Saravana Kumar is the founder and CEO of kovai.coa company engaged in Enterprise Software & Knowledge Management Space.
Just 10 to 15 years ago, many software companies didn’t even have a customer success team. So why are we suddenly attaching so much importance to this?
The main reason is that the way software is sold to customers has completely changed. In the past, the customer bought the software, installed it in its environment and arranged maintenance and upgrades in-house. From a supplier’s perspective, you were done with the transaction after the product was sold.
However, with the evolution of SaaS, a sale is never complete because the customer does not technically own anything. The vendor owns the software and the customer only uses your service. Therefore, the burden is on the vendor to upgrade, maintain, and consistently introduce new features and improvements. In some ways, this is a little more risky because the customer has fewer obligations, and if they don’t like the product, they can just email them to cancel the subscription and easily migrate all their data to a new platform.
That’s why customer success is now critical in the SaaS world. To do this, you need to ensure that your product performs, that your customers are taken care of and that you bring the right customers to your product.
Understanding buyer persona
A successful product usually addresses a specific customer pain point. That is why it is extremely important to attract the right kind of customers. Even if a small percentage of your customers don’t turn out to be the right match, you’re still trying to meet their requirements, which may not be in your feature roadmap for your product. To do this right, you need to understand your buyer persona and devise a strategy to attract them.
To build a buyer persona, it helps to have a deep understanding of what problem the product solves. Once customers are acquired, collect data on what types use your product, how they use them, the value they derive from it, industries they come from, their geographic locations, behavior patterns, etc.
Narrowing your target customers also helps design marketing campaigns and manage advertising costs.
Mapping the customer journey
A well-executed customer journey has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by: 20%.
A customer’s journey begins before he becomes a paying customer. For example, when a customer signs up for a trial period, the kind of welcome email they receive and the follow-up activities of the presales team can make all the difference.
Any demo to the customer should be custom made where possible, and the overall evaluation of the tool should be a big part of the experience. It helps to double check every step in the travel and remove any friction at all contact points.
For example, a common block in e-commerce is cart abandonment due to unexpected delivery charges, taxes, or card issues. It’s important to resolve such issues through things like a checkout or FAQ that explains taxes and delivery charges in advance. Make sure you also have dedicated teams to help customers at every touchpoint.
Holding the customer during the onboarding journey
Onboarding is critical to achieving customer success and should be aligned with every customer experience. Customer success is determined by how we take care of them once they sign up. This can be done by ensuring that we check in with customers often and confirm that they are using the portal and features they intended when they signed up to get the most value from the product.
Other methods by which customers can continue to succeed include providing timely updates, listening to their requirements, and analyzing support tickets or questions they have asked.
To make this process seamless, I recommend investing in your migration, customer success, and customer support teams to initially retain customers as they learn to use your product.
Every organization needs to keep its customer success and customer satisfaction teams working together to attract and retain long-term customers. Long-term customers are key to providing you with cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
Keeping customers engaged
In a competitive market like SaaS, it is important to keep customers engaged. One way to do this is to contact them via email and phone to get their feedback. It can help prove that you listen to feedback and want to provide a great customer experience.
A 2019 survey by Survey Monkey found that “91% of people believe companies should drive innovation by listening to buyers and customers, compared to just 31% who think they should hire experts.” Feedback can help you identify new pain points that develop over time. This helps to fix bugs and develop the right features, which ultimately helps to keep customers.
Merkle’s “2019 Loyalty Barometer Report” found that: 61% (download required) of the customers say that discounts, offers and gifts are the best way to engage them. Some other cost-effective ways to engage customers include community-building events such as podcasts and physical meetings that can help customers get more value from your product.
Align your team with the brand’s prospects
If your brand philosophy is customer obsession, your employees need to show it. Communicate clearly with your employees about the experience your customers should have at each stage.
Invest in training that can help them interact with your specific customers and become familiar with the product. Make sure you also give them the necessary tools to do their job effectively, be it customer relationship management software, apps to record and analyze customer feedback, etc.
A satisfied customer can be identified in three ways:
1. How intensively and often they use the product.
2. Their enthusiasm or the way they react when we contact them for feedback or to let them know about new updates.
3. Buy more licenses for the product.
If any of the above doesn’t happen to a customer, it’s time you worked on improving their experience.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.