The Customer Success Advantage: What Finance Teams Should Anticipate

by Susan Gershman

Customer success programs should be a focused effort on the customer throughout their entire journey aiming to amplify the value they gain from the company’s product or service.

In today’s competitive landscape where customers have an abundance of choices, relying on annual contracts to ensure customer loyalty is no longer viable. With the emergence of cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, customer satisfaction is more critical than ever. Meanwhile, the costs associated with constantly acquiring new customers have risen significantly. It’s imperative for businesses to keep their existing customers happy, and this can be achieved through a dedicated customer success strategy.
Customer success programs (CSPs) are designed to ensure the satisfaction and positive results of a company’s customers. In some cases, this may be the responsibility of a single department, while in others, it can involve every member of the organization. Regardless of the approach, the program should be a focused effort on the customer throughout their entire journey aiming to amplify the value they gain from the company’s product or service.
What Should Your Vendor’s Customer Success Program Look Like?
Investing in new technology solutions can provide numerous benefits to companies in helping them transform their business processes. For example, modern finance technologies can help businesses plan, forecast, and run reports in quicker timeframes, empowering them to make more strategic decisions based on real-time data insights. But adopting these new tools requires careful planning, integration, and investment, both financially and through the education and training of employees. When implemented effectively, these investments can have large payoffs for organizations. By taking a proactive approach to customer success, a software vendor can increase the likelihood of its customers achieving positive results with the product and sustaining their loyalty in the long run. Following are some strategies your software vendor should employ for a strong CSP.

The program should be built with customers at the center
Although the benefits of customer success are clear, creating a strong program is no easy feat. Building a strong CSP doesn’t just happen overnight, and it’s never a one-size-fits-all solution. In creating robust programs, your vendor has to adjust depending upon each customer’s needs and preferences. Some customers are self-sufficient and want to learn how to use the product on their own with occasional troubleshooting. Other customers may opt for demonstrations with details and quick, direct channels to discuss when they have a problem. Does your vendor offer what you need when it comes to learning and using their product for maximum benefit?

The vendor should set up regular touchpoints
To figure out what each customer requires, CSPs should prioritize regular interactions and conversations. This can’t just be an annual check-in when it’s time to renew a contract – no real insights can be gained in a yearly meeting, and as a customer, you won’t feel taken care of. By routinely corresponding with customers, a vendor can add value to their programs by continuously showing them how and why the product can contribute to their objectives. Is your vendor doing these regular check-ins with you?
Recurring touchpoints and continued communication not only ensure that customers are getting what they need from the product, but also that they are getting what they need from the vendor on a human level. Consistent communication is valuable to the vendor in understanding your business objectives and goals, and communicating how the vendor’s solution helps support them on an ongoing basis.

Customer engagement and feedback are encouraged
By providing customers with the resources they need to succeed, such as hands-on learning and coaching, the technology vendor is able to drive product usage and understanding from the start, leading to business value that much quicker. Vendors should ensure their CSP is focused on helping the customer get the most value out of their product investment, and encouraging them to provide feedback. This is especially the case for finance professionals. Finance teams are extremely busy, and adopting new technologies can be daunting when there’s no clear path to ROI.
Similarly, by gaining insight into how customers are using the product, where they are struggling, and what they want more of, vendors are able to make customer-informed improvements. With the right CSP in place, customers feel valued and get more out of the technology, and they can help vendors understand where their products could be enhanced. Is your vendor offering this type of collaborative environment to help drive value and success for you as a user?

A change management process is established
Another major responsibility for customer success teams is change management. Effective CSPs will have processes in place if there are changes within the organization, either on the customer or the vendor side. If a primary contact leaves, having these structures in place will help ease the transition and maintain customer satisfaction. For example, these may include things like rapid training, an online learning academy, and designated support to ensure a new team member is quickly up-to-speed, and all critical related processes continue to run smoothly. Are these procedures established with your vendor in the event of employee turnover?
The benefits of a strong CSP are clear. With these types of formal processes in place, your vendors can function as a true partner and extension of your team, and empower you to be on a clear path to meeting your business objectives bolstered through the use of modern financial performance applications.

Susan Gershman is Chief Customer Innovation Officer at Prophix. Recognized as an experienced leader in the enterprise SaaS industry across multiple verticals, including finance and accounting