The secret sauce for running a successful business? A customer experience (CX) that turns your everyday customers into raving fans!
And a few months back, we invited 3 of today’s top CX leaders (from HubSpot, Adobe, and Intercom) to Playbook 2020, the ultimate small business virtual event. And we asked them to share their tried-and-true strategies for creating raving fans.
Here are the 3 strategies each of the CX leaders agreed on:
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1. Let employee success predict customer success
Plainly put, your customer experience can’t be a big hit if your team helping them isn’t set up for success. And that comes down to 3 things: customer empathy, feeling supported, and product knowledge.
“You can’t have customer success without employee success.”Celine Kimberly, Director of Customer Success at HubSpot
HubSpot believes a stand-out customer experience starts with empathetic employees. So, they ask new hires to build a pretend business on their platform and immerse themselves in the product from Day 1.
“It’s all about getting to know the tool. But also getting that customer empathy,” Celine Kimberly, Director of Customer Success at HubSpot, explained. “If you understand both the pain and the benefits, you’re going to help your customers better.”
Business owners and leaders can use immersive training to help employees understand what the customer goes through. And at the same time, help uncover any unknown hiccups with your product along the way.
Celine says they’ve also given Customer Success Managers more autonomy regarding how they support clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” solution and empower frontline employees to remedy issues based on individual circumstances.
She says it’s been a huge win because they understand customers’ situations better than anyone else in the company!
Customer support is not an easy job. Because you’re listening to problems and putting out fires all day. Kevin Lau, Global Head of Customer Advocacy at Adobe, says it’s even more demanding right now during the pandemic.
“Most people are working so many more hours than just the standard 9-to-5,” he shared. And as a result, they’re burning out faster.
So Adobe is encouraging employees to find balance during the workday. And they’re even giving company-wide holidays every few weeks.
Some business owners may not be able to give their entire company time off. But they can use the advice to take care of employees, avoid unnecessary burnout, and better support their customers.
The key is to keep an open line of communication around what employees need. And more importantly, how they’re feeling. That way, you can get ahead of any problems that might drop morale.
The last piece is ensuring customer resources are accurate and up-to-date. That way, your customers get the most up-to-date solutions.
According to Ryan Steinberg, Head of Global Support Operations at Intercom, they dedicate an entire team (called their “enablement team”) to fact-checking processes and product changes. That way, their customer success team can confidently field incoming asks.
“Our enablement team is the most important piece in making sure that people have the information they need,” Ryan told us. “That way, [our CX team and our customers] are equipped to do their job successfully.”
But dedicating this many resources might be too big a pull for some small businesses. So, Ryan suggests creating a system that spot-checks your customer-facing resources every 6 months or so.
But don’t let this spot-check completely random. Prioritize documentation that was created a year or more ago. Then, factor in a few more recent resources.
2. Quick solutions require real communication
If you want to improve your customer experience, you need to reach out and talk to your customers. It seems simple – but it’s the greatest impact you can make in the short term, says Kevin.
When you proactively reach out to customers, you show their genuine care for your customers’ success. And as a result, build strong relationships with customers who are more likely to become brand advocates.
“A lot of the time, they just want to voice their opinion,” he told us. “But at the same time, you want to take their feedback and put it constructively.” So it really works to both party’s advantage.
“[Proactively talking to your customers] is going to help move certain levers.”Kevin Lau, Global Head of Customer Advocacy at Adobe
At HubSpot, they rely on what they call their “customer roadblocks program.” AKA their system for prioritizing what communication gets pushed to their product team first.
“If a customer comes through with a roadblock, and we can’t solve it the way it’s supposed to be solved, we submit a roadblock,” Celine told us. “And that goes straight to our product team.”
This way, developers prioritize the most requested or most impactful roadblocks.
But it shouldn’t be all up to your team to hop on these calls. You should also take initiative and connect with your customers. When was the last time you called a customer to hear their experience first-hand?
For Ryan, this is an every-other-week event. His goal is to stay connected to the product, his customers, and their experiences. Like HubSpot’s roadblock program, Ryan can quickly push any feedback up to his product team.
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3. Serve customers before they need service
But all of those other strategies won’t get you super far if you don’t anticipate your customers’ needs. Instead, they’ll just take their business elsewhere.
So, Adobe asks its brand advocates to document processes within their products. Looking at these use cases, the Adobe team can pinpoint and address potential bugs before they cause real problems.
Similar to HubSpot, Ryan says they have new employees engage with the Intercom platform during onboarding. But instead of focusing on customer empathy, they focus on flaws in the process. The goal is to find any product bugs before their customers do.
“Whether it’s in the signup flow, adding your credit card, or adding our messenger to your site, we take [employee] feedback to the product team and make the process better.”Ryan Steinberg, Head of Global Support Operations at Intercom
But you can anticipate needs that aren’t just problems with your product. For example, feeling under-appreciated by your service providers.
At HubSpot, they look for personalized ways to make customers feel special, build community, and foster meaningful conversations (even if they have nothing to do with a sale).
“Sending a personalized video saying thank you to your customer goes a long way,” Celine said. “Our Customer Success Managers have also done thank-you callouts on LinkedIn and other social media.”
Because of this, she says people feel closer to their team, product, and brand. And as a result, they become raving fans. And the proof is in the product reviews!