Customer success contributes greatly to the company’s opportunity to grow. According to Hubspot research, prosperous businesses are 21 percent more to state that customer success is very important than businesses in decline. Forward-looking business owners understand that customer success is something that can differentiate them from others and make a person choose exactly their company.
As a design agency, we’ve been working with a wide range of different companies. The thing that we’ve noticed is that most businesses, especially startups, focus mainly on closing the sale and not on providing a good user experience that leads to customer success. Don't be like them.
The reason people use your service is the value they get from it. Once they fail to receive it, they leave. One of the main objectives of your company is to make sure that your customer receives all the value of your service. Customer success helps to reach this objective.
The good news is that applying customer success strategies is not that complicated. In this post, you will find six strategies you can use at different stages of your customer’s journey to ensure the client is happy and satisfied.
But first of all, we want to answer "what does customer success do?" and what is SaaS customer success in particular.
The core of customer success
Customer success is about providing everything you promised to your customer (and even more) when they bought your product. It means you should help your clients get the value out of your product as quickly as you can and continue helping them getting benefits while interacting with your product.
The goal of customer success is to hear from your clients: “Wow! It is so much better than I expected.”
That's the reason to be proactive in providing the best solution to the issue before it even arises. It’s easier to take measures to prevent the fire from happening than to react when it already occurred.
Customer success is essential to every existing company, but it is especially relevant in the SaaS industry. Read further to learn why.
Why customer success matters in the SaaS industry
Fifteen years ago software companies sold differently and they had different business models. Customers spent the money upfront and then it was up to them how they met their business needs with the help of this product.
SaaS stands for software as a service. The basics of SaaS lay in the word “service” which means it is not a one-time deal, but a continuous experience that provides the clients with value.
To be profitable, those who own SaaS need to take care of constant customer satisfaction. SaaS businesses sell a subscription, which means they need to present an invariably valuable service over time. Otherwise, the customer can leave and stop paying.
What is more, SaaS companies tend to monitor how customers use their services and gather feedback. In case your client buys a monthly subscription to your service but hardly uses it once, the chance that he/she will cancel it soon is very high.
Companies strive to do their best to be able to prevent possible service issues and provide the best SaaS experience for their users. It makes customer success extremely important for them.
To help you apply customer success in your SaaS business, we’ve prepared six strategies worth implementing.
Customer success strategies
Breathe out! Customer success is not something that requires a superpower to implement. Of course, making it a part of your company culture is not a one-day process, but in case you are ready to stick to the right strategy and make some operational changes in your organization, you will achieve success both for your clients and your business.
The following strategies can help at different stages of your customer’s journey.
Create a positive first impression
Nowadays, we can access a huge amount of information in just a few clicks. No wonder that people prefer to do their own research before picking some service.
Usually, before contact your company, prospects already know a lot about you and the service you provide. That’s why customer success should start before the user signs up for your product. In most cases, the first acquaintance starts on your website.
Here comes the design. The job of design is to provide a clean, simple, and consistent experience for product users. Once the visitor is on your website, he or she should see the value at a glance. A good website should combine an appealing look, relevant content, and a consistent user experience. In case you fail to make a positive first impression, your customer’s journey may stop right there.
If you want to create a design that speaks its value, you should know your customers well. Learn how they differ and what they have in common. Understand their pains and needs and define the way you can help your customer. In other words, identify your user personas.
Identifying the user persona is the first step to implementing customer success, as it means you care about the needs of your clients.
We were working on Handprinter, a startup that helps people make a positive impact on the environment. The problem was that because of the poor UX visitors didn’t convert into users. It was an innovative startup with no analogs and to keep customers, we first needed to understand who are our clients and what are their needs.
We conducted research and identified three main types of clients to understand their goals.
Defining user personas helped us to create an intuitive user flow and make Handprinter easy to use (check the case study). With the help of user personas, we managed to anticipate the challenges that customers may have faced later. That’s how we contributed to customer success.
Despite the great website, some customers may still be not confident of your credibility, or doubt if you can help them. Some of your potential clients may even not know that they have a problem your SaaS can resolve.
