If you want to improve customer satisfaction, engagement and retention, it’s crucial that you understand what your product or service can offer and how you're maximising its potential for the customer.
We interviewed VP of Customer Success, Fred Tsai on how Liferay measures customer engagement and what methods his team uses to ensure customer success.
The four essential steps to customer success
When taking a step back to look at engagement, adoption, and renewal, it boils down to four stages that are instrumental to customer success. While it starts at the beginning, it isn’t just about the outset, which is why each phase plays a vital role in customer longevity.
Onboarding is the first and often most crucial step to customer success. When looking at Liferay’s model, successful onboarding of a customer starts with implementing the DXP software, linking it to their existing technology stack and ensuring it’s working and running smoothly. Typically this happens within the first few months of the customer lifecycle, but for an enterprise software like Liferay DXP, it can take up to a year to get there.
After a healthy onboarding, a pulse check on engagement is important. By measuring a customer’s engagement throughout the entire life cycle, you can get a snapshot of their experience and how they are adapting. Fred touches on a range of ways they measure this at Liferay.
“Number one is, how many times has Liferay had a real deep conversation with this customer first in a given year, then in a given quarter, and then in a given month. We look at whether or not their Customer Success Manager has engaged with them, whether or not they have filed a support ticket, or if they attended a marketing event to show real lasting engagement. We then measure it month after month or quarter after quarter.”
The third phase is adoption, which checks if the customer is using the software to the best of its capability. Liferay asks questions such as, how many features are they using? How many sites are they building off of Liferay? How many sites are currently in the in-progress build phase? How many new projects is Liferay technology being expanded to within the company? Fred says, “It's both the breadth and the depth now of the adoption phase, so we're there to ensure that those are both introduced.”
Finally, renewal is measured by renewal rates, or how much of the actual recurring revenue dollars were kept in a given year. Fred details, “We start off with assessing the onboarding. What is the health score of a customer exiting onboarding after about six months to a year, are they healthy or not?”
“Then we take a look at engagement. We measure whether or not we are in constant contact with the customer every year at the bare minimum, making sure that we are constantly engaged and have a standing meeting.”
“Adoption also needs to be analysed here. We should be having quarterly success reviews in addition to very deep relationship-based conversations with customers where we're actually helping them figure out their technology roadmap, the feature adoption, and how they actually expand their usage.”
Fred says, “If you do all three things right, onboard, engage and adopt right, the renewal is almost always a sure thing because you’re setting the customer up for success in the beginning.”
Rebounding from a bad onboarding experience
Poring over data a million different ways, Fred touches on one of the most “dangerous situations” in customer engagement — not getting the customer on the healthy curve from onset.
Oftentimes, when the onboarding is botched, it can have a negative impact on the entire lifecycle, and could greatly impact the success of renewal. Fred says, “During onboarding, you need to get the customer on the healthy curve and make sure that they are moving towards retention, and ultimately expansion. The onboarding time is very critical.”
Being proactive and empathetic
In the onboarding process, the one thing customers remember is the way they were treated. During this phase, you have to have a proactive, empathetic action-oriented group that is there trying to solve any problems the customer may face from day one.
Fred says “It's not just a support hotline. Yes, you will always have a 1800-number that customers can call and complain to and raise tickets to, but you want someone dedicated to customer success. That's the reason why our Customer Success team exists, to be proactive and to make sure that if we detect any problems or they tell us there are any problems, that we work endlessly to solve them.”
“The job of a customer success person is, unfortunately a bit 24/7, meaning that if implementation is going south, it doesn't mean we just get back to it during working hours next week or two weeks from now, or a month from now. We're typically working on it late into the night or over the weekend, and that's what our customers expect.”
This is the core difference between a customer who remembers an implementation that went south, but was recovered in the end versus a customer that is gone forever and never coming back. By being proactive, and empathetic, getting the results customers want fast and providing them with the resources they need, they’re likely to have a more positive experience.
“They don't want to just simply have someone nod their head and tell you, ‘I'm so sorry you're going through this, that sounds really bad. What can I do for you?’ You actually have to bring technical chops.” Fred details, “In Customer Success at Liferay, for instance, we're constantly training our people on the actual product, and the actual solution sets that we sell. Cloud, analytics, commerce, you need to have that basic level of understanding in order to talk to customers.”
Serving as the technical expert
When providing a cloud-based solution, there are likely to be customers who aren’t as tech-savvy as others. It’s in these instances that having technical experts on the ground is crucial for customer success.
Fred says, “We have people in the community who know Liferay in and out and DXP in and out. They could easily be a consultant, usually, we pick up ed-consultants who would be on a billable basis, but they're there for free, serving our customers. We're there to technically guide the customer from an architectural perspective.”
Improve your organisation’s customer engagement
In order to achieve long-term business success and resilience, it's crucial to develop strategies to improve customer engagement. This requires thorough research to understand your customers as well as a shift to prioritise digital mastery. Learn out more about creating meaningful customer experiences in this blog post.