SaaS is all about keeping your users happy and making sure they achieve their goals. But the path to customer success isn’t easy—it’s fraught with hurdles and blockades.
What you need to overcome your obstacles is a customer success strategy.
Because the quality of your product alone isn’t enough to make your business a success. To retain customers and keep your churn rates low, you need every trick in the book.
And that’s where we come in. Throughout the rest of this guide, you’ll find all the actionable advice you’ll need to keep your users grinning from ear to ear. 😁
But first, the basics.
What’s a customer success strategy?
It’s a process where you support your users throughout their journey. Your goal is to get them the result(s) they want, so it’s important to make sure they get there.
Your strategy will, of course, play a big part in that outcome. And you can help yourself out there with an understanding of building customer relationships.
Remember, while gaining new customers is important (and great), if you don’t hold onto them then it’s just counterproductive.
So, your job is to support your users and make sure they achieve everything they want to. Where do you start with that, then?
Why do you need a customer success strategy?
It’s worth investing time and effort into developing your tactics so you can retain more users. This all leads to long-term benefits such as:
- Increasing revenue.
- ROI for your hard work.
- Reducing your churn rate.
- Cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
- Lowering your acquisition costs.
- Gaining a loyal customer base.
- Increasing your online reputation.
Sounds good, right? With all those advantages available, how do you go about setting up your processes? Let’s take a look at the first step.
Here’s a customer success strategy example
You should start things off by developing a methodology. A framework of what’s ahead, step-by-step in the processes you want to develop.
An outline for this framework is below. You can consider this the best customer success strategy template to use:
- Adoption: Where someone learns about your product after leaving the sales/marketing team to start working with your customer success team.
- Retention: Starts when a lead becomes your customers. You’ll need customer retention tactics to keep them with you long-term.
- Expansion: This is about account expansion, such as moving from a freemium model to a paid subscription with you.
- Advocacy: When a loyal customer starts to support your product means you’ve really achieved your goals and can continue to grow. Just remember, it’s the hard work over the previous three steps that helps you achieve this final goal. Something to aim for? Yes!
Remember, expectations will always be different from one user to the next. But you can put in place a proactive strategy to make sure you cover off as many eventualities as possible.
And you should look to remain flexible with your approach. As something could crop up out of the blue, be ready to react quickly and think outside your strategy to get the job done.
SaaS is fast-paced, as you know, and being able to adapt quickly will help your goals big time.
Building out your customer success strategy
There’s a tried and tested way to go about this. A six-step plan to get you up and running. The steps are:
- Make sure you identify your customers’ end goals.
- Then you can build out your customer success team.
- Bring in the right tools.
- Develop out your success roadmap.
- Get your key metrics.
- Identify anything that needs changing (and do so one at a time).
Okay, we’re not leaving it there! Of course not, we’ll now break each step down into actionable points you can follow. 👍
1. Make sure you identify your customers’ end goals
Pretty easy to get going with this one—consider why your customers are buying your product.
All of them have a goal they’re looking to complete. So, it’s down to you to work out what it is. Chances are, with the nature of your product, you’ll already have a pretty decent idea.
But there are a few examples:
- Slack: Exists to help remote/in-house teams communicate more effectively and become more productive.
- Zoom: Wants remote teams to communicate effectively, also helping with productivity and client/customer support.
- Salesforce: Helps its users with a CRM service to help with customer service and marketing automation. In other words, it wants to help users grow and succeed.
- Netflix: A B2C example, but it wants users to watch its movies, enjoy themselves, and so keep on subscribing.
Where do you fit in? To work this out, look at your buyer persona(s) and you can break them down into sections for the variety of end goals you can expect.
It’s a good idea to keep track of your social media mentions and customer service responses to help flesh out your knowledge of your expected users.
What people say about you can speak volumes, providing you with useful feedback to build on your current approach.
2. Then you can build out your customer success team
It’s best industry practice to have your team ready and waiting to support your customers at the drop of a hat.
There are a number of reasons to do this:
- Your customer service will go through the roof.
- Users will meet their end goals more frequently.
- Churn rates will drop as a result.
- You’ll show your customers you’re dedicated to helping them.
To fully commit to this, you’ll need a Customer Success Manager and executives to act in supporting your strategy.
However, this may not be affordable for every business. For example, if you’re a SaaS startup. You might be wondering if there’s a way around that.
