Increase Retention With a Customer Success Mindset

Why product marketers need a strategy to move from a mindset of customer acquisition to customer success.

When the sales team lands a new account, product marketer Monika knows her job has just begun. Although she created the webinar and competitor analysis the sales team used to convince the new prospect to buy, she knows the next step will be to ensure that her company helps the customer to achieve success so that they become a loyal client over time. And she’s not alone.

Thirty-four percent of product marketers at technology and service providers (TSPs) select “retaining clients” as one their most important challenges.

It’s time to think about customer success — creating strategies around how to help customers reap the rewards of their investment

“To effectively retain clients, technology product marketers need to embrace a customer success mindset that helps clients to achieve business outcomes and derive more value from their investment,” says Ray Pun, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner.

Especially with subscription services rising in popularity, it’s important that product marketers think beyond the initial sales cycle and support the entire customer journey, including customer success and ultimately, customer retention.

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Change your mindset to customer success

During the sales process, product marketing focuses on a customer acquisition mindset: Convince clients to buy and differentiate the product from competitors.  

But to retain those customers, it’s time to think about customer success — creating strategies around how to help customers reap the rewards of their investment and achieve tangible value. This can be challenging, especially for marketers at organizations that have not traditionally focused on retention.

Successful customers are those that are more likely to resign contracts when the time comes for subscription renewal. These customers understand how the product works and delivers value in the context of their own business success, and product marketers need to focus on ways to further that understanding.   

Read more: Calculate Potential Market Share Size for a New Product or Service

Increase customer adoption to increase customer retention

Recognize that the path to retention begins with strong user adoption. That means developing a focus on programs that educate clients and build relationships with potential customer advocates. The goal is to assist clients in using the product in a way that creates business value. To start, make sure new clients know how to get started and have concrete steps for implementation.

Begin by partnering with customer success management or customer marketing teams to create an effective sequence of meetings and communications.

Identify “happy” customers who have achieved some business outcomes using the product

For example, a low-touch, broad-reach tactic would be to schedule a webinar to share best practices or develop e-books and white papers that document how to achieve business outcomes and offer tips for a more seamless implementation. This approaches enables the product marketer to engage with hundreds or thousands of users.

Gartner illustrates the need to pivot away from the customer acquisition mindset, which focuses on selling products and services, to the customer success mindset, which focuses on helping customers achieve business outcomes.

For a high-touch, narrow-reach approach, consider a user group meeting where you present new customer success stories that explain how organizations achieved business value with your product, or single-customer meetings to address best practices and allow for questions. This approach covers fewer clients, but enables better relationship building and two way-interaction.

Product marketers should identify “happy” customers who have achieved some business outcomes using the product and build relationships with that person. This creates a good pipeline for a customer advocacy program and success stories, and it’s possible that some happy customers will be willing to speak to other clients on best practices via webinars or user group meetings.

Regardless of which tactics product marketers use to increase retention, ensure that a strategy and clear set of goals are in place to measure success. To support the entire customer journey, product marketers may find it challenging to shift to a customer success mindset, but a successful strategy will lead to higher retention rates and increased revenue.

Gartner clients can read the full research report Improve Customer Retention by Embracing Product Adoption Strategies by Ray Pun.

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