Once you’ve nurtured your prospects through the buyer’s journey with your tailored account-based marketing and sales efforts, and they sign on as a new account, it’s time for your Client Success team to jump in. If you think the road stops there, think again. Landing new accounts is fantastic, but retaining customers is what you’re truly after. Not only will the Client Success team help with onboarding and training efforts, they help manage client expectations with open and honest communication. The initial stages of onboarding are crucial to the success of a healthy customer-vendor relationship, and the information captured during this time will play a key role in how Marketing/Sales/Product teams will contribute to ongoing engagement. In the end, if you are able to help clients achieve their goals and add additional value throughout their contract term, they will likely become a loyal, long-term customer.
We sat down with RainKing’s own Client Success Director, Chelsea Madden, to get her take on how to set new clients up for success.
What are the keys to a successful Onboarding/Training process?
It is critical that before training even begins, you have a conversation with the customer to identify their success criteria, goals, initiatives, and challenges. "If our success criteria is different from theirs, the metrics evaluated at time of renewal will be vastly different and could jeopardize the account," says Chelsea. To mitigate that risk, make sure you understand what the client wants to gain from the onboarding process and from your product or service. By understanding these goals, you will know best how to set them up for success and can craft an onboarding agenda that supports those milestones. “Personalizing their experience is imperative. When onboarding and training a new client, you should customize the workflow and use cases as much as you can for each end-user/customer,” says Chelsea.
If your product allows for each user to have their own account on your platform, give them the power to customize their instance to meet their needs and then make sure you focus their training on those customizations. Keep in mind that each user’s responsibilities are going to be different. A custom solution for each one will allow them to do their job to their fullest potential, overcome pain points previously encountered, and contribute to their overall business objectives.
"The result from this customized training is twofold," says Chelsea. "First, your client will receive the personalized experience they seek and you will find that adoption will be more successful. Secondly, by providing unique training to fit your customer’s needs, you will expedite the value they see from your solution and help mitigate support tickets—putting you one step closer to retaining your client."
In addition to a customized training experience, take what you’ve learned from the success criteria conversation, and what you know of their job responsibilities, and assign your clients to the appropriate persona(s) that your team has defined. By taking a strategic ABM approach to client nurture, you will better provide them the content and supporting documentation they need to efficiently use your product/service and achieve their goals. And that’s another point for you in the column of providing excellent customer service!
TIP: Take RainKing for example. From marketing to sales professionals, we make sure our products are supporting the goals of our end-users and their business objectives. RainKing can tailor each end-user’s instance to meet their needs. We can set a specific territory and/or named accounts, areas of focus, product line, etc. Customizing RainKing to be specific to our end-user’s universe is crucial, and very desirable as their needs evolve.
What tips and tricks do you have for better understanding the organization and end-users that use your solutions?
- Map out the user's/decision-makers to manage turnover and promotions.
First, you must understand the roles each user plays in the organization. Chelsea says, “By understanding and monitoring the roles each user/decision-maker plays in the organization, you can have a better grasp on organizational turnover or promotions and be proactive in getting new people trained and engaged with your product/service.” It is critical to understand the organizational structure through the lifecycle of your partnership. The more you can stay ahead of changes like this and succeed at early adoption, the better chance you have of retaining that client for years to come.
TIP: During the onboarding process, create your own organizational chart of the end-users and their roles. As mentioned before, it’s likely each account will have a tailored solution. Monitoring each user will help you fill the gaps as people leave or move up, and you can continuously offer customized solutions as these changes happen. Good customer service starts with being proactive and being invested in your client's success.
- Understand consumption and feature adoption.
The next step is to understand how your offering is used and adopted. Chelsea says, “By understanding adoption, we can take an ABM approach and provide more tailored tips & tricks emails as well as training sessions. Individualized service is a key differentiator in our business process and ABM is a key component of that success. When you understand how an organization consumes information (down to the individual level) and the goals of that organization, you can better train and highlight features that will help the organization and individual solve their challenges.”
TIP: Meet with users to see how your solutions are being used. Ask questions regarding what they’d like to see improved or added. It is important to pass this information to your product team so they can weave it into their product road-map for future updates and features. Changes and improvements can take months to implement, so create content, seminars, and training sessions to better inform your users of how to leverage the current platform so they can get the most from the tool in the interim.
- Monitor usage and add/delete users.
“Monitoring usage protects our client’s investment. Providing a comprehensive overview of who is using the platform and who is not helps stave off open seats. This is also helpful for re-engaging with these individuals who might have ‘fallen off the wagon’,” says Chelsea.
By understanding the role users play and what pains they want your product to help solve, you will have an easier time bringing them back into the fold with messaging and support that fits their needs.
