Customer success is vital to business and cannot be marginalized. Customers are ever resourceful and less brand loyal than ever. Customer loyalty is harder than ever to gain and keep, with so many similar services out there looking to steal your customers away it’s time to up the ante. If you haven’t integrated customer success early in the life of your business it’s time to do so. Here are three reasons why you should take customer success to the next level.

1. Sales Professionals Focus On Acquisition

It’s no secret that sales professionals are rewarded for their efforts. While some compensation plans include incentives for customer loyalty and longevity, many do not. It’s not the fault of the sales department, yet the fact that after the sale much of what determines churn is out of the sales professional’s hands. The way most companies work is that once the sale is complete, they are moving on to the next potential customer.

The side effects of such an approach are that sales professionals aren’t incentivized to think long term and hence are metaphorically nearsighted. They want to solve the customer’s here and now problems and seldom look down the road. It’s not a problem with your sales team, yet when you are thinking customer success it’s important to have that long term perspective. Bringing a customer success representative into the later parts of the sales process gives you someone to look after the long term.

You will see your sales being a better fit long term and your customers will hence be happier. Many of the potential sales you might be losing are going to be customers that actually aren’t a fit for your business. That’s a good thing. This way the customers you have will be brand advocates and lead to more customers that fit the need your business fills. Having an overall happier customer base is going to increase your bottom line and make things easier for all your departments.

2. Transition Overlap Establishes Trust

Having a customer success advocate in the late stages of the sales process gives some overlap in the transition from potential to new customer. This period allows for the trust established by the sales professional to be transferred over to the advocate. This advocate will give your new customer a sense of security. They will have this trusted advocate as move through the integration process of your service or product. When the advocate establishes early on that they be there throughout the process it moves the expectation from a customer-business relationship to a consulting relationship.

This puts your customer in the position of being an equal player. No one wants to be sold to anymore; they want to be informed and make decisions themselves. Having the advocate there in a non-sales role during the sales process gives the customer that power and security to make decisions confidently.

3. Department Communication Is Key To Customer Success

In many businesses you can hear the chatter of department bashing if you listen closely enough. Customer service is blaming sales for every problem, sales blames marketing, marketing blames R&D, R&D blames finance, and on it goes. In many ways these departments can be right about blaming someone else. Customer service would not have problem ‘X’ if sales would just do ‘Y’. Yet being right doesn’t mean it’s effective or good for the customer.

Imagine if we talked to the customer in the same way. “I’m sorry ma’am, I would love to help you fix this problem quickly but R&D hasn’t put out the update to get us over this obstacle so it’s going to take at least 4 hours.” The customer is going to feel like your business is in shambles. Involving the customer success advocate early gives you and the customer a holistic view into the customer experience: from sales, to onboarding, to customer support, IT, and on. This is key for understanding where the departments need to mesh better. Improving your process from A to Z will maximize the potential of each department and improve customer experience.

Conclusion

You may be a ‘software as a service’ company but it’s time to start thinking like a ‘software as a relationship’ company. Building relationships early on prevent problems in the customer lifecycle, inevitably decreasing churn and turning your customers from businesses that use your product or service to brand advocates. When your customer succeeds, so does your business. Now it’s up to you; time to take customer success to the next level by establishing it early on.