Did you know that 86% of customers are willing to pay for a better customer experience?
That’s why SaaS companies make it their priority to provide one for their customers.
But, wait! Isn’t this an article about customer success, not customer experience? You’re right! Don’t worry, you’re in the right place!
Customer success and customer experience are inextricably linked. That is to say, without a customer success strategy in place, you can’t have a good customer experience.
That’s because the SaaS business model relies on keeping customers satisfied so they can renew their subscriptions—and the best way to keep customers satisfied is to make sure they’re achieving their business goals with your product.
Customer success helps you keep their satisfaction scores high so you can grow your own business the way you want.
If you want to learn more about leveraging customer success, keep reading.
What is Customer Success in SaaS?
In the words of Lincoln Murphy, a leading expert in SaaS customer success:
“Customer success is simply ensuring that your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.”
Basically, to attain customer success, you have to be proactive in helping your users achieve their desired outcomes and provide an exceptional product experience while doing so. This means that you first have to entice customers to use your product and then enable them to find value in it at every turn.
If you manage to do so, you will be well on your way to establishing a long-term relationship with your customers.
By making customer success your own, you create happy clients who are more likely to stay with you and use your product long-term. Which, in the end, leads to increased recurring revenue for your business.
It’s important to note here that many people confuse customer success with customer support. Both share similarities and common goals (i.e., helping customers), but their approaches are vastly different.
While both ensure customer satisfaction, customer support has a short-term impact, while customer success is more of a long-term strategy.
Customer support is reactive.
Its purpose is to help customers solve problems when they happen. The support team’s interaction with the customers usually begins when the problem first occurs and ends when they find a solution. After that, they typically don’t interact unless a new problem occurs.
Customer success, on the other hand, implies a proactive approach and building an ongoing relationship.
The customer success team anticipates problems and works with customers to understand their business goals. Their role is consultative, which means they check in with the customers regularly to ensure the customer continuously derives value from the product.
In the end, SaaS businesses have to keep their customers happy, so they continue renewing their subscriptions. Prioritizing customer success means doing exactly that.
SaaS Customer Success Best Practices
As you may have concluded, the question isn’t whether you need customer success for your SaaS business. It is what you need to do to ensure you have the best customer success strategy to improve your business.
When customers are your main focus, you need to implement practices that will make users more engaged with your product and help them to derive more value from it. So here are our tips for achieving that.
1. Educate Your Customers
One of your customer success teams’ most important roles is to educate customers about your product. How?
The customer success team can monitor user’s behavior and look into where they encounter problems. If there’s an issue with using a specific feature, they’ll reach out to the customer to help them.
For example, you can educate your customers through an onboarding email sequence. Here’s an example of how Zapier does that:
That way, you can give customers all the information they need to start using the product independently and ensure they continue to have the best experience with your product.
But there’s more.
As your team gathers data about your customers, they will notice patterns and common issues. This will give you insight into where product improvements are needed.
What is more, the assembled data will allow you to create an FAQ or a knowledge base about your product that the customers can access at any time.
The knowledge base is a repository of information that answers the most frequently asked questions about the product. It can also contain tutorials and guides on how to use specific features.
Basically, a knowledge base is a comprehensive library of information designed to help customers find what they need with ease. Look at the example below from Airtable.
As you can see, Airtable has categorized the main topics their customers are the most interested in, but they also provide a search bar so the customer can find articles based on a specific topic.
Their knowledge base is easy to navigate, and customers can quickly find what they need.
Airtable knows that when customers are properly educated about using a product, they will become ‘’power users’’ and use it more frequently.
That way, the customers integrate the product into their daily lives, and they will have a hard time giving it up. So, the company can expect them to stick with the product and renew their subscriptions month after month.
You also need to remember that customer education empowers your users for independent problem-solving, which means less on-demand work for your customer success team. They won’t have to check in with customers as regularly as before, and they’ll have much better control of guiding users to achieve their goals.
In short, a customer success strategy enables you to create relevant educational content to empower users to interact with your product efficiently.
2. Have a Good Onboarding Process
If customer success is dedicated to customers finding value in your product, then onboarding is the first step in achieving that.
Onboarding is the process of helping the users incorporate a SaaS product into their routine and keeping them engaged. The goal is to get each new customer to see the value in your product from the moment they sign in.
So, when a customer signs in and starts using your product for the first time, you must guide them to their Aha! Moment. That is the moment when a user realizes your product is a good solution for their problem.
With a series of carefully planned steps, your customer success team can get them to that realization.
What they need to do is to create a good onboarding experience that will be short, frictionless, and personalized.
Let’s see how the SaaS company Evernote used these principles to create an excellent onboarding experience.
If you want to use their product, you first have to fill in a signup form.
In their signup form, there are only two fields. This is a good practice because customers can quickly fill those in and get to the next step.
Your signup forms should generally be short because you want to provide quick access to your product. If you need more information from the customer, you can ask for it later.
After that, the customers are sent to the welcome screen.
Now it’s time for the personalization part. This is where you adjust the onboarding process so that it suits the customer’s specific needs.
You can focus on showing them essential features that will benefit them the most. In that way, you can guide the customer to the first Aha! Moment much faster.
Evernote first asks what your specific use case is.
Will you use the product for school, work, or personal purposes? After that, you can choose which one of their three main features interest you the most.
Do you want to use Evernote for project planning, notes, or make to-do lists?
Because they asked what the customer needs, they can now focus on showing them how to use that specific feature and prove their value to the customer.
This walkthrough focuses on showing the customer how to take notes.
Evernote’s onboarding was short and straightforward. It included several essential steps from the signup form to the final modal window. It also included personalization, which helped the company get the customer to their Aha! Moment fast and show them the basics that serve their use case.
