Humans have known for millions of years that tools allow us to make a greater impact without exerting additional effort. Whether your team has been around for years or is just getting off the ground, tools can level up your team by allowing them to accomplish more with less and to easily scale your existing efforts. Below is a roundup of the best Customer Success tools on the market- from some usual suspects to some lesser known upstarts.
Customer Success never works in a silo. Sometimes a few hundred Slack messages and some shared Confluence docs just aren’t enough to facilitate the level of collaboration needed to operate at maximum output- hence the need for the tools below.
What it does: Data analytics platform
Why it’s helpful: While there are a lot of Customer Success-specific products on the market, the reason I like Looker is that it’s value isn’t limited to Customer Success teams. In my experience, it can be nearly impossible to get Product or Engineering resources dedicated to a project that only benefits one team. When all your user and customer data is tracked in Looker, it becomes a critical dashboard for every team. Customer Success can customize dashboards to track customer engagement, create custom health scores, and track renewal dates. Product uses it to track daily active users, Finance uses it for revenue projections, and so on. That means that maintaining data integrity for your Customer Success dashboards (always a huge challenge) is now a company-wide priority.
What it does: Creates flowchart diagrams
Why it’s helpful: Easily map out everything from engagement models, or the customer lifecycle, to an individual customer’s implementation plan. Don’t underestimate how much you can learn by creating a well thought out decision tree. If nothing else, you might have new empathy for the hoops you ask your users to jump through to do something as basic as adding a teammate to their account.
Cost: Offer a free plan
What it does: CRM software
Why it’s helpful: Customer Success teams need a way to track customer information and, as much as it pains me to admit it, Salesforce is the best CRM on the market. Not because of an award-winning UI (although Lightening is certainly an improvement from the early 00’s design we suffered through for years), or a subscription fee that won’t break the bank (it will), but because it’s supported by the most robust integrations. That means as your CSMs track their conversations and progress with customers in Salesforce, this data can also be visible to other teams through integrations with products such as Zendesk. The ability to easily liberate your customer information from your CRM makes Salesforce worth the cost (and the terrible UI).
Customer Success teams have a lot on their plates. Onboarding new customers, maintaining the value existing customers receive, and identifying customers at risk of cancelling are all part of a day’s work. Because time is a scarce resource, Customer Success should evaluate which touch points in the customer lifecycle bring the lowest value, and employ tools to accelerate or eliminate them. The tools below provide a great starting point.
What it does: Virtual meeting software
Why it’s helpful: Meeting software that’s so simple even a Microsoft XP user can figure out how to use it. You also get a personal telephone conference line for when you’re not feeling camera-ready.
Cost: Offer a free plan
What it does: Knowledge base software
Why it’s helpful: If your Support team doesn’t have a knowledge base, or they won’t let Customer Success add content, sign up for Helpjuice. Aggregating educational and training content in a centralized location saves CSMs the trouble of answering commonly asked questions multiple times a day. This help content can also be much more rich (videos, step by step screenshots, etc.) and consistent than what CSMs have saved in some Evernote.
What it does: Customer communication software
Why it’s helpful: We’ve all received the equivalent of a “Dear valued customer [first_name]” email. It’s hugely discouraging to feel like you’re just a number to a company you view as one of your company’s critical systems (and probably pay for accordingly). So how you can avoid this type of impersonal messaging that creates distance between you and your customer base without sacrificing the scale 1: many communication provides? Intercom allows you to send targeted email, in-app, and push messages to onboard, upsell, and retain customers based on actions they have (or haven’t) taken, specific details about their account, and much more.
What it does: Allows you to schedule meetings using a sharable URL
Why it’s helpful: Cut down on the back-and-forth to book a meeting. Sync Calendly with your calendar (to avoid double bookings), create different types of meetings (is this a 30 minute call customer call or a 60 minute training with a screenshare), set your availability for each meeting type, and send out a URL that allows customers to book the appropriate meeting at a time that works for everyone.
Cost: Offer a free basic plan
What it does: Presentation software
Why it’s helpful: Meetings usually benefit from having a visual component. Use Prezi for everything from new feature trainings to QBRs. You can also track who views your prezi, which parts of it, and for how long.
What it does: Design software
Why it’s helpful: Easily create beautifully designed images, documents, and presentations using their pre-made templates or your own design skills. I use Canva to create header images for my blog posts.
Cost: Offer a free basic plan
What it does: Find, research, and connect with professionals contacts
Why it’s helpful: Anyone who has hit LinkedIn’s monthly search limits knows how frustrating it can be. As they’ve pushed more aggressively to increase Premium subscriptions, they’ve become even more stingy on what you can do for free. CSMs aim to establish strong relationships with their primary points of contact, but should not make the mistake of having a single point of failure. Unlocking the ability to search and connect with multiple contacts across a customer’s organization makes LinkedIn Premium worth the cost.
Are there some must-have Customer Success tools that I missed? Add them in the comments.