Amy Porterfield's 5-Step Customer Success Model

August 15, 2019
We listed 5 easy steps to create the Perfect Customer Success Model that can get you on your way to retaining customers for life.
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The stats don’t lie. It is 5 times as expensive to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one.

Not to mention, when you factor in not only the lifetime value of a current customer as well as the additional impact on your customers referring future customers, the focus on customer retention through a proven Perfect Customer Success Model in 5 easy steps should be the top weapon in every business owner’s growth and revenue-generating arsenal.

What is Customer Success?

While the widely held view of customer success revolves around a team, customer success at its core is more than simply relationship management between a business and its customer; it’s a process and road map you can create and implement to develop a lifelong, mutually beneficial relationship where the customer is king.

The Perfect Customer Success Road Map

The journey of creating the Perfect Customer Success Model and an incredible customer experience begins the moment your potential customer develops an awareness of your product or brand — but it doesn’t stop there.

From creating a vision of your products or service to onboarding a new customer and beyond, every decision made as a business owner should reflect this underlying commitment to not simply wooing the customer and making the sale, but creating raving fans along the way. But not just any fans; fans who are eager to stay and be brand advocates for the long haul.

The Perfect Customer Success Model doesn’t have to be hard to create or duplicate. In fact, this model of success is what fuels one of online business’ most successful entrepreneurs, Amy Porterfield.

Porterfield helps entrepreneurs grow their email lists, create digital courses and launch those digital courses with webinars. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years now,” she says.

However, years of experience alone are not what have lead to Porterfield’s meteoric rise to the top of the online marketing world. But by enacting the same principles Gravy uses to serve its clients in the customer retention and churn reduction space, the immensely successful entrepreneur has been able to create an incredible business model and build an ever-growing empire that creates true brand advocates out of her dedicated and loyal students.

“One of our secrets to success is that we keep showing up,” she says. “We lead by example. When we fall, we show our bruises and share how we got back up. When we win, we share how we made it happen. We go first, so that our students don’t have to.”

business phases

Step 1: Initial Contact

The first step to creating a best-in-class Perfect Customer Success Model is to think through your initial contact with each and every customer.

What do you want them to experience? How do you want them to feel when they interact with you, your brand or your product? This could be everything from how you present yourself and your business on social media outlets to how quickly you respond via your website chatbot.

Make no mistake, people are constantly evaluating who you are and if they will trust you from the moment they become aware of your brand or product. And that initial interaction will go a long way to whether the customer decides to stay for the long-haul, or leave after perhaps gleaning a nugget or two (or a free trial) before bailing.

“With every new training module we create, every live video we broadcast, and each time we connect with our students in our online communities, we ask ourselves, ‘What do they need most? Where are they struggling? How can we help?,’” Porterfield says.

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Step 2: Marketing Sequence

Once a potential customer has made the first move to engage with your product, the next step is to evaluate your marketing sequence

Do you make this personal, or do your potential customers feel like they are able to get lost in the crowd of mass emailing? Is your goal to add value to people’s lives, regardless of the outcome, or are you simply focused on pushing them further down the funnel?

Customers these days are savvy and can sense the moment you are disingenuous. This is why Porterfield has made it a point this past year in particular to become more vulnerable with her audience in order to connect with them in big and small ways, even before they have made the decision to enroll in one of her courses.

For her, the decision to run her business with the end goal in mind of retaining her students for the long-haul began with her decision to approach every business decision through the lens of compassion.

“I’ve been a student for so long, learning and then doing every step of the way. I get in the trenches and figure it out. That’s why my promise has always been that I only teach what I do,” Porterfield says. 

“Because I’ve been a student for so long, I know how I want to be treated — and I also know the struggle. I know how it feels like to start a business from scratch, to not know what you’re doing, feeling like you’re completely inadequate, and feeling like the online marketing world is a completely different language. Because of that, it’s easy to think, ‘I’m just not cut out for this!’  I know that feeling well because I have walked in those shoes. I get it! That’s where my compassion for my students comes from. That is why I run my business the way that I do.”

amy porterfield selling quote

Step 3: Sales Process

Now that your prospective customer has had a chance to get to know you through a warm initial contact and a personalized marketing sequence, they are ready to buy, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

This is one of the most crucial parts of the Perfect Customer Success Model, which we can’t emphasize enough.

“Selling for us is a journey. We believe that we have to earn the right to sell. This means we first give immense value through our free webinars, live video trainings, podcast episodes, PDF guides and so much more. Because we create really good content every single week, over time we have become the go-to source for our audience. When they are ready to buy, they turn to us because the trust is already there.”

And the results? Well, they are pretty perfect, too. In fact, Porterfield and her team are on track to double their revenue this year alone.

Step 4: Onboarding Process

Onboarding is crucial to your customer success journey and long-term customer retention, but a process that is often overlooked. 

Take a deep dive into what happens after your customer moves over the line from an interested prospect to an invested client, and make sure you or your customer service team is ready and willing to not only answer any questions your new customer has, but proactively think through how you can answer them before they have these questions. 

Then, set out to create an onboarding process that makes learning about your SaaS product, course or online offering seamless — and exciting.

In fact, if you have done a great job at executing the first three steps of the Perfect Customer Success Model, it’s even more important you show up during this part of the process, too.

“The mistake I see a lot of people make is they sell and then they forget they they have to deliver!” Porterfield says. 

