Predict churn, reach out to customers at just the right time, improve retention and increase new sales, upsells and cross-sells—the promises of a robust customer success program are practically a recipe for success. They might even sound too good to be true, but they make fundamental sense. When you provide your customers with the support they need to achieve their desired outcome, your success and their success go hand-in-hand.
That is the philosophy behind “customer success.”
But don’t think of customer success as a handful of tactics to reduce churn. It will serve you much better to embrace customer success as a high-level strategy to accelerate and sustain growth in a competitive market.
With the right stack of tools, integrating customer success practices into your business is relatively easy and painless. Here is a list of our favorite solutions for helping your customers reach their desired outcomes.
Our Customer Success stack includes:
Of course, many of these tools are available on the Segment customer data platform. With Segment, you can deploy them to your website or application in just a few clicks.
Customer success begins with defining your ideal customer – if those last two words make you think “happy customer,” you need to read these first:
1. Ideal Customer Profile Framework – Your ideal customer profile is the foundation for everything you do, from the product you build to the words you use to market it. Understanding your ideal customer’s needs, wants, pain points, ideal outcomes and more allows you to create solutions that speak uniquely to them.
2. Customer Success for Dummies – What Every SaaS Startup Founder Should Know – includes an invaluable section titled “how customer success works, with real, actionable tips.”
The modern customer is on the go and likely to engage with you on more than one device. You’ll need a variety of tools to meet them where they are.
3. Drift – Live chat for your website that’s free for up to 100 actions per month, comes with lead intelligence via email and slack and integrations with Intercom, Segment, Mixpanel, Hubspot, MailChimp and more. Drift Daily shows you real-time lead activity in email and/or Slack alerts, complete with names, faces and context of new signups (and it’s free).
4. Intercom – Intercom is one place for every team in an internet business to communicate with customers, personally, at scale—on your website, inside web and mobile apps, and by email. Engage is Intercom’s product for marketing automation that lets you use targeted, automated messages to onboard new users, announce new features, and re-engage people at risk of churning.
5. Ramen – Build a better SaaS product by learning from your customers. Get answers to simple, highly-targeted questions while they use your app. Ramen integrates with Segment and Slack, and installs on just about every website platform. It also allows many question formats.
6. Respondly – Want to tackle Twitter as a team? Respondly keeps your team perfectly in sync on Twitter, so you can deliver support in a fraction of the time. Tweets can be assigned to team members, making it easy to keep track of who’s in charge of each response and manage your to-do list.
7. Talkus.io – A live chat + email helpdesk that lets you talk with your website users without ever leaving Slack. Talkus Includes displays of the user’s weather, location and local time for more personal introductions.
8. Zopim by Zendesk – Award-winning live chat software solution. With Zopim you can chat with visitors in real-time and increase conversions; sales teams love the automated chat popups. With advanced analytics and visitor targeting, you can create experiences that are unique to each user.
Success & Happiness Monitoring
Customer success milestones should, ideally, be built into your app so that users can track their own successes (and your sales team and/or success team can keep tabs on their progress as well). Typically though, companies get this backwards.
How well are customers finding success with your product? Track satisfaction and success metrics with these tools.
9. Natero – Customer success software that lets you predict, analyze, and drive customer behavior with machine learning algorithms that show you which accounts need attention, why they need help, and how you can help them. Natero integrates with all major platforms including Salesforce and Zendesk. It delivers customer insights for sales and marketing to optimize messages, target those who are most likely to convert, and identify brand advocates.
10. Preact – Preact’s customer success solution makes it easy to predict customer health, so you can reduce churn and drive revenue. They just launched Ptero which uses data science to find correlations in customer behavior so you can understand which actions indicate retention or future churn.
11. Promoter.io – Capture actionable customer feedback using the Net Promoter System® to proactively reduce churn and drive growth. Then you can segment results based on product lines to view separate NPS scores.
12. SatisMeter – Collects in-app customer feedback using Net Promoter System℠. You’re customers around the globe will appreciate being able to fill out the survey in their native language.
13. Totango – A customer health analytics system that helps you know when your customers are ready to move to the next level, need a little more product coaching, or are doing just dandy. Totango sends warnings when an account is at risk for churn, and highlights users who are super-engaged.
14. Wootric – A Net Promoter Score questionnaire that is automated and delivered inside your app, rather than through email. Being able to measure your Net Promoter Score inside your web application improves response rates and runs automatically to deliver real-time NPS feedback.
