lmpactful Trends in the Customer Success Industry

This post was originally published on Medium by Jakub Płonka.

New year, new trends. In this article, I’d like to share my thoughts on the upcoming trends that will play an essential role in Customer Success. 

Note some items on this list aren’t new trends or topics, but in my opinion, they need to be addressed along with the new trends. 

Ready to dive in?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

There are many examples of AI popping up across the tech industry. For example, some chat applications can generate ready-made text from a given phrase. Vitally's First Call Success Generator is an AI-powered tool for CSMs that creates an agenda for the first onboarding call between a CSM and their new client. There is much room for improvement here, but do I think it is the future of support? Most definitely! 

Currently, chatbots are another medium that uses AI. Yet, most users are redirected to help center resources or a how-to article to solve the issue. So that got me thinking, what AI-learned solutions could help users in real-time rather than redirecting them to a preexisting resource? In my opinion, this usage of AI would positively transform the user experience. 

So what if you already have a knowledge base or education center built out? That’s great, and you can be creative about enabling a better experience for users. A great example of this is Google’s, Talk to Books. This tool was created to change the way people search for things. In this case, the search is only for books, and instead of searching by title, you can enter a sentence, question, problem, or theme. This concept has broadened the searchability of books, and in terms of Customer Success, it could be applied to an education center. Users wouldn’t have to guess the name of an article; instead, they could provide a sentence that confuses them about the product or a characteristic in the platform and search by that, helping them find what they need quickly and improving the search engine of educational resources. 

Another use of AI that can improve the Customer Success industry is the ability to convert text to speech. This removes the barrier for individuals who struggle with reading or poor eye site and broadens the range of help an organization can provide. Additionally, there are ways for AI to help increase the number of languages for support or educational materials. Having support or educational document or videos in various languages expands product usability and can lead to a better customer experience. 

All in all, artificial intelligence will not replace us. Instead, I believe that it’s a form of technology that will help enhance us, our work, and our intelligence. 

Frictionless Processes

Though not a new topic, everyone and everything aim to experience frictionless processes, whether in their day-to-day tasks or within a given technology or application. However, when it comes to artificial intelligence, we should consider adding some 'friction' to user processes. This 'friction' would serve as a buffer, ensuring that the user is thinking about what they are doing and providing an opportunity to think ahead. After all, we don't want users to accept rules and regulations or even disregard any alert messages. In this instance of AI, frictionless processes may not be the best course of action.

Improving the Onboarding Experience

Onboarding is one of the most critical processes for a Customer Success team. Everyone in CS knows this, and onboarding isn't just about training or the provided materials to new accounts; it's about establishing a positive start and experience of the customer journey. 

It is essential to cover some changes that Customer Success teams could make to the onboarding process to create an excellent customer experience off the starting line. The first thing to consider is the application's design, also known as the User Interface. With a clean application interface with easy-to-use functions or integrations, new customers will feel more comfortable with the platform and more confident to utilize the various platform features from the get-go. 

If you have a complex product with many features, consider a more controlled user onboarding process with the user. For example, you could set up first-time users with a controlled environment of the product, only allowing a certain amount of features in the beginning. Once they try out the first handful of features, it will unlock the next set of features. The reason for doing this is to make sure a new user is not overwhelmed by the platform. Feeling overwhelmed is not the first impression any organization wants for its product. 

Additionally, providing opportunities for new users to learn the necessary product skills or improve their initial understanding of the product can be crucial to a successful onboarding experience. To take it a step further, including a section of the onboarding where that user can test out those new skills and put them in action with a specific feature or environment within the product could also be a game changer. 

External & Internal Communication

Communication is, for me, one of the most critical success factors in the role of a Customer Success Manager. Yes, the pandemic changed the working model, as many of us work in different locations and time zones. But because of this massive change to the industry norm, there is a greater emphasis on communication and the different tools out there that can help teams work asynchronously without needing to meet with their team as often. Tools like Loom for video messaging and project managing tools like Notion and Asana can help teams communicate quickly and provide work status updates with the click of a button. 

The forms of communication will continue to change, especially with the younger generations that continue to enter the workforce. As other forms of communication are used, the structure of teams and clients will inevitably change. And you know what? My gut says that the CS department will be at the forefront of these changes. Customer Success will set the tone for organizations communicating with their customers and internal teams

Final Thoughts…

Communication styles, onboarding processes, and AI tools for Customer Success will change with time. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We must continue to adapt professionally and personally as humans because that is the key to growth. 

Though not all four of these trends were brand new, the older trends mentioned in this article continue to evolve in the CS space year after year. As those older trends continue to grow in the space, it creates room for new trends to pop up and tackle industry problems. There is so much to learn in the Customer Success space, and I look forward to an eventful year ahead. 

This blog was written and contributed by Jakub Płonka. Vitally is proud to distribute thought leadership content to the Customer Success community, so if you know of an article or author with some Customer Success knowledge and wisdom worthy of endorsement, we would love to expand its reach. Reach out to haley@vitally.io with all the details, plus visit our blog to read more Customer Success content worthy of your time.

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