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2022’s must-read customer success trends (five to follow for a successful year)

2021 was one of those blink and you’ll miss it years! The problem is, when you’re managing customer relationships, you can’t afford to miss much. So, as we enter 2022, ensure you’re updated on the latest customer success trends we’re likely to see this year. We’ve compiled five, all based on the latest research and what we’ve seen with our own eyes over the past two years. 

Customer success teams growing in size and numbers

The only way has been up for a while now, with CS teams growing in size or being created in companies where they hadn’t existed before. And if there was ever a two-year period to drive this growth, it was 2020 to 2021. Customer success teams have contended with pressure to continue providing value as budgets for products and services were slashed, alongside companies realising they really need that product or service to survive those turbulent times.

That’s probably why 91% of CS professionals stated their team had increased its numbers over the past 12 months, when asked by Totango for their State of the Customer Success Industry and Salary Report 2021. In the same survey, 76% revealed that their team now consists of more than 10 people.

There’s been a boom for new customer success teams in the past years, and many of those are now reaching maturity. 50% of respondents said their organisation’s CS function had existed for three or more years. 

So, if this current trajectory is anything to go by, it’s not something we can expect to see tailing off in 2022.

The rise of customer advocacy and expansion

Customer Success’ bread and butter is making sure clients stick around, and Totango’s survey supports that – churn reduction was named the top goal for CS pros. But those reps have a lot more on their plate, and the report revealed a rising focus on expansion and customer advocacy, both flagged by 82% of respondents as being important. 

Successful customer management is the foundation for building brand advocates and bringing new deals through the door. If someone sees value when using your product, they’re more likely to up their spend or continue their contracts – meaning that CS influences and drives revenue. Those people are also more likely to recommend you to others, give you social shoutouts or leave positive reviews. 

“Highly engaged customers buy 90% more often, spend 60% more per each transaction, and offer 3X the amount of annual revenue compared to unengaged customers” – GrooveHQ.

Interestingly, the Totango survey revealed that this mindset is driving collaboration between customer success and other departments. 43% of respondents stated that they spend more than 50% of their time working with marketing – a 33% increase on the previous year. 56% also said more than half their time is now spent working alongside service and support teams.

Greater emphasis on customer onboarding

How well you onboard a new customer affects their overall experience with a product, especially during those early stages. How often have you returned to a restaurant that gave you food poisoning? So if we don’t get that onboarding process right, it’ll affect that ability to upscale and build advocates. 

Customer success might get tasked with making sure this is all running smoothly, but they’re not setting the ground rules for the customer experience. According to TSIA’s The State Of Customer Success: 2021 report, expectations are set during the sales cycle 52% of the time, but 54% believe that primary responsibility for onboarding sits with the customer success team.

Sales and CS really need to have the same relationship as the one marketing’s built over the past few years. Because if the sales team are overpromising during the deal-closing stage, they’ll give customer success an onboarding mountain to climb. The dialogue door between the two needs to stay firmly wedged open, so that they have a clear understanding of the other’s capabilities.

According to SmartKarrot, onboarding is also the area in which customer success and product management are least aligned. And so there’s a conversation to be had there, especially if the product team aren’t communicating new features and upgrades that might impact customers. CS can only support on the topics they’re made aware of and can build knowledge around. 

Remember, this is another opportunity to build advocates, and according to Wyzowl, 63% of customers consider the company’s onboarding program when making a purchasing decision. If people are telling them it’s great, or the reviews are waxing lyrical about a brilliant first few weeks or months, that’s more likely to get deals over the line. 

Greater reliance on customer success metrics

Companies had to pivot a lot over the past two years, to figure out ways of making their product or service work for customers dealing with unprecedented changes in the ways they work. And when change is happening on a large scale, you need to know how happy customers are and if they’re getting value.

Customer success is well-placed to answer those questions through a combination of data and what they’re hearing. And the value of those insights will continue growing as we enter 2022.

Sales or account management might benefit from insights into which customers are unhappy or likely to lapse if their deal is approaching renewal. Especially if you can explain usage metrics and active user numbers. They’d also benefit from insights into which features are most used and most loved, and you can bet the product team would be keen to hear that too. You’ll probably find marketing with their ear pressed up against the wall as you have these conversations, because it’ll help them craft better messaging.

A resurgence of human support

If there’s one thing the past couple of years have taught us, it’s that problems we’ve never encountered before can easily crop and might well continue to do so! 

But in the period before that, the rise of automated support had taken an edge of the human away from customer support. However, we’ve recently seen one of the key issues with these automated support tools, and it’s that they only know what they know. If it’s a brand new issue that’s popping up or if the customer isn’t wording in it terms the bot can understand, it won’t know how to provide support.

Part of the solution would be providing clear expectations about what automated support can and cannot do, but there also needs to be clear next steps when that does happen. Typically, this means more human intervention.

At the start of the pandemic, for example, furlough was hardly in our human vocabulary let alone your knowledge base or support bot’s dictionary. So customers turning to automated support to check if they could pause their subscription with staff on furlough would keep drawing blanks until the necessary resources were added. 

In the short term, they’d need to turn to a human and would probably appreciate that a lot more. Even back in 2018, a PwC study revealed that 75% of consumers prefer talking to a real person even as the technology for automated solutions improves. With a good amount of lingering uncertainty as we enter 2022, we might see even more need for human support. 

Speaking of which, is everything in your automated process still relevant and up to date? If not, it’s time for an audit and for everything that’s no longer applicable to be updated or removed.

And what about your customer support tools and tech? HowNow can help you bring all your customer support resources into one place and make it available where people already work – we’ll happily show you in a quick demo.