Read this guide on customer onboarding and get tips to prevent churn.
Most customer success teams operate on a high-touch model where every customer enjoys dedicated attention from a customer success manager (CSM) throughout their journey.
But this level of engagement requires heavy investment in both time and personnel, making it impractical for companies to support large numbers of customers as they scale.
We spoke with Loïse Mercier, Team Lead, Customer Success Manager at Livestorm, to help you align customer success metrics and build a scalable customer training strategy.
Onboard your customers with this in-depth guide, and turn them into product champions.
The customer success team is there to make sure customers meet their goals with your product. They need to have a deep understanding of your product, as well as your customers' business goals. Here's what Loïse suggests customer success teams should level up on to provide world-class service at scale:
Providing in-person training to every customer is impossible when you have a large customer base or product portfolio. Webinars, video conferencing, and online courses are some of the ways to deliver VILT. It allows learners to ask questions as they engage with the instructor in real-time.
According to Loïse Mercier, "Our onboarding process for enterprise clients includes a minimum of one virtual training to provide basic information on how to use Livestorm, how to create and host an event."
“An advantage of VILT is that it can be easily recorded and reused for on-demand viewing. This reduces the training costs and makes it more convenient for learners.” To achieve success with VILT, Loïse recommends "providing the best content for clients because adoption will come with engagement."
Customers at every stage of their journey need educational content that is easily accessible and available on-demand, so they don't have to wait for the next live training session. Customer education is a blend of training, support, and success content.
At Livestorm, since there’s only one VILT, Loïse, says, "Having on-demand content is great as it is flexible and customers can watch it in their own time. Livestorm has also created opportunities for clients to ask questions."
Customer training doesn't have to start from scratch. Chances are, you already have a lot of content that can be repurposed for training, such as blog posts, on-demand webinars, videos, eBooks, etc.
"When you're a customer success manager, you always want to provide the best content to your client that’s adapted to their use case," says Loïse. "We don’t want to share something that’s not relevant."
Livestorm hosts virtual events where clients and prospects can learn about various topics, such as "How to Organize a Virtual Event" and "Best Practices for Webinars." These events are often recorded and made available on-demand so people who couldn’t attend can still benefit.
When answering clients, Loïse recommends "providing a detailed and personalized answer along with an article to learn more about use cases or go beyond."
As your customer base and product portfolio grows, it becomes impractical to maintain an optimized ratio of CSMs to customers. To avoid burning out your team, it’s important to have clear guidelines in place for how customer inquiries should be handled.
"At Livestorm, we have a defined mission, objective, and strategy for our team. We also have a clear understanding of what success looks like for each customer and how we can help them achieve it," says Loïse.
To provide the best support possible, it’s important to have a dedicated team who are experts in your product. This team should be able to quickly resolve any customer issues and escalate tickets when necessary.
To find the right personnel, you should be "hiring people who are passionate and have a lot of empathy because each CSM walks with a portfolio of customers and they represent the customer's perception of the product."
Automation can help to free up your team's time so they can focus on more complex issues. It’s also crucial to empower the team, so they feel confident in their abilities to handle customer inquiries. "When team members have the flexibility to take part in the process creation and idea generation it enables for a greater equation of success," according to Loïse.
Most companies reference their high-performing customer success teams as one of their competitive advantages. And with good reason! A recent study by McKinsey Quarterly found that nearly 70% of buying decisions are made based on how a customer feels they are treated. It makes sense that founders would invest in customer support teams, and expect big returns as a result.
However, this investment must be appropriately timed, and knowing when to scale your customer support team can be challenging. As a guide to customer onboarding, Loïse tells us that "customer success is a process, it's not an event."
For Loïse, the main triggers are customer growth and the need to cover additional time zones. "It's always best to anticipate and prepare for the challenges of scaling by implementing the right tools and processes so that the team is fully staffed because, by the time you hire and onboard a new member on your team, more customers will be added.
And once you begin to scale, there may be an influx in conversations your team needs to handle.
"One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that we continuously measure the service quality and improve the customer experience while scaling."
Opening up communication with your team and providing them with the right tools is a good way to support them. And always recognize their efforts, sharing CSM wins with the rest of the team.
Onboard your customers with this in-depth guide, and turn them into product champions.
If you don’t already have a healthy set of help documents for your customers to reference, creating one is a key step to scaling customer support. A lot of smaller companies start out with a FAQ page on their website, which is a simple solution to fortify their support team.
For Loïse, these common webinar questions are an opportunity to take some pressure off of your CS team. "Our customer care team provides an extensive help center with written articles, videos, and support can be reached by chatbot or email."
As you move into the big leagues, you can create a searchable knowledge base of help documents. Your customers can use keywords to solve their issues instantly, without needing to wait for a response from an expert.
So how exactly can you help your customers help themselves?
"For self-serve clients, there’s weekly training given by our customer care experts which is another resource that can be used by the customer," says Loïse.
