Ten Ways to Segment Customers for Support & Customer Success

 

Segmenting customers helps define the right array of services so customers can be successful and you can be as efficient as possible with the resources you have. But what criteria should be used to create the segments? Here are ten approaches to inspire you, with notes on how they may work, or not, for your particular situation.

By revenue. Segmenting by revenue is the default segmentation strategy, and it can work well since larger customers usually have more complex needs than smaller ones. But don’t automatically got with it. Do you have clear revenue clusters? If you have a continuous distribution of revenue, it’s going to be awkward to provide different levels of service to customers that are just around the boundaries you choose. And consider other approaches, below, that may fit your customer base better.

By potential revenue. This is a clever twist on the above, which allows to give extra attention to customers that will grow over time. The challenge here is to estimate what the potential revenue is. Just because you have a very large corporation as a customer does not mean that they will spend  a lot on your particular solution!

By support plan. Here, customers who pay extra for your “Premium” offerings, whatever they are, get a different treatment than others. Fair enough but do your premium plans require a completely different approach? If they simply include faster SLAs, you may not need separate segments. (Also, it makes a lot more sense to first define the segments, and then define the plans to match the segments.)

By region. Another popular “default” approach is to treat customers differently in different regions. It’s just fine if the customers are truly different in different regions–but if it’s just a matter of staffing levels, or, worse, lack of global discipline, look for another segmenting strategy. And if you have global customers, they will expect consistent treatment globally!

By role. This approach would distinguish, say, consumers versus SMBs. Since it’s often the case that very small businesses function like consumers, make sure you define the criteria to suit your customer base. For instance, make a distinction between customers with fewer than 5 users and customers with more than 5 users instead of consumer versus SMBs.

By longevity. Newer customers often need a different, higher level of care than more established customers, and legacy customers may be using completely different products, or may need to be moved to your SaaS offer, tout de suite. It’s not a bad way to segment and I wish more vendors would consider it.

By vertical. For instance, you may want to distinguish healthcare customers versus education customers, or insurance companies versus banks because they use different modules of the product, or they require industry-specific knowledge to guide them to success. But if the only difference is that they have different sales reps, think again. And don’t go too detailed. If you sell membership management solutions to, say, dance studios and martial arts studios, are the differences between them so large that you need to handle them separately?

By affiliation. If you sell to government agencies and also enterprises, you may want to distinguish between for-profit and non-profit (or, in other contexts, between public and private). Check that the differences go further than procurement nuances: do they matter post-sales?

By product or product line. Since your support team is likely aligned by product, segmenting customers by product line seems logical–but only if your customers use just one product line. Otherwise, look for another approach.

By innovation appetite. A rare approach that deserves more consideration IMHO, this consists of identifying customers that are design partners, innovators, or who otherwise don’t stay between the lines. Why not afford them another level of support?

 

How do you segment customers? Share your criteria, and how they work for you.

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