Customer success is the key ingredient in growing any business. Whether it’s a commodity service you provide, or high-end consulting is how you deliver value, the key driver of your business goals is how well you understand your customer. As a business, while it is important to meet customer expectations, what’s more important is to make them keep returning to you by always exceeding their expectations.
With cloud and tech businesses competing for a space in the overall landscape, customer churn is the biggest threat signal. You don’t want your customers leaving you. Worse, you don’t want them leaving you for a competitor. And that signal is exactly what inversely proportionates to growth. In other words, growth is a direct function of how well you, as a business, are able to control and minimise churn.
These simple tips will get you started on winning your customers’ expectations and hearts, and help you build larger customer-centric goals from there.
Serve them better
This is something you’ll find in every vocabulary. So much that this is the very reason of your existence as a business. And this can be achieved only by managing your business efficiently.
An understanding of your customers’ pain points, problems and needs is the quintessential starting point towards customer-centric thinking and eventual customer success. Keeping revenue and sales targets aside, think, as a cloud services provider, of what the actual need for the cloud for a customer is. Are they opting for the cloud to reduce their costs? Or is it to increase their revenues? Or is it some measure of productivity that they seek?
And start thinking your way up from there.
Give them a single window of operations
There is no denying enterprises’ requirements to ease vendor management. Also, there’s no denying the resistance to change from their existing systems and tools. Keeping this in mind, how do you, as a CSP, give your customers a platform that helps them manage all (or most) of their tech needs from a single point of operations? To put it specifically, can you think of a single portal from where your customers can provision a virtual machine as well as buy an Office 365 subscription? What if they also need analytics on their own customer operations?
In other words, integrate their go-to tech. Customer success is determined by how well your offering fits in your customers’ processes and not the other way round.
However, it is important to keep in mind that integrating the cloud components & managing them is not an easy task. Challenges lies in handling the public, private & hybrid cloud environments. As do challenges in delivering a seamless user experience. Which brings us to the next point.
Delight them with stellar user experience
Let’s face it – UX goes beyond how things ‘look’. Customer/user experience starts from the time someone hears about your offering and decides to land on your website or pick up the phone to get more information. And it goes all the way till your customer renews your service or subscription, keeps renewing it and exhausts their lifetime value. Hence, customer success.
Delighting the customer is not a one-stop process. It involves countless iterations – spanning aspects right from grammar and language to an impeccable tech stack. And this is possible only when design, technology and business brains come together.
Deliver value, not just a service
As a CSP, selling cloud services is in your enterprise DNA. You know that, and so does your customer. And to put it bluntly, your competitor is doing the same. So how are you different?
The differentiation lies in value. Think of what it is that an enterprise chose you over your competitors. Or, think of why they’re considering you along with your competitors. Is it just a pricing game they’re in? Or is there a certain promise of value that they see in you that they don’t see in others.
Understanding this sets the most important tone for customer expectations.
Support a wide range of tools
Enterprises are notorious for using ‘legacy’ software – imagine VB6 still being used in today’s tech age. As a single window of operations, you can’t escape the need for integrating old and legacy tools. But given the state of tech today and for tomorrow, does it really make sense to build something for yesterday?
The answer is a definite ‘yes and no’. The trick here is to understand the use case for the said software, and the business case for the said customer. And the neater trick here is to figure out if the said legacy software can be ‘wrapped’ in more modern tech.
Offer more and better buying choices
This goes without saying – better and differentiated offerings are a must. But what will help you excel customer expectations, is if you’re able to give a wider variety of offerings along with a higher degree of buying control. As an example, if a customer wants to increase the RAM on their virtual machines for running end-of-month reports, does your platform allow for that? Or does it require them to buy a higher configuration machine altogether?
This tighter control on resource buying helps you achieve a wider variety in your service catalogue, and helps your customer achieve greater flexibility. This will not only help you compete, but also allow you to exploit on the growing market share.
Personalise your service offerings
As cloud providers, developing solutions that address main concerns with the business is dependent on the advantage of the cloud’s features. The best way to serve your customers is to know their business needs & requirements when it comes to cloud platforms and to offer them with the best choices for cloud selection. Especially in the case for cloud, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Working closely with your customers to develop a more tailored cloud solution will help build trust & increase the revenue of and from your customers. Customer success and trust always go hand in hand.
Be proactive with customer success operations
One of the worst situations to be in is if your customers are pointing out mistakes, errors or bugs. Be it with monitoring the cloud processes, or with general feature development, being proactive and transparent with customers is one of the most often missed points of customer delight.
Cloud customers, especially, need a constant reminder that their business is in safe hands. And to communicate that, be proactive with feature plans, roadmaps, data-driven messages, support tickets and the likes.
Let your customers use cloud to the fullest
Making the most of the cloud models helps your customer’s business stay more organised, reduce cost and keep it growing. Proposing different versions of cloud technology & settling with the best can make a big difference. From applications, platforms, servers, to storage and virtual desktops can enhance the ability to achieve business goals.
Lead from the thought front
Focusing on new cloud strategies/plans to engage customers, keeping track of the way cloud services are provided to customers is a way to make every step of the cloud process more profitable. Make sure that your services are customized to suit your customer’s needs and are in tandem with the latest technology preferences. A well-executed marketing plan can generate more anticipation about the technology & potentially might lead to good business.
In addition, don’t hesitate to offer a few ‘consultative’ plans. Whether you charge your customer for those, or bundle them in any other way, this sends out the message that your team is not purely mechanical. It establishes you a experts and, to a large extent, thought leaders in your domain, thereby giving you an edge in terms of brand equity.
Keep your customer success plan ready
A proper planning to market cloud services is essential to execute it in a way so as to get the maximum results. Conduct a research, gain clarity on different technologies that your clients are more interested in, and discuss the possible areas of improvement with them. This would always help to keep the business ahead of the curve.
At any given point in time, your product/services team should know what your customers think of your services, what they feel needs improvement, their likes and their dislikes. More importantly, your teams should be fully aware of what your competitors are offering that could make your customer switch out to them. Even if they don’t switch out, even a trial with a competitor should be seen as a threat.
At the end of the day, cloud services is a competitive market. And the only way to create differentiation and value is by delivering a first-class customer experience. As the age-old wisdom goes, keep it simple. Growth will follow.