The good news? Yes, there is! You can talk to your customers, rely on their feedback, and use your onboarding process to help them as much as possible.
You can also use surveys to gain feedback and use a weekly report card to determine how you’re doing.
There’s also the choice of automated software to help you manage this side of your business—a bit more on this just below. 👇
3. Bring in the right tools
The big question for SaaS businesses is whether you want a manual or automated customer success process. Here’s a little explanation about their key differences:
Manual customer success program: The time-consuming approach, as you’ll have to build and manage this all by yourself. If you have the resources to do this, it provides you with:
A) Complete control over your whole shindig. You can manage your operation as you see fit.
B) Higher trained staff who can deal with all sorts of queries.
C) A deeper understanding of what your users like (or want).
Automated customer success program: This is some software you can use to manage a lot of the burden. With it, you’ll get fancy features such as:
A) Automatic alerts.
B) Customer status reports.
C) Lower waiting times for users.
D) Plus, it provides lower business costs and removes any possibility of pesky human error (like if your exec spills coffee over their keyboard and can’t respond to a query).
Popular automation products include HubSpot, Totango, and Amity. They’re available to help you with your plans, but come at a range of different costs.
They all have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s worth a scan through what’s available before plumping for whatever seems best for you.
You can also often try out free demos for a month or so to get a feel for how they all operate.
4. Develop out your success roadmap
Righto, you may call this a “journey map” or the term above. Either way, you have the same goal.
You want to identify the touchpoints in your customer journey.
You should focus on every bit of their journey, not just one or two areas. You need to make sure you offer support at every possible step.
There are a few best practices to keep in mind here:
- Remember to consider the journey you offer from an outside perspective. You might be making errors that frustrate customers, this’ll help you identify them.
- Identify each handover between departments to understand who’ll be doing what at different stages.
- Make sure you know each success milestone—the steps where people move through your stages. Each one is an achievement in its own right. So be happy! 😁
- Ask for feedback from your loyal customers. About your roadmap. Their honesty can help make it even better.
- Measure, optimize, and improve it where possible. Plus, be willing to admit that not everything is perfect and you can always build on your current approach.
It’s a good idea to now ask yourself a few important questions:
- “What does each step of my journey aim to achieve?”
- “What else could help customers at every stage?”
- “Where can I improve?”
Remember, it’s not a clear cut path to success.
As with many areas of SaaS strategy, you can use best industry practices, make changes where you need to, and keep on trucking until you making things work. 🚚
5. Get your key metrics
SaaS metrics, eh? Without them any business would be lost. Have the below in mind before you make any major changes. Starting by the two key areas you should aim for with metrics:
- Your success as a SaaS product.
- The success of your customers with your product.
So, to target the above two, you’ll want to get a list of key metrics to measure such as:
- Financial gains or losses.
- Customer lifetime value.
- Customer acquisition cost.
- Churn rates.
- Social media engagement.
- NPS (net score promoter).
With an eye on yourself, and the other on your users, you can get a strong understanding of what’s working well in your whole strategy.
And keep your metrics up to date! Weekly or monthly reports are a fantastic way to keep on track of all the latest happenings with your users.
6. Identify anything that needs changing (and do so one at a time)
Right, this is important for when you’re fully up and running. When (or, optimistically, if) you start spotting errors with your whole customer success strategy… don’t panic.
And don’t start making widespread changes in an attempt to find an immediate cure-all.
What you should do is keep calm and take your time. Identify your major change needs first and roll them out one at a time.
Why’s this important? So you can measure what happens after you make the changes.
If you do everything at once, you’ll likely end up having little idea what was causing things to go wrong in the first place.
With a more measured approach, you can weed out the problem.
Here are your essential customer success tips
Time to wrap things up! Remember, preparation is key with your efforts to retain users and meet their expectations.
So, from all of the above here are our key takeaways:
- Learn as much as you can about your ideal customers.
- Make your strategy customer-centric.
- Be patient with your users—the process is, after all, about nurturing them at every step of your process.
- Align your customer success efforts with all your departments. This’ll keep your strategy on track and your service top quality.
- Evolve your process to upcoming and popular new industry trends.
- Don’t be afraid to innovate—if you’ve got a great idea, ask your customers about it, then implement it to see the results.
- Keep providing top quality service after people onboard. It can, in the long-term, keep those churn rates low.