A Digital-First Approach To Delivering Efficient Customer Value: Are You Leveraging The Power Of Digital Touch For All Of Your Customers?
The needs and expectations of the modern B2B customer are multifarious and ever-changing; 57% of customers prefer online channels of communication & 78% of customers have used multiple modalities of engagement across their customer journey (Salesforce, 2020). These increasingly complex customer demands, coupled with economic and organizational constraints, have led many SaaS organizations to fully redefine their customer experience from a strategic perspective, while updating the tactical approach used to deliver that experience. In response to these challenges, some Customer Success teams are making the costly mistake of focusing their efforts on higher-value customers while culling resources for the long tail. This approach means that many organizations are missing out on incredible opportunities to redefine their customer engagements and augment value realization for their customers and their business.
Now more than ever, customer delivery strategies need to embrace digital adoption techniques that increase team efficiency and maximize reach for all their customers. Crucially, these delivery strategies shouldn’t leave some customers out in the rain.
In this article, we share 5 tried-and-tested steps to effectively leverage digital strategies to supercharge your customer journey and boost the efficiency of your customer value pipeline for your entire customer base.
1. Differentiate Your Customer Lifecycle From Your Customer Journey
Before you can begin modifying your delivery models and your engagement strategy, you need to be clear on your customer journeys.
The reality in many organizations is that the customer lifecycle and the customer journey are one and the same and, in some instances, these terms are used interchangeably. However, they are separate and distinct and should be treated as such.
To illustrate the differences, consider the various functional areas within your organization that work together to orchestrate the customer lifecycle. For example,
- Sales, Marketing and Product work together to evangelize benefits and features to prospective customers
- Sales, Professional Services, and Customer Success work closely together to prescribe and deliver value to your customers
- Customer Success, Professional Services and Support work collaboratively to ensure customers continue to realize value and ROI from their investment
The work that these teams do together to progress a customer along the lifecycle is critical to delivering specific outcomes to the customer. However, this is not a customer journey.
A customer journey is intended to help the customer achieve specific product-related outcomes in a guided fashion, such as onboarding or feature adoption. Think of it like a map that will help customers get from one point to the next with prompts and guidance along the way.
Defining the many journeys that your customers may take throughout their lifecycle with you as their vendor is an opportunity to lead your customers to success using modalities that are digital and blended. These journeys can reinforce best practices and lessons learned from years of supporting customers by traditional means (for example, through weekly meetings, onsite use case planning, and QBRs).
To lay the foundation for an impactful customer journey, begin by thinking about the Value-Based Outcomes (VBOs) that your product or service offers. The key is to identify outcomes that are tangible, measurable, verifiable and directly attributable to your product. For each one, consider the customer behaviors and actions that are required to achieve the goal and build your journeys around these goals.
If the above sounds daunting, start slowly and think deliberately about all of the places where new customers get stuck today. And keep in mind that the customer journeys you design can overlap with a customer lifecycle stage, like onboarding. There may be an opportunity to highlight important behaviors for a customer to develop during onboarding such as knowing how to submit a support ticket, creating an online profile, attending a community event for new customers, etc. Use your initial set of journeys to reinforce the behaviors that your customers will need to be successful.
2. Find A Delivery Strategy That Works For Your Organization
As more and more organizations are tasked with doing more with smaller budgets, maximizing efficiencies by making strategic adjustments to your operating model is now an organizational imperative.
After defining your customer journeys, you may realize that your existing materials need adjustment. For example, you may notice that while some customers don’t read emails, others may choose not to engage with lengthy “how to” articles. Scaled delivery modalities can help here.
Scrutinize the areas where your customers need the most assistance during the journeys you designed above. Within these journeys, consider where it’s appropriate to incorporate a webinar, online community chat or user group. Different modalities will attract different types of customers and help to meet their needs at their preferred time and in their preferred method of engagement. In fact, incorporating a more human element in the experience may ultimately make your customers more comfortable and trusting of the journey you’re placing in front of them.
Over time, you can measure the effectiveness of these digital strategies to determine which tactics resonate the most with your audiences and which actions aren’t driving value in order to continuously iterate and optimize your strategy.
3. Thoughtfully Leverage Product-Led Growth
While email is arguably the easiest way to deliver messaging, it may not always land as intended. Customers might ignore messages entirely or simply opt out.
In this situation, you can leverage a powerful tool already at your disposal – your product itself. With coordination and planning, your adoption messaging can be displayed to users within your product and play a key role in influencing behaviors.
But in order to utilize Product-Led Growth effectively, you must lay the groundwork. You need to partner with your Product organization, establish cross-collaboration and agree on the most viable course of action, such as the ability to display in-product messaging. This will require participation from various teams and requires that your Marketing, CS and Product teams have the resources and support they need to foster ongoing collaboration and communication.
Based on the journeys you created above, consider where and when messaging can be displayed to new customers, such as:
- An in-product message showing where resources are located, for example, how to contact Support
- The assigned CSM for that particular account
- Webinar or user group announcements
- New use case guidance
4. Allow Data To Lead The Way
Any digital program will face constraints and challenges, such as opt outs and low engagement with content. In order to improve your digital strategies and drive effective engagement, you’ll need to monitor, analyze and action on the results of your programs.
As you’re creating your customer journeys, identify all of the interactions where data can be collected:
- Clicks and opens from emails
- Viewing in-product messaging and tying it to in-product behaviors
- Webinar views (live and on-demand)
- Live event attendance
Being able to correlate engagement with data will help you understand the net effect of your efforts, determine the best engagement points with your customer users and adjust your digital strategies accordingly.
5. Inform Your Technology Strategy
All of the data that you plan to collect from your various engagement points need to land somewhere – whether it’s a BI tool, other analytics platform or a dedicated Customer Success platform.
With a CS technology solution, you have the opportunity to augment your customer data and create a 360-degree view of your customers by combining the data derived from your customer engagements with health scoring. Your data strategy should include measures to incorporate data throughout the organization to inform efforts across the board. For example,
- Which use cases are the most and least successful across the customer base?
- What actions do all healthy customers take?
- What are the characteristics of churned customers or at-risk customers?
Map Your Way To Unparalleled Customer Value
There’s an undeniable opportunity available to B2B organizations right now: the ability to create or expand digital adoption motions using customer journeys. By determining the journeys that are critical to making your customers successful and leveraging the right content and messaging through a thoughtful data and technology approach, you can ensure you’re driving efficient customer value with your entire customer base.