Mastering Nearbound Customer Success: Key Takeaways from the Nearbound Book

Mastering Nearbound Customer Success: Key Takeaways from the Nearbound Book

Andrea Vallejo 12 min

If you’re looking to refine your customer journey, boost customer advocacy, and harness the principles of nearbound customer success, Jared Fuller’s insights in "Nearbound and the Rise of the Who Economy" offer invaluable guidance.

 

Mike Midgley’s key takeaways from Chapter 9 of the Nearbound Book

 

This chapter defines: 

  • What nearbound customer success is

  • How can you provide your customers with better services and a better experience

  • How to drive product and customer success through integrations, market experts, and marketplaces 

 

At the heart of it all lies Jared’s overarching mission: to empower Customer Success teams to seize control and drive outcomes that truly matter—retention and expansion of delighted customers.

 

Here’s a sneak peek at the “Nearbound Customer Success” section and how it can help.  

 

What is nearbound customer success?

“In the Nearbound Era, customer success is about understanding your customers and the world they inhabit.”—Jared Fuller, Chief Partnerships and Ecosystem Officer at Reveal and Co-founder of nearbound.com

 

Nearbound customer success is about understanding and solving your customers’ problems with the technologies and service providers they trust.

 

Nearbound customer success focuses on surrounding the customer experience with trusted voices and emphasizes efficient growth and customer retention to achieve sustainable business success.

 

By leveraging nearbound customer success, you can enhance your relationships with your customers and drive long-term growth and loyalty.

 

“The best companies have identified the close correlation between adoption of their partner integrations and increased customer retention. They also know a customer is much more likely to successfully implement and adopt their product if there is an expert consulting partner guiding them through the process.”—Asher Mathew, Co-founder & CEO of Partnership Leaders

 

A successful customer success motion involves identifying the answer to the following questions:

  • Who is my customer using?

  • Who do they trust?

  • Who is assisting them?

  • Who else is addressing the same challenges your customer is facing?

     

“Nearbound is putting a premium on the services you provide customers and urging you to prioritize decisions that help the customer win.”—Jared Fuller

 

Takeaway #1: The customer success game has changed

Customers expect rapid onboarding, continuous improvement, and 24/7 support from your Services team. To adapt to the new way customers want to be served, SaaS companies have redefined success.

 

Your platform is no longer just a product; it’s a service. And for you to help your customers achieve success, you need to put your product aside and your customers’ needs first.

 

“Your and your customers’ success are tied to a plethora of other technology companies and the partners they utilize.”—Jared Fuller

 

When your customers think about customer success, the first thing that might come to their minds is support and goals. But to achieve that, your CSMs and Services teams have to relate customer success with education, training, integrations, support, and retention.

 

“Customer success requires more than just understanding your own company’s software. You have to understand your customers and the world they live in.”—Jared Fuller

 

Sometimes your CS teams might not know the answer to all your customers’ questions. They know your product, they know your customer, but they have never been in your customers’ shoes. Here’s when they need to rely on your partners.

 

Partners can help surround your customers not only with technology but also with services to drive the desired outcomes from both software (your partner and you).

 

Takeaway #2: Activate your customer journey

Your customer journey is usually mainly composed of three stages: (1) volume, (2) transaction, (3) impact.

 

The Recurring Revenue Bowtie: Credit, Winning By Design // WinningByDesign.com

 

The volume phase involves making improvements to the customer acquisition process. The transaction phase is where those efforts are paid back and your prospect becomes your customer. The impact phase involves making improvements to your onboarding, renewal, cross-sell, and upsell process.

 

Partners should be leveraged not only to fuel your customer acquisition journey but also as a retention strategy throughout the impact phase.

 

“Partners enable you to concentrate resources on the highest priorities and generate leverage where your CSMs lack expertise and experience.”—Jared Fuller

 

If you want to deliver customer success and value, you have to change your mindset. It’s useless to have a high conversion rate if you don’t know how to retain and keep those customers happy.

