The year 2015 highlighted quite a few industry trends making big impacts. Security became a much higher priority for all companies, not just those in the financial and healthcare industries. Companies migrating to the cloud became the norm. The big data and IoT phenomenon found its legs, and the mentality of “content is king” for digital marketing was driving all mature marketing campaigns. And while there’s no sign of those trends slowing down, there’s a new competitor in the mix for 2016. From our lips to yours, 2016 will be the year of customer success.
1. Self-serve help will be first choice
At a time when people have near instant internet access and expect quick results, it’s imperative to provide easily accessible, concise educational resources for your customers. Their time is valuable and when a problem arises, they want to find a quick solution, ideally without having to pick up the phone, fire off an email or open a chat support window in an attempt to contact someone from your help desk. It’s no wonder Gartner includes self-service in its list of top three customer experience projects. Empower your customers to help themselves. Ensure FAQs, instructions, videos, release notes etc. are up to date, easy to read and featured prominently on your site.
Clearbit provides excellent resources for its customers.
2. Connecting customers
Piggy-backing off the idea of self-serve help, the availability of public forums and community groups enable greater customer success. Your customers can communicate with others in similar situations to find out what worked best for them. Often times hearing a solution or suggestion from a peer seems more legitimate than hearing it from the company that sold you the product. Why? Because your peers have no skin in the game and will be completely honest about what worked and what didn’t. Worried about customers sharing pain points or complaints? Don't be! A forum or community group consolidates complaints into one place, making it easier for your team to identify real problems for your users, whether they’re reporting them to you or not. At the same time, it highlights power-users, provides them an organic platform to speak about your product and enables you to further maintain the relationship by keeping them engaged.
Hubspot enables its users, around the country, to meet and discuss the software
3. Personal and authentic attention
Providing personal and authentic attention to your customers will become table stakes in 2016. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have exposed consumers to the power of personalization. Because of this, consumers are becoming used to that level of personalization and service, in turn raising their expectations for all interactions, regardless if the company is B2B or B2C. It’s no secret companies are collecting data on their customers. The easiest and most rewarding way to use that information responsibly? By personalizing your interactions with them and ultimately, building a trusting relationship. Use the data you have to remember important details in past conversations or to predict issues a customer might have with a new feature release. This level of personalization leads to an increase in authentic interactions. Customers will come to expect and demand this authenticity for future interactions.
4. Video content will be king of kings
As mentioned briefly in the introduction, 2015 really put content on a pedestal. Companies realized the importance of providing valuable, non sales-pitch information for current and potential customers. In 2016, video will become a much larger percentage of that content. In their B2B Marketing report, Regalix reveals that 78% of survey respondents identify video as the most leveraged type of content. An even crazier statistic is that Cisco predicts by 2017, video will account for nearly 70% of all consumer internet traffic. What this means is videos that provide easy fixes, industry tidbits or instructional content will no longer be best practice, they will be the standard.
Warby Parker has an entire YouTube channel devoted to customer help
5. Customer success teams will take on a more visible role, earlier
B2B companies are wising up to the fact that a strong focus on customer success can differentiate them from their competitors. Customers using freemium models or who are trialing a product still need support and a customer success representative can make the difference between them staying with the company and eventually upgrading or jumping ship to find a more attentive vendor. Customer success is no longer a department just dedicated to current clients with current problems. In 2016, it will play a major role in attracting new customers and will be the most effective way to strengthen relationships with current clients.
6. Omni-channel service
It’s become the norm for companies to offer several avenues of communication for their clients. It makes a lot of sense considering 95% of customers use more than one channel to communicate with companies. But the challenge is maintaining all channels with some level of consistency. Say a customer has a bad email interaction and opts to contact a support team via chat instead. The problem was solved promptly and completely via chat but the customer still had to repeat the original complaint. The good service through chat doesn’t cancel out the poor email exchange and the customer won’t forget the inconsistent and lackluster support. Customers want prompt, consistent service, across all channels, without having to repeat themselves. This desire has made it critical to have a way to aggregate and keep track of chat logs, emails, help desk tickets and phone calls. B2B companies will need to adapt, turning to relationship management software (like Synap, for instance) that can seamlessly handle these complexities and allow access to anyone in the organization who works with clients.
Maintaining a competitive advantage in the new year will require a large focus on customer success. Nurturing long-lasting relationships with your existing customers is much more valuable to your organization than solely focusing on sales. By providing ample, easy-to-find resources like FAQs and videos, community groups, personal & authentic interactions and a strong omni-channel experience, coupled with an active customer success team, you will be well on your way to delighting your customers in 2016.