Earlier this month, Customer Success Specialists from all over Toronto (including myself and some colleagues) gathered together for the Totango SaaS Customer Success Event. With guest speakers from Totango, Sysomo, and Salesforce discussing their experience in Customer Success, the event itself was a big success.
The speakers reminded me just how valuable the customer success industry is and how much the practice has grown from traditional Customer Support.
“Customer Success is first and foremost about keeping the promise to the customer “
Guy Nirpaz from Totango began his talk with the above quote on the screen. It’s a quote that we here at Uberflip have had on our whiteboard as a reminder of our mission. He then went on to explain how cloud and SaaS is changing the way Customer Success works.
Today, our role as specialists and managers is to “keep the promise” to our customers. When a customer buys a subscription to your product or service, they are buying in with the goal of fulfilling a need.
They’ll only renew this subscription if they see its value over time. Companies who believe in Customer Success WILL deliver on that promise of results by taking companies on a journey that drives recurring value.
As long as we can help customers stay on this journey, they will stay with us.
Over the course of his presentation, Guy Nirpaz outlined 5 best practices to boost retention that I want to rehash in this post.
1. Avoiding typical retention problems
One of the worst things that can happen as a Customer Success manager is to be blindsided by churn.
"I spoke to them 3 weeks ago, why did they cancel?”
The truth is, if they cancelled, it's because they didn’t see the value. In some way the promise was broken.
Another problem that most of us are guilty of is a concept that was outlined as firefighting or "operating in crisis". For some, that might mean calling a customer who’s cancelled and trying to change their mind by offering various reasons to stay and special offers.
The goal is to stop firefighting and stem the problem before it arises.
2. Implement an early warning system
Implementing an early warning system prevents Customer Success from going into firefighter mode.
Customer Success should have a clear idea of a health score for each customer and at what point a customer needs extra attention. Health scores can include product usage, business outcome, service utilization and customer feedback. It’s important to monitor each customer’s individualized health score based on the facts outlined above to be able to predict and adapt to problems that arise.
Over the course of the evening, Customer Success was compared to portfolio management. Both are always thinking about the next step, fulfilling goals and overseeing who might need help while ultimately keeping in mind the value of the portfolio.
3. Improve Engagement
Guy mentioned that 90% of churn is preceded by poor product usage. As Customer Success Specialists, we are in an industry that is driven by end-users and therefore we must make sure that we create value for every customer.
Here at Uberflip, onboarding is a very thorough and hands-on process. We make sure that our customers learn the ins and outs of the platform in order to maximize the potential of the product and in turn see the value right away.
4. Engage customers the right way
We have all received emails from various reps that annoyed us.
Either they were offering something irrelevant or it just wasn't the right time. Customer Success Specialists need to do more than engage their customers. They need to proactively engage them.
What this means is contacting them at the right time and sending intelligent messages that align with their current needs. Personalized emails will come a long way. At Uberflip, we believe that we check in at the right time and help our customers maximize their product usage by providing tips and best practices with personalized consultations.
5. Empower all customer facing teams with the right data
Lastly, Guy emphasized how each team should have access to the right data. From Sales to Customer Success to Marketing, transparency and visibility is needed for all teams to align their goals and work together. At Uberflip, we use different methods to ensure everyone is on the same page.
First, we hold weekly meetings between Customer Success, Sales and Marketing to discuss updates and the goals each team is working towards. We also display new users, new trials and new MRR on monitors in our office. This is a way to keep everyone in the loop on how things are going.
As a whole, the event reminded me how important our roles are and how important the everyday efforts of a Customer Success team is for the overall well-being of a company.
Our day-to-day is often busy and can be hectic, but every now and then we get some awesome feedback from our customers and it reminds us exactly why we are here.
After all, you know what they say...
“The most important part of SaaS isn’t software. It’s service.”