For SaaS companies today, there are many aspects of their business to consider when creating and measuring success. What you may not realize is that regardless of your SaaS (software-as-a-service) product or the industry you’re in, excelling in Customer Success (CS) can be a key component to low churn rates and successful business growth.
Hence, Customer Success Management (CSM), coupled with a solid strategy, results (on average) in decreased customer churn, increased upsell opportunities, and renewals. This is because the CSM is there to shift the focus of customer success from providing reactive solutions to anticipating the needs of the customers, while proactively working on a predictive strategy. The CSM must understand the customer base and focus on solving the customer’s long-term needs, essentially bridging a gap and providing them with timely value propositions along the way.
I recently joined the SaaS Nordic podcast during their SaaS Nordic Breakfast event. Together with my Pexip colleague Kirstin Buttle-Ulvin, Director of Customer Success, and other experts in the Nordics, we had the opportunity to tackle important issues around Customer Success. Topics we discussed included: how to know when a SaaS company needs a CS function, how to know when the CS Team should involve themselves with upsells, and how to know if your CS strategy is working.
In case you missed the podcast, here are our top five tips for effective Customer Success:
- Know your data. Make sure everyone on your team understands your customer base by segments, verticals, average life span, product, adoption and churn. The more data you have in your customer portfolio, the better positioned you will be to create and navigate strategies for the company’s customer journey.
- Understand where your company falls within the spectrum of Customer Success. CS will naturally look different for a startup company compared to a scaleup, or a company with a high-profile brand. Customer Success will evolve in parallel with the company and its shifts in goals, targeting, and business strategy. Always keep the big picture in mind when planning your strategy, and make sure your team is aligned with larger company goals.
- Find the right people for your team. Getting the right people on the job is essential for understanding your customers’ specific needs and knowing how to address them. A good Customer Success Manager needs to be curious, driven, excellent at problem solving, and have good business acumen. Find people who are able to immerse themselves in their customers’ needs and understand the strategies and goals the company is trying to achieve. This holistic approach will translate into real value for the customer - and your business! Understanding the unique challenges faced by your customers and then being able to create solutions that adapt to the customer’s changing needs is key to a great CS offering.
- Track the customer journey. Every part of the customer journey is important to track, as it allows you to understand where your customers are in their individual journeys. Pexip has been successful in our Customer Success strategies due to our focus on agility; we strive to adapt with our customers to meet their changing needs. Last month, Pexip was recognized by Frost & Sullivan for the 2021 Customer Value Leadership Award in the video conferencing industry.
This recognition is a testimony to how Pexip has helped customers transition throughout the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes it caused in workplace needs. Understanding the shifts in our customers' pain points and priorities as they adapt to this “new normal” has been an important part of our recent strategy. This includes pre-sales, a solid onboarding (more on that below), ensuring adoption happens in the right way and at the right pace, and staying vigilant of warning triggers. Warning triggers can be, for example, no usage of the product or service during a designated period of time, low activation rates, and overall adoption. It really just depends on the initial purpose of the purchase.
- Focus on onboarding. This is really where the journey with the customer begins and where the foundation for success is formulated. In failing to properly onboard a customer, you might end up with a customer who has never adopted your software or service, and subsequently, churn is imminent. Time is of the essence here, as the customer is dependent on you to activate the value for them. The sooner you can start the onboarding process, the faster you will deliver value to your customer.
The onboarding process is where you, together with your customer, create a success plan for implementing and executing on the initial value. This starts with a meeting where you really listen to the customer and try to understand what problem requires solving for them. Once we understand their unique challenges we can create a time-to-value plan and really get to activating the customer. The process of onboarding will define how well we can solve their problem, create value, and meet the expectations that were initially sold in. After a customer is onboarded they should be fully trained, adoption should be high, and there should be a clear plan for their customer journey.
If you let it, Customer Success can be a major key to your company's success. By understanding your data, your company's goals, and your customer's unique needs, you'll be well on your way to helping your business grow. Learn more about Pexip's open positions on our Customer Success team.
Written with contribution from Jeanine Howard, Customer Success Manager.