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10 Tools You Need in Your Customer Success Toolbox

To build an excellent customer success organization and survive in such a competitive world, you need to scale your best practices in a repeatable way. There are a series of tools that can help you do that. Collectively, I refer to these tools as the Customer Success Toolbox.

By using the ten tools in the Customer Success Toolbox, you’ll be able to provide an amazing customer experience. More importantly, you’ll be able to retain customers and eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) customer churn.

Tool #1: Moments of Truth

Moments of truth are any touch point—digital, offline, or in person—your customer has with your company. These experiences should all be positive. They should also trigger some kind of interaction between your company and the customer.

For example, if the customer calls support, it triggers someone to respond. If someone visits your website and requests a white paper, it triggers the immediate electronic delivery of that white paper.

Positive moments of truth improve the potential for loyalty, and loyal customers are likely to buy more. They’re also more likely to advocate for your company.

Tool #2: Customer Success Playbooks

Probably my favorite tool, the customer success playbook tells you how (and when) to respond in an efficient and repeatable way at scale. It includes templates, best practices, strategies, collateral, and more.

Playbooks set the standard for your operating procedures by providing structure and consistency for the customer success team, while at the same time enabling your CSM’s to personalize the delivery. They ensure all clients receive the same level of service. Even though most companies face the same customer success situations, your playbook should reflect your company values, culture, industry expectations, and practices.

Tool #3: Customer Health

Customer health gives you insight into the trajectory of your customer. It allows you to be proactive and think about things to do if you need to reverse negative momentum and get the customer relationship back on track.

When you’re starting out, I recommend working with your Analytics team to capture data about six metrics. Focus on your customer’s sentiment/feedback, their product usage, whether or not they achieve their desired business outcomes, the account relationship strength, whether they’re utilizing all your service offerings, and their experience with your company’s support and operations.

Tool #4: Customer Risk Framework

A risk management framework is simply a way of proactively identifying, tracking, and managing risk throughout the customer journey life cycle. The framework should look at eight key risks customers face, including readiness risk, relationship risk, adoption risk, launch risk, fit risk, product experience risk, feature idea risk, and non-controllable risks.

A customer risk framework helps you identify the persistent risks that are weighing you down over time and prepare for the acute risks that hit you right out of the gate. And, once you’ve identified the risks, it also helps you plan for ways to mitigate them.

Tool #5: Customer Success Plans

A Customer Success Plan is a clear statement of how you will deliver value at every stage of your customer’s journey. It provides an agreed-upon set of business and technical success criteria to ensure the customer gets value at every stage of the journey.

A Customer Success Plan also provides consistency throughout the journey, so the focus on meeting (or beating) the customer’s expectations remains the same. The sooner you create the plan, the sooner you can drive value for the customer because each plan details exactly what is needed to achieve success.

Tool #6: Customer Segmentation

Segmentation divides your customer base into groups of customers with similar needs so you know how to allocate your resources effectively and efficiently. You can segment by customer, by customer journey phase (for example, onboarding), by risk/opportunity type (i.e. high-growth potential or at risk), and so on.

Segmenting is an excellent way to determine how to apply your resources to best meet both the desired outcome of the customer and your company’s internal metrics. Considering this is a main function of customer success, segmentation is a crucial part of your toolbox.

Tool #7: Customer Delight

Traditionally, customer delight has been thought of solely as gift giving, but a more robust understanding of customer delight has the power to transform your business. It helps to make the customer’s experience even more positive, which has ripple effects throughout their entire journey.

There are nine elements to modern customer delight: giving swag (least important), delivering value, making doing business with you easy, being proactive about increasing value for your customer, being responsive, helping your customer succeed, and being transparent (when you make a mistake or change something).

Tool #8: Voice of the Customer

The voice of the customer is all about listening, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback. When utilized across your entire enterprise, this tool is effective at helping you retain, expand, and create advocates within your customer base.

Throughout the customer journey, you’ll get information about the customer delivered to you constantly. The ability to capture that information and put it in a unified place where it can be analyzed is essential to better understand where the customer is along their journey and what their experience has been with your brand.

Tool #9: QBRs and EBRs

QBRs (quarterly business reviews) and EBRs (executive business reviews) are some of the most powerful tools in your toolbox.

QBRs are regular meetings with your customer to discuss project impact (such as metrics, value ones, and so on). QBRs also allow you to track your customer’s engagement with your product and determine how you can help them achieve ongoing success.

An EBR, on the other hand, presents information at a much higher level, with a focus on executive leadership. Held twice per year, the EBR is a strategic meeting that should focus on reinforcing the value in your customer ROI.

Tool #10: Metrics for Goals

The last tool in our Customer Success Toolbox is metrics. Metrics are the measurements you monitor and evaluate to track progress on goals. When you think about metrics, reporting, and customer success, you need to keep both the customer and the company in mind.

You can have 10, 20, 30, or 50 metrics—and if you do, you should write them all down—but from my perspective, you should start with five core metrics first: customer churn, gross revenue retention, net retention rate, expansion annual recurring revenue (EARR), and customer effort score (CES).


This article was adapted from the book, The Seven Pillars of Customer Success, written by Wayne McCulloch. Wayne, who is one of the world’s leading customer success experts and a Top 100 Customer Success Strategist, works with Google Cloud’s entire SaaS portfolio as the Customer Success Leader.

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