Things That Keep the Customer Success Manager Awake

Customer Success

Things That Keep the Customer Success Manager Awake

Customer Success
Customer Success has quickly moved from being just another buzzword to an enabler of business success especially in the SaaS ecosystem. Customer success expert Lincoln Murphy defines the term as “…simply ensuring that your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company”. Seems quite straightforward. However, given the changing dynamics of a constantly evolving marketplace where the customer is spoilt for choice, customer success is the great differentiator for business success. SaaS companies know that the cost to acquire a new customer is several times higher than retaining the existing ones. Reducing churn and increasing product adoption and expansion, thus, falls under the jurisdiction of Customer Success teams. And the main job of the Customer Success Manager is to make sure that the customer can reach their ‘desired outcomes’ in the shortest time frame. Clearly, the Customer Success manager has a huge responsibility to shoulder. In this blog, we take a look at things that keep customer success managers awake at night.

When customer success is just one department

Customer Success for SaaS products is not just one department. It is a company approach. It is extremely essential to have all the contributors to customer success aligned and working with one another in a collaborative manner. Silos have to be eliminated to provide an elevated customer experience. However, when organizations do not eliminate silos, the customer success team cannot gain a 360-degree view of the customer. Mitigating that challenge can be hard as all the endpoints that connect the customer-related operations are disconnected. Without an interconnected network, it becomes hard to create a smooth customer journey and deliver relevant product experiences to the customer. This consequently impacts the customer’s success.

When personalization becomes a challenge

Creating personalized experiences is a norm today. It is no different when it comes to customer success as well. For the customer success manager, it becomes essential to create highly personalized customer journeys across the multiple touch points and departments. They need the tools to follow the customer journey from discovery to success and have a plan for every stage of this journey to ensure that this journey is optimized. Personalization is one way to ensure that every interaction with the customer becomes contextual and relevant simply because the world is driven by this now. Customer success managers, thus, need to ensure that the customers can seamlessly move across this journey, from onboarding to reaching that ‘aha’ moment, smoothly, without interruptions and without any information gaps in a highly personalized manner. Any impediments to this will be a cause of concern to the customer success manager.

The decentralized data chasm

You can only manage what you can measure. In order to do this, having a central data repository that connects all the interaction touchpoints becomes essential for the customer success manager. In order to create highly engaging customer journeys, customer success managers need access to all user data – demographic, behavioral, and event data both internal and from third parties to trigger real-time personalized experiences. They also need access to analytics data to accurately identify how the customer is using the product, provide real-time answers to their questions, enable dynamic segmentation to drive usage and identify pain points across mobile and web. Only then they can improve the product further to meet their product success goals. Data cannot reside in silos and demands more interoperability to generate deeper insights. The absence of this can lead to many sleepless nights that would go in wondering why the users are not connecting with the product.

Poor customer engagement

Amongst the things that can strike fear in the heart of the customer success manager, poor customer engagement perhaps will top the list. However, the reason why we mention this last has a reason. Poor customer engagement in the SaaS product ecosystem is usually a result of poor or average product experiences. All the points mentioned above are the contributors to the factors that determine a good or a poor customer experience. If a customer does not complete the onboarding process, does not use the product, drops off the product while using it repeatedly, does not answer or open the surveys or marketing information sent to their inboxes are genuine causes of concern. However, this primarily happens when the customer success manager does not have a unified view of the customer and the cannot deliver contextual information. Another factor responsible for poor engagement is the inability to deliver these experiences in-product to make usage frictionless. It would be far more beneficial to send them product updates, upgrades or marketing information that is relevant to the customer when he/she is using the product. The objective of the customer success manager is to foster customer enablement. And this can only be achieved when the customer can access contextual information, training material, product information etc. when the customer needs it and where work happens. We have moved beyond the age where asking the customer what he/she wants would yield good results. We are in the age when the customer expects you to know what they want before even they realize it. The job of the customer success manager means identifying the explicit and implied needs by understanding user behavior to enable the customer to reach that ‘wow’ moment in the shortest timeframe possible. The task is not easy but can be easily managed by simply enabling the in-product extension. Connect with us to see how you can deliver elevated customer experiences to your customers and help your customer success managers rest easy.

Customer Data is the New Currency – How to Encash it

Customer Data

Customer Data is the New Currency – How to Encash it

Customer Data
  “Without Data, you’re just another person with an opinion” – W. Edwards Deming Technology today has crept into every aspect of business and has become an important part of every unit. As businesses begin to get laser-focused on innovation and agility, taking a data-driven approach to derive intelligent, quantitative and qualitative insights becomes the path to success. In this data-driven economy where software is eating the world, business strategies have to now be backed by data for smarter and faster decision-making. When it comes to staying ahead of the curve from competition and top of the mind for the customer, and to make intelligent decisions proactively, data becomes the ultimate leveler. Given that we are now surrounded by a deluge of data, how can SaaS products leverage the customer data at their disposal to deliver smart customer experiences and make them loyalists for life?

Optimize the Onboarding Experience

Onboarding serves as the first step to customer retention for SaaS products. It defines the kind of relationship that you will have with the customer. A simple and effective onboarding process is key and the first step to creating that ‘aha’ moment in your customers’ journey. Leveraging the customer data, SaaS products can drive more personalized onboarding experiences and help the customers get to the goal that they value in the shortest possible time. Making the onboarding process contextual, ensuring that the customers are not bombarded with irrelevant information, providing them with the resources they will be needing the most, introducing them to the tools and buttons that they are most likely to use etc. are a few things that can personalize this experience for them and make it more impactful.