TIP: If you can, report on use per each user account. You can send them content showing what they might be missing out on. If these particular users don’t see the value, you can reevaluate how others in the organization might benefit.
How can a Client success team maintain ongoing engagement with existing customers and be proactive to provide better solutions?
Once the onboarding/training process is complete, the Client Success team becomes the main point of contact. Their objectives are to guide each account to a defined marker of success, based on factors like pain points, product customization, etc. A good Client Success team looks for upsell opportunities as well. They’re constantly relaying information to Sales, Marketing & Product based on the feedback they receive from the end users and decision-makers.
- Understand and engage with the end user.
As we’ve already mentioned, understanding usage is key to being proactive and identifying milestones and shortcomings are great ways for consistent engagement. Data is not the only driving force, feedback collected from trainings and conversations can better support messaging and user engagement.
Getting to know who exactly is using your product, and how they’re using it is useful information for both you and the Marketing team. Chelsea says, “Marketing can then craft messaging around how types of users leverage your product/service and develop helpful content for current users.”
If your messaging is generic, some of the benefits to each user group may not be communicated. By applying ABM and understanding the different user types and who falls into those categories at an organization, you can tailor your training and messaging for increased understanding, leading to increased adoption. Tips and tricks are only beneficial if they are unique to the end-user.
Additionally, with Client Success and Marketing working together, you can create a strong ABM strategy and provide content specific to users’ problems, or use the information to create case studies that will speak to your buyer personas. Sharing success stories and use cases that demonstrate a resolution to your prospect’s current pain points and challenges can be an extremely powerful message and will give your prospect’s confidence that your solution will meet their needs.
TIP: Create email marketing campaigns specific to the users’ responsibilities to help them with their day-to-day and long-term goals. By understanding the roles and responsibilities of the end-user, your messaging can be crafted to meet their needs and solve their problems. In addition, use this information to create specific use cases that align with your buyer personas to give them confidence in your solution. This is true ABM execution pre-and-post sale!
- Learn organizational behaviors and goals to offer new uses.
Stay up-to-date on what your clients are doing both at an organizational level and marketplace level. If you see an opportunity where your product or service could further assist them in their efforts, let them know. This is a perfect opportunity to further demonstrate the value your product can provide and an up-sell conversation could come from it! In addition, by taking a deeper interest in what your clients are focused on, you are showing them that they aren’t just another number—which will be something they remember when it’s time to renew.
“If for instance, you see an increase in the number of events your client is hosting and your platform provides features that can help make their job more efficient, reach out and provide them with personal training and content that they can leverage to improve their efficiency. The more you can be proactive and pivot as your client does, the more successful you will be at retaining them," says Chelsea.
In the end, the goal is to help your client achieve success and a by-product of that is they see the value in your solution. Results speak for themselves, so if they can’t live without your product/service, they’ll extend their license agreements for the long term.
TIP: Frequently monitor what your clients are doing, how they are using your offerings, and what they have going on in the marketplace. Follow them via social media, check their event pages, and create Google Alerts so you know when they are 'in the news'. By taking an active interest in your client, you can find easy ways to continue to build value and trust with them and keep the lines of communication open. RainKing can assist with this as well.
- Leverage knowledge from end-users to make product enhancements.
Don’t rest on your laurels. Customers’ needs constantly change and evolve, and you should always seek to improve your offerings to ensure your customers are happy. After all, who knows your product better than those who are using it? Chelsea says “Your Client Success team should collaborate with end-users frequently to best understand how the platform and their experience can be improved. Some of the best ideas for a new feature or product update come from our clients—so I would encourage any client success team to ask those types of questions. The results can be extremely beneficial to not just one client, but to your entire client base.”
In addition, conduct research and interviews with high-level executives. Understanding big-picture pain points and challenges will provide insight into what prospects, and existing clients, are looking for.
TIP: Once you’ve established how each user defines success, touch base with each one regularly to track their progress and what impact your offerings have on the outcome. You can jump on support issues immediately or offer solutions/customizations on how they can achieve their goals quicker. Additionally, you will gain insight into your product/solution’s shortcomings which can inspire future product enhancements. Success can change over the lifetime of your partnership, so continue to evaluate your client’s success criteria frequently to stay on top of those changes.
Thanks to Chelsea for these helpful tips on providing top-notch customer service. It’s evident a Client Success team is extremely important in converting new accounts into long-term loyalists. It starts with the onboarding process and getting to know the organization and its users, and continues with strategic ABM communications and ongoing Marketing engagement. Being proactive and investing in your customer's success will differentiate your offerings, making them come back year after year!