Why Customer Success Is Essential To SaaS Success

Kevin Jenkins
Mar 28 · 4 min read

The SaaS world is its own subscription-based economy. Thanks to SaaS, it’s easy to find, adopt and use products, but here’s the kicker — it’s just as easy to leave. As customers flock to their social media megaphone, all it takes is one bad product experience or one negative rating for your prospects or customers to abandon you for a shinier alternative. That’s where customer success comes into play. By prioritizing customer success early on, you can accelerate time to value, minimize churn, maximize retention and turn your customers into raving fans and your strongest line of defense.

These are our “Customers,” Not Support Tickets

If we “love” our customers, why do we make their experience feel like they are being served a gloomy day at the DMV? Here’s what the traditional customer success playbook looks like:

● Implement a complex piece of ticketing software

● Instruct customers to request help through a singular channel

● Create a queue of help tickets

● Hire cheap labor to work through the tickets quickly

● Publish vague service level agreements (i.e. we’ll get back to you as soon as we can) and then miss them

● Scale this process or offshore it to reduce cost and service the masses

Customer success is about building relationships and helping customers achieve their desired outcomes in the shortest amount of time possible. Remember, the customer is not always right, but it’s their right to think they are — and that’s the crux of customer success. So, it’s time to say, “Goodbye,” to the traditional customer success playbook and say, “Hello,” to the modern, humanized version of customer success.

Putting the “Customer” back in Customer Success

Customer success is a team sport — It’s your job to rally everyone to learn from the customer. Design feedback loops so that customer success isn’t the only department that knows what the customer wants. From marketing to sales to engineering, customer feedback should be made available across your organization to help inform your product road map and go-to-market strategies.

Humanize the customer experience — The one-size fits all approach doesn’t always transform your customers into loyal fans. The customer experience should be high-touch, consistent and cater to your customers’ communication preferences. For example, consider offering multiple channels — like chatbots, social media, SMS, email, and phone — to make your customers’ lives easier.

Build trusted relationships with customers — Don’t just put a band-aid on your customers’ problems. Be empathetic and actively listen to their challenges and goals to identify opportunities for you to not only alleviate their pain points but also add additional value.

Be more proactive than reactive — Don’t just sit there waiting for the support tickets to accumulate. Continuously review product usage data to see where customer issues might be brewing and escalate those issues to the product team. On the flip side, as your product team releases new features and functionality, seize the opportunity to be the knight in shining armor with feature updates and training.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes — While it’s important to stick to your customer success processes and hit your metrics, don’t lose sight of your customer’s motivations and goals.

For example:

Your shoes: Trial ➔ Sale ➔ Onboarding ➔ Adoption ➔ Upsell ➔ Renewal➔ Have fun along the way

Their shoes: Buy product ➔ Boost productivity ➔ Garner a reputation as the “get-it-done” person ➔ Win that promotion ➔ Plan your dream vacation

Be unique and celebrate success — Best practices are great, but each company should have its own unique formula for customer success. From the small wins, like helping your customer onboard their team, to the bigger ones, like launching a go-to-market campaign with a strategic partner, don’t be afraid to celebrate with your customer. After all, their success is your success.

So, why is a modern approach to customer success vital to your journey through the SaaS lifecycle? Once you’ve achieved scale, your moat — a.k.a. your competitive advantage — can be your strongest line of defense against potential competitors and ever-changing market conditions. By proactively looking out for your customers’ best interests, you’re not only setting yourself up to prosper in the near-term, but you’re also building and fortifying your moat for sustainability.