5 Customer Success Best Practices That Actually Lower Churn
The customer success renaissance that emerged in the past six years isn’t going anywhere.
Before, there was an underlying "growth at all costs" engine powering startups and companies, but growth was unstable and unpredictable. Now, customer loyalty and retention have proven themselves as major drivers of revenue — which means investing in a customer success team is crucial for reducing churn rate, not just a nice-to-have.
Whether you’re a customer success manager or leading a team, there are infinite best practices you can implement and lots of gray areas of what good customer success looks like. We’ve outlined five practices that help you maintain a personalized touch throughout your customer's journey, which in turn builds trust, improves communication, and helps your customer see value in your product quickly.
1. Stay high touch with clients in the first 90 days
The first 90 days of a customer relationship are, in our experience, the most important for reducing customer churn. And that’s because your clients use this time to evaluate whether they can actually achieve their goals with your product. That's why it's important to be high touch, or especially helpful and hands-on, at the onset of your relationship so that you can show them how to use your product in a goal-oriented, effective way.
Dedicate a few members of your customer success team to focus on these new clients. Even if you have a two-person team, consider dedicating one person to customer onboarding — it’s that important. If you try to be 100% available to 100% of your customers, you aren't spreading yourself wisely. Instead, be 150% there for new customers, and, if your bandwidth requires it, pull back on post-90-day customers.
Being high touch includes showing face often with your client. Establish regular touchpoints with them during key moments of their onboarding process to ask how they're doing, if they're experiencing any problems, or what tasks they wish to prioritize over the next month. This helps to humanize their experience and lets them get to know you better.
2. Make goal-setting a collaborative process
Setting goals collaboratively is the best way to align on customer needs. It’s a chance to run through every question on each other’s minds, share the past results you’ve seen from other clients, and run through all likely scenarios. And, the earlier you can align with your customer, the better.
The main reason collaborative goal-setting is so effective is twofold: it allows you to get customer input, and it allows the customer to feel heard. Both parties have input on building the vision, and you don't get started until both have signed off on it.
Schedule some time with your client to have a goal-setting conversation. This conversation needs to be tactical, not aspirational. It's a time for your customer to lay out their needs and priorities, and share their vision for an ideal customer experience. Work together to drill to the heart of what they need and come up with a strategy to achieve it.
Make it easy to log your client's goals using a streamlined dashboard that lets you keep track in a shared and easily accessible space. Using a shared project management tool helps to increase accountability and ensures both parties can see important tasks and upcoming deadlines.
3. Encourage customers to contribute to product updates
Soliciting customer feedback can help you determine what product changes they value and lets them feel like they have some ownership over your product without needing to give them access to your backlog. SaaS companies are now incorporating feedback-driven development within product development as a way to let customer success teams own more of the product roadmap.
Customer success teams should represent the voice of the client in product development because customer success teams are typically the best-informed team about what’s working or not working for the customer on a daily basis. That feedback from clients is crucial information that can help your company refine its product into something better suited for your customers’ needs.
Schedule a meeting with your client with the goal of discussing a product update. This is a golden opportunity to show off what your team hopes to accomplish and solicit their thoughts. Ask them how this update would or would not improve their experience. Be sure to also give them space to pitch fresh ideas or bump items up in priority.
4. Offer multiple pathways for your client to stay in touch
In customer success, different communication channels are for different purposes. The customers you work with have a more personal relationship with your brand and with you. But not all questions and conversations work best in the same way. They might not want to complain about the quality of an element of the service in a shared Slack channel if the person who performed the service is also there.
In order to provide a high level of customer support, you want to let them know there are multiple avenues available for them to talk through issues. Some simple pathways you can develop for your clients are:
- Set up a shared Slack channel for your customer base to chat with each other and contribute their internal knowledge. For bigger issues, a customer service manager can step in and work one-on-one with the client.
- Use a client-first management tool, like Coordinate, to keep track of project status and goal tracking. Pop in useful links, like an FAQ or training modules, under tasks that might require more technical know-how. Implementing this kind of tool is especially helpful for updates and deadlines that need to stay highly visible.
- Always make sure your team responds quickly and at the first sign of trouble.
5. Personalize what success looks like for your client
Customer success is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The way you measure and track wins will, most likely, be dramatically different from client to client.
There are opportunities for personalization in all parts of the customer journey that will guide them toward major wins. Taking the time to understand what success looks like for your customer fosters trust between both parties and lets them feel like a valued part of your company — not just another line on your to-do list. Some ways to personalize your client’s path to success might look like the following:
- During sales, dedicate time to understanding what success looks like for your client. Once they’ve been onboarded, use their response as a framework for your customer success plan, allowing you to align on expectations and goals and track progress accordingly.
- Ask them a series of questions that touch on their experience with your product. It’s like a user survey, but you’re doing it face-to-face (via Zoom or in-person). Some of these questions might include identifying moments of friction or what they think you could be doing better. Do this not just once but periodically throughout their journey.
- Maintain a shared to-do list with tasks assigned to both parties. Find a cadence for both sides to share their progress, whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Identify anything that feels stagnant or repetitive, and offer to help if possible.
Keep your customers’ needs organized in one space using a tool like Coordinate. This lets you keep customers organized by project and allows them to have shared access, so both parties stay on the same page with priorities, progress, and any challenges that could get in the way of a win.
Put your customer success best practices to use with a customer-centric tool
At the end of the day, customer success is about relationship building. You need to actively listen and strive to understand your client’s unique business needs in order to help them achieve their goals.
Even though customer success is considered more valuable than ever before, 38% of companies still haven’t invested in a customer success tool. Implement the best practices outlined above using a platform that keeps your client front and center, like Coordinate’s collaborative project management tool.
A customer-centric space gives you an easy-to-access portal to track progress. Coupled with an ironclad customer success strategy, it sets you on a pathway to prevent customer churn, cultivate happy customers, and transform your decent relationships into fruitful and long-lasting partnerships.
Do you need a better way to manage customer projects? Coordinate can help, signup here!