For SaaS companies, it’s the customer’s world. Don’t lose your spot.

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We live in a subscription-based world. Subscriptions do our grocery shopping, pick out our clothes, take us places and monitor our health. Nothing is out of reach or off-limits for the recurring revenue model.

For customers, it’s ideal. For vendors, there’s a big challenge.

In a subscription model, the goalposts for customer retention move constantly. Customers expect products and services that know them, grow with them, and anticipate their needs. They expect continuous improvement to justify their recurring payment.

The stakes are especially high for SaaS organizations – the fastest-growing subscription sector – where new companies crop up every day. SaaS businesses without a deliberate, if not obsessive, customer focus will quickly lose their share. If you don’t deliver the convenience, utility, personalization, satisfaction, and value that customers expect, they’ll go elsewhere.
Customer centricity is equal parts operating model and mindset. You can’t drive it with mission statements or perfunctory processes, base it on good intentions, or deliver it in silos. It takes a bigger rethink to fight churn for the long term. Start with these five foundational ideas:

1. Fulfill their needs first

Many Customer Success (CS) teams conflate a customer’s happiness with their success. However, customers do not spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to be your friend. They’ll only renew if they can use your product successfully.
Refocus your CS team around the point of the relationship: to challenge the customer, uphold accountability, foster collaboration, and ensure they get everything they need. Do it with honesty and transparency, and you both win.

2. Shift from heroics to scaling

CS departments need to be the most efficient and operationalized team in the organization because they own (or will own) the most revenue.
Implement best practices and train to scale. If you hear “I can’t hand this over to someone else or it will fail,” you may already be failing. Your business and your customers need a baseline of competence and consistency.

3. Build onboarding around the customer’s goal, not yours.

The faster a customer realizes value from your product, the likelier they are to keep using it. However, CS teams often build onboarding processes based on what they need to achieve, such as scheduling a training session.

Customer-centric onboarding should prioritize a customer’s needs. Focus on events that realize the value of the solution, such as a customer launching their first campaign. Be open and transparent. Your customers cannot succeed unless they know the steps to get there.

4. Align everything around the customer.

A truly exceptional customer experience is ingrained everywhere in the business. Personalization only works when you equip every department – finance, product, sales, and marketing – with customer data, feedback, and stories.

A shared understanding of the customer brings teams together in a framework of trust and transparency. It allows every team to proactively mitigate a customer’s problems and build on their success.

5. Put data in the driver’s seat.

Avoid making decisions on gut feelings or anecdotes. Customers’ words and actions can tell two different stories – and often, only the loudest voices are heard.

Monitor leading indicators – such as product adoption, license utilization, time to first value – and lagging indicators – such as net revenue retention, logo retention, net promoter score (NPS). Focus on the bigger picture. Aggregate your data to spot customer health trends and patterns across the customer base. Let the data guide you and refine as you go.

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