Intelligent Product Tutorial

Handholding the customers through the initial journey across the product is essential. However, it is also important to assess the kind of journey they prefer. Leveraging customer data, SaaS companies can identify how a customer is using their product, what are her pain points while using the product and can also see where the customers drop off regularly. With this information, they can create more targeted and specific product tutorials, guide them to a knowledge repository that will help them resolve their queries via self-service and in-turn optimize their product journey. Leveraging data, all information regarding the product that is relevant to the customer can be delivered in-product and not via separate emails that a customer is unlikely to open.

Personalized Experiences

Assessing how engaged the customers are with the product is also essential to drive usage and customer retention. With the customer data and customer usage data at hand, organizations can identify how engaged the users are with the product. The level and manner of product usage will also vary depending on the users – a high-level manager and a junior level executive will have different expectations from the product. Using in-product behavioral data, SaaS products can drive intuitive recommendations and provide a ‘Netflix-like’ experience to foster greater customer experience.

Impactful surveys

Context is gold in today’s competitive economy. When it comes to surveys, leveraging the customer data to create surveys that will generate a high response rate is a smart move. Creating engaging branding surveys and polls that are relevant to each user and delivered at the right time are important to ensure that the polls do not go unanswered. Creating NPS, CSAT and CES surveys that account for how the users engage with the product and ensure that these reach the user at the right time to get more relevant product feedback. And this can be achieved by employing customer data.

Targeted Messaging

Product evolution is a constant in today’s competitive age. But how can SaaS companies make sure that they are making upgrades, updates and product fixes that are relevant to their customers? This is again done by using the customer data. Also, all product-related messaging, updates and surveys have to be delivered directly in-product and in a device-agnostic manner to drive usage. Data becomes a critical contributor of success here as it helps companies assess the changes the product needs, the feature enhancements the users demand, determine the information that the users need to become more productive and provide the same proactively.

Effective Training

In the age of self-service, it is customer data that helps you determine the training needs of the users. By analyzing how the users interact with the product, SaaS companies can guide users in the right direction using highly personalized training experiences that are delivered when the users need it. Tracking the engagement metrics can assist training departments to determine the measure of content effectiveness and its relevance, make suitable changes proactively, and ensure that the users are never left searching for answers. There’s a saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. In today’s competitive age, this is especially relevant as the smallest oversight can lead to the potential downfall of a great product. Data helps SaaS products understand where their weakest link is, and then change that dynamics. There is no guesswork here…no time spent wondering what you can do to attract and retain your customers. There is just data and along with it the numerous possibilities of what you can do more to service your customer better.

The Many (Simple) Ways of Creating a Stellar Personalized Customer Experience

The Many (Simple) Ways of Creating a Stellar Personalized Customer Experience

It was just yesterday that the quality of the product or service was the key to winning customers. Not anymore. Today the customer is king and Customer Experience is the new battlefield. Companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Zappos and the like are placing customer experience at the center of their customer strategy and have raised the bar of customer expectations. As the barometer for success goes beyond feature differentiation and pricing for SaaS products, customer experience becomes the key differentiator for product success. And raising the bar for customer experience becomes a key to foster brand loyalty.

The Role of Personalization

Personalization, in today’s competitive economy, has become an instrument to nurture customer relationships and improve customer retention rates. As customer expectations from products continue to evolve, SaaS products have to focus on the individual’s needs and wants as a central orientation point to create products that the customers love to use. Personalization is all about creating real-time and efficient experiences that address the needs of the customer in context.

How to Deliver Personalized Customer Experiences?

Given the competitive landscape today, personalization now has to be a continuous experience for SaaS products. Personalization is about arriving at an understanding of how your customers are using the product, their expectations from the product, and the experience that they desire from the product and then delivering it to them. By doing this, SaaS products can become experience-driven and ensure that their customers keep using the product beyond the ‘free trial’ date.

Onboarding

Personalization begins with the onboarding process itself. Lengthy user manuals and complicated onboarding experiences will, in all likelihood, discourage the customer from becoming a loyal user. Instead, today’s onboarding experiences can be made highly intuitive by leveraging the user data. By employing user personas, you can guide users through the product to ensure maximum feature utilization. Using in-app messages and contextual and relevant guides you can optimize the onboarding experience and go a long way to drive user adoption.

Training

As Amazon and Netflix usher in the age of intuitiveness, SaaS products are being compelled to adapt to their users’ goals and preferences. Training experiences in SaaS products are no different and have to be personalized, engaging, hyper-contextual, and intuitive. The product should have the capability to assess the training needs of the user and deliver the right content to them within the application. In order to deliver the right training content at the right time, organizations, thus, have to possess the capability to create rich interactive content fast. Having support for tracking engagement metrics provides deep insights into the effectiveness of the content and its relevance. Additionally, personalization also means enabling the customer where work happens. This means taking a device-agnostic approach and ensuring that the product is mobile-optimized in consonance with the mobile economy.

Help!

