Customer success is a relatively new business phrase used in the world of business software, particularly software-as-a-service (SaaS, where customers pay monthly for access to software).

Definitions for customer success vary, but we like this one because it can be applied to all sorts of businesses, not just software providers:

Customer success is where your customers achieve their desired outcome(s) through their interactions with your company.

A desired outcome might be to complete a certain DIY project to a very high standard, or be longer term, such as reducing material costs by 10% over the next two years.

Interactions with your company include: transactions online or offline, the buying experience online or offline, customer service in-store or elsewhere, or other brand interactions that don’t relate to a purchase or product.

In the software world, high customer success leads to a high customer retention rate as well as plenty of recommendations and referrals from customers. These metrics are particularly important when customers pay you every month, but they also apply in businesses where transactions are less frequent and predictable.

Maximising Customer Success in Retail

If you view every interaction with a customer in terms of customer success, you’ll soon start to see room for improvements. Here are some ideas:

  1. Avoid the hard sell. Instead of aiming to gain the most revenue (or profit) from a single customer transaction, instead choose to maximise the long term profit or revenue from that customer by avoiding aggressive sales techniques. Instead, train your sales assistants to inform the customer and explain options based on their needs and preferences, rather than profit margins.
  2. Ask questions. Your staff should take an interest in the motivations and goals of your customers. Find out what kinds of projects they’re working on, and how they value variables like price, quality, sustainability and product origin. This information can help you craft the customer experience for the current interaction, and all future interactions. If you have an online store, this data is easy to come by based on purchasing habits. Just make sure you’re complying with data protection laws.
  3. Keep your brand consistent. If your brand is known for its highly knowledgeable in-store employees, give customers that same experience whether they’re buying online or just asking a question on social media. Publish helpful guides and how-to videos online, and make sure whoever manages your social media accounts has that same knowledge.
  4. Go the extra mile. Exceed your customers’ expectations whenever you can. Send a handwritten thank you note along with online orders. Let customers know when there’s a new product line in stock that you think they’d like. Send personalised follow-up emails when a customer places an online order. These sorts of gestures can earn you a customer for life.


Software companies use plenty of data to understand how customers use their product, and how to maximise customer success. Retailers can do the same. Use information from your retail management system to understand purchase patterns and preferences, and shape your strategies accordingly.

For a point-of-sale and stock management system that’s built for merchants, try Trader.