4 Solutions to Automate Customer Success Workflows
In 2023, customer success workflow automation is not just a nifty feature to have. It’s a necessity, especially if you’re looking to scale your customer success efforts and establish customer success as a growth driver for your organization.
Automating customer success (CS) workflows can make your team more nimble and efficient, allowing you to support customers more quickly and proactively.
When applied to manual and menial tasks, automation saves your customer success manager (CSM) time and effort, which they can invest in nurturing great customer relationships instead.
This is just a brief overview of why it’s important for any CS team to automate its workflows. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into CS process automation and its benefits.
From identifying key processes for automation to the best automation tools, here’s everything you need to know about solutions to automate customer success.
Identifying key customer success processes for automation
When it comes to automating CS processes, the truth is not all of them can or should be.
Customer success is, ultimately, a discipline that relies greatly on human input. So, how do you identify the key workflows for automation?
To begin with, let’s determine the characteristics of a process that benefits from automation:
Manual: Requires the CSM to manually navigate through different tools and actions in order to be completed.
Monotonous: Takes up a considerable amount of a CSM’s time that could otherwise be invested in more essential tasks.
Repetitive: This has to be performed over and over again by more than one CSM.
Data-driven: Relies on and involves customer data that is available within your tool stack.
With these characteristics in mind, let’s consider a few examples of CS processes you could automate:
Customer onboarding: The onboarding stage is when your relationships with your customers are most delicate. As such, it commands timely and efficient communication in case things go wrong. For example, if one of them gets stuck during a certain step, the workflow can automatically send a check-in email to them and provide them with further assistance.
Revenue management: Automated workflows can track things like contract expiration dates to ensure you don’t miss out on renewal opportunities. Additionally, they can help you identify upsell opportunities by alerting you whenever a customer reaches the limits of their current product plan. Finally, automating revenue management can help you eliminate the element of human error when it comes to sending invoices in a timely manner or tracking overdue invoices.
Customer health management: If you’re already using a customer success platform to track your customers’ health, you can enhance this process with automation. For example, you can receive an automatic notification when a customer’s health score falls below a certain point and take action to improve it. Or, you can set up an automated workflow that sends CSAT score surveys to your healthiest customers based on their scores.
As you can see, the main benefit of automation across these three examples is the elimination of manual steps that consume too many resources and too much time.
Moreover, automation can help you create a more consistent experience for your customers that can ultimately increase your customer satisfaction rates.
Implementing customer success automation tools
To start automating your CS workflows, you must first make sure you have the right tool for the job.
The good news is that most customer success tools come equipped with automation capabilities as essential functionality. Or, you can choose a dedicated workflow automation tool — these can be just as effective in a CS setting, and help you automate beyond CS as well.
Here are our top picks among both kinds of tools.
Gainsight is the heavyweight among customer success tools as one of the oldest and most popular platforms.
Its functionality includes CS workflow automation with capabilities such as:
Automated Calls-to-Action triggered by customer behavior patterns.
Proactive alerts that monitor product usage trends.
Customer journey orchestration with automated outreach, alerts, and more.
Automated managing, tracking, and forecasting of subscription renewals.
Despite its breadth of features, Gainsight solely as a solution for CS workflow automation may be overkill because it’s rather complex and requires considerable investment.
As a result, it may not be the best tool for startups or smaller businesses.
Custify is a top-rated customer success platform that offers SaaS businesses a comprehensive solution to their CS needs. It is an all-in-one CS platform that can help you better understand your customer journeys, reduce churn, and expand your customer portfolio.
Custify also offers a variety of automation capabilities via its Playbooks feature, including:
Automated email outreach to customers, including welcome/onboarding emails and outreach to customers with low health scores/engagement/product usage.
Automatically assigning CSMs and account managers to customers.
Setting up alerts for overdue invoices, upsell/renewal opportunities, and health score evolution.
Automatically creating a Parent-Child hierarchical structure between your customers.
Monitoring and updating a customer’s lifecycle status based on pre-defined conditions and triggers.
Thanks to their vast customization potential, Custify’s workflow automation capabilities are nearly endless.
With a simple setup process and concierge onboarding, Custify is the perfect solution for organizations that are looking to start automating their CS workflows quickly.
ClientSuccess is often described as one of the most user-friendly CS platforms thanks to its simple UI and support for many software integrations.
