Take CX from Reactive to Proactive

Hi CX Squad!

I wanted to extend a welcome to the new folks that joined over the last week.

When I first began this journey, I had no idea that so many of you would be passionate about learning more about CX or retention.

But here we are, on the verge of reaching 8,000 subscribers!

Thank you for being a part of this incredible community, where we can share our CX insights and vent about life's random struggles.

Two tiny updates before we kick off!

1. If you’ve not yet listened to Kendall’s podcast episode on Down To Chat, I strongly recommend you do! We had such a blast diving deep on all things social and influencer.

Listen here.

2. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this most recent announcement from OpenStore, but they recently launched a service that lets store owners take a break & receive passive income for a year while still owning the business.

For a small management fee, they take over your marketing and advertising, demand planning, inventory management, fulfillment, logistics, and CX! 🤯

Very curious to hear what y’all think about this.

Has anyone here tried it?

Alright, let’s get into it.

When I started in CX almost a decade ago, I dreamt of being a Customer Success Manager.

After all, they were getting paid six figures to do what I thought great CX folks should be doing - proactively thinking about the entire customer journey.

CX, on the other hand, wasn't paid as well - my first role in CX paid $30k a year.

Some of this has changed, some more change is in progress, and there’s lots more that should be changed.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Pull up a chair, let’s talk about it.

  • The Past: The Proactive Revolution of SaaS Customer Success

  • The Present: DTC Takes a Cue from SaaS Innovation

  • The Future: The Era of Proactivity

Before we dive in, a huge shout to Gorgias, our sponsor for this week’s newsie.

Gorgias is my CX helpdesk of choice and what I’ve used at both OLIPOP and JRB. If you have been here for a bit, you know how much I love Gorgias and why I think it’s an absolute must-have for any Shopify business. More on my fav Gorgias use cases here.

I’ve seen brands at all revenue stages use and love Gorgias, and I highly recommend you check it out.

It’s our one-stop-shop for all things customer. If you have any questions about how we use Gorgias or why we chose Gorgias, feel free to email me anytime.

The Past: The Proactive Revolution of SaaS Customer Success

The concept of Customer Success as a dedicated role within a company emerged in the early 2000s.

The idea was to have someone who was solely responsible for ensuring the success of the customer with the product or service.

It was a response to the growing realization that retaining customers was just as important, if not more so, than acquiring new ones.

SaaS companies were some of the earliest adopters of the Customer Success role, as the subscription-based nature of their business model meant that customer retention was critical.

One of the pioneers of the Customer Success role was Salesforce, which hired a Customer Success Manager (CSM) in 2001. Other early adopters of the role included Box, Zendesk, and HubSpot.

In the early days, the responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager varied depending on the company, but the core focus was on ensuring customer satisfaction and retention.

This involved proactive engagement with customers to identify and solve problems before they became major issues and providing guidance and training to help customers get the most out of the product.

As companies began to scale, they realized that it was impossible for a customer success manager to personally touch base with every single customer.

One of the critical components of the CSM role was the ability to track customer usage and behavior to identify potential issues before they escalate.

By analyzing customer data and usage patterns, SaaS companies were able to take proactive measures to address customer concerns, improve product features, and prevent churn.

Another critical component of proactive CX is personalized communication. SaaS companies prioritized building solid customer relationships through regular touchpoints, including check-ins, onboarding, and product updates.

This helped build customer loyalty and ensured that SaaS companies were aware of any potential issues that could impact the customer experience.

Customer Success Managers also worked closely with Sales and Marketing teams to ensure a smooth onboarding process for new customers.

The emergence of the CSM role marked a shift in focus from simply acquiring customers to ensuring their long-term success with the product.

The Present: DTC Takes a Cue from SaaS Innovation

Okay, where has CX on the DTC side been throughout all of this?

Well, in the past, Customer Support (or CX) was often reactive, with companies only addressing customer issues after they had already arisen.

Working a CX role meant a game of whack-a-mole, bouncing back between WISMO (where is my order) tickets and resolving product issues.

When the ticket volume increased beyond the amount a small internal team could handle, the company quickly outsourced it offshore to get the quickest response time possible.

SaaS, on the other hand, rarely outsources its customer success.

If I had to guess, it’s because contract dollar size on the SaaS side is so much higher, whereas DTC customers have become “disposable.”

Fast-forward to the early 2020’s. Acquiring customers has gotten more expensive, and customers have higher expectations (a separate story to dive into).

As that squeeze happened, DTC companies started taking a page from the SaaS book by prioritizing proactive CX.

DTC brands, which have traditionally focused on product innovation and marketing, are now starting to realize the importance of building strong relationships with their customers.

Great CX not only makes your marketing dollars stretch further, but also increases retention and word of mouth.

When people enjoy their first experience with your brand, they are much more likely to stick around and share their love for your brand with friends and colleagues. Feels like a no-brainer.

Proactive CX involves taking a proactive approach to customer service rather than simply reacting to customer complaints.

It means using data and automation to anticipate customer needs and address issues before they become problems.

The Future: How CX is About to Become More Proactive Than Ever

The evolution of CX is far from over, and it's clear that proactive measures will play an even more significant role in the future. Here are a few trends that we can expect to see in the coming years:

AI-powered CX: As AI technology continues to advance, we can expect to see more companies leveraging it to provide proactive CX. For example, AI-powered chatbots can help customers troubleshoot issues in real-time and provide personalized recommendations based on their usage patterns.

FWIW, I think we are still early here, and businesses should always be forthcoming in disclosing when you are talking to a bot vs. a human.

Another example is Gorgias AI, layered on top of ChatGPT and built on the inside of an already existing great helpdesk. We’ve been on the beta, and it’s super cool and helpful.

Real-time analytics: Real-time analytics tools will become even more critical in helping companies identify potential issues before they escalate. By monitoring customer behavior in real time, companies can quickly identify patterns and trends that could lead to problems down the line.

Wonderment is a great example. Saves us thousands of “WISMO” tickets monthly.

Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics will become increasingly important in identifying potential issues before they happen. By analyzing customer data and behavior, companies can predict when customers are at risk of churning and take proactive measures to prevent it.

It’s far easier to reduce churn ex-ante than it is to win back lapsed customers.

The proactive approach to CX has come a long way since its early days in the SaaS industry.

Today, DTC companies are starting to realize the importance of building strong relationships with their customers through personalized communication and proactive problem-solving.

The question I get often is this:

With all this AI and technology, are you scared of CX jobs disappearing?

My answer is simple: I’m really excited to be able to ruthlessly automate menial and mundane tasks, and then put a much larger focus on the human magical touches and moments we can create with our customers.

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!

See you next week,

Eli 💛