Six things I learned that you can try today
I was the Director of Customer Success at TeamFit (formerly Nugg) for a year and it was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had in my life. I went into the job thinking I knew a thing or two about building products and customer success and left realizing I have much more to learn. I still learned far more than I could (or should) detail here—and I thank Steven for his mentorship—but part of learning is as much understanding what you don’t know as much as you do know. As my time at TeamFit is closes, want to share a few of the things I learned you can put in your own customer success toolkit.
It’s not about you
Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of “this is what I want my users to do on the site/app.” If you think like that you will fail. Customer Success is about understanding what your customers need to do and help them do it as quickly and painlessly as possible. Customer success is all about understanding what is your customer’s pain and solving it. Period.
Let’s look at Unbounce (my favorite service/tool for building landing pages) as an example. People use Unbounce to build really great looking landing pages for apps, services, conferences, ebooks…pretty much anything. Now, Unbounce could try to guide everyone to sign up for lots of features or do this or do that, but what they know is that they need to help someone just build that first landing page. That’s it. Build it, publish it, test it. The rest of the stuff—how do I A/B test, how do I use my own domain, how do I connect to Mailchimp—will all come later. Unbounce is great at helping people get started quickly and then spend time helping you with your unique problems as you need the help.
Everything you think you know about how customers think is probably wrong—until you ask them. We went into building a collaboration app with a lot (a lot) of assumptions about how people would want to use the app. The truth is that, most of the time we were wrong. Understanding what’s important, what doesn’t matter, and what people need help with is something you can’t grasp until you ask your customers.
Keep the channel open
If you’re running customer success you need to make sure your customers can contact you six ways from Sunday. Email, IM, little chat pop-ups, everything. People need to be able to reach you and you need to answer them. You’re never too busy to listen to customers. Never. All your best insights are going to come from your customers, but it you aren’t listening…
You have to measure things
One of our earliest and biggest mistakes when we built the collaboration app was not building in metrics to understand how people used the on a day-to-day basis. If we had we would seen that our biggest challenges were getting people invite others to their teams and then getting those people to create their own teams. If we knew this earlier we could have tried to figure out what motivates people creating teams.
If we had better metrics we might have been able to get the right features into the product at the right time.
Tell people stuff early and often
I didn’t send enough information to people when they first started to use Nugg. At least, I didn’t at first. We got a lot of feedback when we demoed the app “oh this is easy, I get this…” so we thought a lot of the app would be self-expanitory. We were wrong (see above). Customer onboarding is about giving people the information they need to understand your app and how it sovles their pain just before they need it.
Once I started to send out emails I could watch what happened in the app as a result (mostly, because the metrics didn’t track everything I needed I had to derive a lot of things from pieces and parts of data). Did I move the needle? In some cases yes. We didn’t have issues with people forgetting usernames because we included a reminder in onboarding emails. Did we get more people inviting more people to teams? A little. I had a lot more work I could have done on that before we decided to put Nugg on hiatus and pivot to TeamFit.
Learn, iterate, adapt
Finally you need to take all of the things you learn and apply them to what you’re doing. Learning that people forget their usernames and then not including usernames in welcome is pretty silly. If a barrier to using the app is not remembering how to login, then you have to fix that. If people don’t understand how your notifications system worked (a really common problem), then you need to teach people (and in our case we needed to fix notifications too).
Those are my tips for customer success, I love to hear from other customer success pros and know what they have suggest as well.