The Impact of Post-Sales Alignment on Customer Experience
Not long ago, it was enough to make sure that marketing messaging was coherent with sales pitches and effectively reflected software functionality. Software release cycles were slow and competitive landscapes were scarce, so alignment between teams could be more of a one-off exercise when new products or versions were introduced rather than an ongoing process.
The rise of SaaS applications, however, has shaken things up. Unlike traditional on-premise solutions in which the revenue model consists of licenses and implementation paid upfront, SaaS products are subscription-based with recurring costs but often has no strings attached. If a service fails to deliver or is no longer relevant to their needs, customers can cancel in a few clicks and sign up for a competitor with a low barrier to entry.
That’s why SaaS businesses can never rest on their laurels. Viability depends on their capacity to stay relevant and deliver consistent value — improving usability, adding new features, and listening to their customers. This constant challenge requires business alignment that goes beyond the sales funnel to leverage the synergies of the customer success & product management power couple.
Let’s look more closely at the impact of post-sales alignment on customer experience and assess how SaaS businesses are managing alignment today as per the findings of our 2017 Customer Success + Product Management Alignment Benchmark Report.
Smoother transitions from buyers to customers
Without alignment, the transition from the buyer journey to the customer journey is too often disjointed. As sales and marketing alignment has become highly sophisticated at guiding potential customers through the buyer journey, there must be a level set that keeps the customer journey just as sophisticated. That means post-sales teams, like customer success and product management, must be aligned so they can deliver an exceptional product experience that keeps customers just as engaged as they were as buyers.
With alignment, that transition is far smoother and time to value for the customer is minimal. Both teams make the onboarding and continued success of new customers a priority. They can actively plan first interactions with users so both in-product messaging and onboarding meetings reinforce success. Properly onboarded users perform better too, as measured by higher feature adoption rates and fewer tickets raised on average.
What’s more, successful customers are likely to upgrade their subscription, try out new products from the company, and recommend it to their friends and colleagues. Businesses can, therefore, reduce the cost of customer acquisition by dedicating more resources to enhancing the customer experience.
Reality check from our benchmarking report: “In 6 out of 10 cases, customer success teams are solely responsible for onboarding new customers.”
Better feedback for successful product iteration
Without alignment, product iteration is prone to failure since product and customer teams don’t communicate effectively. They don’t use the same technologies or data sources, which causes incoherence in the way they think about customers. Lack of overarching feedback leads to product roadmaps becoming disconnected from market needs with features that don’t properly attend to user needs and expectations.
With alignment, actionable and valuable feedback gets into all the right hands ready to make an impact. Both teams strongly benefit from a single source of truth so there are no misinterpretations, time-consuming debates, or guesswork needed. SaaS businesses, supported by the right customer-focused technologies, manage to measure what matters for improving products — e.g. in-app engagement, login activity and frequency, features adopted (or not adopted), and sentiment.
Reality check: “Only 20% of customer success and product management teams use the same source of customer data.”
Gain a competitive edge by making customers wildly successful
Without alignment, SaaS businesses make it harder on themselves to strategically find and keep successful customers. It inevitably gets harder to satisfy customers with growing expectations and to retain them. In parallel, competition intensifies giving more alternatives to users just a click away. Product-facing and customer-facing teams who lack clear strategic direction keep themselves at a disadvantage, allowing competition to surpass them.
With alignment, however, companies follow an insight-driven product roadmap, create more successful customers, and grow faster. Post-sales teams can work in tandem to disentangle and make sense of their combined efforts. This means they’re capable of uncovering trends before their competitors, and can take advantage of these insights to optimize customer experience and stay one step ahead.
Reality check: “45% of SaaS businesses don’t feel aligned about who their ideal customer is.”
The need for alignment within SaaS companies doesn’t stop after purchase. It’s now vital for customer success and product management teams to work closely together to onboard customers adequately, gather actionable insights, and build a competitive advantage through superior customer experience.
Would you like to find out how hundreds of SaaS companies are currently aligned? Are you looking for ways to leverage the product management & customer success power couple? Download our Customer Success + Product Management Alignment Benchmark Report and access great insights.