As a final note, be wary of burying the option to contact your support team directly. Forcing customers to wade through your knowledge base when they have an urgent problem doesn’t encourage a healthy relationship. This is where the omnipresent chatbot can play a big role. Being transparent about where you can be contacted makes it clear that helping is your top priority.
We really like video (after all, it’s kind of our thing), so it makes perfect sense for us to incorporate video into our help content. We’ve beefed up our existing documentation with videos that address frequently asked questions or take deep dives into complex topics.
"Our product education team integrates videos in the help center, and using video content helps users to understand the product, while some may prefer reading an article with screenshots, we like to offer them the choice to select the resource they prefer."
“At Livestorm, we also use a lot of live videos as part of our support strategy. Our sales team hosts weekly product demos for new clients to help them through the onboarding process. For our enterprise clients, we also host ‘ask me anything’ sessions in French and English so customers can ask questions and use this as an added resource.”
At Livestorm, good tools are our bread and butter. And when it comes to Customer Support, we have a stack of curated tools that help us collaborate and communicate at scale.
Some of our favorite tools in our toolbox are:
Intercom is a communication tool that helps brands build strong customer relationships. We use Intercom for our support chat where we blend live and automated support.
Helpscout is a helpdesk app that combines email-based customer support, knowledge-based tools, and an embeddable search/contact widget for customer service professionals. At Livestorm we use it to make our help documentation.
Automated messaging platform Customer.io masters SMS, email, and push notifications for customer relationship building. It is also home to all of our email campaigns and onboarding emails.
We've been fans of Wistia for a while now. They combine video hosting with marketing software. We use Wistia to host our replays and interviews. We also make our help tutorials with it.
NPS tool Satismeter collects customer feedback. We use it to track our own NPS scores.
Asana is a product management tool for teams. At Livestorm, Asana is where automatic tasks are created to alert the team about customer health.
Salesforce is a CRM software that helps sales and marketing teams manage their customer relationships. We use Salesforce to keep track of all our deals and customers in one place.
Planhat is a customer success management platform that offers customer lifecycle management, ad hoc reports, performance metrics, and manages workflows.
Good CS tools need to scale with your growing team, so subscription-based models where you can add team members as needed can be useful. They also need to be transparent so that team members can transition between shifts. Shared inboxes and task assignments help teammates know what’s going on with customers at a glance.
Customer support is all about people. So, when hiring for new customer support roles, take a look at your existing team. What characteristics do they seem to embody? Chances are, your most successful CS members are great communicators.
A customer support manager's key focus is solving problems. So, it’s no surprise that the best CSMs can navigate tough problems and find solutions on the fly. And, since the role is so people-focused, empathy is also going to be a requirement. Finally, hire Customer Success Managers that are kind. Since 95% of customers have taken action (like churning or complaining about the business to others) after a negative customer experience, your CS team can significantly impact your bottom line.
Focusing on who makes up your expanding CS team wouldn't be complete without considering where your team is located. As a SaaS company, your customers are likely spread across the world. And it is possible that you have just one home office. To make sure that your customers get the best support whenever they need it, you’ll need to be available at their convenience.
The best way to balance your CSM team with your growing business is to embrace remote workers. This does not mean outsourcing your customer support team to cheaper locations. Rather, hire highly skilled CSMs in the areas where you have the most clients. This way, they will be operating at the same time and on the same workdays as your customers.
And just like how you should focus on the right people for your team, make sure you are measuring their progress in the best way. Metrics like resolution time create the wrong incentive for CSMs. You don’t want clients to be rushed through the help process. Instead, look at metrics like first response time. Most customers expect to receive a response within a 24-hour period after they first reach out for support. Responding promptly sends a message that you care, and are serious about solving your client's problems.
Automation can be an excellent way to relieve some pressure from your expanding CS team. However, they should not replace your team entirely. You can blend automation with live support help, to make the customer experience more productive. Automating repeatable tasks is a good place to start.
Your automation can act as a “front desk” for your team, fielding incoming questions and connecting clients with the best CS managers. Looping in humans when there are time-sensitive issues (like billing concerns) is imperative for maintaining good relationships.
Loïse prefers to use automation to reach out to clients, "We recently invited our enterprise clients to a masterclass event and used automation to email them the information and if they had any specific questions, they could ask back to our customer success manager."
"It’s important to remember that there is a team behind every automation setup and 1:1 discussions should happen throughout the enterprise customer journey. Ask for feedback from clients since most of the time they’re marketing experts and their feedback should be taken into account to make sure we are scaling in the right direction."
Empowering the individuals on your team to make calls on what clients need is a surefire way to keep the human touch in your automated CSM.
Scaling a customer support team is about building a team of the right people, with the right approaches and customer onboarding software and tools. With a clear sense of mission, objectives, and quality standards, you can make sure your customer support team is ready to handle anything that comes their way.
You can scale customer experience by improving practices and processes, investing in better tools, and offering self-service options and a knowledge base.
You can scale training by having defined goals, objectives, and standards, leveraging technology, and revising your strategy frequently.
Customer success can be measured by customer churn rate, customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction score, Net Promoter Score, and other factors.