Meal-kit delivery service provider Blue Apron has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons since its IPO a little over three months ago. From disappointing earnings to layoffs, investors have grown increasingly wary of the offering.
Some of the coverage has focused on the impact of Blue Apron’s declining customer loyalty. Not only has average revenue per customer fallen, a study by Emory University Assistant Professor Daniel McCarthy found that 70 percent of Blue Apron’s new customers quit the service after just five months.
The company’s struggle exemplifies some powerful trends that are changing the way businesses approach customer support and customer success. Let’s look at a few of these.
Revenue Growth Is Changing Shape
The rise of subscription-based business models, from home meal kit services to Software as a Service, means that we now rely on our customers to spend money with us over time. It also means that satisfied, successful customers are critical sources of new revenue. Allison Pickens, Chief Customer Officer of Gainsight, pointed this out during her presentation at NewVoiceMedia’s CloudFest for Service event earlier this summer.
“A successful customer generates three new leads – a renewal event, an expansion event and a new logo,” she said. “If your customers are happy and successful they will go out and advocate on your behalf to prospective customers and make it easier for you to close the loop on customer acquisition.”
Pickens recommends that, instead of thinking of growth as the traditional funnel, businesses should visualize an hourglass, where lifetime value (LTV) is given as much attention as the traditional acquisition funnel.
Sales and Service Are Converging
Consumers have access to more choices, more information and more platforms for sharing their experiences than ever before. As a result, brands are becoming increasingly defined by the stories their customers tell.
Research from NewVoiceMedia reveals that 65 percent of customers would recommend a business if provided good service. On the flipside, if service is poor, 23 percent of customers will post an online review and 19 percent will complain about social media.
For businesses, this means sales, marketin, and customer support teams must work together across the entire customer lifecycle to serve customers collectively and ensure positive experiences.
“Now everything matters,” says Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis in his article, Customer Experience Is the New Marketing and Customer Experiences Are the New Brand. “And you can argue that it always has. The difference between now and then is that great experiences were once differentiators. Now, great experiences are becoming mandates.”
Moving From Support to Co-Creation
Until fairly recently, customer support was mostly a responsive function, but, as we see with the Blue Apron example, businesses must be proactive in creating strategies to ensure customers will be satisfied and successful. And this is a daily exercise.
You can begin to formulate such strategies by asking questions like: What does it mean for the customer to win? How do we make sure they are getting value? What’s the best indicator that they will renew or buy more services? How can we track that? What business processes can we put in place to meet and exceed those indicators?
For example, as a provider of enterprise software, NewVoiceMedia is proactive in driving the adoption of our solution through onboarding and training, encouraging customers to use it in significant ways, and listening to and incorporating their feedback in selecting add-on features that can create even more value.
We recently introduced a customer community through which we can share product ideas, offer our customers the chance to make suggestions or vote on product enhancements and ‘chat with an expert’ from our team. Strategies like these allow us to focus on helping our customers achieve their business objectives — as well as a return on their investment in our technology— so they can become successful and referenceable.
Expect these trends, and many others, to continue transforming the way businesses serve their customers. Today’s customers – whether B2B or B2C – are empowered enough to know that a brand’s success will depend on theirs.