 

“The beauty of nearbound is that it transforms existing hazards into opportunities. By providing a proper knowledge base, training programs, and overlay model, your partners can work hand-in-glove with customer service departments.”—Jared Fuller

 

If someone is going to make your customer happier is your partner.

 

You can leverage their knowledge, experience, technical understanding, and empathy for your customer to accelerate their onboarding journey, share intel to have a smooth renewal process, or bridge your product gaps to upsell some of your features/services.

 

While your Customer Success team is the orchestrator of the customer journey and an incubator for important partnerships, your partners work as Mario Bros’ superstars, transforming and supporting your customer journey with intel, influence, and intros—making their journey “invincible”.

 

Takeaway #3: Always deliver value to your customers

“The focus of nearbound CSM should be nurturing relationships and surrounding customers with expertise.”—Asher Mathew

 

Buyers are looking to nodes of trust in their networks to make buying and renewal decisions. Those are the influencers you should be partnering with.

 

 

 

The partnerships flywheel

 

Customers need to be surrounded by partners at every step of the life cycle. Co-marketing, co-selling, integrations, and service partnerships are crucial components to gaining and retaining customers.

 

You need to see your customer journey like a loop of value, or a flywheel, where partners are the spinning force and trust and influence should happen simultaneously throughout the entire journey. If you nail this, your renewals and upsells will run smoothly.

 

“Success is not just short-term wins—it’s about making a small number of strategic decisions to spin a flywheel into motion.”—Jared Fuller

 

In fact, Forrester found that customers who work with partners are 57% more likely to renew their contracts.

 

“Retain my Customers” view in Reveal’s 360° Goals dashboard

 

And for your partner to deliver value to your customer and help you throughout the renewal/upsell process, first you have to enable and activate them based on actionable items, not just theory, what has worked in the past (tested services and methods, experiences). 

 

Don’t be afraid to go and test the ground, work with your customers to identify how they define success, what they exactly need, and what you do to help them. Based on that you can identify the best partner suitable for the work, and the step-by-step guide (the documented path you discover) you need to enable that partner.

 

“Your sales team wins because renewals are automated [...] partners win through expanded business driven by your recommendations.”—Jared Fuller

 

Takeaway #4: Build your Ideal Partner Profile to achieve customer success

While partners are here to help, that might cause some internal fights. But your CS team has nothing to fear, they won’t be “replaced” by partners.

 

Once you lay nearbound in your existing CS motion, your CS team can add to their roles by certifying partners and identifying where it will make sense to involve them.

 

This can help to level up your service. Imagine your CS team having certified experts—your partners—in their arsenal, willing to help during the onboarding, renewal, cross-sell, and upsell journey.

 

To identify these golden partners, you have to first define what your IPP looks like, and it should include some (if not all) of the following points:

  • Who is closely collaborating with your customers?

  • Who is part of your partner accounts? 

  • Who is my customer using?

  • Who do they trust?

  • Who is assisting them?

  • Who else is addressing the same challenges your customer is facing?

  • Where do they seek help? Any events, thought leaders?

 

And the best way to build your IPP is by directly going to the source: your customers.

 

“You only create your IPP list by talking to your customers, understanding them, and figuring out who surrounds them. Sure, you can have an IPP definition, but I see this far too often: a definition, but a complete lack of conversations, account names, and contact information.”—Jared Fuller.

 

Now, after you have identified those partners who fit into your IPP, you have to train them. Enable them so they can meet your standards for customer delivery. This will ease the relationship between your Partner, your CS, and your partner’s teams.

 

And if your CS team is still hesitant, they can shadow the process to ensure that quality and value are being delivered until the partner is “certified” and has gained practical experience.

 

“This is about making your CS business even more successful and ensuring that customers achieve greater success by leveraging the partner motion.”—Jared Fuller.

