Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Everyone talks about the importance of keeping customers happy, and we all know it’s much less expensive to keep a customer than to bring in a new one. So, whether yours is a software, hardware, or services-based company, it important to figure out what must happen if you’re going to have a happy customer base.

But it’s not as easy as just hiring someone and giving them the title of “customer success” manager. No one person, or one small group of people can be totally responsible for making the customer engagement successful.

If we’re agreed that responsibility for customer satisfaction is, or should be far more widespread within your company, then everyone needs to play a role: from sales, delivery or fulfillment personnel, product or project managers to customer support and success managers.

That might seem overwhelming, but here are some best practices for creating a customer success mindset that can be employed to ensure you’re not just talking the customer success talk, but actually walking the walk.

5-Step Roadmap for Success

Set expectations properly at the outset. You’ll need to craft goals carefully, but not so narrowly that you stop creative people from being creative. If customers understand, from the outset, that budgets and timelines may limit what is possible, you’ll have a better relationship. And, let’s not forget, things nearly always change as the project progresses, and the sooner a customer is made aware of this likelihood the better. No one likes surprises.

Avoid awkward handovers that signify a lack of continuity throughout – from pre-sales scoping through end of project. Ongoing and uninterrupted engagement and communication are not only important to maintaining the relationship, it is necessary to ensure that the project itself is successful.

Provide the continuity needed to manage through the inevitable change as the project goes on. Make sure that the customer is prepared to pivot during the delivery process. Once you’ve set the expectations properly, the customer will already be ready for the possibility of changes, and adapting to any changes will be easier.

Be a trusted partner who will guarantee an end-to-end relationship, uninterrupted through entire lifecycle, from onboarding through off-boarding. Establishing a trusting relationship is the real key to success. Customers need to know that you have their best interests in mind at all times. If they feel confident that’s the case, they’ll value your advice and look to you as a trusted advisor.

Consult and advise on options available as things (like budget, scope, and more) change across the course of the project, helping the customer understand that sometimes the best solution may be out of budget, so it will be necessary to work on it gradually. It’s your job to present the available options and help the customer understand the trade-offs. In short, you must work hard to establish the relationship so your advice is always received positively, with the knowledge that whatever counsel is provided is not to further your own agenda, but to make the customer successful.

What does Customer Success look like?

Projects will be more successful, more profitable, and lead to better relationships with clients—but only if customer success is taken seriously, and everyone contributes to that common goal. Who owns customer success? Ultimately, customer success is everyone’s job.

Carol Morse