For stellar SaaS products, personalization has to extend to the help desk. SaaS products have to be now enabled with self-service so that the users can proactively support themselves. Having an easy to access the self-service portal to access all knowledge resources is one part of the story. Further to this, SaaS products have to become intuitive to provide contextual help and information when the users are actually using the product. Leveraging user data, the products have to have the capability to evaluate trends in searches, recognize which searches are not yielding results, and consequently identify user pain points. If a customer runs a similar search often then the organization can proactively send out the right, relevant, and contextual information to the user in-app to make self-service more effective by personalization.

Driving Usage

Personalization is the magic pill that helps in driving product usage as it brings the element of relevance to the table. By assessing how the customer is engaging with the product, determining the features they love and ones they don’t, identifying the points where the users are dropping off give good insights into product usage. These insights can be used to create high points in the customer journey by pushing out relevant product-related information, product updates, marketing content, training materials and personalized surveys. By using demographic, behavioral and event data – both internal and from third parties – organizations can trigger personalized engagement across the product at scale. In order to leverage personalization to create stellar personalized product experiences, organizations have to focus on driving the same from within the product. Having a 360-degree view of the customer that takes into account every interaction that the user has with the product across channels such as mobile, email, and social media can be leveraged using powerful analytics. However, to achieve this, having a unified view of the customer becomes essential along with ensuring that all the stakeholders in the customer journey have access to all relevant customer data and that information doesn’t reside in silos to improve the customer experience. Connect with us to see how to enable the in-product extension to drive personalization across your SaaS product.    

Personalization – The Key to Success Across the Customer Lifecycle

Personalization – The Key to Success Across the Customer Lifecycle

If we were to look around, we’d find that some of the most successful companies that have shown incredible growth are those that have focused on customer experience. Uber, for example, would have just been another taxi service. But the company focused on driving better customer experiences and ended up reinventing the way people think of a taxi service. With SaaS products, success is not about finding a user. It is about acquiring new users and keeping them hooked on your product. Retaining SaaS customers can be tough since, with the rise of the digital economy, these customers are spoilt for choice. With so much competition in the SaaS environment, can more features and lower prices be the drivers of user adoption? To stand up in this overcrowded market, SaaS products have to provide elevated customer experiences. And this journey begins with Personalization. While SaaS products have to be designed to solve customer needs, they have to be driven to satisfy the customer by providing an almost Amazon-like experience. In the customer experience era that we live in, for SaaS products, this personalization has to be driven from inside the product. When this happens the product itself then becomes competent to drive, acquire and retain the customer. Successful SaaS products such as Dropbox and Slack have used this approach and are successful businesses today, solely by being experience-driven.

Onboarding

Research from Pacific Crest shows that almost 30% of SaaS companies report a high level of customer churn. And the momentum for this churn starts if you do not provide a personalized and intuitive onboarding plan. Since onboarding is the stage that familiarizes a user with the product, it is essential to guide the users through the product step by step, showcasing features that he/she is most likely to use, set up in-app messaging and guides to help the users simplify the complex onboarding process.

Determine Usage

Not all features in a SaaS product are used by all. Determining how the customers are using the product, which features they are using the most, where are they dropping off etc. are important usage parameters to consider. Assessing how users engage with the product can give deep insights that can optimize product usage. With an understanding of user behavior, SaaS companies can proactively incorporate the user feedback into their product, prioritize product features, and ensure that the right services are being delivered to the user at the right time. Personalization also means a drive towards self-service. This means providing contextual information when they need it and while they are using the product.

Effortless Engagement

Personalization using in-product enablement allows SaaS companies to drive effortless engagement with the product. They can create behavioral segmentation on the basis of the actions the users take to allow dynamic segmentation. Creating personalized user segmentations also becomes easier. This helps in driving the user to a common goal by ensuring that all engagements are highly contextual and hyper-personalized. Accelerating product adoption also becomes easier as highly engaging training content to can be delivered to the user within the application at the time when they need it. Training also then gets seamlessly integrated into the product and provides an elevated customer experience.

Relevance Rules – In campaigns and Surveys too

Most product-related marketing campaigns and surveys go unanswered solely because they are generic. It is just that one more email delivered to your inbox. In a world driven by relevance, why would users open yet another email that informs them of a product feature that they don’t use? Personalization in this context thus means sending our targeted messaging, feature updates and surveys that will drive usability. By analyzing how users interact with the product, new product features or changes can be announced in-product. Since the quality of the product experience impacts customer satisfaction, designing highly relevant and customized surveys becomes critical. These surveys and polls also have to reach the right user at the right time. NPS, CSAT and CES, the three most important customer experience metrics also have to be used appropriately and have to take an in-app and an omnichannel approach to get more contextual feedback regarding the product. Providing a personalized and connected experience is a key factor to gain user commitment towards using the product. Companies such as Slack, Zoom, Dropbox realized that there is nothing more valuable than understanding how a customer uses, interacts and engages with their product. Netflix uses data to assess what a user would like to watch. Google uses data to improve search results. None of them are actually askingthe user how to improve the product but are analyzingthe users’ behavior with the product to make it more attractive to them. With access to product-behavior data, it becomes infinitely easier to attract customers and drive in-product journeys and help the customer become more enabled. And today, customer enablement is the name of the game throughout the customer lifecycle.

