3 Web Companies using Customer Success to Drive Longterm Value

Providing great customer experiences (both online and offline) is finally getting its due from Software-as-a-Service and Ecommerce companies with the rise of the “Customer Success” team.  While many more blog posts can (and have been) written about whether this is really different from customer support teams (here’s a good one outlining why it is different by Mikael Blaisdell), it does highlight a recognition that how businesses treat customers has important impacts on growth – especially in an age where customers can leverage social media to become powerful brand advocates (or detractors).

While customer success is getting more press lately, there are a set of companies out there who have been leaders in pursuing a customer-centric strategy online.  I’d like to highlight three that make great role models for anyone running a business on the web – whether you’re building software or selling products.

Here goes:

Fog Creek Software: Ensuring Customer Happiness

Fog Creek Software, a maker of software tools for software developers, has a return policy that goes something like this: “We don’t want your money if you aren’t amazingly happy” (more here). While they formally offer a 90 day return policy, in practice they return customers money at any point if they aren’t happy.  For anyone in business, this view should serve as an important reminder: we exist because we make our customers happy and their lives better.  Customers aren’t muppets, so why not focus on their happiness rather than on short-term financial gains?

Zappos: Treating Customers as People

Seeing Zappos on this list probably isn’t a surprise, but we’re constantly coming across another great example of their customer focus.  In particular, they excel at the personalization of customer support – they don’t use scripts on customer calls and they take unique actions that remind me more of things I’d do for a friend than things you expect a company to do for a customer. This story about Zappo’s delivering flowers to a woman who’d had painful foot operations is a great example. Why not treat your customers like you would a next door neighbor?

Atlassian: Designing Corporate Strategy around Customer Happiness

For those not in software development, the most remarkable thing about software company Atlassian might seem to be their $100MM annual revenues with no sales team, but that fact alone is another result of the amazing (yet timeless) strategy that’s got them where they are today: build a great product and provide great customer support. As detailed in this Forbes profile, they’ve built a sales process around giving people what they want and taking every customer support call as a source of feedback. One of the highest compliments in the article is this phrase from the author about their success: “They care about solving the problems of their customers without getting in their way.” Surprising that this is somewhat novel – and gives us all something to aspire to.
Online business have a remarkable opportunity to stand out from their competition by pursuing a customer focused strategy and driving greater customer happiness, and Fog Creek, Atlassian and Zappos are great examples we can learn from.For more on customer success and customer-centric business, follow us on Twitter or visit our website to see what we’re up to.



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