After attempts to stimulate the economy due to the aftershocks of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting supply chain interruptions, countries around the world are now experiencing unprecedented levels of inflation. In the United States, the annual inflation rate is 8.6% for the 12 months ended in May 2022, the largest annual increase since December 1981. These crises, including the war in Ukraine, have caused B2B businesses to make major adjustments. If you log on to LinkedIn on any given day, you will see many posts about layoffs. These cuts are just one lever that businesses are pulling to manage this uncertainty, with potentially more to come.
As B2B businesses seek to weather this storm, one major trend emerging is a laser focus on retention: keeping customers and ensuring that they achieve their desired outcomes. Existing customers become even more important as new business starts to decline, providing an opportunity for customer success teams to emerge as the heroes of this macroeconomic slowdown. As Forrester Vice President and Research Director Harley Manning recently said in his closing keynote at the 2022 Forrester CX North America conference earlier in June, “You need your customers more than they need you.”
Critical to retention efforts is the need to embrace trust as your business imperative. Good relationships are built on it. And while the entire organization needs to be invested in their customers’ success, the customer success team plays a significant role in delivering on that investment. They strive to build and nurture the relationship between the company and the customer, directly influencing their experience and the value they receive. These efforts by customer success teams lean on the levers of trust to deliver the appropriate experience and drive successful outcomes.
Trust is not an abstract concept, and organizations need to have strategies or plans in place to influence customers to trust them. But before customer success professionals don their capes and use their superpowers to protect existing customer revenue, they want to ensure that their strategy includes:
- Building confidence. Customer success teams instill confidence by demonstrating capability. They achieve this through illustrating that they (and their organization) have the skills, knowledge, and resources to be competent at helping their customers achieve their goals by building a framework of repeatable processes and committing to them to deliver consistency and value. In doing this, they are also showing reliability, demonstrating that customers can depend on them to keep the commitments they have made.
- Setting and communicating expectations. Prior to kicking off the post-sale journey, communicating expectations — and aligning on them — helps to start building trust. Customer success teams should communicate clearly and often. Your customers invested in your product(s). They “hired” your company as the experts to help solve a problem they have. It is then critical for customer success teams to communicate why something works and why it does not, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation. Showing empathy for their concerns is important, but so is operating with integrity.
Customer success is a critical business function and plays an essential role in building trust with customers. Customer leaders in every organization must equip themselves with the tools to develop and execute successful trust strategies. The time to embrace trust as your business imperative is now. Read The Role Of Customer Success In Building Trust to embark on your trust journey today.