What is a Customer Pipeline and What Can It Do For You?
If your B2B business is aiming to grow in 2022 (whose isn’t?) then chances are that your sales team is chasing new business. It’s a reasonable strategy – new business acquisitions means more revenue.
But what if this new business is replacing churned customers and there is no net growth? Even worse, what if this strategy is plugging a hole of capsized revenue left by more churned customers than acquired ones?
Net new sales opportunities aren't the only way to grow your business revenue, and if they are the sole focus, you’re trying to sail the ship without plugging the holes in the hull. In alarming cases where net new sales are close to equal with churn risk, your B2B business is failing to recognize the necessity of a customer-first approach.
Businesses need to adopt customer-first practices that bring customers to the center of your business and foster a foundation for revenue growth.
It’s no secret that companies need to be customer-first in today’s business environment. So what exactly prevents or hinders these companies?
A missing framework and a lack of specialized tools. And don’t be mistaken, a customer-centric methodology isn’t just a nice-to-have – recent research shows the necessity of customer-first practices:
- 77% of a company’s revenue is from current customers, not net-new sales.
- Satisfied customers are 87% more likely to purchase upgrades and new services.
- 72% of customers that have positive experiences with a company will share it with at least 6 other people.
Conceptualized to negate churn and expand revenue by increasing retention and driving upsell and cross-sell opportunities, TeamSupport created the Customer Pipeline strategy to provide an easy way to become truly customer-first.
Use a Customer Pipeline to drive retention and grow revenue
Chances are when you hear “Customer Pipeline” your immediate thoughts are, “like a sales pipeline?” Yes, but not exactly. The Customer Pipeline provides an end-to-end view of a customer’s entire experience with your business. It also supplies your teams with the ability to completely understand customers and determine where they should prioritize and focus their efforts.
A sales pipeline is built to keep track of opportunities and is shaped more like a funnel – it casts a wide net and it narrows down towards the end goal. A Customer Pipeline doesn’t narrow down, but it is still somewhat directional. As your B2B business applies the sections and strategies of the Customer Pipeline to your customer support practices, you then are moving along the pipeline.
The TeamSupport-created Customer Pipeline concept is essentially divided into three major spheres: Know, Support, and Grow. Each of these pillars are purpose-built to provide B2B businesses the necessary framework to ensure great customer support and customer success.
Know – analytical relationships over reliance on single metrics
Knowing your customers goes far beyond the typical superficial knowledge provided by conventional customer support software. To truly know your customer, you need to understand their goals, their pain points, and the fundamental roots of why they need and utilize your business. By using a Customer Pipeline strategy and actually getting to the root of your customers needs and problems, you are enabling a positive relationship that leads to retention and growth for both of your businesses.
The Know step in the Customer Pipeline is an analytical deep-dive into the foundation of your customer relationship. You need to take in-depth looks at every aspect of customer happiness – NPS, CSAT, and an index of customer distress. However, while metrics are useful and downright mandatory, an over-reliance on one or a few can seriously hamper your efforts. To execute the Customer Pipeline strategy, it’s important that you compile several measurements and combine it with the human element,
Aside from general business goals, you need to know your customers’ tech and product goals and why exactly they use your products and services in the first place (i.e. their goals with you).
Successfully pulling off truly knowing your customer ultimately funnels down to the ability to move away from incident and ticket tracking over to a proactive customer service relationship where you understand each other.
Support – proactive support over reactive service and fixes
Great B2B customer support means engaging in a proactive relationship with your customers and supporting them in a way that isn’t just reactive. If your customer service approach is to only interact with your customers when they reach out for help or with a problem, you’re only serving to entrench yourself in the Stone Ages of what’s possible with customer support software.
A Customer Pipeline approach is to support customers proactively to identify and address issues and concerns prior to them being escalated into major sources of dissatisfaction.
In a Customer Pipeline, proactive support means uplifting your customers so they are able to reach the afore-mentioned business goals. The quicker you can nip issues in the bud, the stronger your relationship is rooted and the greater retention you will experience.
You can preemptively solve problems by developing and incorporating forums or communities on your site, frequently updating FAQs pages, creating how-to videos, and building strategic connections and chat initiatives with your customers. Customer Support and Customer Success teams are resources that produce value for your customers, not just someone who’s there to put out fires.
The stickier your B2B business is, the better. Products and services are replaceable, and there are always alternatives available, so to build loyalty and retention your customer service apparatus must provide value beyond the products themselves.
When you build your Customer Pipeline, you will notice it is far easier to know what potential issues can arise for your customers so you can proactively engage in high-quality support.
Grow – ensure growth for you and your B2B customers
A fundamental pillar of the Customer Pipeline is growing with your customers – not just one or the other. When the pipeline is adopted, both you and your customers have a huge opportunity to grow and seize new business opportunities.
For customers, this likely looks like a revisitation of business goals and ensuring that everything is being done to confirm that the product is optimally being used. The better your product is being used, and the better you can ensure it, the greater success your customers will experience (and the greater rewards you’ll earn). This can also mean increasing the amount of users onboarded onto your product, or expanding all users’ awareness of the available functions.
For your business, new opportunities arise for cross-selling and upselling, expanding your domain, and increasing your foothold. That said, the Customer Pipeline is not just suited to identifying opportunities for revenue growth.
Growing with your customers also means that your business is legitimately bringing them to the center of business decision making by incorporating their needs and goals into your own development. Creating a new product or service? Don’t miss the chance to look at it from their point-of-view. How does it change their daily life with your business? How does it improve your relationship or windows of opportunity?
These are conversations you should not only host internally, but also with your customers. How can you both grow and evolve in-tandem to ensure success on both lanes? This is the ultimate realization of the Customer Pipeline methodology – ensured success for all involved businesses.
If you want to see the full picture of what’s possible with a Customer Pipeline and how you can get your business to reap the rewards of a customer-first strategy, be sure to check out this in-depth eBook on everything you need to know.