Key to Making Customers Lifelong Advocates

Customer Advocates

Key to Making Customers Lifelong Advocates

Customer Advocates
Pay close attention to some of the biggest companies globally and you’ll witness the dawning of a new era. ‘The Age of The Customer’ is, in the real sense, upon us today. We are witnessing the rise of the empowered customer and it is this customer who is shaping business strategies with the expectation of consistent and very high-worth experiences that deliver immediate value. In the absence of this value, they move elsewhere. Choice, after all, lies in abundance. Quite naturally, organizations want to evaluate how to turn this breed of customers of the digital age into brand advocates. Promotions and loyalty programs have managed to hold their attention for quite a while now. However, today, with the customer constantly window shopping, how can companies win these customers and turn them into lifelong advocates?

Acknowledging the mind shift

Dial the clock a couple of decades ago; it was the sales department that was mainly accountable for business outcomes. Then came the age of the internet when marketing took responsibility of the baton as well – applications and websites became essential marketing tools. Product and engineering teams became responsible for pushing the new products out of the door. Today, however, it is these applications, the digital brochures of the past, that have now become the actual product. Everything around us today is a digital product irrespective of a vertical and it is the product that is the driver of the revenue. With the SaaS economy upon us, success comes only when you become product-led. Companies that have managed to make this transition are the ones that have continued to enjoy customer appreciation only because, today, the product itself has now become the competitive advantage. In this product-led era, where customers are motivated solely by the product experience, continuously delivering on the experience front is the only way to success. As we move from the marketing led-era to the product led-era, controlling every touchpoint in the consumer’s journey, being able to react proactively to the needs of the customer, and delivering an elevated and consistent product experience only can drive customer retention. And, customer retention trumps customer lock-in since the latter no longer exists today and the former drives advocacy.

What matters most

The product-led era has made products more intuitive to use and easy to understand. This level of product dexterity is an inevitable by-product of the change in market dynamics and business evolution. But when all products are being designed such, what really drives customers to become adopters, and then, advocates? Probably the following things –
  • The capability to go beyond the vanity metrics and actually be able to understand the customer journey
  • To use data not just to validate but to drive product decisions
  • To be able to interact with the customer directly to be closest to them
  • Delivering memorable in-product customer experiences
  • Enabling the customer with self-service, on-time, effective and relevant communication.
Along with this is the intuitive ability of the product itself to assess when a customer needs training and the capability to provide timely answers to queries and question in a device-agnostic manner. Customer experience is the driver of this product-led economy. And with this focus, organizations can not only retain customers and turn them into brand advocates but also open new growth trajectories. Airbnb, for example, didn’t just create a portal to book hotels; it reinvented the entire travel experience. Dropbox, Netflix, Uber, Buffer, Zoom, Apple and its Genius Bars concept…the list of fast-growing enterprises leveraging the product and customer-centric approach to educate the customer despite having great, intuitive and feature-rich products shows the trajectory in which we are moving.

Scaling the complexity chasm

Turning customers into advocates seems especially harder in the B2B scenario. With higher complexities and a lot more at stake, both for the company and the customer, scaling the complexity chasm becomes a driver of product adoption. Having the tools to proactively engage with the customer at the right touch-point, providing the right onboarding experience, equipping them with the right information at the right time, having the capability to extend the product to service the needs of the customer with greater personalization contribute to customer advocacy. Along with this is the capability to enable self-service by giving them access to a central knowledge repository that can be accessed anytime, anywhere in a device-agnostic manner, leveraging data to understand roadblocks, and providing training for the same intuitively complement the drive to turn users into advocates. The connected economy ensures that we have a customer who knows her mind better than ever before. Software products today, thus, have to enable message reinforcement via cross-fertilization of campaigns and drive product usage by enabling a frictionless experience. Added to that are the expectations of immediacy and connectivity. Extending the product to deliver this connected customer experience becomes the secret sauce to driving customer advocacy. After all, when everything around you becomes connected, how you connect with the customer becomes everything.

Key Elements of Your SaaS Product User Experience

SaaS Product User Experience

Key Elements of Your SaaS Product User Experience

SaaS Product User Experience
The past decade has witnessed the evolution of enterprise apps from “a computer software used to satisfy the needs of an organization rather than those of individual users” to “applications that are mission-critical to build products and services and help the employees perform their tasks better”. SaaS products can be considered a response to these needs. First-gen SaaS products make feature-rich enterprise software accessible to large and small companies alike. And today, we have a market that is flooded with the next best SaaS product. The thing is, while getting users to sign up for a SaaS product is easy, to keep them using the product is where things get challenging. SaaS product design has started making a shift towards creating a ‘habit-forming product experience’ so that the users who willingly sign up to use the product stay hooked on to it even after the initial honeymoon period is over. To achieve this, it becomes imperative to focus on two golden words – User Experience. In this blog, let’s take a look at some key elements that go into designing elevated user experiences help SaaS product to leap from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

Consistent UI Elements

UI is an element that contributes to UX. Navigation is the first step in the UX journey as it is the way in which users engage with a product. Adopting user-friendly navigation that allows the user to have a conversation with the SaaS product is key. The idea thus is to employ a navigation menu that helps user sail smoothly from point A to point B using the minimal number of steps.  Remember that a neglected navigation menu will lead to lower user engagement. Additionally, it’s also important to take a look at other UI elements such as buttons, text, visual elements, etc. to ensure that they function consistently across screens and devices. This builds consistency of style and contributes to building confidence in the performance.