 

Takeaway #5: Nearbound customer success is tied to nearbound product

How do you build your product roadmap? If the answer is not “based on my customers’ needs, feedback, and market trends,” let us tell you that you’re doing something wrong.

 

And it happens the same with your Customer Success strategy. If it’s not based on your customers’ needs, feedback, and market trends, you might be doing something wrong.

 

It might sound weird, but customer success and product have overlaps. For both to succeed, they have to include:

  • Integrations, 

  • Expert communities, and 

  • Marketplaces

 

These elements can help you build a comprehensive support ecosystem and a support motion, without expanding your team or rebuilding your strategy.

 

Integrations: They can boost your customer health since they bridge a product gap. If your Product and CS teams facilitate the right integration, your product will be stickier, and the value that you will deliver to your customers will be higher.

 

Customers with four or more integrations are 35% less likely to churn compared to those with just one integration enabled (Rollworks).

 

The only way to achieve that retention is if your product fits within your customers’ existing systems and workflow—if it’s relevant.

 

“Your product must interoperate with customers’ existing systems, and integrations provide the biggest clues about where CS teams should focus their energy.”—Jared Fuller

 

 

With a networked database like Reveal, a CSM can identify all integration partners (and their customers) and determine which integrations to set up.

 

Reveal might surface fresh intel that a customer has recently purchased another vendor’s software but has not yet connected it through the integration you have with that vendor. Reveal can also show you that a customer switched from one software provider to another. Or even earlier in the process, you may see one partner with a churn opportunity and another with an open new business opportunity.

 

Reveal’s 360° Goals dashboard in Salesforce: the Retain Customers view

 

“In the Nearbound Era, customers demand seamless interoperability, and that’s only achievable through thoughtful integrations.”—Jared Fuller

 

Expert communities: You don’t really need to hire experts to help you improve your customers’ journey. Sometimes, your partners can be these experts, or even your top users who evolve into trusted, certified experts.

 

By building or being part of a community of experts in your solution/integration/industry, you can have access to niche applications of your product, that not even your Product team was aware of. These communities not only can give you product ideas, but they also build authenticity and trust by helping your customers organically.

 

“You can build these expert communities, or you can join them with your CS and Partner teams. But whatever you do, don’t ignore them.”—Jared Fuller

 

Marketplaces: This can help you with volume signups and help your customer reduce their time to value. If you nurture a vibrant marketplace and its network effect around your product or service, you will empower your users, influencers, and creators to contribute with templates, integration ideas, and content tailored to specific niches.

 

This can help you enhance customer success and retention by delivering the maximum value from your platform by addressing your customer’s unique needs and use cases.

 

“As business models, they can be tricky, but as a part of your business model, a marketplace can drive customer value throughout the bowtie.”—Jared Fuller

 

If you manage to surround your customers with integrations, expert communities, and marketplaces, not only your customers will win, but your partners and your company will too. 

TL;DR

Nearbound customer success involves simplifying solutions linked to your customer’s journey. Your CS team might not have all the answers to simplify, serve, and support that journey, but they aren’t alone. They can work with partners to identify your customer’s needs, surround them with trust, and serve them better.

 

“Our product alone—without an ecosystem of partners surrounding it—is worthless. You grow the pie by connecting customers to communities, agencies, integrators, and support specialists within your ecosystem.”—Jared Fuller

 

If you want to access all the step-by-step tactics, examples, workflows, and success stories from Justin Gray, Asher Mathew, Satya Nadella, Pete Caputa, and companies like Drift, Microsoft, and Zapier, get your copy of the Nearbound and the Rise of the Who Economy.

 

Get my copy.

Andrea Vallejo 12 min

Mastering Nearbound Customer Success: Key Takeaways from the Nearbound Book


Unlock nearbound customer success strategies from the Nearbound book to revolutionize your customer journey. Increase retention by leveraging trusted relationships.


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