At the same time, it offers a wide variety of features, including the proprietary Pulse and SuccessScore customer health management tools.
When it comes to CS workflow automation, ClientSucess doesn’t offer the greatest selection of features. However, the platform’s automation capabilities are more than enough to cover the essential CS activities, namely:
Automated email outreach to customers.
Automatically assign tasks to CSMs.
Managing customer life cycles.
Sending NPS surveys.
ClientSucess can be a great tool if you’re not necessarily looking to establish complex automated workflows. Since the platform is easy to use and doesn’t require an additional admin role, it is a good option for small teams that are just trying their hand at automation.
We’ve covered customer success platforms that offer automation functionality. Now, let’s get more granular and explore a dedicated workflow automation tool: Make.
Make is a no-code automation platform that allows you to visualize, create, and automate almost any workflow in your organization — including CS tasks.
Among the platform’s highlights is the visual editor to build automated workflows quickly and easily.
Other noteworthy automation features and capabilities inside Make include:
Thousands of app integrations, including the option to connect any API through its HTTP app.
Ready-made automation templates for the most popular apps and associated tasks.
Real-life data flow and the ability to easily transform data from one format to another.
Conditional statements for tighter control over the execution of workflow actions.
Make is among the most versatile workflow automation tools available on the market today. This makes it suitable for almost any kind of organization or use case, including enterprise-grade applications.
How to pick the best customer success workflow automation tool
Picking a CS automation tool can feel challenging at first sight.
So, how do you pick the best one for your needs?
To answer that, let’s compare customer success platforms with automation features and specialized automation tools.
If your customer success team is already using a dedicated CS tool, you should leverage its automation capabilities as much as you can. It is always simpler and more cost-effective to use a single tool just because of how interconnected all of its features are.
But what about specialized automation tools such as Make?
These can be helpful in a variety of cases. For example, if you’re looking to scale your CS automation, and your CS platform doesn’t have enough functionality for that. In that case, a tool such as Make and the thousands of integrations it offers would come in handy.
Alternatively, you can also use a dedicated automation tool alongside your CS platform. For example, if you want to run some automation experiments without potentially disrupting your CS team’s operations.
Setting up automated customer success workflows: Best practices
Successfully automating your workflows goes a little beyond using the right tool and selecting the right triggers for your actions.
There are also a few best practices and common mistakes you should keep in mind if you want to master workflow automation.
Segment your customers: CS workflow automation can only be successful if it’s targeted at specific customers and serves a specific purpose. That’s why you should identify and set up customer segments before you start automating your processes. For example, if you have a segment of customers who are currently in the onboarding stage, you can set up complex, specific automations the only purpose of which is to help your customers successfully onboard.
Plan for failure: Automations are not as infallible as one may think. Sometimes, even the most carefully designed automation workflow may not work for one reason or another. To avoid such disruptions, make sure to thoroughly test your automations before you properly implement them. Also, don’t hesitate to create backup workflows in case something fails.
Tailor automations to your team: The ultimate purpose of any automation is to make your team’s job easier. So, in addition to tailoring your workflows to specific customer segments, be sure to adapt them to your CSMs and their individual responsibilities. The best way to do this is to simply ask your teammates about the processes they think should be automated.
Measuring the impact of customer success automation
When it comes to measuring the impact of CS automation, there isn’t a single set of universal metrics that you can track.
Ultimately, it depends on what workflows and processes you are automating and what you’re looking to achieve.
With that said, let’s revisit the use cases of CS automation we covered earlier along with metrics you should track in each case:
Customer Onboarding automation:
Trial Conversion Rate.
Time to Value (TTV).
Time spent per lifecycle stage.
Product usage rate.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).
Customer health/satisfaction management automation:
Customer calls per CSM.
Time spent on customer per CSM.
Account per CSM ratio.
Tracking these metrics will allow you to assess both the performance of your automated workflows and the overall efficiency of your customer success efforts.
Automation is one of the most powerful tools in any CSM’s arsenal. By automating tedious manual tasks, you can win back valuable time and invest it in activities that actually drive value for your customers and organizations.
Between customer onboarding and customer health monitoring, there are plenty of opportunities for automation in customer success.
To leverage them, make sure you have the right solution for the job — a customer success platform with automation capabilities or a dedicated workflow automation tool.