The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success Strategies for SaaS Businesses
We’ve looked at the concept of Customer Success before, breaking down it’s importance for your growth and building the right team for it, but today it’s time to discuss how your SaaS company can put the concept into practice.
You already know that your customers are happier when they’re having an easier time making sales. Data points to the facts that these customers are more likely to stick with you for longer and more loyal, but it requires you to be proactive, listen, and go beyond basic levels of support. Here’s how you can accomplish this for your SaaS business.
One Quick Note
In conversations about customer success strategies, sometimes the focus turns to your customer’s customers. Those are the people that your customers will use to judge their success and your value. The naming and nomenclature can get a little confusing.
To avoid this, we’ll be very specific which level we target and anytime you see “end-customer” know that we’ll be talking about your customer’s customers.
7 SaaS Customer Success Best Practices
Before you dive right into building your customer success strategies, it’s good to understand the process and goals. Knowledge and purpose can make each attempt a success. Plus, we’ll look at how to measure that too. Here’s seven things to consider.
1. Get Everyone Involved
You may have a customer success team, but they’re only part of the effort. Everyone should be working toward a better relationship with your customers. Leadership can meet and advise, your engineers can work with theirs, and your sales team should be invested in how the sales of your customers are proceeding. Wherever you can help, you can win more business.
2. Make Education Easy
Your SaaS company grows when your software is easy to use. Knowledge is part of that equation. So, you want to give as much training as possible and keep it as simple as you can. We recommend snippets and short videos designed to answer specific feature questions.
You’re only a useful partner if your customers are able to incorporate your software into their workflows with minimal disruption, and significant gains in areas like efficiency.
3. Put Customer Needs First
SaaS companies have a lot of moving parts. It’s easy to get caught up managing those and focus on the features or fixes of the platform, but these aren’t always what the customer needs. Every review and update should look at what customers tell you. Prioritize what’s important to them, not necessarily what you think is important to your product.
4. Feedback Should be Easy Too
You have to know customer needs to put them first. So, prioritize feedback channels and give customers multiple options to reach out. Plus, you’ll want to monitor what’s being said about you in other locations, from social media posts and channels on Reddit to industry forums, support groups, and professional associations.
Expanding feedback beyond surveys and emails is often an overlooked SaaS customer success best practices because you’ve got to be proactive. However, doing your own research as well as asking customers directly can deliver high-quality insight.
5. Remember your ‘Rules’
There are two incredibly important rules for your SaaS operations: The Golden Rule and the Rule of 40. The Golden Rule should guide your interactions from timely responses to saying, “thank you” and sharing knowledge as you gain it. Check out this more detailed look at the Golden Rule and customer success principles.
The Rule of 40 is that you’re going to need at least one specific customer success rep for every 40 clients. Your team gets overwhelmed when you have more clients-per-rep and that means customers start slipping through the cracks. Most SaaS Companies already think about the rule of 40% — covering their cash flow — so building this customer success rule target reinforce both rules and make it easier to think about as you grow.
6. Map the Customer Journey
To put your customers first, you need to know what path they’re taking. Run through your systems and processes to see what your customer sees during the purchase process. Go from awareness to the decision to renew a contract or agreement. Mapping every connection with your company helps you see gaps and where to improve interactions.
This mapping should focus on the renewal stage because that’s where your customer will most harshly evaluate whether your SaaS solution is contributing to their success.
7. Review Your Market
We all want to immediately say “yes,” but at the same time this question usually causes someone to crop up in the back of our minds. That client that takes too much time or always needs different support from everyone else. There’s often a client that we can help do a task, but not necessarily help be successful.
Review your existing clients to see who are your best customer success stories. Then, work to ensure this is the group you’re targeting with marketing efforts. As platforms grow, markets change. In the logistics space, some warehouse management SaaS platforms have grown into larger ERP and even CRM brands. When they made this jump, the people who could use their software shifted significantly in size, scope, and industry. The longer the delay for marketing and sales to adapt to customer and product changes, the slower your growth.
7 Customer Success Strategies for SaaS Businesses
Customer success strategies for SaaS businesses should be tied to specific goals around your customers, both from their perspective and that of your business. You want to develop tools, systems, and processes that help everyone achieve specific goals, because these are easier to understand, track, and refine.
So, we’ll look at X strategies, each of which revolve around a specific goal or objective. Your implementation will vary (you might focus on feedback via reviews or social media), but the aim is the same: make the customer happier with what you do for them, either directly or indirectly.
1. Train to Increase Customer Use and Success
One of my favorite customer success strategies for SaaS companies in any industry is to improve their training. Simplify manuals and processes. Break up tasks with clearer steps. And make everything you offer (blogs, videos, images, walkthroughs, FAQS, etc.) searchable.
However, you can ramp this up even more to help your customers by framing support and training around their specific real-world uses. Don’t just demonstrate how to run a process. You should also show why it’s important and how it improves the lives or operations of their customers.
Look at features and dashboards to see what insights the end-customer will get from it and why the end-customer will see it as a benefit. Train your clients to see your software as part of their customer service tools and you’ll be clearly demonstrating your value in their success.
2. Publicly Celebrate Customer Feedback
SaaS companies are always asking for feedback to guide the improvement and development of software. Some of your best ideas likely came from customer surveys. This information can be great for marketing purposes and improving your customer success efforts.