Optimized Onboarding Experiences

Onboarding is the step to take users from being amateurs to becoming experts. Making sure that the user onboarding processes are simple, intuitive, engaging and relevant become critical contributors to a good UX. Optimized onboarding processes also play a big role in setting the expectation of the users and give them a primer of what to expect when using the product. At the end of the onboarding process, the entire product workflow should make complete sense to the user and compel them to believe that the product will help them manage/do their work better.

Linear Contextualizing

Good UX means providing contextual information to the user. However, the information should be provided in a manner that is not overwhelming or induces confusion. We can all agree that providing knowledge-based information or product information etc. outside of the product screen (think emails) or littering the product screen with help text makes the product less attractive. SaaS UX has to look at in-product enablement that helps in providing contextual information to the user at the right place and the right time. The idea is to move away from information bombardment and focus on enforcing a contextual help pattern in a linear manner.

Robust Support Systems

Good UX also stems from having robust support systems in place. With SaaS products, product information and education should be in-product and integrated into the core product experience. And as with everything else, help for SaaS products should be intuitive as well. So, instead of having users rely on lengthy product documentation for help, the products should have help systems that can reside comfortably within the applications, have mobile support, enable self-service, and also have an alternative support solution in the event that in-app support does not suffice.

Be Personable

We are in the age where business success is directly proportional to aligning business goals with customer needs. To ensure that these products remain relevant, frequent iterations and updates have become a norm in the SaaS landscape. However, when it comes to introducing updates, SaaS product companies have to ensure an optimized feature hierarchy that allows the most intuitive features to be released first. These releases should also happen within the tool so that users can discover them effortlessly rather than just depend solely on an email outreach schedule.

Functionality Focused

A great UX doesn’t necessarily mean something which looks good. The aim of UX is to enable users to perform their tasks effortlessly, save time while doing so, and allow them to achieve their goals. The UX has to be focused on the functionalities offered by the product and should honestly relay what the tool is supposed to help them accomplish. Especially with enterprise products, assessing what the user really needs, identifying where they are struggling today, and focusing on what they actually do helps in creating product functionalities that contribute to great user experiences. The focus of UX should be on increasing efficiencies, improved and faster workflows, and consequently cutting costs.

Mobility in the UX-Driven Age

The aim of any SaaS product is to create an ‘aha’ moment in the users’ life as soon as possible. The idea here is to enable the user to get to a higher state of productivity in the shortest timeframe and removing any impediments that stand in its success. SaaS products can be the enabler of such efficiencies only when they take a mobile-first approach. Great UX stems from giving the user the flexibility to access the product in a device-agnostic and secure manner. Thus, it becomes imperative to focus on mobile modifications so that the user can get an unfragmented ‘aha’ experience.

Getting contextual feedback

UX should also be optimized to gather contextual feedback that not only helps in feature development but also contributes to ensuring that the user remains engaged with the product. The contextual feedback should involve putting ‘behavior-based’ triggers that help in making feedback proactive instead of reactive. This also helps in optimizing the product experience. Finally, UX should lend itself to continuous evaluation. This can be done using data analytics to assess how the user is engaging with the product, what are the possible pain points, where do users drop off, etc. to ensure that the needs of the user are predictively addressed. UX design today has to be clean, coherent, and uncluttered as it is the UX that will define the relationship of the user with your product.

Copyright 2018, Flype Inc. All rights reserved

Beyond Surveys – How To Get Your Users To Tell You More About Your Product

Beyond Surveys – How To Get Your Users To Tell You More About Your Product

In a utopian world, customers would share their feedback easily. They would answer all feedback related emails and respond to all feedback. The truth, however, is that in a typical business only 4% of customers will tell you that they have a complaint. The remaining 96% won’t. And while they will not communicate their problem with you, in this hyperconnected world, they will talk about it on social channels and their social network. This can mean bad news for any business and more so for SaaS businesses where it costs five times more to acquire a new client than to retain an existing one. Taking customer feedback is a sure shot way to create products that users love and continue to use. In the context of SaaS companies, the longer the customer stays with the company, the lower the churn, the better the revenues. To achieve this along with building a superlative product, SaaS companies have to ensure that customer interactions are built within all processes, be it marketing, sales, product management, customer support, etc. By doing so, SaaS companies can then understand not only why people are using certain features more than others, but also why customers drop off, or why the product usage declines. While all this information can be gleaned from customer surveys, in today’s complex and competitive marketplace, organizations need to become more proactive about receiving feedback and implementing it real-time. So how can companies move beyond the traditional annual survey and get their users to tell them more about the product?

Smart User Feedback

Does the customer of today have the time to fill up lengthy feedback forms? Lengthy feedback forms are usually dismissed since the customer is predisposed to doing so. In such a scenario, the trick is to give your product the capability to capture responses at every stage of the product lifecycle and at every point of use. For example, you can ask a customer to rate his/her satisfaction level at the end of a session with a module. If the answer is in the negative then you can proactively offer support to alleviate the problem. Branded polls and short surveys, always-on, customizable NPS, CSAT & CES surveys help in generating valuable customer feedback that consequently contributes to improving product experience.

