Customer Success Is Not a Guessing Game

For years, businesses have been asking what customers really want, and, more important, how do we meet their ever-evolving needs and expectations?

There is no one recipe for customer success. However, one thing we know is that speaking directly to clients is proving to be more critical than ever. This is no longer a guessing game, it is about gathering evidence and using this to drive decisions and improvements to the customer experience.

Digital transformation is a buzzword of the 21st Century, and with self-service capabilities on the rise, more customers feel empowered to use technology to find resolutions to queries themselves. However, this does not mean that customers don't want options, and it is becoming more apparent that the human touch to customer experience is still required.

With artificial intelligence and automation at the forefront of the digital transformation, human interaction might sound like something of the past, but research has proven differently. Despite wanting more self-service capabilities, customers still want to be able to call, email, or speak to someone face to face. At the same time, though, every organization is different, and its customers have distinct requirements, so what is the best approach to take?;

Tip: Speak to your customers.

Perhaps the most basic but most valuable action is speaking directly to customers. Without a channel of communication, it is easy to become disconnected from the user. This is a recipe for disaster and will lead to dissatisfied customers, silos, and less efficient service delivery.

However, it's not quite that simple. First and foremost, it is crucial to implement multiple feedback channels, whether surveys, user groups, drop-in sessions, etc. The keyword here is "multiple". One single feedback procedure will not necessarily be successful. Customers need to understand which options are available for them to provide feedback, when they can do this, and the ease of use. What works and what doesn't will vary from business to business, so it's important to test your methods to find the best solutions.

Customer feedback is one of the most important tools available to your organization. Your service is built around customers' needs, desires, and expectations; therefore, their voices must be heard to achieve success.

Tip: Make the most of user feedback.

That leads to the next step, deciding what to do with user feedback. If customers provide feedback but no action is taken, that could have a more negative impact than not collecting their feedback at all. This is where expectation management comes into play. Of course, you will never be able to act off the back of every single piece of feedback gathered, but all feedback can be acknowledged, and an honest and transparent response can be provided.

There will always be opportunities to use customer feedback to make improvements to your services, but that doesn't always mean you will get it right the first time. Putting test groups or customer advisory boards in place is an excellent way to learn whether the changes you have implemented will be successful and to gather further feedback on what would make it successful.

Tip: Harness the power of self-examination.

Feedback is not the only way to gauge customer needs and expectations. As obvious as it might sound, building the correct reports and using that data to drive-decision making within your business is invaluable. Reporting is not just for business metrics and key performance indicators; analyzing this data can help direct improvements and better client experience. How are users contacting you? Predominantly by phone, or has the uptake in self-service risen? What are customers searching for within your portal? Which knowledge articles are most popular? These examples can be reported on, and those results can be taken into consideration to deliver customer success.

Customer journey mapping is another exercise that can be used to provide your organization a visual representation of the engagement clients have with your business, starting from the moment they first interact with you. This is a strategic approach, allowing a clear view of the experience you provide to customers and how that compares to both your aspirations as an organization and the needs and expectations of clients. This method helps with prioritization and finding the balance between what your customers want and what works for you as a business.

Tip: It's time to ask, not guess.

The key to understanding your customers is understanding that the transition to self-service requires time and a cultural shift within your organization. This is not an overnight process, which is why providing users with omnichannel support is vital to provide the best customer experience.

It isn't that the human touch is no longer important. This can now be supported through other channels, such as a knowledge base or chatbot, enabling human interaction to be more accessible to those who need it.

But ultimately, to truly deliver the services your customers want, whether they're more into self-help or reaching out, you must ask. Because customer success doesn't work if it's a guessing game.

Tonicha Kuzan is customer success manager at TOPdesk U.K.