What is the role of customer success in SaaS? SaaS Customer Success teams help customers get the most value out of the software the company offers. This is done through tools and strategies that a Customer Success team implements.
The main difference between a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company and other companies is the online connection between the company and the customer every time the user logs into the application. This establishes a channel for communication and automation above and beyond the use of the product itself.
This communication channel goes both ways. Generally, every action inside the product is monitored in usage logs. But you can also make announcements to customers, let them request support and generally create a full 24/7 online experience that connects the client to the company.
Creative SaaS companies push this to the limit. They collect as much data as they can, analyze it and open as many communication channels as they can to ensure the user is getting the best possible experience.
Moreover, they don’t limit that experience to "inside the product." Rather, they integrate it across their websites, mobile, email so that from the customer point of view, it's just one positive online experience with the company.
SaaS companies use a recurring revenue model, meaning they invest a lot of money up front to acquire customers—often more than a customer's initial annual payment. Their business is predicated on customers staying around for a long time. If customers are not successful, they churn and the company goes out of business.
Add to this the fact that there's a large amount of "self-service" in SaaS, especially with today’s big push for "product led growth." If you leave everything up to your customers to do on their own, the chances are greater that they'll fail.
As a SaaS company, you need the ability to intervene with failing customers at scale, using a robust Customer Success platform, and get them back on the path to success. You don’t need to give every customer the white glove service all the time. You need to quickly identify the ones who need it and give them the white glove treatment fast for as long as necessary.
Since customer success is becoming an increasingly important part of the SaaS industry, you must put an emphasis on it if you want your business to grow and thrive. Therefore, you need employees who are dedicated to helping your customers succeed.
Your Customer Success team will accompany your customers on their journeys and stay around for the entire customer lifecycle, the stages consumers go through to get from being prospects to becoming longtime customers. Typically, there is an onboarding stage, an adoption stage, a success stage and a renewal stage.
Along the way, however, teams face a number of challenges, including:
Monitoring customer usage of your product
Maintaining a relationship with each client
Helping users find value in your product
Listening to your customers' voices
Educating your clients on the use of your product
Customer Success teams are becoming increasingly important in SaaS business-to-business sales organizations. The role of this team is to cultivate customer relationships to ensure that customers are successful in adopting a product, are satisfied with their purchases and become customers for life.
The goals of this team include:
Reducing user onboarding time
Establishing a program to nurture customers
Encouraging clients to adopt high-value features
Increasing upsell opportunities
Focusing on ensuring at-risk customers renew their contracts
You also need a manager to supervise your dedicated team. The manager works directly with your customers to ensure they're getting what they need from your products and acts as a liaison between sales and service.
In addition, your manager analyzes your customers' goals, determines the steps necessary to reach these goals and takes action to ensure they're met.
Once you have your team in place, you can share some best practices with them so they can take your strategy to the next level:
Establish a clear onboarding process
Understand how your customers view success
Personalize the user experience
Prioritize user training
Proactively contact customers
Deploy a customer feedback loop
Set realistic expectations
Monitor your customers' activities to measure their health scores
Identify and leverage upselling opportunities
To learn even more on how to create an efficient - and successful - Customer Success strategy, read our blogpost about Customer Success Strategies for Every Business.
There are a number of ways you can measure this, the most important of which is churn. That is: How many customers do you lose every month or every year?
Your churn rate will be low if your customers are happy with your product. However, if they find companies that offer cheaper, better products or products that are easier to use, your churn rate will be high.
An equally important metric is that of possible upsells. This is in one way a change in mindset for a Customer Success manager - from being on the defense to reduce churn, to a play on offense to proactively identify upsell opportunities depending on your customers' usage of your product.
Additional metrics include:
Customer lifetime value
Net Promoter Score
Average revenue per customer
More SaaS companies are realizing the importance of customer success and user retention. Consequently, they’re investing more time and effort into their strategies, including implementing Customer Success software that helps create a customer centric culture that encompasses all departments - from sales and marketing to support and customer success.
The features you should look for in these tools include the ability to:
Track product use
Calculate customer health score
Analyze user engagement
Analyze customer lifecycle
Provide customer experience insights
Collect client feedback
Collaborate together with your customers
Easily create advanced automations and playbooks
Make the data accessible for all departments via unlimited seating
For an overview of the most popular Customer Success software, have a look at our blogpost Top Customer Success Software & and Tools.
Planhat connects all the customer data, gets actionable insights and drives customer actions to manage renewals, reduce churn and boost expansion. Planhat provides a unified view of your customers all in one place, identifies risks and opportunities, creates clear, repeatable processes through the customer lifecycle and offers multi-channel communication as well as customized inboxes for teams.
Put simply, Planhat is a Customer Success platform focused on making Customer Success simple.
To find out more:
Download our report to learn What's next for Customer Success?
Listen to our podcast: Switching from reactive to proactive CS
Or get a Planhat Demo!
Join our end of year panel as they discuss how they believe Customer Success needs to change in 2022 and beyond.
Customer retention isn't just a pretty metric to throw around but a key measurement on how well your business is doing and how to improve your sales.
Our host Anika Zubair chats with Andrew Marks, Co-Founder of SuccessHACKER, about how to build effective health scores.
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