Why SaaS Products Still Fail to Connect with Their Consumers in A Meaningful Way?
- It is 9x cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new customers, costing $0.13 to acquire any additional dollar of revenue – Source
- 86% of SaaS businesses treat “New Customer Acquisition” as their highest growth priority- Source
- Best-in-class SaaS companies achieve 5-7% annual revenue churn – equivalent to a loss of $1 out of every $200 each month – Source
- The median monthly revenue churn for large SaaS companies is 0.75%, translating into an annual revenue churn rate of 10% – Source
- 50% of paying customers log in to their SaaS service less than once a month (or not at all) – Source
Focus on personalizationUsers have to be introduced to the new age of ‘Personalization’. Let’s call it Personalization 2.0. And this personalization does not mean just sending emails with the individual’s name on it. Given the sheer number of SaaS products available today, the consumers expect a high degree of personalization that extends across the entire product lifecycle. This means the personalization experience has to start from the onboarding process and has to extend to how the product is being used. Every single interaction that the user has with the product has to be personalized. The objective of personalization is to provide a hyper-contextual experience that shows the user that the product is tailor-made to suit their needs.
Customer engagement is an ongoing activitySaaS companies have to realize that customer engagement is not a one-time activity. The focus of customer engagement activities does not end at onboarding and is not relegated to news regarding product updates and updates. Customer engagement initiatives have to go beyond these, and companies need to identify ways of connecting with the user based on their journey. And this engagement has to happen within the product. Right from proactively sending them the right training material, updates, upgrades, marketing content etc., every piece of information exchange has to be contextual and relevant to the customer based on her product usage and product journey.
Break down the silos fragmenting customer successThe objective of customer success for SaaS products is to take the user to that ‘aha’ moment in the shortest possible time. Many stakeholders contributing to customer success who operate in silos makes customer engagement a fragmented experience. With silos dividing teams contributing to customer success, no one gets a 360-degree view of the customer. The information exchange that can enable seamless interactions thus does not happen. What SaaS companies need to do is provide all the stakeholders of customer success, the product engineering teams, the marketing teams, the finance teams etc. a consolidated and comprehensive 360-degree view of the customer. With the right data at hand, these teams can connect with the customer at the right time, when work happens and thereby push enablement closer to work proactively.
Driving communication value“Content is king, but context is God.” We cannot emphasize the importance of this statement in the SaaS universe. With so much content vying for the customer’s attention, your update email is just another piece of communication that is delivered to the customer. How can you make it more? Value can be driven only by contextual communication…communication that is relevant to the customer…. communication that has solutions to their problems or will help them achieve their end goals better or faster. SaaS companies do gather a lot of data on their customer but what good is that data if it does not deliver the right actionable insights. With the right insights that come from usage data, behavior and sentiment analysis, companies can hone their communication with the user. They can then align their communication with what the user wants and address all their implied and explicit needs. Such communication has value in the life of the customer journey and helps the customer connect with the product in a more meaningful way. In a nutshell, while creating a great product is essential, it is time that SaaS companies pay attention to how they deliver value to their customers, deliver meaningful experiences, create enablement where work happens and deliver deep and continuous customer engagement in a device agnostic manner. Connect with our team of experts to see how you can achieve this and more with your SaaS product.
How to Make Customer Success Managers Successful?
- Companies prioritizing customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors
- By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product and will emerge as a key competitive differentiator
- 86% of buyers are willing to spend more money on a product or service for better customer experience
- Bad customer experience will have a reach that is twice as large as a good customer experience. It will take 12 positive experiences to make up for a single bad experience
- A 1% difference in churn can have a 12% impact on company valuation in 5 years
Deliverance from a fragmented universeWhile organizations have a dedicated customer success team in place, they often forget that along with this team there are several other contributors to success. All the product stakeholders, the product team, the finance and marketing team, the training team etc. play a critical role in creating that ‘aha’ moment in the customer journey. Customer success teams have to often oscillate between one team and the other to gather customer data, identify customer issues and resolve their pain points to deliver the promised experiences. The focus thus shifts from the customer to the data gathering. And the gratification delivered to the customer is often delayed. Delayed gratification is, in today’s economy, as good as no gratification as the customer is used to highly intuitive experiences. Customer success teams have to have access to all information and interactions related to the customer. They cannot be spending time accessing and asking for customer data. Gaining a comprehensive 360-degree view of the customer and the manner in which she interacts with the product, therefore, becomes essential for proactive monitoring and success.