When possible, tie each specific improvement or change to the customer(s) who mention it. Publicly thank them when you implement these updates.
After implementation, follow-up. Ask all customers to see if these changes improved their sales, operations, or other efforts. Take the customers who said yes and ask to get their story (and potentially develop a case study).
Talking to customers about improvements gets them to look at specific metrics and gains. So, you might clearly help them see that you’ve boosted sales or efficiency by 10%. Congratulate your customer on this publicly when possible, because it gives them bragging rights too.
Your best-case scenario is when a single customer makes a suggestion, you implement it, and then they see measurable improvements from it. In this scenario, the entire case study becomes a celebration of them and how great of a partnership you have.
3. Customer Loyalty, Building and Recognition
Now, it’s time to narrow your focus. All customers want to be heard, so you want feedback from the bunch. However, it’s often just a few select customers that will give you the best information. Focus on a relationship and rapport here through the celebration mentioned above and other loyalty efforts.
Maximizing your feedback potential and improving the loyalty of these specific customers starts with creating the list of preferred clients. For this group, move through then entire customer journey, asking them what works, what doesn’t, and what’s important to them.
Plan to do this quarterly.
For these customers, speak directly about their end-customer success needs and consider offering loyalty program benefits. This might mean having a small user group conference or giving them early access to features. You don’t need to give away the store, but the benefits should be something you’d like from a software vendor.
4. Plan to Address Churn
Some users are always going to churn, no matter what you do. Reach out to these customers to understand why and then build to address that for other users. Profile these customers too, and you might identify trends that are a precursor to churn — such as not responding to emails or even fewer helpdesk requests.
During these conversations, ask specifically about end-customer success. You’ll get unabashed access to frustration in the area, which can help with your customer success efforts.
In the SaaS space, you may also face cost frustration as companies scale with you. A smart practice is to automatically flag accounts that might save money when they switch subscriptions models. Stopping customers from paying overages can be a significant boost to their satisfaction and allows your software to continue to be a tool they use to support end-customers.
5. Remove Customer Barriers
Customers want a product that is easy to use and understand. You’ve got to test your system to see how simple you are or if things are unnecessarily getting in the way. While you will get some feedback from customers to help with this, you should also perform your own tests with paid groups.
This is a SaaS customer success best practice because you’re not putting the burden on customers. Get groups to test existing functionality and compatibilities to see what they might find frustrating. Look for ways to improve interactions, especially if your customers use your tools during their end-customer support.
Fresh eyes are a wonderful way to continually deliver more streamlined functionality because they aren’t used to doing a process a certain way. Existing customers may overlook a potential issue because they’re trained on your system. Someone new can help you look for opportunities to turn 3 steps into 1.
Thanks to the growing world of APIs and small RPA tools, your best bet might be to find opportunities to reduce steps via automation.
6. Support their End-Customer Service
Every department you have plays a role in customer success. So, for your customers, all of their departments play a role in end-customer success. Your software directly supports their end-customer service capabilities.
Build and train with this understanding in mind. Marketing and training should highlight how and where you provide better end-customer service. If you’re reducing manual tasks, for instance, then tell your partners that it gives their agents more time to address end-customer issues. Fewer steps means that there is less chance for distraction or human error, likely increasing end-customer service rates.
Speak the language of their business and end-customers, especially when you can tie it to your clients’ KPIs. It’s a simple and direct way to demonstrate your value.
7. Go Beyond Your Software
The final customer success strategies for SaaS businesses we want to discuss tosses your SaaS solution right out the window. You need to be a partner even when that’s no longer in the picture, and this is often accomplished by educating customers on related topics.
DoubleDutch’s customer success approach is a notable example of this mentality. The company builds apps for specific events. They’re focused on building attendee interaction and providing materials to everyone quickly and efficiently. However, events only last so long, so the impact needs to be big.
To address this, DoubleDutch trains groups and companies on how to market their events, both online and in-person at an event. It also has simple guides for how the app can be used for speakers ahead of and during their presentations, or how to position marketing and information differently if it is an internal versus external meeting. They also provide tools to generate reports, nurture the community via email, and how to conduct polls.
There’s a lot of added value in working with the company because its internal experts are willing to share their knowledge about the entire process of running an event, not just how an app helps an event.
CloudApp Customer Success Support
Yes, CloudApp offers a suite of tools that make it easy for your business to create video and image content, but our own customer success efforts are designed to help you win more business with your customers.
We’re built for SaaS solutions because you can always capture a screen and annotate those images or video with ease. You no longer need to tell someone the steps, you can show them with a video of exactly how it is done. Annotation also makes it easy to highlight sections of your UI so the customer can see the entire dashboard but will quickly focus on the most crucial element within it.
And, it’s proven. Gainsight has used CloudApp for SaaS to save itself more than $10,000 per year plus increase its customer satisfaction. Steve Davis, Gainsight Customer Support Manager, said: “With CloudApp, we were able to take 2 to 3 typed out interactions and combine them into 1 GIF or video. This has eliminated the need for the rep to type out these mile-long responses.”
Not only can you get help closing customer support tickets three times faster, you’re also able to answer questions before the customer asks directly. You can be proactive to drive customer and end-customer success through optimizing customer support workflows too.
To get more information on how CloudApp can help Customer Support, please visit our CloudApp for CloudApp For Customer Support page. Or, jump in with a free trial and use CloudApp to build out your customer support efforts starting right now.