What impact is your Customer Success team having?

January 13, 2016 Matthew McLaren

Issue 71 - What impact is your Customer Success team having?

Your customers are going through a journey with you. Your Customer Success team plays an important role in how they experience the journey. So how do you make sure that your Customer Success team is making the required impact along the way? In this issue of the SaaS Tattler we discuss how to make sure your Customer Success team is making the required impact.

You’re a Customer Success Hero, Now Get the Shirt! For a limited time we are offering a free Customer Success Hero shirt for anyone who attends a public demo.

Why is Customer Success Important? A Guide of SaaS Companies

Let’s start with the basics. Can Customer Success really be held with the same importance of sales, marketing and product departments? In a market filled with competition, it’s worthwhile for your business to have loyal customers. It’s simple, if your customers are happy then your MRR can continue to be a stable resource. In this article, Benjamin Brandall provides a guide to the importance of Customer Success for SaaS companies.

Your competitors will steal your unhappy customers

Disgruntled customers who didn’t get the support (or even explanations) they wanted will seek out your competitors.

If your competitor is smart, they’ll have a great Customer Success team who will get them set up with the product the same day the bill goes through. They’ll make certain that the customer is happy, and set up to get the most value they can out of the product.

Since 2009, the popularity of customer success has increased 800%. It’s not becoming something which differentiates a great company from a good one — it’s becoming a requirement.

It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is or how many deals you close, if customers experience the disconnect between promise and reality and it isn’t patched up by a Customer Success team, you’re going to get a high rate of churn.

What Does "Customer Success" Mean for SaaS Startups

Still having trouble accepting churn? Well, it’s just part of being a SaaS company. We may not be able to remove it completely but we can take action to reduce it. Customer Success is the recurring revenue business’ response to churn. It’s the reason why people are starting to take Customer Success very seriously. In this article, Liam Gooding helps ensure that your customers are realizing greater success in their business.

Customer Success Metrics

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” – Lord Kelvin

We need to understand the basic metrics around customer success so that we can improve it. The problem is, the most obvious metric is actually one of the least useful:

Churn % (Revenue and no. Customers)

Churn is a trailing metric. Which means by the time it has happened, the customer has already left and there isn’t much you can do about it. At the end of the month when we know our churn rate got worse, from 1% to 2.4%, there’s not much we can do about those extra 1.4% of customers. All we can do is look backwards at the month, see where we went wrong, and put changes in place to not repeat those mistakes. 

It’s important to track Churn as a % of number of customer accounts lost, and Churn as a % of recurring revenue lost.

If we’re churning a high number of customers, but hardly churning any revenue, then that paints a picture that we’re losing a huge number of our very small users (maybe hobby or developer accounts) but we’re keeping around our bigger business and enterprise customers. From there, we can look at whether we can make our smaller customers more successful and perhaps learn from what we’re doing with the bigger customers.

Benchmarks for Customer Success

For some departments measuring success using external benchmarks is an effective way to get ahead of your competition. Not for the Customer Success department. Instead, the use of internal benchmarks is a much more for effective way to improve satisfaction within your accounts. In this article, Sabrina Bozek explains why internal benchmarks are better suited for Customer Success. 

Why internal benchmarks for customer success make more sense:

1. Only your own data will point you to where your company is missing the mark.

A competitor’s NPS has nothing to do with the way your business performs. Looking elsewhere is a distraction from the specific items you need to change to impact customer success. Sure, seeing a competitor with a high score may propel your company to want to improve, but shouldn’t you strive to do that anyway? Creating internal benchmarks for success will actually help accomplish the goal.

2. Internal benchmarks for different parts of the business tell a more complete story that help prioritize action.

Your questionnaire should ask about specific parts of your company that give better insight into where customers think you fall short and what you do well. For example, you could ask them to rate the Account Manager, Ease of Getting Support, the Technology you provide, and/or Quality of Training.

6 Ways to Anticipate, Delivery, and Measure Customer Satisfaction

What else can you do to measure impact? Survey them. Keeping your customers happy is the key to keep them coming back. Making this usage data actionable can help your business create brand advocates. In this article, Jennifer Lonoff Schiff offers 6 tips to keep your customers happy.

3. Survey them -- via email or after a customer service call. "Measure customer satisfaction by creating a short, three to four question survey," says Jennifer Martin, a business coach at Zest Business Consulting.

"Decide what results you are looking for and create the scale for what the answers might be, indicating what a 1 is (i.e., service is nothing special) and [what] a 10 might be (i.e., I LOVE working with you [or You met my every] need)," Martin says. Just remember that people are pressed for time, so "only ask the most pertinent questions. And if you don't know what they really want, ask them 'What would you say is the most important thing we can provide you?' as a fill-in-the blank."

Another "easy way to measure customer satisfaction is through a simple, binary survey at the conclusion of each customer support interaction," says Timothy Delaney, vice president Customer Success at Directworks, which provides sourcing software for manufacturers. "For example, we use the Zendesk customer service software platform, and a simple 'Good -- I'm Satisfied' or 'Bad -- I'm Unsatisfied' rating for each help desk ticket is captured. Zendesk also lets you measure your results against the aggregated scores of other Zendesk customers in your industry, and provides an easy to use feed to our corporate website so the whole world can see how we are performing."

As for how often you should survey customers, there is no general consensus -- except to not to do it so frequently (e.g., daily, weekly or even monthly) that it becomes an annoyance.

The Best of Customer Success Today

Uberflip has embraced a focused and structured approach to drive customer success and better customer engagement, while dramatically reducing churn. Uberflip: a Case Study in Scaling Customer Success.

What Makes Customer Success to Tick More Than Traditional Support? Although Customer Success Management is a relatively new term used within software business, its concept is rather simple.

David Bowie died. I had read the headline a few times before I understood. Was this some David Bowie stunt or art piece. Ziggy Stardust doesn’t die. Where’s my Five Years warning? Four Lessons We Can Learn From David Bowie’s Life.

Customer success in SaaS has gone from a buzzword to the weapon of choice to increase conversions, improve customer happiness, and decrease churn for recurring revenue businesses. SaaS Customer Success: The secret to reducing churn and increasing MRR.

Every week I issue this roundup of relevant articles from the customer success industry so we can learn from each other and share best practices. If you like what you read here, please consider forwarding to others. New reader? Subscribe.

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About the Author

Matthew McLaren

Matthew McLaren works as a Digital Marketing Manager at Amity. His passion for creative design has motivated him to explore the many uses of technology.

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