Catching problems before they become support tickets is a major goal of customer success. But, for those times when you can’t…
15. Desk.com – Customer support software that lets you address customer needs from anywhere, on desktop or on mobile. Also includes survey features, business insights, performance monitoring and customer health monitoring. Desk.com helps you organize and maintain an up-to-date FAQ section so your agents and customers have access to the answers they need.
16. Zendesk – Zendesk makes it easy to support customers when they need your help, and makes it easy for customers to help themselves. You can also monitor your social media accounts and convert Tweets or Facebook posts into Zendesk tickets.
Metrics & Analytics
The promises made by customer success evangelists like me are backed with hard data, like this article from Shopify and RJ Metrics: What Sets Top Performing E-commerce Companies Apart? Customer Success is heavily focused on retention because companies that nail retention grow faster – as much as 2.5x faster than other companies within their first three years, primarily by marketing to existing customers. Marketing to existing customers only works if those customers are A) Happy, and B) Have already achieved success.
Ready to let your own data prove the worth of your customer success program (and help you with retention and growth?). These tools make it possible to see what your customers are doing, where they might be failing, and how well your customer success agents are coming to the rescue.
17. ChartMogul – Reporting and analytics for subscription-based businesses. ChartMogule specializes in tracking and organizing subscription metrics, like MRR, ARPA, LTV and Churn.
18. Heap – Heap automatically captures web and mobile user actions to allow you to analyze data instantly and retroactively. Heap’s retroactive analytics means you don’t have to worry about incomplete data. You can define user segments, or choose a user and find every action they’ve performed in your app or on your site.
19. Kissmetrics – Learning what’s working and what’s not working, across devices is a real challenge for marketers. Kissmetrics is focused on helping marketers improve their performance and provides a suite of tools that aid with analytics and conversion optimization. Their products allow marketers to trigger CTAs and understand the effect on user paths and retention.
20. Mixpanel – Learn how people use your app with advanced mobile and web analytics. Mixpanel gives you the ability to easily measure what people are doing in your app on iOS, Android, and web. Thousands of companies rely on Mixpanel to understand who customers are engaging with their business. They may it easy to pick and choose which actions to track and visualize that data in different ways.
Churn-stopping Subscription Management
Forbes called Customer Success “the best kept secret of hyper-growth startups”in an article that begins with an impressive number, supplied by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin: “Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is.” By “success,” he really means retention – the opposite of churn.
For most businesses, churn happens not because customers aren’t happy or successful, but because they simply fail to renew. That’s not on them – that’s on you. These tools make subscription management easy.
21. Chargify – Streamline your subscription management and recurring billing. Chargify offers tools proven to reduce churn, provide better customer support, and grow recurring revenue. You even create your own unique subscription plans – they can work with almost any billing scenario.
22. Churn Buster – Failed payments don’t have to result in churn. Churn Buster takes a holisitic approach to failed payment recovery that helps recover MRR and grow LTV. Don’t let another customer slip through the cracks.
23. Recurly – Subscription billing and recurring billing management. Recurly offers enterprise-class subscription billing for thousands of companies worldwide. Their customers recover an average of 7% of credit card revenue each month using Recurly.
Customer success comes in at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Jason Lemkin explains “Client Success owns the customer from point of inception (sometimes pre-close) all the way through the entire life and lifecycle of the customer. Sales closes the customer, and Customer (or Client) Success takes it from there.” Considering Jason Lemkin founded and grew EchoSign within a scant few years, it’s advice well worth heeding.
There aren’t many customer success management platforms out there yet – it’s a growing field. But these two are leading the pack as one-stop shops for customer success at every point in the buyer’s journey.
Tip: If you think you’ll be interested in investing in a full-blown CSM tool like Gainsight or Client Success in the future, make sure you leverage other tools that have a Segment integration. Then when it’s time to invest in a CSM, Segment will easily integrate your data.
24. Client Success – A customer success management platform that provides rich customer analytics, actionable insights and best practices for maximizing lifetime value. Client Success lets you customize your own best practice methodology with activities, goals and milestones specific to your ideal customer and engagement model.
25. Gainsight – A customer success management platform that allows you to operationalize across the entire customer lifecycle, across all customer segments (from low-touch to high-touch). Gainsight is designed to ensure customers are achieving their desired outcomes, and triggering appropriate intervention if they aren’t – or if it’s time to up-sell.
Reaping the rewards of a customer success program can only happen when the relationships between you and your customers are based on their successes rather than your own. The best stack of tools in the world won’t make that happen for you. It’s a paradigm shift that has to happen at all levels of your company. But the right tools can certainly make it easier to implement.