All relationships are based on trust.
When you get hitched, you take vows. When you join an organization, you swear by your common beliefs.
In business, when you commit to a client, you give your word—and in return, you gain their trust and confidence.
This trust and confidence are the end-all and be-all of customer relationship management. Everything that is done with and for the customer aims to earn their trust, to prove that your company is a reliable and worthy partner towards growth.
Service-oriented companies like Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses know the value of trust and measure this concretely via client retention. With so many providers of subscription-based services and products, the possibility of losing your client to a competitor is higher than ever.
SaaS and tech companies constantly face the challenge of client retention and upselling to loyal customers. They try all sorts of tactics to appease their clients through ups and downs in the business. They will do anything to pull down their churn, or the rate of cancellation that could be deadly for a SaaS company.
If you want to keep clients in for the long haul and increase your revenue, consider a strategy that’s the hot topic these days: Customer Success.
What is Customer Success?
Customer Success is not a new concept. Businesses first used Customer Success as a remedy against churning. It relies on constant customer engagement, improved technology, and data-driven presentations.
Process Street has a concise definition of Customer Success:
“Customer success is a system, run by people whose only goal is to help customers get the best out of your product.”
Customer Success happens right after the sale. Everything you do with the client can be part of this client retention system. A huge part of it is communication and emphasizes more on the benefits of using your product rather than what your product does. Value is the word you want to remember, and what you need to drive to your client.
Customer Success is not complicated or exactly innovative. It abides by a simple rule: you succeed when your customers succeed. Success can be defined various ways, depending on the goals set by your client before partnering with you. When you teach your clients how to maximize the value of your product, you help them succeed and show them why it pays to stick with you.
What’s exciting about Customer Success these days is that it approaches customer satisfaction in a more systematic manner. It breaks down divisions between the sales, marketing, and accounts department, and encourages a more transparent engagement with clients.
Why Customer Success?
Longer customer relationships are more profitable, and cost less to maintain than investing in client acquisition. This is the reality in the subscription economy and is the main reason why Customer Success is essential to a thriving subscription business.
Because most SaaS companies are recurring revenue businesses, the margins for profit increase the longer the client stays with you. Totango CEO Guy Nirpaz says that 70 to 95 % of revenues for recurring revenue businesses come from upsells. This makes sense, as old clients are easier targets for upselling or upgrades. The continuous customer engagement is part of sales and marketing, and so you don’t have to spend a dime more to increase revenue.
As a growth strategy, Customer Success has minimum risks and great rewards. This strategy is all about upgrading customer management, and as such improves on already existing practices and structures.
Many are saying that Customer Success is on the fast track to becoming mainstream practice. Let’s examine ten companies with the right Customer Success practice, and learn how this strategy can spur growth in the long run.
If you’ve ambitions of energizing more companies with your SaaS product, then follow Ambition and attract the investment of a big company like Google Ventures. Ambition is a SaaS company that helps millennial employees reach their highest potential through a productivity monitoring system.
There are many ways to make a client stick with you, but Ambition prefers the self-service style. Ambition clients can find help content on the company’s website, making the adoption of Ambition services a continuous learning process.
Ambition further engages its customers by recognizing the best employees tracked by their software. This way, Ambition integrates itself neatly into the workplace and continues communication with its users even though the sale happened a long time ago.
A customized messaging app service, Lua achieves Customer Success the organic way. Lua targets higher management first, closely working with managers and executives, and lets the company hierarchy bring the app to the end-users.
When it comes to communication, Lua has mastered smooth moves to make the clients cling to their service. They go so far as helping managers write an email telling employees to start subscribing to the Lua messaging app. They also produce customized help materials for each client such as instructions and how-tos. Feedback is another important component. Lua sends their clients a survey 2 weeks after onboarding to gauge how their Customer Success program is going.
The close coordination between the Sales department and the Customer Success team makes Lua’s strategies work. The flexibility allows their Customer Success plan to permeate all the stages of customer engagement.
Convincing people to use your app is harder than it sounds. For DoubleDutch, a live marketing firm that produces event apps, they have to do it faster as their service is only good for a short period of time.
Implementing an effective Customer Success strategy in a short period takes precision and careful planning.
The solution Double Dutch came up with is dividing their Client Services department into two: the Implementation division and Customer Success.
Implementation takes care of all the technical issues and ensures that the product works perfectly. The Customer Success team, on the other hand, is comprised of sales and communication experts whose main task is to get the event attendees to subscribe and use the app.