And finally, the entire experience was frictionless because customers quickly navigated the entire process with minimal clicking, thus going through the checklist fast.
The key takeaway here is that you should use onboarding to provide value fast and create a good customer experience with your product from the very beginning.
3. Use Feedback Loops
One of the biggest challenges product managers face nowadays is prioritizing the right products and features.
Creating a product is relatively easy, but finding customers who will derive value from it and use it regularly is hard. Only when you find users who will be the right fit for your product can you succeed.
This is where you can leverage feedback loops.
A feedback loop is a process where the customer success team talks to customers and then makes product improvements based on their responses. So, based on their feedback, the customer success team helps other departments prioritize tasks and develop features that offer users specific value.
Here is how it works.
First, decide how your customer success team will collect user feedback. One popular way is by using CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score). This metric measures the customers’ in-app experiences.
For example, you can measure the impact of specific features or the customers’ onboarding experience.
So, you will send the customer a question like this:
It is very simple and easy to understand, and all the customer needs to do is rate their experience.
The best part of CSAT surveys is that they enable you to gather valuable information from many customers about specific user experiences. So, after a customer experiences an Aha! Moment, send them a CSAT survey to measure their satisfaction.
If you get a 6, you successfully showed your customer why your product is a good solution for them! If you get a 3, you might ask additional questions to understand why the customer wasn’t happy.
After gathering all of this information, your customer success team should analyze the customers’ answers to understand what works and what needs improvement.
For example, maybe customers reach their Aha! Moment late, which causes them to churn, so you’ll need to create shorter tutorials.
After data analysis, the next step is to implement the changes into the product. The customer success team should communicate with the right department, so the necessary changes are made as soon as possible.
Customers want their problems solved immediately, and they won’t wait a year for you to fix a simple onboarding issue.
Now that you’ve built features that your customers need, you need to close the loop by informing the customer about the new changes. This is an essential step because it shows you value their opinion.
When customers know their voices are heard, they will be more likely to recommend your company and product to others. Slack understands and even highlights that in their “new feature” emails
Feedback loops ensure customers get what they want from a company’s product but also direct the company’s focus on essential features of their product. Using a feedback loop creates happy customers and great products, which is a good combination to build a successful company.
4. Be Proactive
Being proactive means having information readily available and preparing customers for the next phases in their goal achievement.
When you do that, you’re setting new standards in customer experience. If you’re fast, efficient, and helpful, 86% of consumers will be willing to pay more for your product.
Basically, being proactive results in two things:
- providing a great customer experience
- ensuring revenue growth for your company
So, how do you do that?
A wonderful solution that helps customer success teams worldwide is the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. SaaS companies use this technology to manage customer relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle–from the first signup to the cancellation.
With a CRM system, you can monitor user behavior, store data, and provide support for your customers. In a nutshell, CRM provides you with relevant data that you can use to engage with your customers proactively.
For example, if you monitor how customers use your product, you can notice when they’re not using some features to the fullest.
Then you can send them emails like these to motivate them to use those features more.
For instance, Evernote tracked their customer’s first milestone (sending an email to Evernote), but they wanted to show the customer how to use this feature to the fullest. They provide advice right in the email with four short steps the customer should follow.
By monitoring their customer’s behavior, Evernote saw an opportunity to show the customer how to enhance their interaction with the product, thus providing more value for them.
The company delivered the right information (advice on sending emails) at the right time (after the customer sent their first email). As a result, the customer is likely to be more confident in using Evernote’s product and fully integrate it into their daily routine.
What you should learn from Evernote is that a proactive approach generates effective product engagement.
You’re showing customers relevant information and anticipate their future needs before customers even realize them by themselves.
This is a surefire way of providing more value to your users and improving customer loyalty, which is at the core of every customer success strategy.
5. Offer Multiple Ways for Customers to Contact You
Communication is a two-way street, and if you want to maintain long-term relationships with your customers, you also need to make it easy for customers to contact you.
As mentioned before, customers want their problems resolved quickly, so you need to have different communication methods available.
Customers prefer contacting customer success teams via email, but they also use other channels. Phone calls are the second most popular channel, followed by the contact form. By integrating call center software, you take phone call customer support to a desired level. What this shows is that customers have a variety of preferences when it comes to communication.
So you should cater to those needs and offer users multiple ways to get in touch with your customer success team.
The most straightforward way is to have a dedicated contact page on your website.
Many SaaS companies have created wonderful contact pages where customers can find their email addresses, social media accounts or directly fill in a contact form. They make it very easy for current and prospective customers to contact the customer success team.
But let’s see an example so you can see how it works for real companies.
Here’s Salesforce’s homepage.
Their ‘Contact Us’ link is located right at the top of their homepage. Next to it, they helpfully provided a phone number.
This creates a more frictionless experience for the customer because after they reach Salesforce’s homepage, all they need to do is to pick up their phone and dial the number immediately.
Alternatively, if they don’t want to talk, they can click on the Contact Us link, which leads them to the following page:
Here, Salesforce provides even more options to cater to their customer’s needs. We can see a large contact form, an additional phone number, and a live chat feature.
It is now up to the customer to choose their preferred method of communication. Then they can get their problems solved quickly with the customer success team.
When customers have multiple ways for communication with your customer success team, it can further nurture a positive experience your customers will have with your company.
You’re presenting yourself as an accessible company willing to help. This makes customers feel valued, and their loyalty to your company and product will increase.
In the end, customers are the center of every SaaS business, so you need to take care of them. When you make your customers successful, you can be successful as well.
So make sure you use customer success strategies to improve customer retention and get customers to use your product more frequently. That way, they’ll extract more value from your product, and you’ll reduce your churn.
In the long term, you can expect sustainable growth, simply because you have recognized your customers’ needs on time.