Successful SaaS businesses rely on the strengthening of customer relationships for business expansion. According to the blog SaaStr, “directly, or indirectly, client success manages as much as 75% of the revenue of a typical SaaS company…client success is actually your secret sauce to success.” Essentially, the growth of your customer programs and the level of customer satisfaction with your service and product can make or break your business.
Here are the top five ways to integrate customer success in your business development efforts:
Step 1: Build a Strong Customer Success Team
To deliver quality services and support, it’s imperative to have a strong customer team and culture. Create a unified vision that everyone can get behind, hire top talent, and create a culture of collaboration where ideas are shared freely and processes are flexible. Try hosting short daily team standup meetings to share customer learning experiences, encourage regular customer meetings and make sure any engagement has a purpose.
Creative thinking and leadership skills will help your team anticipate customer needs before they arise. One of the critical roles of a customer success team is to communicate with the customers proactively, foresee challenges and offer solutions before your customer complains.
Step 2: Ensure Cross-Company Communication
Your SaaS business is like a sports team. Your product works best when all parties are in constant communication. This means creating synergies not just amongst your team, but across your executives, your sales team, your product team, and of course your engineering team.
Find an easy way for teams to share information, whether it is a weekly digest that all teams can contribute to or a rotating update forum. This information-sharing loop can be used to share both challenges and positive feedback so that everyone can learn and contribute. Feedback sharing is iterative and the results will positively impact not only your internal and external teams but also your product.
Remember, if one department fails to share updates and changes direction, the whole team can suffer. It’s like a baseball catcher not communicating with the pitcher!
Step 3: Identify How Customers Engage with Your Product
What differentiates a good customer success team from a great one is their understanding of whataccounts for churn, not just how much churn your company is experiencing. To better understand the reasons behind churn, it is important to identify how customers engage with your product.
Metrics such as product utilization data give insights on customer usage. Monitoring which features are being used the most, and what features are under-utilized, will help your team get an “in” with customers. Understanding why customers are using some tools in your application and not others will help you better tailor your approach.
Intercom.io’s co-founder Des Traynor suggests that the best way to re-engage customers is to be personal. He says, “don’t auto-email a customer who has several open support issues to remind them to login and don’t begin your mail with “Dear Customer.” Automated activities do more harm than good. Introduce yourself in the email, and make it clear that you’re a real person who really wants to hear what they have to say about your application.”
Step 4: Ensure Customers Know How to Use Your Product
One method of maintaining a strong relationship with your customer is to guide them through the use of your product, from the very beginning of the onboarding phase. You don’t need to engage each customer individually. Rather, you can outsource this engagement through online guidance systems that analyze user preferences, and offer users tips on how to better utilize your product. Like a personal customer success employee, online guidance applications provide real-time step-by-step instructions, such as tip balloons that popup on the screen. Mitch Frazier, VP of Marketing at TinderBox, says that online guidance shortened the user onboarding time by 45%.
Step 5: Simplify Your User Interface
While you may be tempted to add some pizzazz to your platform, customers almost always prefer simplicity to frills. Avoid unnecessary confusion by using a simple, conventional interface that customers recognize. This is true across industries. Mac users often refer to the clean and simple aesthetics as the reason why they prefer Apple products to PCs.
Many companies find creative ways to jazz-up an interface without giving customers the added challenges of figuring out how to work the platform. If you do want to get creative, your best bet is to do it with the writing on your site, rather than the design of the interface. For example, some sites use funny ways to engage the user – when they ask if you want to join a mailing list, they provide two options for the user to choose from: a simple “Yes!” and a sarcastic “No! Being in the loop is overrated!”
Customer Success Aficionados: engage with customers proactively, make sure your customers know how to use your product, maintain communication across teams, and create a user-friendly platform. Now, go out there and get to it!
[Originally posted to http://www.nudgespot.com/blog/leverage-customer-success-grow-business/ on 5 May 2016]