Account Management / Customer Success / Customer Support
You've finally made sales and you've got customers. In a business with a long-term contract or project with multiple milestones and deliverables, you probably refer to your interactions with existing customers as account management. If you're in SaaS, you probably call this customer success. If you are in a transcational business, you call this customer support.
Regardless of what you call it, you are managing a relationship between your customers and your business. That relationship obviously has a strong impact on whether customers decide to give you more business down the road and how they talk about your brand.
Zappos is legendary for their obsession with customer satisfation and wild, over the top stories of serving their customers. Zappos is also famous for selling to Amazon for $1.2 billion in an all-stock deal in 2009. Amazon grew from a market cap of about $55 billion in 2009 to $1.33 trillion in 2022. How much would you invest in serving a customer that is having issues with an $80 pair of shoes they bought from you?
To argue the other side, some customers will try and squeeze blood from a stone if you are overly open to catering for their needs. This happens with customers gaming generous return policies in e-commerce. It also happens when customers seek concessions in negotiating very large, competitive contracts. Andy Grove has a great quote on this in his book High Output Management:
"Productions charter cannot be to deliver whatever the customer wants whenever he wants it, for this would require an infinite production capacity or the equivalent, very large, ready to deliver inventories"
Whatever your strategy, happy customers > unhappy customers. If you have customers that take advantage of this, then consider firing those customers.
Why it matters
Customer Retention: Everyone knows it's a lot less costly to keep an existing customer happy than to land a new one. That's where Account Management, Customer Success, and Customer Support flex. They're the all-stars in the game of customer retention.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): When customers reach their goals, feel satisfied, and have their issues dealt with effectively, they're more likely to stick around longer. This increases the total value they bring to your business over time.
Competitive Advantage: When your customer service is top-tier, it sets your company apart from the rest. This isn't just about ticking boxes; it's about offering something that makes customers choose you over your competitors. Have you ever paid more for an experience or service because you trusted a brand over a cheaper alternative?
Word-of-mouth referrals: Nothing beats a rave review from a satisfied customer. When people love what you do, they'll tell their friends, family, and colleagues about it. That's the kind of organic growth that can cause virality. It's also free marketing.
AM/CS Organization, Functions, JTBD
Account Management: Account Management is the art of fostering deep-rooted relationships with your customers. They are the primary face and representative of your company to your customers. They serve as the customers' single point of contact (SPC), build robust relationships, identify potential growth opportunities, and negotiate contracts.
Customer Success: Customer Success operates with foresight to guarantee that customers accomplish their desired outcomes using your product or service. Picture them as personal coaches for your customers, dedicated to helping them extract maximum value from your product. They sketch out detailed customer journeys, offer comprehensive onboarding and training, and ensure customers reach their objectives with your product.
Customer Support: Customer Support is your team of reliable troubleshooters, always at the ready to aid customers in navigating through difficulties. They deliver responsive support, rectifying problems, answering inquiries, and ensuring a seamless user experience for customers. Their role is crucial in retaining customers and preserving high levels of satisfaction.
Customer Journey: The process that a customer goes through, from first learning about your product, to making a purchase, and finally becoming a loyal customer.
Up-Selling and Cross-Selling: Up-selling involves selling a higher-end product or an upgrade, while cross-selling involves selling complementary products.
Customer Churn: This refers to when a customer stops doing business with you. High churn rates can be a sign of customer dissatisfaction.
Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a measure of customer satisfaction and loyalty, based on how likely they are to recommend your business to others.
Customer Retention Rate: This is the percentage of customers who continue to do business with you over a given period of time.