Customer What?!? Decoding Customer Support Terms for 2017 – ASP Report Summary
By Laura Ballam
There are many terms in customer support that are used interchangeably, sound the same, or are just plain confusing! For example – help desk, customer support, and customer service – is there really a difference? That’s another blog post, but today we want to talk about the latest buzz words in the industry and try to shed some light on the subtle, but important, differences between customer success, customer experience, customer satisfaction, and customer effort. Our good friends at the Association of Support Professionals (ASP) recently published a full report on this topic, and it inspired us to write this post!
Customer experience is the most broad term – encompassing things from onboarding and adoption, to renewals and migrations, and of course individual support interactions. The customer experience can also be referred to as the customer journey – it’s literally every experience the customer has with your company. Even a pre-sales encounter like navigating a website when first researching solutions and working through a software trial are part of the customer experience.
When working to measure and improve the customer experience, the goal is to make every interaction as seamless as possible. As Bill Skeet of Cisco notes, “customer experience shapes expectation.” There isn’t a quick and dirty way to measure customer experience, but you can look at metrics like adoption rate, renewal rate, and churn to get an idea of how you’re performing. Customer effort can also be a large indicator of the customer experience, but we’ll talk about that later.
Customer success goes a step beyond the customer experience, it’s about taking steps to ensure your customers are successful and as such is where the customer experience should lead . This is important in B2B customer support because a successful customer is a happy customer – and more importantly, if you contribute to your customers’ success they are more likely to be a long-time customer. While it’s hard to measure, customer success encompasses things like proactive customer support and providing knowledge about best practices. It also includes really working to understand their business so you can offer suggestions to improve efficiency, profitability, and ultimately success.
In a SaaS business this is essential to ongoing subscription revenues (aka renewals) and in non-SaaS the impact is on upselling, expansions, and cross-selling. Both directly impact revenue. Don’t forget, the goal of focusing on customer success is to improve the overall customer experience and ensure users are getting value from your product or service. All of this will eventually increase product adoption rates.
So how do you measure customer success? You really can’t, only your customer can determine if they feel successful or not after working with you. But you can always ask for their feedback! Measuring customer satisfaction is certainly a good indicator of success. To really simplify it, think of it this way – a customer who feels you are meeting their needs will be “satisfied” and a customer who feels you go above and beyond, understand them and their business, Go to the full article.