Congratulations! You have successfully made the case for Customer Success and your organization has realized that investing in a customer success program will help provide more value to your customers.
However, recognizing the need for a customer success program and actually working on implementing one are two completely different stories. Even if you see the merits, you will eventually face your first roadblock, which is, where to begin?
Well, before you even walk down the road of customer success, you need to begin at the starting line. The starting line is all about the basics. To help you out, here are the things you need to know before venturing out into customer success territory.
Know your product and service
Before thinking about any customer success strategy, you have to have a deep understanding of your own offering. Know the value proposition of your product, why customers sign up in the first place. Know which specific problems your product solves, and what the best practices and configurations that provide the optimum experience to your customers are.
You should also be aware of the current limitations of your product. Knowing these limitations can present opportunities for future improvements, which could lead to a better product, and ultimately happier customers.
Know your pricing
How did you arrive at your price point? Does the value your customers achieve from your product commensurate with the money they spend? You must know and understand the model used to determine your current prices. Know the factors that were used, including how your customers are charged (per user, per license, etc.) and what the billing (i.e. renewal dates) system looks like.
Pro tip: A lot of SaaS companies usually employ a mix of fixed and flexible prices. The fixed price serves as the baseline and the flexible components allow for other revenue channels like upselling.
Know your current customer lifecycle
Take a step further and go beyond the sales lifecycle. Customer success is all about the entire customer experience from beginning to end, and that goes beyond just acquisition.
Determine who your marketing team is targeting the product or service for and learn about the strategies used. Find out how the sales team closes transactions to learn about what kind of expectations they are setting for customers they have signed. This will be especially helpful to create and review your onboarding process.
It doesn’t just end there. Dig into things the business is already doing to keep existing customers engaged with your company. You’ll need to evaluate whether these actions are effective in preventing churn.
Lastly, you’ll have to check your churn rate to get insight on why current customers are deciding to leave your business.
Know your customers
Get insight on the basic profile of your average user. As mentioned above, you have to know who you are targeting and who the sales team is closing as it will help you build retention strategies. Ultimately, you have to know your user base, whether that’s job title or demographics. For example, if your product is targeting the millennial market, it would be prudent to know that they give more consideration to social responsibility and sustainability over price, which means that you cannot market about cost savings alone.
This also gives you the opportunity to learn if you are on the right track. Set meetings with your sales, marketing, product, and support team and ask them to describe their ideal customer. This will provide insight on who each department thinks is the best target. The data accumulated from these findings will help you consolidate the opinions of each department, which are more often than not siloed from each other.
Review customer feedback
The best way to find out what your customers need is to ask them. In a post about data being the path to sales for SaaS providers, I emphasized the need for feedback data to provide the best customer experience possible.
Aside from customer support, look into opening every feedback channel, including bug reporting tools and feature request tools etc. This should also include the different features of your product to understand where your customers are, which features they use the most, and which of them get ignored.
This will give you an idea of how your customers use your product and can help put into perspective any improvements that might be needed. You can also reconcile the data with the information you have on your existing users to see if they match or if there is a major disconnect between what your customers want and what the team is making.
Once you gain these insights, you can continue on your journey through that long, rewarding road we all know as Customer Success. From here onwards, identify more specific action points that you can take, such as engaging existing customers, looking for upsell opportunities, and identifying the right KPIs and metrics to measure the success of your initiatives. Customer success is not an easy path, but gaining knowledge and understanding about these key points will most certainly make it easier.
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