Customer success is a necessity.
For your SaaS business to survive, your team must focus on solving the consumer’s problem.
Lincoln Murphy, founder of Sixteen Ventures, defines it even better: “Customer success is when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.”
So, how are you serving your customer? What keeps them satisfied with your solution?
Customer success isn’t a lonely department. It should be engrained in every employee’s position. Work with your entire team to fully engage your customers and to add more value at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Let’s explore your team’s role within customer success.
It Takes A Village
Justification is one hurdle associated with customer success. Senior management may have doubts about allocating specific resources for this function.
The question is usually the same: Is this worth the expense?
Despite reluctance, the answer is yes.
At the 2015 Gainsight Pulse conference, Jason Lemkin noted that “customer success is where 90% of the revenue is.” Therefore, it’s important to stress the power of customer success to your team.
Think of customer success as a long-term strategy. It should focus on how every team member can help customers accomplish their goals.
The image below depicts how Mike McKee of Rapid7 structures his customer success team. It shows how the company “sells a contract, deploys its software, engenders adoption and expands accounts.”
Sarah Brown, a growth marketer at ServiceRocket, suggests investing early in customer success:
“There’s no such thing as too early for starting to define a Customer Success model — in fact, it’s smart to think about it as soon as you do a customer acquisition model. This may start as: “How do we do great customer onboarding, promote adoption, and deliver value in the first 30-60-90 days?”, and then scale into a full-blown Customer Success program over time.”
Avoid pinning customer success to one particular person. Prepare a strategy today and get everyone to take part in the customer’s journey.
Before the Sale
In this new era of shopping, customers have more information at their fingertips. They surf the web diligently and compare prices at their leisure.
To stand out from the competition, start engaging your prospects with value. That translates to offering product benefits and prices upfront.
People want to know now. Sometimes, they don’t want to wait for a phone call from a sales rep, who will only waste their time with a long sales pitch. Instead, nurture your leads.
MarketingSherpa reports that “businesses that nurture their leads experience a 45% increase in lead generation ROI when compared with businesses that don’t.”
Prepare content that will entice prospects to learn more. For example, try creating a 60-second explainer video or hosting a webinar.
“By dripping your sales team with new marketing content that they can use to help sell your product, you can position marketing as a valuable resource to sales,” writes Jenna Hanington, Senior Content Strategist at Pardot.
“This includes content like data sheets, new eBooks, competitive one-sheeters, and even educational videos that provide selling tips from other sales reps.”
In a blog post, Steli Efti of Close.io dissects the Hubspot’s email drip campaign. Here’s the first email he received after signing up for their free trial:
The key is to understand that lead nurturing shouldn’t be a sales or marketing goal. Think about how everyone’s core skills can transform prospects into customers.
Most SaaS companies fall short in the onboarding process. They don’t realize that once the sale is complete nurturing doesn’t stop.
It’s up to your team to ensure that customers accomplish their intended goals. Because if they don’t, customers will see no value in keeping your service.
Meet with your marketing, sales, and product teams to create a specific approach. An integrated plan will provide a clear perspective on everyone’s role.
Guy Marion, CMO of AutopilotHQ, states, “By mapping these processes into the onboarding nurture journey, vendors can codify their best practices, help more customers get started ‘the right way’, and enjoy improved user satisfaction and fewer support inquiries from new customers. Satisfied customers produce higher lifetime values…”
Begin by welcoming your new customer into your brand’s culture. Create videos introducing them to your team. Let users know who will be helping them achieve success.
Furthermore, send tailored emails to your users based on their behaviors. Because no two customers are alike.
Studies reveal that “trigger emails have a 152% higher open rate compared to traditional email.” These emails appeal to your users and keep them engaged.
Set easy milestones for your customer. What do you want them to accomplish on the first day? What about the second week?
There should be a natural progression toward the goal. And the customer should know the timeline. Process Street offers its users milestones in the form of lessons via in-app messaging.
Use onboarding as a tool to gain valuable insight on how to improve the customer experience. Ask users questions and gauge their satisfaction.
If you’re using Kissmetrics, you can also use the Funnel Report to optimize your onboarding process.
Research reveals that “companies with a dedicated customer success team see a 24% lower churn rate than companies without customer success.”
In other words: If you make customer success a priority, your SaaS will experience growth.
To retain more customers, build quality relationships with your customer base. And this doesn’t mean, sending emails to them when you need something.
Des Traynor, co-founder Intercom, agrees:
“Trying to be cute and saying ‘We miss you, please log in’ doesn’t work. You have to motivate a user to log in. There are often some features that will bring customers back, or prevent them from switching. By offering churning customers a glimpse of what’s coming down the line, you can excite them about future releases.”
Similar to the pre-sale process, offer your current customers undeniable value. Have they set new goals? How can your team help?
When you understand their objectives, then you will have a foundation to build a solid retention strategy. Team meetings should focus on providing more value, not increasing logins.
Identify your brand advocates. These customers love your products.
Enlist these users into a special referral program. Give them discounts for signing up new customers or cool swag bags for spreading the word about your services.
For instance, Evernote offers their customers premium services for referrals.
Retention is all about relationships. How will each team member build a better relationship with your customers?
Customer success is still a fairly new concept for SaaS companies.
The best way to approach it is by educating your employees. Plus, according to the Workplace Research Foundation, “[i]increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.”
Recommend blog posts covering the topic to your team. Suggest webinars that will expand their knowledge about the subject.
You can also offer specialized in-house training to your team. That way, your employees know what customer success looks like for your particular organization. Trainings should provide real-world examples and scenarios on how to approach different situations.
“Know your ideal customer. Communicate with your ideal customer. Understand what that customer wants, and track whether or not they’re getting it. Then, help them get more of it,” says Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, a SaaS consultant and customer success evangelist.
In the end, your team should understand the value of customer success and its purpose.
Customer Success At Every Level
How your SaaS approaches customer success matters. Everyone in your company plays an integral part in ensuring that consumers achieve their desired outcomes.
Entice prospects with content that captures their attention. Help your customers exceed their expectations. And improve your services by encouraging customer feedback.
Customer success－a team effort.
About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.