The point of SaaS customer success is to help users achieve their goals and, in general, reduce churn.
But that process is nuanced. And if you put a foot wrong, you could end up with significant churn. Sure, you could do a churn post-mortem to figure out what went wrong, but it’s much easier if you just retain that customer to begin with, right? That way you not only keep the revenue but you reduce the risk of a bad G2 or Capterra review as well.
If the essence of CS is to help customers reach their goals, though, you can look to some common ground. Nuance aside, here are five critical components to focus on when developing your company’s approach to customer success.
1. Multiple lines of communication
The reason customer success is such a powerful revenue driver is because of relationships. And like all relationships, you need to communicate properly.
Here are the lines you need open for customers:
1:1 touch points: This includes talking to both key users and any decision makers or budget owners.
Tech-touch points: This helps you scale up your CS efforts and happens when you invest in the right technology.
Internal communications: This is all the information about the customer that’s held internally (think: Sales to CS Handoffs, Marketing analytics, and more).
Open lines of communication promote deeper relationships and a more profound understanding of the customer’s unique needs, goals and frustrations. It takes the conversation beyond sign-on, onboarding and renewal to promote care for their experience.
There’s no cheaper client than an existing one. Staying in communication with existing customers boosts marketing efforts. Observing customer usage and uncovering ever-evolving goals puts the CS team in a prime position to offer upsells and add-ons.
2. Segmented customer experiences
Categorize customers for maximum scalability. Avoid the ineffective lure of segmenting based on revenue (how much a customer spent with you). The wiser and more success-oriented way to categorize clients is according to their goals and needs. Once segmented, it’s easier to cater to customer needs and deliver a premium customer experience, as you know which groups require frequent touches or assistance and which groups are content with a more hands-off approach.
Connections can occur through technology, human interaction or a combination of the two. Inter-organization communication remains vital as different departments work together to find the best factors for segmenting and the most effective mix of support strategies.
3. High-quality customer onboarding
Establish an onboarding process that leaves an excellent first impression. A carefully thought out course of action minimizes barriers, confusion and overwhelm on both sides of the relationship. The first step within the process should include uncovering customer goals. What follows should work towards getting them there.
Here are a few things to ensure you have in your onboarding program:
- Explaining the onboarding journey so customers know what to expect from your platform.
- Getting every user set up as needed (or giving them DIY instructions).
- Reminders, whether manual or automatic, to nudge people along key setup points (so they become more regular users of the platform).
The conclusion of onboarding varies with each customer, and even the CSM and customer might have differing opinions about its completion. The manager might consider onboarding complete when a customer goes from using the service in a limited capacity to using it for an extended period. On the other hand, the customer may feel fully onboarded and oriented only after they can confidently use the product unassisted. Thoughtful planning and communication can bridge the gap between the two differing views.
4. Customer analytics
Collecting feedback is imperative. With the help of customer success software, that data is more insightful. Statistics fall into two basic categories:
- How’s the customer doing?
- How are we doing?
Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Net Revenue Retention (NRR) are excellent indicators, as they highlight the likelihood that a customer will refer you to a qualified colleague while also revealing their experience and value. Usage, churn rates, Monthly Revenue Retention and Customer Lifetime Value are other good metrics to check.
Technology is essential for gathering data to improve organizational processes and customer success rates. Determine critical metrics and invest in software best suited for collecting and reporting. Too often, companies purchase software without knowing the measurements they need, then tailor their data collection to the software when it should be the other way around.
All parts of this great symphony must work in harmony, and the CS team—often fronted by a CSM—is the orchestra conductor. You’re familiar with your customers and building relationships, and you know the four key elements to never lose sight of. Selecting the best-fitting customer success tool will make it easier to bring this symphony together all day, every day.