May 12 by Alan Manosca
Your customer base is your most valuable asset. It’s a customer-centric world. The growing push for SaaS based business models means a majority – some predict as much as 80% – of your business comes from renewals and existing customers.
The ability to accommodate your buyer’s needs is imperative. But don’t treat it as a chore, treat it as an opportunity. Strong customer relationships are an effective way to boost their satisfaction, learn valuable implementation and product information, and to help expand your brand loyalty.
Apttus was recently awarded two Customer Success Awards at Gainsight Pulse for our “ability to work cross-functionally across the company to put the customer at the center of everything that [we] do.” Currently we are proud to boast 100% Adoption and HappyCustomer™ rating. It started with a transformation in philosophy company wide, and a commitment to the idea that our success is only a result of our customers’ success first.
Here is a look at 5 best-practices that helped us achieve total customer success.
1. 100% Customer Success Starts with 100% Commitment
Customer success is not just the responsibility of your customer relations team, it needs to be a company-wide initiative and a top to bottom obligation. Two ways we ensured customer-first culture, first was through education. Everyone at Apttus is certified as part of our HappyCustomer™ program, regardless if he or she is customer-facing, on adoption and support best practices, so customers can get the most value from all Apttus employees. Second, we changed our definition of success and compensation model along with it. Most companies celebrate when a deal closes, but really that’s the beginning of the customer journey. At Apttus, a deal isn’t considered closed, until we’ve helped the customer achieve 100% adoption. In order for customers to realize the benefits of our Quote-to-Cash solutions, they need to understand them and use them.
2. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
In the past, our Customer team was more of a fire department than a Customer Success Team. We developed, with the help of Gainsight’s solutions, a full 360° view of the customer’s health. With health thresholds and early warning systems, we are able to get out in front of potential issues before they become issues. We also have a full comprehensive health score, measuring their happiness in a range of areas including satisfaction, sentiment, reference-ability, and renewal predictability.
3. Connect with Your Customers
If your only engagement with customers is when something is wrong, you will develop a negative association with your brand which can become in issue at renewal time or even rub off on other deals. Instead, open lines of communication. Give them a forum to ask questions, make suggestions, and learn more about your products. Don’t be afraid to engage with them in social media and even through your marketing programs. Don’t forget, your customers are also your prospects in up-sell, cross-sell and renewal opportunities. Just because they use your product doesn’t mean you are done engaging with them. But do more than just promote at them. Make it engaging and equally beneficial for your customers. At Apttus, we’ve developed an advocacy program which gamifies our engagement. Every time a customer engages with us or our brand, they earn points which they can redeem for cool prizes and gift cards. We also send monthly customer newsletters highlighting important product updates and customer successes.
4. Allow Your Customers to Connect with Other Customers
We have millions of users, so we developed a Quote-to-Cash Community where our customers can meet, interact, network, share best practices, problems and more. Within our community we also sponsor a “Birds of a Feather” program in which we match similar companies and Quote-to-Cash use cases and “Circles of Success,” which are Quote-to-Cash related user groups.
5. Executive Sponsorship
During the deal process, we match all of our customers up with an executive sponsor who meets face to face with the team and ensures all of their concerns, needs, wishes are heard and addressed. It’s one of the ways demonstrate the importance of their relationship and let them know that they have Apttus support not just from our customer success team, but from the highest levels.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the outcome. The success of your customers, and ultimately your success, is dependent on your ability to recognize and deliver their desired outcome throughout the entire customer lifecycle. It is that strong, continuous commitment to their success that leads them to stay longer, buy more, and ultimately become advocates of your brand.