Digital marketing is a competitive sphere, and for landing page optimizer Unbounce, keeping clients is an everyday commitment. Their hard work has fortunately paid off. Unbounce currently services over 10,000 users—an amazing number for a company that’s not even a decade old.
The secret of their strong client retention is forming a single-minded Customer Success team. The team works based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for every stage of the process. With these KPIs in mind, each member imbibes the culture of achieving success and develops more creative solutions to problems.
Ryan Engley, Director of Customer Success at Unbounce, says it is also important for the whole company to appreciate the aim of the business and understand the value they bring to consumers. Making everyone a Customer Success advocate means your client will get 5-star customer service every time.
A CRM software provider Insightly knows its way around customer relationships. Applying Customer Success, the company uses extra care in onboarding a client—dedicating a specialist to assist each client after the subscription.
The Insightly Customer Success Specialist is appointed to help clients and answer every query and request. Insightly uses free trials and uploads instructional materials to encourage leads to take a chance with their service.
Lynn Tsoflias, VP of customer success at Insightly, recommends preparing engaging content for all kinds of customers—from webinars, presentations, to manuals, and even regular correspondence via email.
Tsoflias also emphasizes the need to maintain good communication lines with clients. “People want to be asked and they want to be heard. Taking the time to listen to them and make that phone ring back goes a long way.”
Where can you better learn Customer Success than from a customer success software provider?
Totango is a Customer Success management software service company with awards from The CRM Watchlist 2015 and Stevie Winner American Business Awards. The company assists clients with customer success management by providing them with the right tools, metrics, and other cloud services. The goal is to supply clients with data they can use to improve customer engagement and make their clients more successful.
Totango Co-founder Omer Gotlieb underlines the need for data-driven client retention strategies but cautions against obsessing over numbers.
“Aggregating every data point or insight is not helpful. Focus on the customer data you can leverage to improve the customer journey. The same goes for processes and workflows. Do not try and make every customer happy all the time. Prioritize programs that generate tangible business outcomes for their team.”
If you are practicing good customer retention, then maybe you have the right to preach it. This is what Cratejoy is doing, and so far, it has worked to their advantage. The company is barely 2 years in the biz but has a $4 million venture funding due to its effective business model.
Cratejoy provides subscription businesses with a one-stop service shop to create their own website. A unique feature of their product is the client retention as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in the dashboard. This encourages their clients to look at client retention as an important factor in achieving Customer Success.
Cratejoy subscribers are called merchants, and these people are the living advertisements for Cratejoy. With their merchants keeping more clients than other businesses in the industry, Cratejoy is becoming a hub for people who value long-term business partnerships—and earning them new clients to add to their loyal base.
SaaS businesses thrive in the era of subscription economy, especially with hundreds of start-ups needing guidance and help in streamlining their process and boosting productivity. CoBloom is one of the companies that benefit from this cutthroat SaaS environment, providing software businesses with data and insight to help them grow rapidly.
CoBloom proves its worth to clients by emphasizing the benefits of engaging with them. The main selling point of CoBloom is the promotion of smart growth—business growth without the costs of trial and error and other startup mistakes.
CoBloom offers free trial and assessment to hook potential clients. In case a lead fails to become a client, SaaS Growth Specialist Emily Smith advises looking at it as a learning experience.
“ Talk to lost opportunities – customers who churned or never converted after a free trial. This will help you identify your customers’ success factors, their top priorities. If you don’t understand what’s important to your customers, you can’t be sure if you’re helping them to succeed. “
Etsy is known for quirky handmade finds on the internet.
This reputation scratches the surface of the company’s deep understanding of their customers’ behavior and has actually worked for the benefit of the company.
At the onset, Etsy targeted consumers that want to explore and discover new things. Unique was the keyword, and so fueled the company’s intent to give consumers an interesting and engaging buying experience.
Etsy uses data analytics to match the range of products displayed to the personality of the users. Every user gets a unique experience, and this gives them a feeling of being special and well-cared for. The team works hard to personalize the consumer’s journey so that users “feel more connected” with the experience.
Thanks to Bluenose, customer loyalty can now be measured and quantified. This SaaS company offers businesses an analytics tool to see whether your clients are loving or hating your product.
Bluenose offers an automated and faster way to manage customers and view their feedback on your services. The software combines various metrics in one dashboard, and could be a real headache for people who are not used to analyzing data.
Bluenose avoids this problem by turning this technical issue into an opportunity for engagement. They teach clients how to use the app, providing assistance from the trial, set-up, and installation, and even giving the whole Customer Success team training on how to use the app.
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