How Our Support Team Maximizes Customer Success with Intelligent Automation
Like any SaaS company worth its salt, Wishpond puts a lot of effort into making sure our product meets the needs of our customers.
If you’re a SaaS marketer, you know first-hand how important customer success is when it comes to showing users and potential customers how valuable your product is.
Three months ago, our long-time customer success lead, Bree, left Wishpond to start a new chapter in London. Instead of looking for someone to take on her role, we took it as an opportunity to turn our entire support team into a team designed to maximize and maintain customer success.
Our new customer success team immediately got to work, implementing processes and scouring our analytics for data and trends that could help them create a better and more cohesive customer experience, from first touch to payment, onboarding, support and beyond.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the automation processes our customer support team uses to maximize customer success and convert as many potential customers into paid users as possible.
Let’s dive in.
Why We Personalize Communication
Live-chat automation is brilliant for our customer success team because it allows them to create contact points with messaging that’s personalized to our visitors and users based on their interests and actions.
In 2017, the personalization of communications is, in my opinion, one of the most important developing trends in marketing. Why? Put simply, the sheer number of emails, messages, Facebook notifications, Tweets - the list goes on - people get each day has created a sea of noise.
This noise is characterized by its volume (go through your inbox and see how many newsletters you receive every day or every other day) and its lack of personalization (of those newsletters, how many of them are really relevant to you?).
And what happens to loud, irrelevant noise?
People tune it out.
So, to cut through that noise and pull potential customers out of radio silence, we personalize. This means contacting people about the topics they’re specifically interested in by addressing common questions or asking relevant questions.
Though automated personalization might seem like a bit of a paradox, the powerful automation tools available to us as marketers helps us overcome many of the barriers that would otherwise inhibit the effectiveness of these communications.
Whether it’s a timely live-chat popup or an action-triggered email, we work hard to minimize the robotics that are inherent to communication automation.
Let’s go over a few automation flows we have as well as how they help us, and our customers, achieve our goals.
Using Segmentation to Identify VIPs
Our customer success team is a hard-working bunch. They deal with hundreds of support tickets and requests every single day - and between the five of them, that’s no easy task.
One thing that can be tough to handle is the prioritization of tickets. Though they try their best to reply as quickly as possible to every ticket, it can be hard when there are dozens piling up.
With this in mind, we’ve found one incredibly impactful use for automation: segmentation. Using information we collect from our visitors’ actions allows us to group them into segments that help us answer their support requests in a certain way.
One such segment is our VIP list - we automatically set our free trial users and “Rapid Growth” plan customers to become part of this list. Don’t get me wrong - we answer all support tickets as quickly as possible, but we’re lucky enough to have a customer base that’s generally patient and understanding.
Providing our free trial customers with first-in-line support means our customer success team is quick to aid them when they’ve got questions or are having trouble figuring out the platform. Having particularly responsive support keeps a free trial user’s overall experience with Wishpond positive.
We do this for our Rapid Growth users for many of the same reasons. Users on a Rapid Growth plan are our big players - larger companies running massive campaigns. More often than not, they have stricter deadlines and more demanding expectations, meaning it’s in our best interest to respond quickly to keep retention and customer satisfaction high.
Segmentation is a massive opportunity when it comes to modern digital marketing. It allows you to much more easily personalize your marketing efforts, especially when your audience is made up of many different types of customers.
Best of all? It can serve multiple purposes. While we use Intercom segmentation primarily to identify customers and where they are within our sales funnel, we also use it for a ton of other things, like directing Spanish chats to our Spanish-speaking support team member based on browser language or categorizing billing-related support tickets based on the email they were sent to.
Engaging Pricing Page Visitors
As far as SaaS products go, our sign-up flow is pretty standard: people visit our site, check out our products, visit our pricing page, and then decide if they want to sign up for our 14-day free trial by choosing one of our three plans. Simple enough, right?
