that we devised. 

Remember: It’s the Customer Journey, Not Your Company’s Journey

I was really lucky to be part of a two day Customer Success seminar hosted by OpenView Partners this past week. Not only did my CEO speak, Jackie Golden who is a Customer Success expert led us through an exercise to map out the customer journey of a fictitious software company. As we started working on the handoff of a new customer between sales and customer success, we tried to make the process airtight so that we would guarantee a successful onboarding phase for our new customer.

Here’s the problem: we put in so many meetings and tasks for the customer that we would probably overwhelm them which could cause them to give up right off the bat. Even though this process would have provided the best chance for success and we would provide world-class service throughout the process, it wouldn’t matter. Why? Because we didn’t positively connect with our customers at the emotional level. ‘It all comes down to how you make your customers feel.

Here’s another example that is a positive one. I had a customer who just started working with us and then faced some tough financial issues. We came up with a solution for the customer and then reached out in a few different ways to show our support. I received this email in return (I omitted the names):

“Thanks Chad! It has really meant a lot to me how fantastic your whole team has been – from [name] to [name] to ,[name] and everyone who helped answer all our questions in between – support, legal, getting notes like this from you and [name], comments on LinkedIn and VIP Community posts… such a great sense of support from the whole organization…”

Always keep in mind how you’re making your customer feel and in the long run, you will be successful.

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