Customer success cannot be reactiveDid you know that 79% of customers would willingly take their business to competition within a week of experiencing poor customer service? Also, a company can lose 50% of its customer base during its first year alone to churn owing to poor onboarding. And given that it costs 5 to 25% less to keep an existing customer than to get a new one, these numbers can certainly not be ignored. Customer success teams often have to take a reactive approach to customer engagement and management. In the absence of proactive data, these teams are not able to identify the customer pain points when the customer experiences them. The customer raises an issue and the team jumps to resolves it. Often, they resolve this issue in an impressive time frame. However, what about those customers who do not raise issues? What if they do not intimate the company of the challenges they are facing or the product improvements they want? Customer success has to, therefore, move out of the product to drive loyalty. The customer success teams have to be armed with the right customer insights, at the right time to help them understand how and why the product will benefit them. Embedding emotion analytics, or sentiment and behavior analytics into the product helps in expanding the customer journey positively. With data, customer success teams can proactively identify the challenges customers face and provide a solution even before an issue has been raised.
Pay attention to the silent onesThe customers who complain get attention. The customers who are low-touch also get attention. But what about those who quietly use your product actively, don’t complain and are generally passive in replying to surveys etc.? This customer base often lies ignored and can jump off the wagon at any given time. Customer success teams clearly have a tall order chalked out for them. They need to ensure that ‘all’ customers see the value and reach that ‘aha’ moment in their product journey. ‘No one left behind’ has to be the motto of the customer success team. And while this is easy to say, it can be difficult to deliver. Access to current customer data and usage insights, a 360-degree view of the customer, information on customer drop off points, analytics, customer sentiment, and behavior etc. helps customer success teams interact with these silent customers who seem happy but can potentially jump ship at any time.
Streamline the information frameworkFinally, for customer success teams to be successful, the information framework has to be proactive and streamlined. The dependencies have to be reduced. Information exchange with the customer has to be highly personalized and contextual. For this, these teams need to have the bandwidth to not only push the content created by marketing teams that are relevant to the customer, but also be able to create content from existing company resources to resolve and enable customers closer to where work happens. Professor Theodore Levitt, former professor of Harvard Business School, said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” It is up to the organization to understand that the product is just a means to an end for the customer. But it is the customer success managers who make it a great deal more. It is only fair that this team gets access to all the right resources to make that happen.
5 Tips for SaaS Companies to Improve Customer Engagement
Just-in-Time TrainingThe kind of content you have plays a defining role in driving customer engagement. Long and heavily detailed content leads to cognitive overload and often result in disengagement. Why? Simply because a customer wants to use a product fast. She does not have the time to read and go through detailed text that may or may not have the answer to her question. The objective of customer enablement initiatives is to help the users with that ‘aha’ moment in their product usage journey. For this, easy readability of learning content is essential. Content should be so flexible that it can be delivered in smaller, bite-sized nuggets to enable knowledge acquisition and retention to drive to the results that the customers desire. SaaS companies should leverage ‘Just-in-time content’ that allows all this and also use analytics to measure if the enablement content is leading to behavioral change and consequently recalibrate the content, if needed, to drive customer engagement.
Focus on the contextContext is king. Those who do not follow this mantra are doomed to perish in this hyper-contextual world. SaaS training programs have to create a sense of purpose with the user. And how can you create a sense of purpose without context? Learning content for an entry-level executive cannot be the same as a senior employee, can it? SaaS product enablement, thus, has to be provided by assessing the pain points and learning needs of the user. Even the onboarding experience cannot take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach any longer. As we move deeper into the age of personalization, customer engagement is created by taking into account the little details such as job roles, organizational role, etc. In the SaaS universe, customer enablement also goes beyond product training and product guidance and extends up to process training as well. These organizations, especially SME’s, have to possess the bandwidth to create such learning material fast and easily – clearly, the standard walkthroughs and case studies will not work. Contextual training makes the product more meaningful. It allows users to understand how the SaaS product aids them in better performance. It assists them in areas that they need help.
Intelligent customer engagementSaaS companies need to keep their finger on the pulse of the customer at all times. Measuring how the customer is using the product, what are the ‘drop off’ points, what kind of product support is she seeking, what kind of information does she need to perform better…SaaS companies need deep insights into the behavioral statistics of the users to identify what kind of learning assistance they need and deliver that proactively within the product. These initiatives drive intelligent Customer Engagement. To increase customer engagement, companies also have to give their customer success teams the leverage to use existing resources such as PDF’s, PowerPoint presentations, Whitepapers etc. to create rich and interactive enablement content and learning videos. It helps in quick dissemination of content to guide the product users in the right direction. By gaining access to user data, the customer success teams should be able to create meaningful training experiences employing easy-to-use templates for different user segments, post and publish the content in-app and in the manner that they want to, without IT intervention.