Assess Product Usage

If you listen carefully, you can easily know what the users want to communicate and what they think about the product. Listening, when it comes to SaaS products, cannot be relegated to the annual surveys but has to be a continuous process. And to enable continuous listening, SaaS products need to build in the data advantage and not look at customer feedback as an isolated exercise. Since data works proactively, it keeps providing us with valuable information on a continuous basis. It can be used to see how the users are interacting with the product, what kind of questions are being directed to customer support, what marketing messages are being opened, and how messaging services are being utilized. Data also makes it easier to create targeted surveys, target these surveys to specific customers, trigger surveys during critical events and during specific time periods. By having powerful analytics and built-in reporting capabilities, SaaS products can capture user interaction across mobile or web devices to accurately identify any activity within the product and get access to actionable insights that come from actual product usage.

Keeping Feedback Out Of The Inbox And Making It In-Product

Chances are, your customers will respond to you if you ask them relevant and contextual questions while they are using the application and before they leave the interface. Delayed interactions have no place in today’s environment hence, it makes sense to take gathering feedback out of the inbox and make it in-product. With in-product feedback, you can prompt users to get contextual information. With such feature, you can survey your customers and gather impactful, and relevant information that is worth its weight in gold. In product-feedback also makes it easier for users to provide inputs and gives them the power to give feedback as and when they need it whether it is to report bugs, lags, glitches, or enhancements. This also gives customers a way to share their experience with you seamlessly while they are still engaged with the product and, hence, this feedback tends to be more concrete and quick.

Social Listening

As we are living in the ‘Age of Social’, customer feedback can also be gathered by listening to the chatter on social channels. Online communities are a great information repository where customers provide unbiased, candid, and direct feedback on product performance. Given that human beings are predisposed to open dialogues, listening to online communities and social channels give organizations valuable customer feedback on what they like or don’t, what issues they face and what they want from the product. This helps in keeping your finger on the pulse of the market, gather information and also address their issues. Companies now need to change their approach to customer feedback and look at making it more continuous and proactive. We are in an age where if you pay very close attention to how your customers are using and interacting with their products to become less of a vendor and more of a success-partner in your customers’ journey. How are you getting your customers to talk to you about your product? Connect with us to see how you can drive in-product enablement for better customer outcomes.

The 5 Numbers That Will Tell You If Your SaaS Product Is a Success

SaaS Product Success

The 5 Numbers That Will Tell You If Your SaaS Product Is a Success

SaaS Product Success

Why is ensuring the success of a SaaS product and achieving a predictable service growth a tall order? It is simply because just changing a software delivery model is not enough to ensure product success? SaaS product success is directly linked with recurring revenues. Given the growing number of offerings in the market, the complexity of the business, and the fact that revenue comes over an extended period of time, it becomes imperative to understand which metrics matter when measuring product success. Amongst the key things that a SaaS business needs to ensure success are:

  • New customer acquisition
  • Customer retention
  • Customer monetization

Which brings us to the question, what are the metrics you need to evaluate to determine if your SaaS product is a success?

Revenue and Costs

The Monthly and Annual Recurring Revenue (MRR and ARR) is one metric that throws light on the overall performance of a SaaS business and, hence, becomes a Key Performance Indicator. This metric measures the predictable revenue stream that stems from subscriptions and other additional services.

Along with this, SaaS businesses need to consider Costs of Customer Acquisition. The customer acquisition cost provides insights needed to understand the costs required to grow the business and the associated payback period. Profitability can be calculated on the basis of the time taken to recover the acquisition cost to the amount of funding needed. Along with this, SaaS companies also need to measure Customer Retention Costs which consist of all costs directed towards customer retention over the number of retained customers. Ideally, the average Customer Retention Cost should be lesser than the Customer Acquisition Cost.

Revenue Renewal Rate is another important metric to consider – this metric measures revenue generated through renewals over a specific time frame.

Churn Rate

Evaluating the customer churn rate is an essential metric for SaaS businesses because the number of people renewing their subscriptions has to be very high. Research suggests that SaaS startups should ideally have at least a 90% retention rate. A low churn rate is indicative of how the current version of the product is performing. A churn rate higher than 0% indicates revenue loss. Research conducted by Bain and Co. shows that a “5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%”. Measuring the Customer Count Retention helps in measuring and monitoring the overall health of the product.

Onboarding engagement which will include time to value

User onboarding has the potential to make or break a SaaS business. Solid onboarding processes should be able to bring your users up to speed with the product usage in the minimum possible time and with the least possible help. They should be able to access the service, understand what the software intends to accomplish, know the application and compel them to continue working with it. Statistics reveal that almost 40 to 60% of customers who sign up for a free trial of a SaaS application use it once and never come back!

Customer onboarding costs are a subcategory of customer acquisition costs and consist of all the costs associated with the monthly costs of tools, materials, and stakeholders needed along with the number of hours spent on onboarding in comparison to the number of users onboard. Time to Value is the onboarding metric that companies need to keep an eye on – it is time taken by a customer to sign up to the first results leading up to the ‘aha’ moment. Any delay in delivering Time to Value increases the chances of a customer dropping off and never returning to use the product. Optimizing onboarding processes by increasing automation and initiating self-service become necessary to achieve success.

