Bobby Kaighn

How to Use SugarCRM and an Online Community to Increase Customer Success

Blog Post created by Bobby Kaighn on Aug 14, 2017

How much effort does your company put into customer success?


The answer varies, but companies are starting to realize just how valuable customer success is. Done well, customer success can grow your business by improving customer satisfaction, retention, and recurring revenue. It can even reduce pressure on your customer support team.


But because customer success is such a broad arena, it can be difficult to make headway no matter how much time and effort you invest. How do you effectively bring sales, marketing, support, and training together to ensure that every customer you win is successful and has a long, happy relationship with your company?


There are a few proven systems that can help you create an effective customer success program, starting with your CRM and online community. These systems collect the information you need to launch customer success initiatives that work for your audience. Here’s how you can use SugarCRM and an online community to increase customer success and grow your business.


Step 1. Collect the Three Main Types of Customer Data

Customer success is heavily dependent on the customers involved. What helps one company’s customers may not help yours. So get to know your customers by collecting the three main types of customer data:

  • Demographic Data
  • Transactional Data
  • Activity Data


Demographic and transactional data are traditionally collected and analyzed to understand who your customers are and what they typically purchase. SugarCRM is an excellent tool for gathering and organizing this information.


Activity data is a newer type of data that usually comes from your website and online community. Activity data tells you how customers behave and helps you understand their interests, concerns, and priorities. A few types include page views, blogs read, and discussion posts published.


It’s important to collect all three types of customer data. If you’re missing even one, you won’t have a complete view of your customers and could miss a crucial component that helps customers be more successful with your product and, ultimately, increase the value and satisfaction they experience.


Step 2. Combine Data in a Single Location

Once you know you’re collecting the right information on your customers, you need get it in one place. This is important because data silos lead to fragmented views of customers and make understanding the big picture difficult.


Combine customer data from your CRM and online community, as well as any other systems that contain useful information, in one system. Many companies use their CRM as their central data repository, but third-party analytics or business intelligence tools can also be helpful.


When your data is in one place you can analyze it to get a complete view of your customers. You can match the products customers are discussing in your online community with their purchases, for instance. You’ll also be able to spot topics of interests as well as areas where customers may be struggling.


Step 3. Create and Implement a Customer Success Program

Based on your data, draft a customer success program that fits your customers’ needs. Your program may include:

  • Guidelines for managing customer expectations during the initial sales process as well as during upsell and upgrade conversations
  • An onboarding program that sets customers up for success from the moment they make a purchase
  • Ongoing training resources that address pain points and help customers user more product features more efficiently
  • Regular check-ins to head off any potential problems
  • Consistently updated content to help customers learn and get more value from your products over time


Each of these elements should be tailored for your customers and can be delivered using the tools in your online community and SugarCRM. You could create follow-up notes and reminders in SugarCRM and distribute content and training material in your online community, for example.


Bonus Tip: Keep your program flexible even after implementation. Continue collecting data and update your program when you spot new trends or changes in customer needs. The best customer success programs pivot with customers.


Step 4. Collect (and Use) Product Feedback

Your customer success program isn’t the only thing that needs consistently updates, your products and services do too. They’re not perfect, and with the rapidly changing landscape we live in, they never will be. You need to consistently improve your offers to make it as easy as possible for your customers to be successful.


One of the best ways to do this is through customer feedback. Use your online community to create a dedicated space for feedback, then ask your customers to weigh in on products and services. What would make them better? How could common user experience problems be solved? Let other customers’ comment or up-vote suggestions from their peers so you know how popular each piece of feedback is. The more positive attention a suggestion gets, the more likely it is that that making a change is that area will increase customer success.


And don’t forget to let your customers know when their comments lead to a change. It demonstrates just how much you care about their opinions – a key ingredient in any successful relationship.


Customer Success is a Long-Term, Company-Wide Investment

Using SugarCRM and an online community to collect and analyze data over time will help you spot trends in customer behavior and shift your strategies and products to fit customer needs.


The most effective companies also have organization-wide buy-in. Everyone, from executives to marketers and customer service representatives, makes customer success a priority. This attitude trickles down through tasks, teamwork, and technology to create an atmosphere that prioritizes the customer. Customers pick up on that, making it just a little easier for them to feel comfortable putting their trust in your business over the long haul.


Want to learn more? Contact us or check out listing on SugarExchange to learn what our solution can provide for you.