Have a central information repositoryIn the age of self-service should enablement content be left behind? All learning material is information, and information is knowledge. SaaS companies have to leverage self-service in training and learning initiatives as well and make it effortless for the users. Built-in search features that display suggestions as the users’ type is one way to go. It is also important to control content visibility to ensure that the right content/data is displayed to the right user. Maintaining a central information repository that can be accessed by the user even when training programs are over make these programs more relevant, ensure better knowledge retention. This consequently boosts customer engagement as the customer does not have to leave the product in search of information.
Anywhere/Anytime accessThe world is moving toward convenience. Whether it is retail, banking, or healthcare – industries are moving towards mobility to unlock this convenience. Guidance for SaaS products is no different. In 2019, the number of smartphone users across the globe is expected to cross 3.8 billion by 2021. Smartphones and tablets are a great resource for the enterprise today, especially with the rise in the number of mobile workers and the millennial workforce that puts convenience over everything else. For greater customer engagement, thus, SaaS companies have to ensure that not only do they curate stellar learning experiences but also, they deliver the same, anywhere, anytime, in a device agnostic manner. Clearly, SaaS companies need to put a greater focus on learning and intelligent enablement rather than just training. Training by nature is merely prescriptive in nature. Intelligent enablement focuses on identifying how to help the customer use the product. It helps in reaching that ‘aha’ moment. A high level of customer engagement then just becomes an imminent outcome. Check out Flype to see how you can deliver highly engaging personalized learning experience to guide users in the right direction.
Trends that will Impact Customer Engagement in 2019
Customer Engagement Gets ContinuousCustomer experience is the driver of customer engagement. In the coming year, it will be imperative to ensure that these experiences unite to create continuous customer engagement especially when customer interactions move online. Engagement with the customer has to continue even after the sale has concluded to turn adopters into advocates. Right from product onboarding to assessing how the customer is engaging with the product, providing the right information at the right time in a device-agnostic manner and ensuring that contextual and relevant information is presented at all times will drive customer engagement in 2019. Businesses also have to ensure that they create the correct guidance path for their customers to push enablement closer to their work. Information exchange has to thus become more timely, contextual, personalized, relevant and continuous.
Unify the Customer Success team66% of customers say it takes more for a company to impress them with new products and services than ever before. Customer engagement in the coming year also has to become more unified. While the customer success teams become the primary pallbearers, organizations have to realize that all the other contributors for customer success such as engineering team, the marketing team, the finance teams, the engineering team, etc. – all can contribute proactively to customer success. Customer engagement becomes linked with customer enablement as the organization orchestrates all resources at hand to make the customers happy. By unifying all elements of the customer success, organizations can create continuous customer engagement by engaging with the customer at the right touchpoint.
Support and Self-ServiceClear communication between the product and its stakeholders and the customer has been an important trend in the past. Customer loyalty and attrition is determined by each and every customer interaction – communication included. For deeper customer engagement, companies have to create a vehicle that enables two-way communication so that the customer does not shuffle between tools to connect with the right team or stakeholder to get a task done. The push toward self-service has been established. Almost 70% of customers expect a company’s website to have a self-service application. Software products thus have to provide self-service options to make contextual information available to their customers proactively. This provides greater control to the customer and aids in creating more meaningful experiences that foster customer engagement.
Data goes to workThe personalization economy will only proliferate in the coming years. As customer mature, organizations in the coming year have to work harder to deliver highly-personalized and yet contextual information exchange. Given that each customer journey is unique, organizations need a clear 360-degree view over the customer sentiment. These insights help create meaningful interactions and also help resolve customer problems and pain points proactively. The demographic, behavior, and event data from internal as well as third parties will increase in value in 2019 to create a unified 360-degree view of the customer. This will help in curating meaningful customer interactions that deepen engagement.
AI meets Business Process AutomationCustomer engagement, as mentioned earlier, will be driven by data. While we have been talking about data for a long time now, in the coming year the conversation will experience a slight shift. To push customer engagement, organizations will need access to not only the complete customer data but also the right customer data, and at the right time to tailor and create meaningful and personalized customer experiences – at a scale. To enable this, we will witness the rise of AI-powered Business Process Automation that will empower customer success teams to maintain a great mix of personalization coupled with scale. As connectivity disrupts customer behavior irrevocably, organizations have to adopt a new approach towards customer centricity in the coming year. Clearly, The Age of the Customer is upon us and businesses need to create winning interactions to create deep engagement to retain their customers. It is either that or being left behind.
The 4 Pillars of Smart Customer Engagement
EngageCustomer engagement begins with, well, engagement. No surprises here. How are your customers interacting with your product? How easy is it for them to complete the onboarding process? How is the entire onboarding experience? Are the new product features or upgrades being adopted easy? How easy is information exchange? These are a few starting points to assess how the customer is engaging with the product. To create deep customer engagement, software product companies have to ensure that they can optimize the customer onboarding process, provide step-by-step guidance to help them learn how to use the product and deliver that ‘aha’ moment, and get maximum utilization of the features present. Organizations have to be hyper-focused on user experience and ensure that all the information that the customer needs – be it the new feature updates or associated information, notifications or messages – are delivered at the best time frame and contextually to help them maintain their productivity and consequently drive adoption.