New Feature adoption and User Engagement Metrics

Both Customer Success and Product Management teams need to keep an eye on new feature adoption and user engagement metrics. With rising competition, product innovation is essential for the success of any product. Thus, new feature adoption becomes a mission-critical step towards ensuring customer retention and ensuring that the customers follow the product’s roadmap. It also becomes essential to determine how many customers tested the new feature initially and continued to use it. Organizations, therefore, need to constantly track the depth of adoption, the time for adoption,and the duration of adoption.

Identifying the user engagement and retention metrics that take into account the active users, the number of key actions, and average session duration also help in determining product success levels. Identifying users who do not engage with the product, why they do so, and setting specific triggers connected to the adoption and retention plan, better onboarding and activation processes etc. have a direct impact on conversions.

Product metrics – active users, satisfied users, net promoter score

To determine the levels of engagement and activation, businesses need to evaluate the product metrics. These take into consideration the number of daily and monthly active users and dormant users. Assessing these metrics help businesses identify which customers will be prone to churn and which ones will champion the product to higher adoptions. These numbers also help in determining the product stickiness rateswhich is the measure of the level of engagement users show with the product. A high product stickiness rate also means that the users will be more likely to recommend the product to others.

Evaluating the Net Promoter Score or NPS helps in assessing the aggregate effect of customer success. Some of the most successful SaaS companies show referrals as their primary lead sources. Thus, generating an army of evangelists by accounting the NPS provides a quantitative measure of what the customers feel about your product, what keeps them happy, identify what needs to be fixed and then take measurable steps to make the product more attractive for adoption.

Given that we are living in a world centered on customer experience, every interaction that a customer has with the product directly or indirectly has an impact on the health of the business. The focus of SaaS companies, therefore, has to be to remove silos that divide teams, adopt a strategy that gives a 360-degree view of the customer, and connect all the touchpoints and units that impact the customer journey.

Connect with us to see how you can ensure product success.

Copyright 2018, Flype Inc. All rights reserved

Best Practices for Customer Onboarding of SaaS Products

Customer Onboarding

Best Practices for Customer Onboarding of SaaS Products

Customer Onboarding
The ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ mantra has never been more relevant in the software product landscape as it has been today. Today’s consumer wants to use simple products that solve complex problems. As software gets more integrated into the fabric of our lives, both personal and professional, businesses try to come up with the best product and services to drive up user adoption. However, it is interesting to note that people stop using a product not because it is not useful or because it doesn’t solve the intended problem. They stop using a product because it takes more than desired effort to get used to it. This is especially true for SaaS companies. Customer churn is a very real part of any business. Research suggests that 40-60% of users who sign up for a free trial of the software or SaaS application will use it once and never come back. Churn rates impact SaaS companies harder because the revenue for the service is delivered over an extended period of time. Did you also know that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%? Clearly, as we move into the experience economy, SaaS companies have to become more focused in their efforts to reduce customer churn and drive up adoption. And customer onboarding is the first interaction area that decides the future course of product success. By enabling a smooth user onboarding process, you ensure the usability of your SaaS product.

The Purpose of Customer onboarding

Broadly, having a defined customer onboarding process is essential as it is this step that assists the user in:
  • Understanding the product, its features, benefits and how to use them
  • Engaging the user to complete the product setups and configurations
  • Avoiding the ‘ghost town’ effect when the customer interacts with the product interface
In effect, the customer onboarding experience has to be comprehensive and detailed enough to make the customer aware of how the product addresses and solves an existing problem, how the product works, how every single feature in the product works, and how the product helps the user achieve the desired short term and long term goals. It is only product success that enables customer success.

The Problem with Customer Onboarding Today

Customer onboarding is a tall order. And while the users’ interactions with products have changed dramatically, customer onboarding still remains a bifurcated experience. Product education is only a part of the onboarding experience. What the customer wants today is:
  • Immediate service
  • Exceptional product experience
  • Complete transparency
Unfortunately, with most SaaS products, the customers are faced with:
  • Dealing with too many things screaming for their attention – The customer would just like to begin by learning how to use a product and not go on an exploratory tour.
  • No clarity in defining what are the core product features and which are the bells and whistles – Which features should be introduced first? How do the core features work? When should the complex features be introduced? Too much information can be hard for the user to process
  • Cognitive overload – Information overload only leads to distraction and causes the user to lose interest in the product. Too many pop-ups or instructions end up making product comprehension harder and leads to cognitive overload.
  • Improper feedback – Yes, feedback begins with customer onboarding. Not all unhappy customers complain. So it becomes imperative that gathering feedback becomes a proactive and data-driven process so that the right support can be given proactively to the client.

What effective customer onboarding looks like?

In this age of personalization should customer onboarding expect anything else?

Product education and engagement

SaaS products have to drive role-based and just-in-time training to the users to educate them about the product. The idea is not just to onboard the users but also to engage them. Thus, SaaS companies should look at creating and delivering tooltips and smart content and project the same to the right screen within the product instead of letting the user wander aimlessly all over the product.

Provide role-specific and personalized training to any user subset

While the aim has to be product education, customer onboarding should also aim to provide personalized guidance and in-app guides, deliver context help and training within the product, provide smart tips or quick offer training right on-screen to tackle usability issues or common feature misunderstandings.

Inform and educate the customer without adding to their cognitive load.

