Editorial Note: This post was originally shared on March 23, 2015, and has since been updated.
There’s no doubting the value of good customer service. 54% of people consider good customer service to be a major factor in their decision to do business with a company. That’s why you should be doing everything it takes to provide excellent customer service.
However, reactive customer service is just one part of the equation when it comes to providing a strong customer experience. According to research by Bain & Company, for every complaining customer, there are 26 who remain silent. These customers are inaccessible to your customer support team. As a result, they may cancel their subscription or service without you ever knowing what their concern was.
How to Address It
To capture these customers and stop them from churning, you need to be proactive when it comes to discovering and addressing customer issues—without them having to reach out to you first. That’s where customer success (and customer success tools) come in.
Customer success tools are the key ingredient to long-term business growth and profitability. This is especially true in a subscription economy, where the economic value of a customer is realized over time, rather than up-front, at the time of the initial sale. Therefore, a vendor’s success is defined by its customers’ success. As Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight, said:
“It’s evident that customer success management is a necessary function for subscription-based companies, and especially important for B2B SaaS companies.”
Startups, and especially SaaS startups, are more and more realizing the importance of customer success. As a consequence, customer success is a trend in the startup world—just take a look at the search volume for “customer care” and you’ll see that it has increased tenfold over the past 10 years.
To get started, we’ve selected a handful of tools that will help you create a top-notch customer experience. They range from product discovery to onboarding and after-sales services. Keep reading to learn more!
Enter: Customer Success Tools
Customer success tools provide you with the features you need to manage your customer success workflow. Because customer success has many different aspects, the tools themselves are a varied bunch. Each tool may support a different aspect of customer success, such as tracking organic media mentions, interacting with customers, or monitoring industry and competitor intelligence.
Customer Success Tools: Top Types to Know
Let’s take a look at some of the types of customer success tools available today and some examples of each.
- Brand monitoring and community management
- Customer follow-up
- Managing pre-sale inquiries
- Converting homepage visitors
- Direct customer communication
- Build trust and provide real-time support
Brand monitoring and community management
Customer success software that tracks mentions of your brand across the web can offer valuable insights into customer experience and sentiment. Again, not every customer will be messaging you about their needs. Sometimes, they’ll be describing them in social posts, or discussing your brand in an off-hand manner on forums. Without brand monitoring tools, you could be missing these valuable insights entirely.
Here are a few examples of online sentiment and community management tools you can use to improve customer success:
A real-time media monitoring platform, Mention tracks over a billion sources on the Web, ranging from social media and blogs to articles in the news and review sites.
Mention allows you to analyze data and discover trends from social media listening activities, and respond to negative feedback and crises as they arise. It also allows you to schedule posts on your social media accounts.
2. Google Alerts
If you’re just starting and your tool budget isn’t very high, one free option stands out for your needs—Google Alerts.
It’s extremely simple to use: just enter a keyword that you want to listen to, and the tool will email you as soon as a mention crops up. It doesn’t check social media networks, and it doesn’t offer any analytics or trend insights, but Google Alerts is a great starting point for brand monitoring efforts.
An extremely powerful and fully-featured brand intelligence tool, Brandwatch allows you to leverage its advanced algorithms that scour the web for mentions and deliver relevant information about your audience. The platform also segments your data into categories for your convenience, and even plots your mentions in a historical graph so that you can review trends over time.
Of course, all these features come at a price. Brandwatch is an expensive enterprise tool, and it doesn’t even mention any pricing plans upfront. You need to schedule a meeting to request a quote.
Customer Follow-Up: Tools to Try
A highly useful, yet underrated, tool in the customer success arsenal is the post-sale follow-up. Here, you get to reach out to your customers without their prompting and demonstrate that you care about them even after they’ve converted. You’ll also get the chance to hear feedback that they might have not had a chance to air.
