What is the recipe for maintaining a high customer retention rate? You obviously need a great product, but also excellent customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. If your customers don’t get engaged in the experience from the very beginning, they may turn to your competitors.
In the long run, high customer attrition rate impedes business growth. The effort your sales team put into acquiring new customers simply won’t pay off if you keep losing them due to hiccups in the customer experience. You need to make sure that the customers aren’t stuck in the experience because they know how to use your product features to acquire desired outcome.
I came up with the idea for this article while reading LiveAgent’s post on customer service email templates. I thought it would be a good idea to dig deeper into the topic of emails in customer care. So in this post, I’d like to show you the approach applied by our customer success team at Woodpecker to ensure that our customers have a smooth user experience throughout their customer journey. What’s the secret sauce? Keep reading to find out.
Why is following up an important part of customer success?
The process of building a relationship with your customers doesn’t end when they make a purchase. It should continue throughout the whole customer lifecycle. Proactive customer service strengthens this relationship and plays a crucial role in customer retention. It’s also an important factor in building brand advocacy and can be your advantage over the competitors.
Think of a situation when you’re in a restaurant where the service is always there to help you or advise and you don’t have to fight for a waiter’s attention. Provided the food was also good, thanks to such great service you’ll be more willing to come back to this place again and perhaps you’ll also recommend it to your friends.
This approach applies to every customer-oriented business.
One of the most crucial characteristics of a customer follow-up is the individual approach to every customer. When you have a face-to-face contact with your customers, this individual approach is naturally embedded into your relationship. But what about the online businesses? How to maintain this personal character in the digital world?
What is the best channel for customer contact?
In today’s world we have plenty of options to make contact with our customers. From app notifications, through social media, to emails. So which channel would be the best choice and why?
App notifications are definitely helpful and fit the context, but they lack the personal character. They are a pretty generic one-way communication channel. Social media allow for a more personal approach but don’t work well in a B2B environment. And what about good old email?
Email seems to tick all the boxes: it has a personal, 1-on-1 character, it’s commonly used in B2B context and can be easily scaled. What is more, emails can be automated without losing the human touch. This is an important factor for work efficiency that, in our opinion, tips the balance towards email follow-ups instead of the other channels.
How to make your follow-ups valuable?
To improve your customers’ experience, follow-ups should bring as much value as possible. The content must be well tailored to your customers’ needs. So, before you even get down to writing the copy, you should analyze who the message is aimed at and what this group wants to achieve.
First, divide your customers into new ones and those who are with you for a while now. The onboarding stage for new customers may take two weeks, a month, three months… the specific criteria for this division depends on your business characteristics.
At the onboarding stage the freshly acquired customers don’t need (and want) to know the technical nitty-gritty or advanced options. They just need the basics to get started. Straightforward, easy to follow guide is the value they expect.
In contrast, the customers who are in the middle of the experience, often encounter roadblocks or don’t know how to get the most out of the tool. Advanced options and tips on how to optimize their work with your tool would be of value in this case.
Now it’s time for further segmentation.
In the case of onboarding follow-ups, you can segment the new customers for example by the industry, company type, company size or specific use case. Thinking ahead of how you want to structure your communication may help you determine the criteria. It’s all up to you.
For those customers who are with you for a while, your internal data will tell you what challenges your customers may be facing using your product. Try to map their experience. Maybe they haven’t even logged in since making the purchase? Or perhaps they have difficulties with making their first steps and the correct technical setup?
Identify the most common challenges and segment your customers accordingly. If your customers come from various industries, you can segment them by the industry as well. Again, it’s all up to you and the characteristics of your business.
What to write in a customer success follow-up?
Having divided your customers into segments, you can now better adjust your email copy to a specific case.
As I already mentioned, you should tailor the copy to the stage your customer is at. Each email should refer to a particular step or roadblock, and provide the customers with actionable tips on how to tackle it. You can include links to useful content on your blog, ebooks, video tutorials or guides. However, don't leave your customers only to self-service and offer them a helping hand. Propose a call to help them solve the issue or get started.
If you get stuck at some point, you can have a look at email templates for inspiration. Try not to copy-paste the templates, though. The more personalized and unique your message is, the better impression it makes on the customers. Keep in mind that nobody likes receiving impersonal, generic messages.
What about the subject line? Does it matter for customer success follow-ups?
Definitely. Subject line has the power to encourage or discourage a customer to open your message. It has a significant influence on the success of your follow-up campaign. So how to make it pop in your customer’s inbox?
A good idea may be to address your customer’s goal. Let’s say a customer has recently signed up to your tool but haven’t really started using it. The next step after signing up should be to create their first project. In order to do that, they need to do X. Doing X is their first goal at this stage. Your first email subject line should refer to X, then. Addressing your customer’s goal increases the chance the message will catch their eye while they browse their inbox.
There’s no recipe for the best subject line. It’s something you should test on your own as its effectiveness largely depends on your target group. Subject lines that work for one customer group, won’t necessarily work for another.
How to scale customer follow-ups?
On a small scale, you can send such highly personalized messages manually. But as your customer base grows bigger and bigger, the manual sending may turn out to be inefficient and too time-consuming even for bigger teams.
To effectively scale up your follow-ups, you may want to introduce a follow-up automation tool into your process. There are two ways you can do it. You can set up automatic customer service follow-ups with LiveAgent that will be sent when a ticket’s status changes or when a new ticket is opened. The sending is determined by a rule you create first, what allows you to adjust the content of your message to a specific case.
Another way to scale the process is to use tools that automate outbound follow-ups, so the ones you send proactively. Apart from advanced personalization options and human-like sending algorithm like the one Woodpecker is based on, such tools are also integrated with other software your customer success team uses in their daily work, for example Pipedrive.
Even though a follow-up automation tool will do the most mundane part of the job for you, there are a few things worth keeping in mind in order to make the process most effective.
What are the best practices to follow?
There are three main principles you should stick to when it comes to sending customer follow-ups at scale:
- Take a lean approach to your follow-up campaigns: 20-30 customers per campaign is the optimal number. Smaller campaigns have higher deliverability rate and allow for better targeting.
- Monitor the stats and draw conclusions about what you can improve to achieve better results in the future.
- Don’t stick to one approach for too long. Try different sending time or test various versions of the subject line and email content to see what works best.
With these three points in mind, you can now start planning your next customer success follow-up campaign.
Long story short
Following up with your customers at every stage of their customer journey is a way to engage them deeper into the experience and make their customer journey as smooth as possible. The key is to tailor your communication to the particular customer segment. Not only the stage of the experience they are at, but also the possible roadblocks or challenges they may encounter during the experience.
Once you map and understand your customer journey, you will be able to provide your customers with the value they need to get the most out of the experience. In the long run your proactive customer success efforts will surely result in lower customer churn and strong brand advocacy.