Customer success vs. Customer experience

Building a SaaS company is not always a straightforward process, and in an ever-evolving industry, the learning never stops.

While you invest efforts towards creating a dependable service, you'll also need to dedicate time towards building good foundations for customer-facing aspects of your organization.

Customer retention has consistently been highlighted as a cheaper way to keep profits on a positive growth trajectory. In fact, 82% of companies today agree that customer retention is cheaper than acquisition. That fact is only going to remain more prominent as SaaS becomes a more competitive business model.

While this is great to know if you're already an established company, being small or medium-sized means that you'll need to be ensuring customer retention while also bringing in new customers.

If you're on this rocky boat, we've got you covered with two terms that should be the newest highlights in your vocabulary: customer success and customer experience. With mastery of what each of these concepts entails, you'll make a much more impactful team of customer-facing employees within your organization.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success (CS) teams are the department that focuses on giving customers every bit of help to achieve their goals with your service.

On the customer success side of things, your team's role is to understand what your clients want to achieve and provide them with educational tools and steps to ensure that a client is on board.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience (CX) teams are a part of an organization that zones in on the individual moments in a customer's journey.

While interacting with your service, CX addresses specific touchpoints that may be responsible for limiting a customer's use of your service right from the point of contact to the purchase.

What is the difference between Customer Success and Customer Experience?

While you may not feel the need to separate these two concepts into their own teams, there is a lot of value that can be found in taking advantage of separating the roles we've defined above.

As a CS team does the work related to onboarding new customers and expressing the role of your service in the life of a potential client, they need to be able to proactively address their client's issues.

They should also know how to upsell and cross-sell other aspects of your service to these clients.

On the other hand, a customer experience team ensures that buyers have consistently positive interactions across every part of their association with your service.

The discovery should be seamless right from the point they click on the landing page of your website.

Your CX team is an invisible guiding hand that leads the customers through a journey that is ultimately unique to your company.

Here are some specific areas that show a big difference:

Communication

A Customer Success team works to optimize a customer's use of your service. Therefore, they should know the inner workings of your service on a multifaceted level.

If your SaaS business provides cloud solutions, the CS team should be well versed in the technicalities in a way that can be explained to even the least technically savvy clients. For example, by providing articles and blog posts related to various components' set-up process and installation.

It is not enough to simply advertise your company's services; your CS team should be present in a way that feels like a thought-out bonus convenience in the eyes of your customers.

On the other hand, a CX team has to be a face for the interactions with your company to maintain a strong business relationship and promote the idea of reliability. There is a broader role with CX that does entail certain aspects of CS, but in general, it is more focused on the quality of interactions and the content of your service.

Messaging platforms and strong interactive skills are great ways to ensure that the customer experience feels like a truly valuable part of your business. These exchanges between you and the customers should be good enough to create trust.

Metrics

Measuring the level of impact with Customer Experience and Customer Success is done to keep your teams on the right track. With CX, the customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is primarily preferred as it allows your customers to provide their personal ratings of experiences using your service directly.

The CSAT score can be measured in a way that is entirely up to your preference, but it is generally on a scale. Some companies may prefer to use rankings of 1 to 10 or a percentage-based measurement. Other CX metrics, such as customer acquisition and conversion rates, are also used.

Meanwhile, CS takes a different route and checks for metrics like the customer lifetime value, retention rate, repeat purchase rate, customer effort score, and conversion rate.

It mainly focuses on ways to measure a customer's engagement with your services. The value of the interactions isn't the focus so much as the value your service provides to customers.

How to take advantage of customer experience and customer success

Customer experience and customer success are different things, but they excellently play into each other, making it a little tempting to fuse the two together. However, leaving them as their separate entities while allowing them to collaborate strategically can create a recipe for success that's unrivaled by most SaaS companies.

Both teams of CX and CS are excellent at ensuring customer loyalty is improved, and they are pretty effective at doing so.

The way they can influence each other is also worth highlighting as clients with a good customer experience are also likely to have a reason to respond positively to up-sale and cross-sale pitches from customer success experts.

In a survey carried out by Gainsight, 70% of respondents reported that a customer success program helped increase customer retention figures. CS enhances CX, and it feels like a golden ticket in an increasingly complicated world of services.

When clients have a reduced need to contact support, CX improves, and CS provides a way for customers to become experts in your service so that they will be more comfortable using self-service solutions rather than contacting a support specialist.

Improving your customer journey with CX and CS

Creating a smooth experience for your buyer right from the start is essential to give your customer journey an excellent process, from awareness to expansion.

Awareness and Consideration

At this stage, your client success teams should have all the resources related to inquiries and FAQs available for potential customers to access. There has to be general availability of personnel to streamline the process with phone and video calls and social media availability for Q and As.

To gain a solid understanding of the needs your potential customer has related to your service, the CX team can also be present with follow-up emails and calls to track the progress made with each customer that reaches out.

Purchase and Retention

After a new customer joins your client base, your CS managers need to introduce these new clients to your community. By giving them a chance to join the community, you will generate interactions between like-minded individuals all under the umbrella of your platform.

The conversations, suggestions, and interactions under your community pages will allow users to have a strong sense of community.

The CX team can also keep track of this and ensure that customer adoption levels remain high. If the figures dwindle, the success team can be notified and allowed to brainstorm new solutions.

An essential aspect of customer retention is listening in on their opinions and implementing the changes after discussing them within the CS team.

Your CX team will use surveys and emails to collect information on customer feedback, but your CS team is where the gaps and findings are relayed to their relevant departmentswithin your company.

Expansion

At this stage of a customer journey, your customer experience team should be able to identify trends within customer behavior. For example, when customers have outgrown certain strategies due to oversaturation in your industry, it might be time to move on, and your customer experience team must be aware of such moments.

In tandem, your CS team can also help with the expansion process by employing case studies with customers that are seen as successes. By leaning into what worked best among your most valued customers, your internal departments can use such strategies to highlight your brand, attracting new customers.

By letting both departments do what they are good at to their fullest extent, expansion strategies are more viable and likely to succeed.

Improving customer success and customer experience in SaaS businesses

Too often, businesses focus on acquiring new customers without putting enough effort into retaining the ones they have. Losing a customer can be expensive, and it's much harder to win them back than to keep them happy in the first place.

So, what is the difference between customer success and customer experience? Put simply, customer success is about ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes, while customer experience is about making sure they have a tremendous overall journey with your company.

Both are essential for a successful SaaS business, but you may find that one area needs more attention than the other.

Author

Emma Bakh

CX Manager

Contributor