Several customer success tools can help you automate follow-ups without taking away the human element:
Close.io is mainly a client acquisition tool. However, there is one great follow-up feature: tasks. Close.io lets you tag prospects and customers so it can remind you to update them when you release a feature that they’ve requested (whether they have already converted to paying customers or are still in the lead stage).
This feature is built as a very powerful to-do list, organizing tasks by date to make sure you never forget to deliver good news when you have it.
Contactually allows you to manage all your client relationships easily by segmenting them into “buckets”. From there, you can customize the cadence and frequency of communication.
The platform can remind you periodically to follow up within certain time frames specific to each Bucket, and even offers automation of repetitive follow-up tasks.
3. Hubspot CRM
Hubspot’s free CRM software allows you to schedule tasks for each customer in various parts of the sales pipeline. This way, you can be reminded to follow up with your clients and get their feedback. It’s a simple and easy-to-use CRM platform that doesn’t cost a dime if you only use it for this purpose.
It also integrates with various platforms, like GSuite and Office 365, so you can align your follow-up tasks across your workspace.
Top Customer Success Tools for Managing Pre-Sale Inquiries
You’ll be receiving inquiries from many channels, especially if you’re offering an omnichannel customer experience. For the best customer experience, it’s important to be able to answer queries promptly, and doing that with several channels will require equally-omnichannel tools.
Here are some customer success tools that are designed specifically for managing pre-sale inquiries.
Front is a shared inbox that allows teams to collaborate over multiple channels, including emails, SMS, and Twitter. With Front, your team can collaborate on the email you receive, decide on the best answer, assign it to a member of the team (according to the topic), and make sure every inquiry is tackled and answered in time.
Front makes all this easy using customizable workflows that can sort messages according to customer lifecycle stage. It also allows for reporting to show team performance.
2. Help Scout
Help Scout is an all-in-one help desk platform that can receive and manage inquiries from multiple sources. From live chat to email and even social media integration, everything happens inside a single intuitive interface.
It also lets you assemble automated workflows with if/then logic, allowing you to assign messages to team members depending on certain conditions, as well as automate replies based on customer queries.
Customer Success Tools for Converting Homepage Visitors
Incoming visitors often need some reassurance before they give you their phone number, and a FAQ section isn’t always enough. With tools that help convert people who come to your homepage, you can get an idea of what your customers need, and help them get solutions for these needs with the product that suits them best.
Here are some examples of conversion-optimization tools you can use to improve customer success:
Olark live chat provides agents with a wealth of information about every customer, right from the very beginning of the sales funnel.
Before even answering a customer’s question, your agent will already know the last few pages the inquirer visited, which lets reps quickly understand his or her needs and fine-tune their answer accordingly.
Drift is a powerful conversational marketing tool that personalizes the experience of each visitor. You can create conversational forms that let customers start a sales chat or book a meeting for a different date, all without having to go to a different website.
Drift also detects customer history and automatically notifies the best sales rep to handle them based on those insights.
With Kustomer, your live chat agents get access to purchase and activity history for each customer—all on a single screen. This allows them to quickly identify a customer’s concerns and address them, without the need to put them on hold.
It also offers omnichannel interactions, allowing agents and customers to maintain the same conversation across website live chat, in-app chat, social media, email, and SMS.
Tools That Help You Directly Communicate with Your Customers
When it comes right down to it, having a clear line of communication with your customers is the best way to help them achieve success.
Here are some tools which help you communicate directly with your customers:
Intercom is a great tool for customer welcoming, onboarding, and nurturing. It is particularly great for providing after-sales support: Your customers can contact you from your site, your app, or through any one of its many integration partners.
Intercom also gives you an idea as to who is using your product and makes it easy to personally communicate with them with behavior-driven targeted emails.
One problem facing many companies is the wide variety of collaboration tools that are in use today. Some companies may even use more than one tool. Thus, you may find that you have to keep switching to different apps and platforms to talk to different clients, who each have their preferred platforms.
