It’s hard to believe I’ve already been a Customer Success Champion at Readable for half a year. What have I learned so far from managing customer success for a SaaS?
1| Empathy is a strengthHaving empathy is invaluable. I took for granted how much my literature studies and previous roles have boosted my ability to empathize and communicate until I read the research behind it.
Empathy is invaluable in customer successBefore this role, I’d worked in a range of customer care environments. From clothing retail, to bookselling and sales admin. I provided support and a great customer experience dealing with anything from body hang-ups to finding a book when you “don’t know what it’s called, but the cover is blue”. All whilst immersing myself in fictional worlds inhabiting characters struggling with situations I’d never found myself in. Empathy is invaluable in customer success - and the difference between sympathy and empathy is important. I’ve learned that being sorry that someone is experiencing a problem is important, but it’s even more vital to connect with your customer on a personal level. Because I’m the voice of the customer feeding back to the team, it’s important that I’m not just ensuring satisfaction - I’m championing success. Every piece of feedback is important and I want to make sure everyone’s use cases are heard. Every problem is important and I want to let the customer know I’m striving to solve it with them - not creating more problems by detaching myself from the situation.
2| Practice what you preachIt wouldn’t be a great user experience for our customers if I communicated with them in a confusing way. After all, we’re a readability tool. My top priority in customer success is to write correspondence, support articles, and content that’s easy to understand. I make sure I structure my in-app messages or emails in a logical way. I use short sentences whenever possible and don’t use complicated words where simple ones will do.
I use short sentences whenever possible and don’t use complicated words where simple ones will doAll of this helps to make sure we’re on the same page. Tone can easily get lost on the screen, so I keep it friendly whilst being concise and direct. A key part of readability, we preach, is also to put the reader first - so I keep my reader in mind. I use similar language to them when we’re working through a query together and don’t put my own writer’s ego before the issue at hand.
3| Readability is for everybodyThe past few months have reaffirmed for me just how important readability is. I get so many emails from helpful clients feeding back to let us know that they heard about readability at conferences around the world. I’ve also learned that readability isn’t just for digital marketing - it’s also important to a plethora of other professions from healthcare, to teaching, to policy-making. Although it’s called ‘readability’, it also helps in a big way with ‘speakability’ - readable content often allows for more powerful rhetoric. Just take this example of Emma Watson’s UN speech. Plain English is vital to her communicating clearly - and not just with her audience at the UN headquarters. Emma’s speech was filmed for the world to see. She wanted to reach out to all human beings to show solidarity with an important cause. Working with readability every day has made me realize how much we take for granted the messages that stick in our minds. That they are clear and concise makes that possible.
4| Support feeds into contentAs well as managing customer success, the other part of my job at Readable is writing content for our blog, app, sales site and social media. I’m always on the lookout for common questions that crop up which would interest our other users.
I’m always on the lookout for common questionsIt also helps me to create helpdesk content to better allow a user to troubleshoot themselves - because, let’s face it, nobody really likes having to contact support, do they? “Why does ReadablePro highlight adverbs? Is using adverbs bad?” asks Anonymous Customer. I realize we don’t have a blog about adverb use, so I write one. This is just one example of support feeding into our content. Because I’m on the frontline every day, I know what features customers are asking about. I know the writing issues they typically face. There’s a lot of opportunity there to be a font of content writing ideas. Your customers are your most valuable content resource. Write for them.
5| Managing expectations is keySome issues take longer to resolve than others. I’ve learned the importance of upfront - not being too eager to please and then making promises you’re unable to deliver. No matter what the product is, occasionally there’ll be a hiccup - hiccups influence upgrades and upgrades make your product even better! So, hiccups and reports of them are your friends.
Hiccups and reports of them are your friendsI’ve learned that the vast majority of people will be understanding when the occasional thing takes slightly longer to resolve - because these things happen. The most important thing is to keep them in the loop. After all, it’s not enough to confirm initially that you’re investigating a bug and then keep them hanging until the fix is deployed. Instead, do periodic check-ins with any progress you make on the issue. People generally want to know that you haven’t forgotten about them and that the problem they’re experiencing is important to you. Even if a resolution is incomplete, don’t be afraid to get in touch. It will mean a lot to your client that you’re keeping them posted and setting more specific timeframes for resolution as you get them.
6| Don’t just answer questions - ask themUndoubtedly, the most important aspect of customer success is listening to the customer. When we develop our friendships with the people around us, an important part of that relationship is listening. Nobody likes to approach a friend with a problem to have them talk over them without really paying attention to what the problem is - your customer is no different. Hear them out. As much as you get used to common queries, don’t jump the gun and assume you know what they’re asking before they can ask it properly. But, you also have to strike the right balance. Let them talk, then ask them questions. Be invested. Don’t just ask them anything you like - I’m pretty sure your customer doesn’t want you to ask them why a raven is like a writing desk when they’re just trying to change their preferences.
Be investedEcho their language to show you’ve paid attention to their specific query, then prompt them with questions to glean some more insight so you can both get to the bottom of this. Not only will this help you solve the query better - it’ll also give you the opportunity to ask for honest feedback, learn about their pain points for future developments, ask them more about what they love about the product, and build your relationship with them. They’ll know from your engagement with them that you have their best interests at heart. And this interaction is bound to give you inspiration for - you guessed it - more content. Most, importantly, don’t panic - you’ve got this. The past six months have been such a learning curve for me, but being able to help our lovely clients and write content they love is so rewarding. A big “thank you!” to everyone I’ve interacted with over the last 6 months - our customers, and the team. Your feedback, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, has helped me grow. You’ve helped motivate me to continue to provide great support and content moving forward. Cheers!