As the popularity of the customer success business method increases, many company leaders still fail to acknowledge its value to their organization. Therefore, we found it imperative to explain customer success through this article and address the common question of how to implement it in SaaS companies.
What is Customer Success?
Customer success is a business methodology aiming to ensure customers achieve their expected outcomes and gain the most value out of the product or service your company is offering. It anticipates challenges or questions that customers might have and proactively provide solutions and answers. This helps a company increase customers’ satisfaction and retention, increasing their loyalty and consequently, the company’s revenue.
Customer success for startups increases the likelihood that users will stick around by maximizing their mastery of the product. For subscription-based businesses, that’s a very important strategy to grow monthly recurring revenues. For other companies, the value is revealed through leading product insights and word-of-mouth marketing.
To achieve customer success for startups, your company will need to designate a representative or a team fully dedicated to this role. This approach helps businesses reach goals like:
- Increasing renewal sales and revenues.
- Increasing customer loyalty and retention.
- Boosting lifetime customer value and annual recurring revenue.
- Reducing churn.
Customer success may often be confused with customer support or customer service. However, it is crucial that you understand the difference. Both customer service and support are primarily reactive as the team responds to customers after an issue occurs. Whereas customer success is proactive as the team tries to anticipate customer needs and address them before any issue occurs.
How to Implement Customer Success in your SaaS?
Marketing & Pre-Sales
The work of customer success for startups, as well as the marketing and sales teams, should be aligned. Marketing teams should first make sure the customers they are targeting are the right people, meaning discovering whether they really need what you are offering. Working on your startup MVP development is the best way to identify your target group and present your product to users.
Once they identify the right targets, they start marketing the product, explaining what they have to offer. However, you must ensure that your marketing team is not promising something the company cannot deliver. False expectations will lead to customer dissatisfaction and no matter how good the product or service is, you will lose customers.
Second, the sales department assesses whether those customers fit your customer persona. The latter indicates whether they would fit into the organization’s long-term user profile. To facilitate the selection procedure for the sales team, you can come up with a list of criteria that indicates whether a customer is a successful fit or not.
Once a customer fits the profile, their complete information should be passed on to other teams within the company so that they do not end up asking customers the same questions more than once.
You should aim at providing the promised experience to your customers. Their first time using the product should be easy and self-explanatory to become an active user. If the procedure is long or complex, they will abandon it. Therefore, make sure to optimize your onboarding experience by analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) and parameters such as:
- Completion rate: What are the main tasks in your activation funnel? Check how many users are completing all the steps and where are some users dropping the procedure. Fix the issue, make the experience more intuitive, and get them back.
- Session Length: Monitor the time needed for the average user to complete the onboarding session. Then, monitor the time needed by new users. If the latter are dropping out before the average time, then you need to optimize your procedure.
- Returning sessions: After successful onboarding, how many users return to become active users? If users complete the onboarding session but do not come back, you can use activation e-mails to get them back.
Furthermore, there are tools you can use that facilitate the implementation of customer success for startups. If your startup is still establishing a customer success team, the latter can use simple tools as a start such as Google Sheets and e-mail. Later on, as your client base grows, you will need larger-capacity applications or Chrome extensions such as MailMerge. However, many companies simply use Slack for communication, e-mail automation, and reminder apps. It is essential that you choose whatever tools that work for your company. It is best to keep things simple and convenient for a smooth workflow.
Need a hand implementing customer success at your startup?
A common parameter you can use to measure customers’ satisfaction is the percentage of free trial users who end up signing in for the paid version. If those numbers do not look good, you may be facing one of those problems:
- The promised result is not being delivered
- You are bringing in the wrong customers to try the product
- The onboarding experience needs enhancing
- The product is too expensive
- There’s an issue with the payment process
When users properly use your product and recognize the value it provides them, they will more likely upgrade. Once customers become satisfied paying users, you can then determine different parameters to measure their level of engagement, to define whether they would be interested in more functionality features. And since the role of customer success is to satisfy users and maintain that status, we are sharing with you some customer success for startups implementation strategies to make sure customers are satisfied:
- Address each customer based on their needs
Before your first interaction with the client, your customer success team should understand the client’s business and the nature of their workflow. Prepare to present your product in a way that answers the customer’s needs. You should know what industry they are in, what product or service they offer, which issue your product will help them fix, and which other tools they are currently using. Doing so will help you shape the first interaction and emphasize the features you need to show first.
- Educate your customers
As your product develops new features, you need to inform and educate your customers about what’s new. Customer success within SaaS companies will be responsible for creating content and sending it out to customers. They can use newsletters, in-product notifications, FAQ pages, and even conduct webinars to walk their customers through new features. Regularly reaching out to them with answers, information, and support builds a connection that promotes loyalty.
- Assessment calls
Some clients who are using your SaaS company’s product stick to one particular usage of it, benefiting from only one aspect of the product. The role of the customer success department is to regularly advise customers on how to benefit from the full functionality of the product. To do so, it is best that the customer success manager or representative conducts regular assessment calls to offer advice and help them efficiently use the product.
- Cross-departmental collaboration
It’s a strategy that encourages a “customer first” mindset in all customer-driven departments of a company such as customer success, customer support, account management, etc. Cross collaboration is key to ensuring exceptional service. Competition and lack of coordination between departments lead to duplicate work, and repeated communication which automatically affects the workflow. Therefore, all teams must collaborate and work together to achieve the best service.
Promote a Customer-Focused Mindset
To implement customer success for startups, you will need to promote a customer-focused mindset among your company’s employees. They need to acknowledge that modern companies no longer succeed by merely providing a great product, but by selling success and establishing close consultative relationships with customers. Ideally, customer success should be implemented during every step of the customer’s journey. But the concept is still a relatively new field that is still under discovery, which makes it all the more exciting.
Here are some tips on ways to promote a customer-focused mindset within your SaaS:
- Encourage collaboration
Becoming a customer-focused organization requires teams to work together to create a consistent, overall better experience.
- Make customers feel heard
Customers don’t want to have to repeat themselves every time they interact with someone at the company. All departments should have access to their information.
Be accessible through different communication channels so that customers choose their channel of choice.
- Use customer feedback to improve
It is important to gather customer feedback, but more important to use it in creating a better experience and improvement. It also shows customers their opinion matters.
Not receiving proper customer service is one of the major reasons customers leave. Therefore, we advise you to always monitor and analyze this service. Since the support team is in direct contact with users, it should be considered a great way to collect feedback, measure customer satisfaction, and know how well your product is doing. Metrics you can use to measure customers’ satisfaction with the support provided include:
- Customer satisfaction feedback: There are several ways through which you can gather customer satisfaction feedback. A common process is sending a follow-up email after every support service provided.
- Net promoter score: NPS measures customers’ loyalty and satisfaction by asking them how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of 0-10. Send this out to monitor and optimize your results.
What is customer leadership?
Customer leadership is the responsibility of providing high-quality customer service by addressing customers’ inquiries and concerns as well as efficiently resolving incoming complaints. Customer leaders manage teams of customer service staff, coaching team members to identify challenges and implementing strategic procedures to adjust and improve performance. They also evaluate the team and encourage their competencies.
What makes a great customer success leader?
A customer success team is driven by a customer support leader who monitors, trains, and manages the team. Here are some habits that make a great customer support leader:
- Being proactive
- Engaging with other departments
- Developing good customer relations
- Mapping customers’ journey
- Instant decision-making skills
- Good understanding of customers’ data
- Excellent communication skills
What does the customer success team do?
Customer success teams are responsible for the success of customers. They connect with customers using the best practices, onboard them when they are new, and ensure their success when it’s time for renewal.