We know, however, that there’s an inherent friction for page visitors when they visit pricing. This is the first big decision-making step for a potential customer, and it takes a combined effort from our marketing and customer success teams to minimize this friction to maximize conversion.
Though we’ve done a lot to optimize our pricing page (to the tune of increasing revenue 54.3%), there’s only so much we can do within the page itself. We added an FAQ and leveraged social proof in the form of a testimonial to get as many people as we can through the door, but we knew we could do more.
What’s important to note about pricing page visitors is that they’re an incredibly heterogeneous bunch. We drive a lot of traffic to that page (tens of thousands of visitors monthly) from a diverse list of sources. This means each visitor has a different set of knowledge, expectations and intentions, and that in turn means we can’t treat them all the same way.
So, we introduced a small, simple Intercom popup for pricing page visitors. It looks like this:
It’s a very general question that we ask people who have been on our pricing page for 30 seconds.
Our intention with this message isn’t to sell more or to include more information about our product. We simply want to open a dialogue with a potential customer, giving them the opportunity to ask any questions they might have and letting them know that we have a support team that’s ready and waiting to assist them.
A pricing page visitor who doesn’t see an answer to a question they have may simply bounce. But, by introducing an alternative avenue through which visitors are prompted to chat with our customer success team, we’re given a second opportunity to talk with these people and potentially turn them into customers.
The precise and targeted nature of modern automation is a wonder of the marketing world. It allows you and your business to identify individual opportunities and then choose how to capitalize on them based on a certain message or particular goal.
When you’re looking to set up live-chat automation, ask yourself what your visitor is thinking and feeling at a given time or specific page. What barriers are they encountering? What questions might they have? What problems are they experiencing?
Most importantly, what are the reasons that are keeping them from achieving your intended goal? Identifying these problems and answering these questions will go a long way towards helping you sculpt automation that both assists your customers and impacts business results.
Being a Customer Resource
A unique part of Wishpond’s marketing efforts is that we rely greatly on the strength of our content strategy to pull in traffic. When a great majority of your articles are made up of top-of-funnel content like “20 Instagram Tips”, you get a lot of visitors who don’t know about or aren’t quite ready to use your software.
Though we have an entirely separate marketing strategy for blog traffic and how we optimize it for sales, we’ve recently been exploring ways to do this in ways that reach beyond lead generation, email newsletters, popups or welcome mats. One of these new methods utilizes Intercom to connect our customer success team with blog visitors with the goal of providing value and introducing them to Wishpond.
We're lucky enough that many of our social media articles rank incredibly high in search results - and that’s led to a majority of our blog traffic being on these social media-related articles. As I mentioned, these articles tend to attract top-of-funnel visitors. Though our ultimate goal is to turn these social media marketers into savvy digital marketers using Wishpond, we know that process isn’t quick - or easy.
To help bridge the gap, we’ve begun experimenting with the implementation of proactive chats into some of our higher-traffic blog articles:
Here’s an example of a chat we open automatically on someone reading one of our Facebook contest articles. We know people who come to read this article are looking for ideas for their next Facebook contest, so we prompt them (after a timed delay) with a question about their Facebook contest.
Replies to these messages go straight to our support team, who can either provide visitors with assistance related to their contest, or qualify them as a hot lead and pass them to sales. Though our goal here is ultimately to turn these visitors into customers, we also want to establish Wishpond as a source of knowledge and expertise when it comes to all things digital marketing.
Providing no-strings-attached value can build stronger relationships with blog readers, while increasing the chance that they’ll look towards Wishpond when they’re searching for a digital marketing solution.
Though we love our live-chat automation, nothing quite beats good old email automation. We use email automation for literally (okay, figuratively) everything. Whether it’s our sales and marketing processes, onboarding flows, or “winback” strategies, automation is a huge part of the way we interact with past, existing and potential customers.
Using Billing Dropoff Emails to Increase Self-Service Signups
Our signup process consists of two real stages:
First: The actual “Signup” stage, where users to-be enter their email address (or use their social media credentials) to create a Wishpond account.