With Mio, you can unify all of your messages across several popular platforms. The software works behind the scenes, transparently linking Teams, Slack, and Cisco Webex messages in your platform of choice.
Userpilot allows you to deliver in-app experiences that are tailored to individual customer needs. It helps improve customer engagement, encouraging them to adopt new features.
It also uses contextual targeting that is based on their behavior or attributes to deliver customized messaging.
Tools That Help You Build Trust and Provide Real-Time Support
If you want to improve retention through customer success, you need your customers to be able to trust that you can be there to provide support for them, whenever they need it.
These tools can help build that trust and proactively work toward customer success.
Slack is, of course, best known as a team collaboration tool. However, it also integrates with multiple CRMs and other customer success tools, so you can use it to get live notifications about client-side events.
It can thus allow you to quickly react to bugs and reach out to our customers to solve their issues (before they need to inform you about them).
With Gainsight, you get comprehensive analytics and insight tools that help you understand customer health. The platform can warn you when customers are about to churn and provide you with playbooks that walk you through how to guide a particular customer back into the fold.
It also lets you manage customer success objectives and tasks for each customer and even collaborate with them on these tasks, so you can stay on target with meeting their needs.
It’s a one-stop shop for proactively giving support and building trust with your customers.
A purpose-built customer success platform with many features, Akita allows you to monitor your customers’ needs and schedule replies for them right from your mailbox.
It also features tools to help you provide support for customer success across the entire customer journey. As a result, your clients will always feel attended to.
5 Best Practices for Choosing Customer Success Tools
A great customer success tool strives for excellence in certain customer success fields. Here’s what to look for in your tools to get the best experience (and bang for your buck!).
1. Industry Monitoring
Customer success tools that let you monitor your industry can give you valuable insights into what your customers expect from you—and your competition.
You can then offer new solutions or address incoming concerns to resolve pain points before they even ask for a solution.
2. Competition Monitoring
The SaaS industry has evolved at a breakneck pace. You always need to be ahead of the game to provide the best services to your customers.
Customer success software with competition monitoring lets you stay on top of your competition’s new offerings. This allows you to rapidly develop solutions for your customers and monitor when your competition is receiving negative feedback. From there, you can quickly target unhappy customers and offer the promise of customer success with your product.
3. Prospecting and Lead Generation
The best customer success tools offer a variety of prospecting and lead generation opportunities. They can help you locate where your target audience is, get to know them better, and turn them into customers more efficiently.
Another great feature is being able to track customers looking for competitor alternatives so you can capture and convert them right away.
4. Brand Monitoring and Social Listening
Even if one in 26 customers never message you about their qualms, that doesn’t mean they’re not voicing their concerns. Many users will take to social media or forums to post about their experiences with your brand and product.
You’ll also have people post within your own social media pages and communities. Both of these require customer success software that can monitor brand mentions and help you engage with your users.
5. Seamless Integration with Other Tools
Customer success tools need to take into account a variety of communications channels, workflows, and CRM platforms that are used by every company. You can make life much easier for yourself by selecting a tool with extensive and seamless integration with all the other tools you use.
First, this allows you to create a coherent, collaborative workflow. Second, it ensures all stakeholders are updated with customer success strategies. Finally, as a result, you won’t have to worry about updating customer data across multiple platforms.
Empowering Customer Success With Aircall
Customer success is founded on building trust. Trust that you’re listening to your customers, that you’ll proactively work to solve their needs.
With Aircall, you can earn that trust by equipping your support agents with the knowledge, training, and resources that they need to get the job done. With IVR and skills-based routing, customers are assured that they’re always talking to the right person when asking for help. Your team can also transfer calls to each other seamlessly, and even listen in and coach as required.
Aircall also integrates with over 80 platforms, allowing it to fit seamlessly into your workflow. With Aircall, you’ll have a solid jumping-off point for customer success.
Want in-depth customer insights that help you drive more successful relationships? Request a demo with us today to find out how Aircall can help.