Customer Success is a new buzzword in technology conferences around the world.
But very much like all other buzzwords, people struggle to understand what it means and if it is applicable to their line of business.
For executives and investors, it’s a philosophy that puts the client’s accomplishments and, ultimately, happiness at the top of their priority list. For revenue teams, it’s a sales tool that shows clients how serious they are about solving their needs.
The need to manage success is not a debate within the SaaS community.
But, tech leaders are battling to understand what the success journey should look like for their clients and, therefore, can’t measure it. The lack of metrics makes justifying the large initial investment in success teams and campaigns nearly impossible.
Customer Success looks and feels different for every company.
Variables such as customer base, product, and culture, shape how the customer success journey is designed. As organisations evolve through their life cycle, success morphs and evolves too. How you measure success today will most likely not be how you measure success tomorrow.
Some of our clients look at feature usage, others at renewal rates, while some focus on churn, and others obsess over up-sell figures. These are all correct and critical figures to look at to build and measure a great customer success journey.
While your organisation is still crawling, you won’t have a lot of data to look at, but it doesn’t mean you can’t lay the foundations for your customer success journey.
You can determine the key features that make your product “sticky”, and design your customer success journey around making sure every single one of your clients is aware and understands how those functions can help them solve their business needs. This process should be short and sweet, a webinar or a series of automated e-mail campaigns. Measuring the data behind the customer behaviour inside your tool will help you fine tune those initiatives.
When you have learned how to walk, your sales process should be robust, the market segmented, the sales and marketing should be aligned, and your product team should be working hard to keep your product at the top of the food chain.
So churn will become your biggest worry.
Understanding why your customers might leave is a key aspect of building your customer success journey. Among the many reasons why clients choose to leave, unhappiness with the purchased solution is the top one, followed by low usage amongst users. Your client’s inability to make the technology successful within their organisation is likely the result of poor guidance.
At this stage, a structured onboarding process will enable clients to create the bare bones of the structure of their system and help them with the difficult task of driving adoption. Offering this support shows that your company is as serious as them about making the project successful. Throughout this phase, the best way to measure success is looking at your adoption and retention rates.
At more mature stages of the lifecycle, it is time to run.
Looking at not only retaining your clients, but also growing and expanding their accounts. In order to nurture and grow high potential accounts, it’s important to evolve your customer success journey past your account managers, onboarding team and support team.
This means having dedicated customer success managers that look at account success individually, and connect with clients proactively to help them benefit more from your solution. Clients are always too busy with their own daily activities, but most will welcome meaningful connections in relation to advanced functionality that is not being used and can help alleviate workload, operate better or have more visibility. At this stage, companies can start looking at negative churn.
Negative churn = Renewals – Churn + Upsell.
Negative churn or Net Retention is ultimately the best way to measure the impact of success management in an organisation and a way to put a dollar figure value to it.
You might not have the historical data and the volume of clients to measure negative churn, but remember that your success journey is always a work in progress and it needs to grow and evolve with your company. And if you are investing less than 10% of your profit in customer success, I am afraid you are leaving a whole lot of money on the table.
What are your thoughts on customer success management and negative churn? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below:
To read more of Daphne’s insights into the world of tech, read her thoughts on SpaceX and an article we put together on Daphne’s career background in retail and chemistry.