Getting to Aha: The journey to customer success

 Ask any business owner if customer success matters, and they’ll undoubtedly say yes. Yet with every product, market, and growth stage, how you help your customers realize their goals changes.  

We spoke with Kristaps Beinerts, Head of Customer Success at tawk.to to find out what he’s learned throughout the past years of rapid growth at tawk.to and what strategies are working now.

What is Customer Success?

“Customer success is about empowering your customers to achieve their desired outcomes through their relationships and interactions with your company,” says Kristaps.  The role developed in SaaS (software as a service) companies, which fundamentally rely on monthly recurring revenue. While businesses in the past focused on individual sales, smart companies today leverage customer success teams to get closer to their customers, nurture relationships and ensure they maximize value with their solutions.  

Customer Success also advocates expansion and prevents your customer base from churning. Ultimately, it leads to advocacy, so your customers are referring your product to new customers so your company continues to be successful.

What’s the difference between customer support and customer success?

Customer support and customer success are completely different roles, says Kristaps, though there are elements that overlap as they are both customer-facing. 

Customer support typically operates in a break-fix model.  When a customer reaches out for help or information, customer support is there to respond and assist.

“But if you have customer success managers,” says Kristaps, “their goal is really to know everything there is about their customer base. And this translates into relationships … making sure you know the context of every customer, which part of the journey they’re in, what’s happening internally in their company, and just having this good, fruitful relationship.  And then you’re working to manage expectations, helping them to be on board with the product, and get them the product training they need.”

What’s the difference between customer support and customer success?

Engaging Customers

One of the biggest challenges Kristaps sees is engagement. “We’re working with so many customers to keep everybody seeing value from the product and service. And it’s just that people are very busy. A lot of the customers that we work with are solopreneurs. They have so much on their plates.”  The team checks in regularly with clients to ensure they’re seeing value. “The relationship is everything.”

Evolving products and customer goals

One of the greatest and most exciting challenges is the evolution of Jobs To Be Done as your product develops and customers need change. “In our case, for example, we offer live chat, but we also have a Knowledge Base Help Center, we have Ticketing, and we have all these other tools that are currently in production that we can’t wait to release to our users. We’re changing the way we position ourselves and doing our best to grow along with the needs of our customers.” This is where the success team can bridge “the gap between what the customer ultimately needs, what the customer thinks they need, and what you can actually deliver to the customer.”

Managing the unexpected

In any company, says Kristaps, things will go wrong from time to time. It’s inevitable. “It’s about how you manage those situations when things go wrong. And really, communication is key. If you’ve scheduled a planned maintenance for a product, for example, you’ll want to make sure that’s communicated with all of your customers and all the stakeholders. You want to make sure there are no surprises and no unpleasant situations. It really comes down to communication, managing expectations, and then just being there for the customer when they need you the most.”

Once customers are on board and engaged with your product, what’s the next step?

Once the customer is actively using your product, it’s the most exciting part of the customer journey, says Kristaps. “They finally realize all these things they can do with your product. Moving forward, the job you have to do as a customer success leader is to ensure that they stay happy and that you keep delivering because the customer’s goals are always going to grow as the company matures.”

Providing multiple channels for assistance

While Customer Success primarily assists customers using the hired agent and virtual assistant services, tawk.to’s initiatives serve the entire user base at multiple levels.

When new customers sign up in the Dashboard, self-service is the first option. “We put a lot of effort into our support and self-service materials, which can be found in our Help Center.  Our support team is also available through chat 24×7. Then, if there’s anything that cannot be solved in a chat or with the help of the knowledge base, we’re always happy to hop on a call with a customer and help support them through the journey.”

Finding the gaps

Chat and Knowledge Base statistics let the Customer Success team know how effectively the customer is using the Dashboard. 

In the reporting area of the Dashboard, you can track knowledge base searches and chat history. You can look at every single chat that you’ve ever received, even if you’ve missed it. You can also use our tagging system to segment those chats into different categories. And if you already have existing systems in place, we offer a lot of flexibility towards integrations. “We’re very focused on getting our product to play very nicely with everything that’s out there.”

Then, when the team notices opportunities such as missed chats or a widget that’s offline, they can step in and advise the customer of changes that could maximize the value they’re getting.

The key in business now, he says, is to be available 24 x 7 for your customers, because websites never go to sleep. “And if a customer comes to your website and they have a question, just being there is going to make the world of a difference and can make or break the sale.”

What wins are you seeing in customer success?

Speed to value

Speed to value is one of the greatest wins Kristaps is seeing now. “The customer is completely blown away about how quickly something they felt was going to be very complicated was implemented in a swift manner.”

Positive feedback

“Obviously, it’s always a win getting super positive feedback from customers. It’s amazing seeing a new business implement the widget on their website, getting their first chats, or  getting their first sales through.”

Whenever the team gets feedback, they share it internally throughout their channels.   And when the team is on a demo call with customers who have the AHA moments, “those times where they just couldn’t imagine that there’s just so much value in a free product, it’s just incredible.“

Customer advocates

Another win is seeing customers the team has worked with for many years advocating for the service and referring others. “When you get these referrals coming through and people saying, ‘Wow, it’s been one week and you’ve helped us manage to close a $50,000 sale,’ it just gives us so much joy seeing that the service pays for itself and gives so much value to our customers.”  

If there’s one thing you would want everyone to know about Customer Success, what would it be?

It’s important to show your customers that you care, and that starts with listening. “You have to have a way to hear what your customers have to say. You have to gather the data. And live chat is an excellent way, especially for startups at an early stage, to gather all that feedback and get closer to their customers.”

“I think it’s very important to show your customers that you care, period. How you do it is really up to you. But we’ve taken the step to be available 24 x 7 and be there whenever our customers need us so nothing is left unsolved.”

— Kristaps Beinerts, tawk.to

Anything else to add? 

“I mean, if you’re watching this and you’re not already using tawk.to, I definitely suggest that you sign up for an account. It only takes 30 seconds. Even if you don’t have a website, you can use our hosted pages just to get yourself out there on the internet where you can advertise and sell and have an online presence.”

If you’re already using tawk.to and you’d like to learn more about how you can maximize your value with tawk.to, check out our Help Center, start a chat on our website, and get connected. We’d love to help.

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