You need to educate your prospects to show the value and gain trust. The best way to do this is by providing useful information about the field you work in, about your company and team for free. Start publishing relevant posts in your blog, add some video tutorials on how to use your product, conduct an interview with an expert in your industry, and so on.
A good example is Hubspot, a cloud-based platform for marketing, sales, and customer service. In addition to dozens of educational articles and researches, this SaaS company has got an entire educational platform - Hubspot Academy.
A user can pick a free course, watch video lessons, and learn how to use Hubspot tools for different types of companies.
Educating your customers makes your service more user-friendly. This enables customer success because it reduces potential obstacles your customers may encounter while using your service.
If you decided to implement customer success but don’t know where to start always start with your employees. Maybe you are wondering how to set up a customer success team. Remember, each member of your team should adhere to the chosen direction and strive to increase the customer satisfaction rate.
No matter if your lead communicates with a customer support representative or sales team, they should receive the same high-quality service.
Teach employees to be attentive listeners and build a rapport with customers. Through communication, you can learn many ways to make the product better and understand what people expect from it
For example, Process.st, a process management platform, keeps a record of every request about a particular feature or failure they receive from their support team. They analyze the received data to understand and customers’ main concerns. As a result, Process.st satisfies its clients’ needs quicker and more effectively. With that, the product design team can use this information to think about possible product improvement that results in client success.
The above information seems very simple, but often companies neglect team education. As a result, employees don’t have a mutual goal and don’t possess enough knowledge of the service to provide appropriate customer service. You should educate your SaaS team not to face retention issues later. It’s very important for each team member to have a customer-focused mentality.
Let’s suppose your SaaS client has bought the service and can’t wait to start using it. As the product is new, he/she will have many questions while learning how to use it.
To make the first acquaintance with your SaaS simple and pleasant optimize the onboarding process.
Primarily, users sign up for your service. Where do you direct them next? To the dashboard or maybe the thank you page? Both variants may confuse your customer on what to do next.
It feels like you buy a ticket to the gallery at the ticket window, and then no one tells you where to go and what kind of exhibition takes place today.
Even in case, your SaaS is highly intuitive after signing up you should immediately guide your users on their next steps.
For example, Google Drive offers to watch a video to guide the viewer through the software. It’s very important, as well, that the user has got an opportunity to skip it, that's how such onboarding definitely won’t irritate users.
Next, don’t forget to send a welcome email that includes further actions the user is supposed to complete. It helps to ensure the customer will get back to your SaaS.
Help your customer to use your product to its full by providing a high-quality onboarding.
If you've optimized the onboarding tour, you are on the right way to customer success but still, users will probably have more questions arise with time, and here comes the customer support.
Very often, entrepreneurs think of customer support as a synonym for customer success. Customer support is just one piece in the customer success puzzle, but an important one.
As your business grows and acquires more users, more new issues appear. The way you cope with those problems influences your customer success.
Your support team should be ready to help clients with questions of different complexity on their first request. It’s important to provide the user with a quick and complete solution. You can prevent 67% (!) of the churn rate in case the support team provides a solution to your client’s first request.
You can use customer service tools to help the support team or create a guide on your website (most frequently asked questions) so that users can find a solution to some issues without calling you.
Upsell and cross-sell
Over time you will get your loyal customers, who interact with you quite often and regularly use the service you provide. If you listen to such clients and build a rapport with them, you probably know their needs and attitude toward your product.
Evaluate how often the customer interacts with your software and decide if he/she is ready to expand relationships with your organization.
Offer a better version of your subscription that will be more beneficial for this user. As well, show a related product that can be especially helpful with the one that your customer already bought.
It's likely that after reading this post, you realize that you are already using some strategies for SaaS client success. And that’s great!
Every strategy that we've mentioned is very useful, as they help to reduce the churn and turn your users into devoted advocates of your company.
All strategies can be especially effective if you understand what stages your client goes through while interacting with your service.
Read about the SaaS customer journey to implement them correctly.