Second: “Upgrade” requires the user to put in their billing information to access the platform, which - naturally - can introduce significant friction when it comes to the entire signup process.
To combat the negative effects of this step on our conversion rates, we’ve created an extensive “billing dropoff” workflow that attempts to pull users into the platform with strategically crafted emails.
Check out the flow as it looks on “paper”:
As you can see, it’s pretty complex - and that’s because we’re using marketing automation to determine what interests each person (based on email opens and clicks), and targeting them more specifically with follow-up emails to maximize the chance we convert them into paying customers.
Here’s an example of one of the case study emails in the dropoff workflow:
As I’ve said throughout this article, personalization - wisely using the information you have about your users and potential customers - can massively increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Sending perfectly-timed emails with content that’s specifically relevant to each user’s interests can mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion.
Increasing Customer Success with Automated Onboarding
One of our Customer Success team’s main focuses over the past little while has been creating a process that helps new users ease into the Wishpond platform in an informative and welcoming way. Though I’d say we’re a long way from the ideal onboarding process, we’re well on our way.
I’ll give you a peek into that onboarding process to show how email automation helps us get more customers to do more with our platform.
Once a user signs up, it’s our goal to get them to try out the platform. Whether or not they decide to continue using Wishpond (though of course we hope they do), we want to them to have a decent grasp of the product and its features before they make that decision.
To achieve this goal, we prompt users to take “baby steps” in the platform. For example, drafting and publishing a campaign.
Here’s how it works:
After a user signs up, we give them a few days to check out the platform. If they haven’t yet created a campaign (meaning they may have just poked around the dashboard or done nothing at all), we send them the following email, prompting them to start creating their first campaign:
Our goal with this email is to get them to create and draft their first campaign. Based on the actions they take, we send different emails to prompt other actions.
For example, once they’ve drafted and their first campaign, we encourage them to publish it:
In addition to encouraging and congratulating users on publishing their campaign, we want to maximize the chances that their campaign will succeed by teaching them how to effectively market it.
Ensuring your customers have the best possible experience with your product or service is paramount in making sure they make the choice to continue using it. Using automation to walk them through the important milestones within your product can go a long way towards increasing their overall enjoyment - and thus, your retention rates.
Winning Back Past Customers
The final automated email campaign I want to take a look at is a “winback” campaign, which is created with the intention to get past customers to come back and resume using your product.
For us, this is a big one. We’re aware of the nature of many of our customers, who use Wishpond to run a single campaign (usually a contest) and then cancel their subscription once the campaign is over.
What this primarily signals to us is that we need to do a much better job of convincing our contest-only customers of the value of our entire platform, beyond just our contest tool.
Here’s what our winback campaign looks like (courtesy of my editor James’ impeccable Google Drawings ability):
As you can see, it’s also rather extensive. Our goal with this series of emails is to pinpoint and identify points of opportunity that can help us bring past customers back to Wishpond. Whether it was a bad experience a long time ago, or that their campaign simply ended, we’ve created emails that aim to appeal to each of these segments.
Here’s an example of one of these emails:
You can use automation to pursue areas you may not otherwise think about looking at. Setting up a simple email automation flow to test a certain campaign (for example, Wishpond’s winback campaign) can help you gather new, valuable insights about your customers - and maybe drive some sales along the way.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, automation plays a massive role when it comes to Wishpond’s customer success strategies. We use it for nearly everything - sales, marketing, onboarding, and more. But it’s not mindless or robotic - we put real thought into all of our automation processes, personalizing them in ways that help us maintain strong connections with all of our users.
What’s the lesson here? Automate, but do it wisely. It’s possible (as you’ve seen) and important to maintain personalization in messaging even when it is automated. You’ll find it maximizes your open rates, your customers’ success, and your own results.
Have you used automation in your own messaging? How has it worked out for you? Let me know in the comments below!