Yes, customers need to be informed of all new features and updates. However, don’t most release announcements and such updates get lost in the customer’s inbox? To drive product success, SaaS companies should look at delivering all product related information, be it new feature announcements, releases, upgrades and updates, which are relevant to their use cases from within the product itself. Instead of bombarding hundreds of marketing messages, this can help in driving 1:1 proactive engagement at scale.

Make feedback proactive

In today’s age, delayed feedback is as good as no feedback. It is imperative for SaaS companies to gain deeper insights into user behavior to make faster and better decisions. They should be able to create surveys and run them inside the product, target surveys to specific customers to understand them better and also gauge customer satisfaction levels in real-time. Finally, customer onboarding has to be a device-agnostic and omni-channel to drive value across the entire value chain and deliver an immediate and engaging product experience. All this can be achieved quite simply by using the Flype Product Success Cloud, a modern product success platform that allows businesses to understand, engage, educate and assist users to drive business outcomes. Flype helps in extending your SaaS product to accelerate product adoption, increase user retention, reduce support/education costs and improve customer satisfaction all while delivering an exceptional experience that starts with a customized onboarding plan. Do you want your customer onboarding plan to lead to product success? Connect with our team to enable this.

Customer Success is not a Department; it’s the Whole Company

Customer Success

Customer Success is not a Department; it’s the Whole Company

Customer Success
The future is truly made with the customer in mind – just like how thinkers and inventors of the past such as Nikolai Tesla and Roger Ebert predicted. Tesla predicted the invention of the cell phone back in 1909 to send messages so simply that “any individual can own and operate his own apparatus.” Roger Ebert spoke of a “push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it” back in 1987 and ten years later we had Netflix. The emphasis on the success and the experience of the customer is what the future of products and services is all about. Organizations across the globe are putting in concentrated efforts to transform the customer experience. Over the past few years, we have witnessed the rise of customer success teams and product success teams. In most SaaS companies, Customer Success is a separate team. According to a recent report, there has been a 500% jump in the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn in 2017 itself! This meteoric rise of Customer Success department is owing to the need organizations feel to benchmark customer success efforts mainly because, in today’s overcrowded marketplace, your product is only successful when it helps your customers succeed.

Where does Customer Success stand today?

Customer Success teams have the huge responsibility of managing existing relationships, reducing churn, influencing sales and increasing the existing revenue base. Their primary responsibility being enabling the use of the product by the customers. While this might seem quite a simple and straightforward process, it is far more nuanced…especially when it comes to SaaS products. With the golden days of unbreakable contracts becoming a thing of the past and an increasing number of new players entering the market, the customer of today is spoilt for choice. Customer Success, thus, has to focus heavily on customer experience management and product success to evolve to these changing dynamics. However, in most organizations, the customer enablement chain is broken and customer success teams function like a separate organization within the company.

The problem with Customer Success today?

Customer Success teams, product teams, product marketing teams, the key stakeholders of product success, presently work in siloed environments and use multiple disconnected apps to reach the customer. This approach leads to data fragmentation and restricts everyone’s capability to enable their customers at speed. In this subscription economy, it, however, becomes imperative to provide a good and consistent customer enablement experience as it doesn’t take even a moment for a customer to jump ship.

Customer Enablement Matters

Customer enablement begins by acknowledging that the customers of today need more than a user manual. They need more than random updates on new product features. They demand more than an automated onboarding process. And for marketing teams, these customers need more than an email drip campaign regarding your product. So what exactly is this ‘more’? ‘More’ here can be defined by knowing what success looks like for your customers –
  • It means having the capability to understand, intercept and address the needs of the customer even before they have anticipated it.
  • It is about having the capability to extend your product to have the capacity to personalize it for every customer.
  • It is about proactively working with your customers to turn them into your advocates, increase retention, and optimize the customer lifecycle.
  • However, is this possible if all the stakeholders of customer enablement work in silos?

What does real customer enablement look like?

For customer enablement, organizations need to ensure that all these stakeholders of customer success and product success have access to the right and relevant piece of customer information, at the right time so that they can proactively help their customer. Instead of waiting for a customer issue to stem, they have to receive the right information in a timely manner so that the issue does not emerge.
  • Marketing teams need to be armed with the information of what the customer wants and what she would need based on product usage patterns.
  • The product management team needs to know where the user is experiencing issues while using the product.
  • Customer support teams need to know how to educate the customer proactively.
  • All communication, assistance, feedback, guidance, training to the customer have to be personalized, relevant, engaging and immediate.
This can only happen if customer enablement takes an omni-channel approach, where all the stakeholders of customer success get a single 360-degree view of the customer. The product success teams should be able to collect feedback, deliver knowledge, educate and communicate with their customers – in real-time and in a device-agnostic manner. Organizations need to now realize that customer success is not just a department. It is their whole company. It is about bringing all the stakeholders of the company on to one platform and provide each of them with the customer insights so that they can proactively help the customers achieve their desired outcome and help the customers use the product in the best possible manner. Customer Success expert Lincoln Murphy states, “You can focus on adoption, retention, expansion, or advocacy; or you can focus on the customers’ Desired Outcome and get all of those things”. Connect with us to see how you can focus on your customer’s desired outcomes, and align their needs with your goals by a simple in-product extension.