Ensuring your organization has everything in its toolkit to enable customer success has never been more important. Nearly 90 percent of service leaders agree that customers have higher expectations than they did in previous years, and that number continues to grow.
With these ever-rising standards, customer success goes beyond just ensuring your customers are given everything they need to have a positive experience with a product or service: It means ensuring your organization understands its customers and makes a conscientious effort to improve their experience every step of their journey. When done strategically, customer success can reduce churn, boost retention or renewals, improve brand loyalty, and drive revenue.
“2023 will be the year of the customer,” says Shawn Stinson, Former GUIDEcx director of customer success.
Let’s talk about five key trends that Stinson says organizations will need to adapt to if they want to improve their customer success capabilities in 2023: enhancing the customer onboarding experience, building lasting relationships with decision-makers, balancing costs with what customers want, becoming more efficient with technology, and enabling customer service managers (CSMs).
1. Enhance Customer Experience During Onboarding
From the start, organizations need to ensure customers have a positive experience so they continue being customers. Customer experience is so important that 89 percent of consumers are more likely to make a second purchase after a positive customer experience.
Customer experience must be a priority, even when organizations face budget cuts.
“Organizations facing budgeting concerns this year will be asking more of their employees while trying to ensure their customer experience doesn’t change,” Stinson says. “The question is going to be this: How does your platform maintain high standards for customer experience?”
The answer to that question is to set positive standards during onboarding. When organizations get new customers, they should do everything possible to ensure the process is seamless, user-friendly, and supportive. “Every customer is born with hope, and onboarding helps realize that hope,” Stinson says. “Onboarding is an organization’s chance to help customers realize how they’re going to get their hope.”
The early onboarding phases provide another chance to help customers understand the value behind what your organization is offering. Stinson calls the onboarding process the “second sell,” where organizations should strive to help customers be fully bought into the product or idea. The idea of a “second sell” during onboarding is important because it helps customers become more engaged with your offering, which leads to solid conversions.
Because providing customer experience is an important part of successful organizations in 2023, starting a positive experience directly from the beginning of the onboarding process is an ideal way to ensure customers are more satisfied with their choice. The standards and impressions that are built with customers during the onboarding process should set the stage for the rest of your customers’ time that your organization is serving them.
2. Build Lasting Relationships with Decision Makers
Relationships with the right people are important to customer success this year. 2023 will continue to be a year of unpredictable workplaces; on average, 4 million people quit their jobs every month in 2022, and 55 percent of workers were planning on looking for new jobs. This means many employees of your current or potential clients may leave or lose their current jobs.
Instead of working with new people each time you connect with a client, make an effort to build relationships with the decision makers or stakeholders—i.e., those who are more likely to be around in the long term.
“As people lose their jobs, that’s an opportunity to meet more people,” Stinson says. “Now is the time to swim upstream in your relationships and get aligned with the top decision-makers.”
If the decision-makers at the businesses you serve do not understand the value your platform brings and what you’re doing for their team, they will not remain customers for long. “If you’re relying on someone else to deliver that message to the decision-makers, like an application owner or system administrator, that’s a lot of control you’re relinquishing if you don’t have a relationship with the people at the top,” Stinson says.
Make it a top priority in 2023 to develop relationships with decision-makers to increase your customer success capacity. These relationships will build bridges that are less likely to fall with changes in the workplace. However, building relationships with these people takes work and time. With that in mind, treat them as business partners rather than just customers. The time invested in building these relationships can pay dividends in the coming year.
3. Balance Costs With What Customers Want
2023 won’t be without its economic challenges; a mild recession is forecasted in the coming year, and many indicators point to the fact that 2023 could look like 2020 for many businesses. Because customers are expecting more this year and the state of the economy may mean businesses are cutting costs, organizations need to focus on what they do best and how they can boost their return on investment without sacrificing value.
“One of the things that an organization can do is to align value with cost,” Stinson says. “If you can do more with less, that’s what stakeholders want to see.”
One way you can bring back advocates within your customer base is to curate case studies that share the value of your product or service. These studies prove how your organization’s offering helps customers succeed. Case studies often create lasting conversions well beyond those of testimonials and quotes plastered on your website.
In addition, talking to successful customers while creating case studies helps organizations understand what their customers value and where they need to focus on keeping the ROI high. To increase value in 2023 and move the needle on customers, focus on things that matter to customers instead of things you think matter to them.
4. Automate Processes and Become More Efficient with Technology
With organizations looking to cut costs, finding ways to automate processes and become more efficient has never been more important. Automation is an important part of improving the customer experience and success rate. Over 80 percent of business leaders say intelligent automation enhances the customer experience through faster responses. While automation as a customer success trend has been an organizational focus in recent years, it will be amplified even more in the market in 2023.
Automation also helps organizations boost their efficiency and effectiveness. After implementing GUIDEcx, Kount, an Equifax company, increased its capacity by 40 percent. This was due to the customer-facing automation of the platform.
“That is efficiency at its best,” Stinson says, “Helping people be as efficient as possible is key, especially with platforms that automate everything—where once you get it set up, everything runs. Use technology to increase your capacity.”
Your organization’s specific areas that could benefit from automation vary based on different needs and services. However, you can start by identifying repetitive tasks in customer relations, creating a standard operating procedures (SOPs) document, and listing functional areas in your business that may have opportunities for efficiency improvements.
This year, everyone wants to be more efficient, understand the true cost of their projects, and retain the customers they worked so hard to get. Those priorities are paramount when organizations seek a software solution to automate their processes.
5. Enable Customer Success Managers as Revenue Growers
CSMs are often the primary ones responsible for ensuring customers experience success with a company’s product while helping to reduce churn, guide customers through onboarding and adoption, and upsell or cross-sell to current customers. With customer success becoming more of a priority for organizations, customer success managers (CSMs) are more in demand. Roles in customer success are experiencing 34 percent growth year over year, with 72 percent of the positions in SaaS and IT, according to a 2020 study by LinkedIn.
Organizations are investing more in CSMs because of revenue-growth opportunities. More and more, CSMs are expected to improve client retention and identify expansion selling opportunities to grow the customer portfolio over time.
“CSMs should not be viewed as a support,” Stinson says. “They should be viewed as stewards that align your company with your customer.”
In 2023, CSMs should be enabled and given the resources to look for expansion opportunities and activities that increase revenue. Not only does this increase revenue, but it will also boost brand equity and loyalty as more customers experience success.
While 2023 may seem like a year of uncertainty, there are specific customer success trends to implement that will help organizations continue to make successful strides forward. By focusing on positive customer relationships from the initial onboarding process, building relationships with decision-makers, carefully balancing costs with what customers want, becoming more efficient with automated technology options, and enabling CSMs, organizations will be prepped to face anything in their path this year.
GUIDEcx Can Help
GUIDEcx puts customer success at the forefront of their service by guiding clients through optimizing their onboarding process, delivering products and services more efficiently, and speeding up time-to-value for customers. The GUIDEcx platform makes it simple to invite, guide, and engage internal and customer teams on a project with task automation, transparent project views, and quick access to tasks and status updates.
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Discover how GUIDEcx can help you improve efficiency by reducing your customer onboarding timeline and increasing the capacity of your project managers. Our unparalleled professional resources and unwavering commitment to excellence support our industry-leading customer onboarding solution.