Customer success is fairly straightforward process when you’re simply selling an item to your customer. It is much more difficult with SaaS—Software as a Service transactions.
With a physical product, your buyer will have their item in hand and so long as it works properly, and does what it says on the tin, customer success can be attained. But, for Software as Service, achieving customer success is a lot more difficult.
For a start, we in the SaaS world live by customer adoption and usage in the long term. In the past, many customers bought software that they paid for upfront, and it may have been used once or twice and then forgotten. With SaaS, if people aren’t using your software, they’re not paying for it. It’s critical to onboard people well and drive their success as if it’s your own (because ultimately, it is!)
To just take one example. Do a simple Google search for SaaS sites that help you design websites. You will see there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. You’ll try one, and if it doesn’t lead you to success very quickly, you’ll drop off and try another one.
So, what will set your business apart from the others? The answer lies in the customer success process. The happy customer is the one who believes that your product offers them the full value of their money, has an easy to use interface that gets them to their business goals quickly.
The challenge is in ensuring customer success for each and every customer. This is your biggest customer retention lever – getting customers successful as early as possible.
All businesses have this problem on their hands, but it’s also important to understand the problem from the side of the customers. Remember that they will be sold on the benefits of using your software, or whatever it is you’re selling. Sure, you’ll have some great features, but they look beyond that to see how these features can benefit them. They’ll also be constantly looking for value from your products. If they feel they are no longer getting this value, they’ll stop paying you and go elsewhere. Improving your customer success as part of your customer retention strategy it’s essential to continue growing your revenue. But how do you do that?
Here are 5 easy steps to improve your customer success process, whatever business you’re in. They’ll help you to gain and retain valuable customers.
#1. Collect customer feedback
This can be done through a survey, either in an email, on your website, or by your staff simply asking customers how they feel (and caring about the answer). It doesn’t have to be complex either.
The key is to keep the survey or enquiry short and to the point. Make the information gathering process easy and painless for customers and you’ll be surprised how much they will tell you. When you lose customers, ask them why. Even one-liner responses will give you insight into what you can do better next time round.
#2. Target the right customers, not the wrong ones
You can begin by figuring out who the right customers are. These are the ones who have stuck by you for the life of your product, bought more of it, and told their friends and colleagues.
Work hard to understand what your customers use the product for that makes them love it so much – it’s often not what you think.
Once you understand their reasons, you can focus your customer success efforts on attracting similar customers in that field. The more focused you are on a particular area, the more you can shape your product or service to ideally suit your customers, driving their success even higher.
#3. Everyone in your business should do customer support
If you have other departments who don’t understand how your product or service works, you could be in trouble. It’s imperative that everyone in the company not only has a hand in improving your products, but all the employees should be trained in their usage.
If you do this, you’ll find that the suggestions from your team which improve customer success go through the roof. Every single day, each team member becomes more naturally focused on driving up customer success because they are solving real customer problems.
This is also a great way for a smaller company to solve the problem of not peaks and troughs in demand when it is not yet big enough to hire dedicated staff to only do support.
The additional benefit is that no matter who answers the phone, they’ll have their questions and needs fulfilled, first time out. Which is always really impressive.
#4. Have a procedures manual
Set up your customer procedures manual now. This should be distributed to everyone in your company.
It doesn’t have to be exhaustive or prescriptive – in fact, it needs to be a living, breathing document that gets added to over the months as customers, markets and products change.
Consider the “spirit” you want to create when writing your document. You won’t create a team of superb customer success people with a dry, tick box-style document. How do you want people to feel when they’ve read it? Inspired to do a great job. Start with the end in mind.
#5. Create a great support workflow process
Nothing is worse than having a customer call in a question, only to have to wait for endless minutes while the agent scrambles for an answer. Or, the customer has sent in an email and then waits days for an answer. There should be a streamlined workflow set up. Simple questions can be answered first, while more complex questions can be sent off to technical support. All inquiries should be answered with at least an acknowledgment, even if there the ultimate answer is going to take a while because of its complexity.
Be paranoid about speed and delivery back to customers. You may be constantly adjusting your processes to make them better. The more products you add to your business, the more complex your support structure will need to become. But it’s important to not neglect this part of the process.
Every day that you lose customers or you don’t gain any new ones is the day that you should be focusing your efforts on improving your customer success process. Find out the answers so you know where to make the tweaks and improvements.