The New Year’s Resolution for Customer Success: Every Customer is a Subscriber

January 23, 2017 Ari Hoffman

The New Year's Resolution for Customer Success

Yes, you heard correctly. Treat every customer like they are in a subscription model.

No matter your industry, your customer’s vertical, or whether you have a product or service, the motto of treating every customer as a subscriber instead of just another account will force you to focus on their success above all else—resulting in loyal customers who are die-hard brand advocates.

So in 2017, whether you are a customer success advocate or simply someone who cares about renewing and upselling your customers, adopting this motto is a must. This practice falls in line with companies around the world that possess the highest customer retention rates (lowest churn) and industry-leading NPS (Net Promoter Score) figures. And, the best part is, your company doesn’t have to use a subscription model to attain the success associated with it.

You might have heard buzz terms like “subscription economy” or “perpetual sale.” What those really boil down to is the difference between a customer who automatically renews their account and someone you have to resell every time their contract comes up for renewal.

So what is a subscriber model, or better yet, what does it have to do with a customer’s success?

When Photoshop first entered the market, you bought it outright, and you paid a pretty penny for it. Every time they iterated, you would have to buy it all over again (perpetual sale) and generally with a price increase. Today, you pay a fraction of the price, subscribe to it on the cloud, and automatically get updates sent directly to you for free (subscription model).

What caused the change? Answer: expanded access and a larger product spectrum on the market (e.g., through Google) and the speed of versioning increasing from years, to months, to days (tech evolution ramp).

Additionally, customers have become increasingly intolerant of being sold to again and again, constantly feeling like they have outdated products, are paying too much, or not being listened to. So today, many companies have addressed this by focusing on retention and new sales instead of the latter alone. The result is a much smaller upfront cost, and although it might be easier to acquire a customer, to get the return on investment (ROI) you need to retain the customer for longer. The only way to do that is to make sure they are using your product like a pro. And here is the connection to Customer Success.

You don't have to use a subscription model to attain the success associated with it.

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If you focus on Customer Success, you will inevitably create master users—who in turn want to make the most out of the time spent acquiring the mastery. This ultimately reduces your churn rates and creates brand promoters out of those now loyal advocates.

Ensure you have the capabilities to handle a one-to-one, many-to-many, and most importantly, one-to-many connection with your customers. As your company scales, your ability to spend time serving your customers individually may diminish, compounded by customers’ lessening desire to interact with any company. Every stat from Gartner and Forrester, to the CEB, to your own personal gut feeling, says customers would much rather self-serve by finding the information to succeed on their own time and tailored to their own personal journey. Remember, this holds true whether your company uses a subscription model or not.

With regard to customer satisfaction, the self-service channel has been the fastest growing market for the last two years and has no end in sight, especially with companies like Amazon who are creating AI that allows people to dynamically search for information using voice commands through Echo.  

Take it from the pros who spend countless hours capturing, analyzing, and reporting on this: treat each customer as if they are a subscriber, and you will have no problem keeping that relationship alive for the long haul. Happy New Year to my Customer Success family. If you stick with it (like your gym membership), this resolution will deliver industry-leading retention rates.

To learn how to use your tech docs to better understand your customers while they learn how to better understand your products or service, take a tour here.

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About the Author

Ari Hoffman

Ari Hoffman prioritizes customer success at the heart of all business endeavors. As the official Success Fanatic at MindTouch, Hoffman focuses on actionable insights that increase customer success rates while deepening core relationships. Brought in for his collaborative approach to business and his influence in the startup community, he has had a significant effect on the MindTouch customer/partner base. From ‘Shark Tank’ to the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and Dream Big America Challenge, Hoffman has seen it all.

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