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Gaga Apple Store customer success

One of my favourite products doesn’t do customer support very well. It takes days to get a response, and it’s typically not a good one. The contact section of their websitehas a phone number to call for sales, but a form to fill out for support. What does that say to me? That they care more about new business than existing customers. I believe if the customer support – now commonly referred to as customer success – team was managed by the sales leaders this wouldn’t be the case.

1. Fast response times grow new business

A study on lead response times found that responding to web generated leads within 5 minutes increased the likelihood of contacting that lead by 900%. New business is very important, but that doesn’t mean existing customer success efforts should be an afterthought. If customer problems were dealt with as quickly as a new inbound lead, I believe we would see similar metrics in terms of customer happiness that this study exposed.

2. Existing customers drive growth

customer success helps retain customers and grow profits

With recurring revenue being the most exciting part of a software as a service (SaaS) business, it makes a lot of sense to consider customer success as one of the pieces of a sales team. David Skok wrote the best blog I have read about how churn can affect revenue and valuation of a SaaS business. Along with business development reps and sales executives playing separate roles, customer success fills a critical role in the sales stack.

3. Your “success” team doesn’t need to be technical

The role of “support” at a software company has transitioned from a very technical person to, in most cases, someone who doesn’t necessarily need to be technical at all.

customer success heroes

As the shift from purchasing software continues to move away from the IT department, this is having a ripple effect on who the end user is that needs the support – they are likely not that technical either. Given that many customer support roles are no longer overly technical, the customer success process needs more of a sales approach than a technical approach.

4. It’s already being done

I am not the first person to write about this topic. In SaaS there are examples of platforms dedicated to giving customers more assistance. There are now entire conferences dedicated to customer success. It’s not uncommon for customer success roles to use the term “rockstar” in their job descriptions. Many of your competitors are already thinking about customer success as a sales role, don’t fall behind.

What we’re doing about it

Up until now at Ideal Candidate we haven’t had a role dedicated solely to customer success. This is a big departure from my first SaaS business, where we built a technical support team. At Ideal Candidate we have a simple product, so most of the team including sales was helping with customer success. We realized quickly that someone needed to be focused solely on helping our customers and we recently added our first dedicated customer success role.

How are you handling customer success at your company? Let me know in the comments or tweet @ideal.

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Shaun Ricci

COO at Ideal
Shaun Ricci is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Ideal. Shaun served as Co-Founder and COO of Field ID until it was acquired in December 2012. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his wins and losses while building his startup sales team.