May 13, 2022

Customer success metrics for SaaS

Jonas Terning

Editor, Planhat

For any successful business to last, the customer needs to be as high of a priority as the product itself. Customer Success (CS) teams understand this better than anyone. Developing a successful product is one thing, but establishing loyalty and ensuring complete satisfaction on behalf of the customer is a different kind of challenge. That is why our team at Planhat created our customer success software. We saw how customer success managers and teams are neglected compared to other departments like sales, where they have endless amounts of tools at their disposal.

CS teams working in the SaaS industry rely heavily on customer success analytics to dictate what moves they need to make next. Analytics are at the core of customer success and empower the team to make those difficult decisions. This is precisely why we have put together this comprehensive guide to key CS metrics.

Why is Customer Success Important for SaaS?

With SaaS products and companies, it is understood that recurring revenue is the name of the game, and strong customer success processes encourage a continuous ecosystem where revenue is consistently being generated. To better flesh out how important this is for SaaS companies, here are three invaluable impacts of customer success.

  • Increased Recurring Revenue: So, how does customer success lead to increases in recurring revenue? One of the more simple ways customer success can lead to increased recurring revenue is through an easy onboarding process. If customers have difficulty setting up an account and using your product, you won't just lose out on recurring revenue; you'll lose out on the customer entirely when they take their business elsewhere. Having an intuitive product and an effortless onboarding process leads perfectly to our next point.

  • Lower Churn-Rate: Customer churn is a constant battle for SaaS companies. Integrating entire teams or companies over to a new platform or service is a hassle. Suppose you, the customer success team, can create a helpful environment around your product in tandem with the other departments. In that case, you increase the likelihood a customer is to stay with your company and buy further into your ecosystem.

  • Greater Customer Value: Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric measuring the total revenue they can expect from a customer. This will only increase the longer they stay loyal to your business. Cross-selling and upselling become exponentially easier over this period of time where they stick with your product. The CS team is responsible for creating an environment that encourages the customer to stay with the company and explore other products/services offered to them.

These are just three of the many benefits that come from a comprehensive customer success framework. Beyond a framework, a CS needs to track specific metrics and KPIs in order to have continued success.

How Do You Measure Customer Success?

After a certain point, your sales and marketing team are masters at closing deals and locking down new customers. The challenge then shifts to keeping these customers in your product ecosystem. What metrics can a customer success team use to measure how well they are performing? Here are the customer success metrics that we have identified as impactful now and in the years to come.

  • Conversions: A great business strategy that many businesses are employing more of is to offer a free trial for your more basic services. This allows the customer to get an idea of what your company can provide them, but still keeping the real benefits inside the fully paid version. These conversion rates are easy to track as all you need to do is take the number of converted users and divide it by your total user population.

  • Cost of Customer Retention: Tracking how much it costs to retain a customer is a fundamental customer success metric. This cost is then compared to your total number of customers to see how efficient your operation is. The data gathered from tracking this metric will allow the company to accurately know where to allocate the budget.

  • Customer Satisfaction: While most metrics rely on pulling meaning from data, allowing your customers to give a satisfaction score gives an unbiased review of your team and service. This metric is one of the simplest to track as it can be emailed out to customers as a form they can fill out in minutes.

Tracking metrics surrounding customer success sets up all departments to achieve their goals by understanding customer needs and pain points. This can not always be an easy task for smaller businesses, so partnering with organizations like Planhat helps you execute and manage your customer success strategy.

What is a Customer Success Strategy?

A CS strategy is a well-constructed plan that guides a CS team in being able to ensure that all of their customers are successful and happy using their service(s). A common thread between all CS strategies is that they cultivate positive and healthy relationships with customers, which results in more retention, less churn, and even new customers.

A quick Google search will yield thousands of results about possible strategies and templates. This can be an overwhelming amount of information to comb through. However, there are common strategies that can be found across different templates that have proven successful track records. Take a look at what a customer success strategy example may look like for SaaS companies.

  • Platform Engagement: While celebrating victories on signing new or recurring customers to deals is great, the work does not stop there. A simple, yet effective, strategy is to monitor how customers engage with your service. How many users are logging in each day, week, or month? How many support tickets are being sent? What features are getting the most and least use. Tracking this kind of data will allow the company to be more efficient with its efforts. Partnering with Planthat will give you access to our platform that brings all of your customer data together to make the process easier.

  • Active Feedback: We get it, new projects and other important items fill up the pipeline relatively quickly, leading to customers' requests and feedback being put on the back burner. There is no better way to express that you value your customers than by not just allowing for an easy way to give feedback, but actively acting on their input. Customers using your service every day will find areas that could be improved that your team may not have. This show of good faith with customers will also increase their loyalty as they know your team is listening to them.

  • Utilize Referral Programs: Companies are always on the lookout for ways they can improve operations without going too far over budget or wasting vital resources. An often-overlooked strategy is using your already established customer base to do the lead generation for you. SaaS companies will typically offer a free month of their services or allow for a free month on another product they offer. This strategy is fantastic primarily because it yields some of the best results without spending any extra money from the budget.

The customer success process requires the CS to communicate with all other departments to ensure that the customer journey can be as easy and pleasant as possible. It is vital for the success of a company to be able to easily share data with all departments, and Planhat can help.

What are Customer Success Best Practices?

You can have a polished finished product, a comprehensive strategy, and still fall short on occasion. At Planhat, we want every company to flourish with customer success goals. Across the SaaS industry, we have seen time and time again moments where if certain best practices were used, a company could have avoided a big mishap.

Each customer is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Customizing the customer experience to make it more personal can help your business stand out from the competition. Simple gestures like consistent communication through multiple channels will go the extra mile. Look up a customer on LinkedIn, for example, and engage with any content they are posting there. Show that your organization actively participates in the industry you offer your services to.

Another great practice to implement into a customer success strategy is to pair a well-designed onboarding process with extensive training and education. It is highly unlikely that your customers will be able to use your product without any questions or roadblocks popping up. Be proactive with this situation by doing two simple things. Pre-record training videos that cover common features about your product or service. These videos will hopefully answer any basic questions that may come up as they begin. The second thing you can do is to schedule live education sessions with customers to walk them through more complex functions or answer any remaining questions they may have. Combining these two methods help ensure that each customer has the necessary knowledge to use your service.

Customer success tools like a customer playbook assist in moving your customers efficiently through the customer lifecycle. You need to be able to make and implement changes to your CS strategy in real-time. Working with the right organization that can provide these tools is another way to set yourself up for success.

Planhat: Powerful, Simple, Successful CS Software

Other departments like sales and marketing are typically the teams that get access to all kinds of tools and software. This makes their processes more accessible and more manageable. At Planhat, we wanted to fix that by combining modern consumer design principles with robust enterprise architecture to offer you simple, elegant solutions to complex business problems. Contact us today to learn more about how you can empower your customer success team.

Jonas Terning

Editor, Planhat

Jonas has over a decade of experience in marketing and media. Prior to Planhat, he ran the leading Stockholm-based communications agency, Make Your Mark, and was Editor in Chief of Aller Media, where he digitised and scaled one of Sweden's most notable lifestyle and media brands, Café.

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