“After the sale, you’ve got to show up. For us this means getting into the group, engaging with your new customers and becoming a part of the community. I see a lot of people neglect their community, and I think that they are missing out on what people need and want the most. People are looking for the connection. They want to be seen and heard. You work so hard to get this customer into your world, don’t miss out on learning about what makes them tick and how you can serve them on an even bigger level. To me, that’s the good stuff!”

Step 5: Customer Experience

When it comes down to retention, this part of the process typically takes the lion’s share of the attention, and for good reason. 

In order to move customers from potentially skeptical buyers to raving advocates of your brand, product or service, you simply must deliver on what you promise — and then some.

Unlike some business owners who focus solely on acquiring the customer and then stepping out of the process, Porterfield takes the opposite approach. 

In fact, it’s after a student signs up for her course that she doubles down on delivering what she promised she would deliver, which goes a long way to alleviating customer frustrations and, ultimately, reducing churn.

“My number one goal is to deliver on my promise,” Porterfield says. “Be careful that you don’t promise one thing, and then deliver on something slightly different. Your customers are smart and they are paying attention. We make it our mission to over communicate and overdeliver so they know what to expect at all times and are constantly wowed by our level of care and service. We do this by adding bonus content they did not expect to receive and showing up more than promised to support them in the communities. We love when they say, “Wow! I had no idea it would be this good!”

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Building Brand Advocates

The often overlooked bonus of retaining customers is that ultimately, they move from being mildly engaged to brand advocates: Customers who refer their friends and build your brand organically and positively through no extra budget or ad spend of yours.

And what does Porterfield think the reason is?

“I think it’s because I show up,” she says. “My students see me every single week, and I’m their cheerleader and their coach. I’m cheering them on through live video and I’m also giving them the tough love they need when they get stuck. I will always lead with compassion, but I will also tell it like it is. If they are playing small, I will be sure to tell them in the moment. They know I will give it to them straight. This creates trust and affinity and in the end, they know I care.

Whether she knew it or not, Porterfield has become the epitome of what is possible when you execute the Perfect Customer Success Model. In fact, one of the reasons Gravy can do its job to successfully serve Porterfield’s customers is because she does this well.

While Porterfield’s business was exploding due to her implementing the 5 steps of the Perfect Customer Success Model, and she continued to acquire new students and revenue opportunities, launch and host a wildly successful podcast and experience massive growth month over month, she realized there was a huge hole in the back of her business.

For a busy entrepreneur, dealing with failed payments and the customers who ultimately churn can become a massive issue if not dealt with quickly and efficiently beyond a series of automated emails — and yet while also upholding brand and customer integrity and dignity.

amy porterfield quote on online communities

Customer Retention to the Rescue

Gravy, Porterfield’s customer retention partner, first linked up with the marketing powerhouse two years ago when she hired the team to take over her failed payment problem.

Soon after, Porterfield agreed to a trial run to allow Gravy’s full-service team take over failed payments and customer retention, while maintaining Porterfield’s brand and image in the process.

“Brand integrity was of the utmost importance to Team Porterfield,” Gravy CEO Casey Graham says. “While having a team dedicated to speed and a full-time focus was going to yield the best results, we never, ever wanted it to be at the sake of her brand or image.”

Gravy’s team calls this approach “empathetic dignity” — a term it uses internally to describe its unique approach to failed payment recovery and, specifically, customer interaction.

Each of Gravy’s retention specialists operates under the assumption every payment fails on accident, and within 1-2 hours are reaching out personally, human-to-human, to work with their client’s customers to get their payment back online, with empathy and dignity, one conversation at a time.

Because of this approach, Porterfield and her team have put their full support into offloading the seemingly daunting task of payment recovery into Gravy’s hands.

“Gravy is the company I trust to contact my customers within hours of a failed payment, capturing the updated billing information, and saving the customer my team and I worked so hard to acquire,” Porterfield says.

The Results

Numbers don’t lie. At the end of the day, while Porterfield chose Gravy because of its warm failed payment approach and savvy customer retention strategy, she sticks with Gravy because of the results.

The bottom line: "Gravy took my recovery rate from 33% to 79%,” Porterfield says.

To date, Gravy has returned a whopping $757,000 (and counting) in failed payments to Team Porterfield. This also means countless students and their all-important lifetime value (LTV) stay engaged with her, her offerings and her mission for years to come.

About Gravy

Much like Gravy’s first client Amy Porterfield, Gravy and our team are on a mission to strengthen small businesses and entrepreneurs. Gravy does this by returning failed payments, increasing revenue, and freeing up business owners to focus on growing their business and doing what they love to do. 

amy porterfield quote

Gravy clients on average recover 70% more failed revenue with its 60-day system than with their previous approach by utilizing Gravy’s full-time team of Retention Specialists, who provide more focus and effort to the problem than ever before, lifting the burden off small businesses, entrepreneurs and their staff. 

Gravy is on pace to return $1 billion back to small businesses by 2022.

Book your free coaching session today to learn how Gravy can increase your failed payment recovery rate, reduce churn and retain your valuable customers while upholding your brand’s value.

To learn more about Porterfield, visit

To learn more about Gravy’s recent $1 million seeding round, click here.

Start Recovering
Failed Payments Today.
Start Recovering
Failed Payments Today.