Are you suffering from Customer Overload?

December 15, 2015 Paul Philp

For fast-growing SaaS companies, life is good in many ways. It means there is healthy demand for the product and sales are climbing. The best part is that the revenue is a recurring cash flow.

But it also creates a new and challenging problem:  SaaS companies have to build proactive relationships to keep that recurring revenue coming in. They need to effectively and constantly manage customers in real-time to ensure customers are successful. Without the ability to focus on the right customer at the right time, SaaS businesses often suffer from a bad case of “Customer Overload”.

It is the feeling of being powerless. You know something is going to hit you hard but you just don’t when or who. Even worse, there is nothing you can do about it.

Customer Overload happens when there is not enough information about your customers. It takes hold when the information you do have is scattered in a variety of locations, which doesn’t provide a holistic view of your customers.

Customer Overload means you are reactive instead proactive. The most recent fires attract a majority of your time and attention, rather than addressing problems for customers who have the biggest impact - financially and otherwise - on the business.

Typical strategies to deal with Customer Overload are far from effective because there is a lack of structure and processes. Instead, your “toolbox” includes the following approaches;

  1. Your inbox is the priority manager. Customers who complain the loudest attract too much of your time, regardless of their size or value. Meanwhile, your best customers, who may not be as vocal or needy, fail to get as much attention.

  2. You are making educated guesses, rather than decisions based on solid information and actionable insight. It is not a focused or smart way to operate because it is based on intuition or gut feel, rather than intelligence.

  3. You are using manual techniques and tools such as lists, white boards and sticky notes. Uberflip, for example, was using a 30-foot long whiteboard to manage customer success - an approach that could not scale or effectively establish priorities. [Note: Uberflip abandoned the whiteboard when it implemented Amity.]

  4. You are using spreadsheets to make daily or weekly updates, but you spend more time organizing customers than working with customers. We all know how much fun it can be managing a business using Excel, right!

The biggest problem with these scenarios is they lead to nasty surprises. They don’t provide timely and relevant information to drive customer success. It means being taken aback when a large customer says they have decided to do a competitive review or move to a rival, or your churn rate suddenly jumps to 7% from 2% but you don’t know why it is happening.

In many ways, Customer Overload is like managing your finances using a shoebox. 

It is a backward way to manage customers. Given it is easier to keep existing customers than attract new customers, customer success needs to be a strategic priority. It needs to be more than email, spreadsheets and whiteboards.

If you are suffering from Customer Overload, it is time to embrace a new approach. You need to seriously think about more efficient and smarter ways to determine how customer success should be handled and prioritized.

You need to know the high-value customers to focus on. You need to be proactive to address potential problems and jump on exciting opportunities, rather than being reactive and defensive. It is different way of doing business and managing customers.

Fast-growing SaaS companies can’t afford to suffer from Customer Overload because it throttles growth and makes them competitively vulnerable. It forces companies to operate from a position of weakness, rather than being top of their customers’ needs and interests.

If you’re struggling with Customer Overload, Amity can show you how powerful customer success software will make your life easier and your customers happier and more successful.

About the Author

Paul Philp

Paul Philp is a leading innovator in SaaS and Customer Success. As Founder and CEO of Amity, Paul has spoken with Customer Success professionals from over 1,000 SaaS providers. Paul has a lifelong passion for helping business put customers first.

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