Forget the old fashioned outsourced call-centre model for customer success.
Instead, allow me to introduce you to a model that integrates your systems, your process, and your team.
The first step to customer success
The key to success is information. Ensuring the team managing your client success has access to client information, and data on their behaviour within your tool will be the determining factor on whether your clients will achieve their goals and if your customer success will positively impact the bottom line. Therefore it is important to view your chosen outsourced partner as an ally and not to be afraid of sharing information.
If you’re worried about sharing too much, an NDA should mitigate any fears you have around data and intelligence.
Putting processes in place
Access to information without a process generates inconsistency. When talking to customer success leaders last month in Dublin, it became clear that success teams that did not have clear and defined processes were less able to prove their value to the business. The process is what supports your customer success journey and helps the team get it right every time.
Finding a partner to work with
Look for a partner with a very specific skill set to develop the journey and the supporting process. A hybrid of business processes, industrial psychology, change management, sales & growth strategy, marketing, and industry experience is the secret formula to develop great customer success journey.
That is where experience trumps passion. Your partner’s know-how will become your greatest advantage. Creating processes is a matter of trail and error, and when you outsource correctly, you are skipping many failures, going straight into fine-tuning phase, saving time, money and mental health.
Here at WNDYR we make sure this is a collaborative process that includes the know-how from product specialists, sales leaders and our team of experts. The first journey is our beta, after a couple of trials we gather intelligence that helps us polish the process. The collaboration never really finishes, we use a continuous improvement approach combined with acute business awareness to keep the process effective.
Integrating systems and processes
The last cog in the wheel is ensuring your systems integrate well with your partners. The process must be streamlined and automated. Efficiency should be a philosophy that you and your partner adopt from day one. Customer Success Managers will always manage hundreds of accounts at the same time. Every minute saved with automation is another minute invested in a valuable customer.
You partner will most likely not be using the same tools as you and integrations are not always straight forward and can demand a lot of work from your IT team. Our team has developed an all-encompassing partner management portal that enables all of our partners to connect to via API to share information. This means that only one integration is required, and the partner has real-time visibility on the client journey and metrics related to each account. The intelligence we gather is used to improve the success journey.
Growth, expansion and strategy
As your company scales, you will be confronted with many questions related to growth and expansion. Experts will advise you to hold off hiring unless your team can do it better, cheaper and faster. When it comes to customer success it becomes a little trickier. As I discussed in my previous article: Are You Serious About Customer Success?, your customer success team is a crucial piece of the revenue puzzle and the decision to build this arm of your company should always be a strategic one.
Can you outsource customer success? Absolutely!
Working with a partner and managing risk
I suggest doing a trial with one partner to start with. Make sure to find a partner the ticks all the boxes for skill set and that they are as excited about the future of your product as you are.
At the start, partnerships are time-consuming for both sides. Relationships must be built, contracts squared off, processes put in place, systems integrated and up-skilling of sales team completed. Make sure your partner allows a commitment-free period while you onboard, it will take even the most agile organisation six weeks to go through the “set-up” stage.
To manage your risks, ensure the contract is robust and that both parties are committed to a long-term relationship. Be honest and upfront about expansion plans and language requirements, recruit only the best people, as training them to be in front of your clients is a lengthy procedure.
The importance of putting measurements in place
Only settle for a metrics-driven organisation, the more data you have the better the experience, and the more you will retain customers. Always agree on a measure of success for the month, the quarter and for the year. Track closely to ensure your objectives are being achieved and that your clients are receiving the best service.
Now, it is only a matter of deciding on a partner who’s right for you.
What do you think about outsourced customer success management? Share your thoughts in the comments below.