GuideAll customers need guidance when using a product to identify how the tool can help them do their task better. Organizations also need timely insights to understand customer pain points proactively to provide the right training when they need it. The objective of customer enablement is also to guide the users so efficiently that it actually pushes enablement closer to work. It, therefore, becomes essential to have the capability to provide highly personalized, in-app training experiences to capably guide the users in the right direction. Organizations thus need to have the capability to create engaging, insightful, intuitive and rich, contextual and relevant, content experiences for their users and publish the same easily, where, when, and how they want. Content also has to be available for easy consumption in a central repository in a device-agnostic manner and be powered by powerful search options to drive engagement.
AssistYour customers want their answers now. Not later. And definitely not tomorrow. This need for speed in the digital economy is pushing organizations to enable self-service. Reports show 70% of customers expect a company’s website to have a self-service application. For software products, the application itself has to enable self-service. This not only deflects high-cost interactions but also provides greater control to the customer. To drive customer engagement, product companies need a robust knowledge-base with a self-service portal and built-in intuitive search capability that displays suggestions as the user types in her queries. The companies should be able to deliver the right answers and information to their customer quickly. Only providing the information is not enough but they also need to be able to assess the reactions to the content through powerful feedback mechanisms.
UnderstandCustomer engagement can only happen when product companies can truly their customer. What these companies need is a deep understanding of the customer journey to turn the product into a healthy obsession. For this, organizations need to create clear communication channels to learn what their users think of their product or service and gain the capability to smoothly incorporate feedback into every product decision – be it prioritizing product features, identifying ways to improve the product experience, or gaining the capability to reach the right users at the right time. Relevant and contextual, always-on, customizable NPS, CSAT & CES surveys, understanding behavioral data, social listening play a crucial role here. Powerful analytics and built-in reporting to convert data into experience help in gaining contextual feedback and contribute to building a data-driven product development roadmap. Organizations need access to contextual customer data to determine the changes in user needs, create highly personalized Netflix or Uber-like product experiences. The key to smart customer engagement is to ensure that all customer touchpoints with the product are seamlessly connected and all information is available in a central repository. Organizations need to possess clear visibility into customer sentiment and gain the capability to connect with the customer and vice-versa. It is six to seven times more expensive to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. Clearly, in this customer-driven economy, it pays to direct all the right resources to create smart customer engagement. Connect with our experts to see how you can take your product from good to great and create a community of brand loyalists.
10 Easy To Implement Customer Retention Strategies For Product Companies
Any business has three main goals – build leads, generate sales, and create a network of loyal customers (aka customer retention). While companies focus on lead generation and sales, to build a thriving business, it’s essential to focus with laser precision on their most valuable asset – the customers. While no one is disputing the importance of the lead generation and sales machinery, the fact remains that by reducing churn and focusing on existing customers, businesses can increase their profits by 25 to 95%. According to a SAS and Loyalty360 survey, 68% of business comes from existing clients. And this makes sense because a 3% monthly churn amounts to 31% annually. According to another study, it is 9X less expensive to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. It is hardly a surprise then that for 56% of SaaS companies existing customer renewals are a high priority.
Clearly, in a software economy that is becoming increasingly competitive by the day, customer retention has to be a heavy point of focus. But does customer retention have to be a herculean task? How can product companies ensure that their customer retention strategies are future-ready and robust? Let’s take a look at some easy to implement customer retention strategies for product companies
- The onboarding experience
The onboarding experience is perhaps one of the most determining contributors to good customer engagement.
The customer experience in Week 1 determines if he/she will continue to remain a customer by Week 10 and onwards. From taking the customer from familiarizing themselves with the product to establishing usage patterns, to making the product an indispensable tool in the life of the customer – all can be driven heavily by onboarding.
Driving hyper-focused, contextual, personalized, always on, anywhere-anytime, onboarding experiences become drivers of customer retention as it helps establish see value in the product in week 1 itself.
- Enable self-service
Product companies do not have much time to create an impression on their users. They have to move with the objective of creating ‘Wow” moments in the customer’s journey.
However, how can they achieve this if customers are not assisted in this journey? Organizations need to help customers by enabling self-service and providing proactive contextual recommendations when they need it in a device-agnostic manner. This not only deflects the high-cost interactions costs but also provides the user with more control.
- Provide contextual guidance
Today’s users need highly contextual and personalized training experiences. To drive customer retention, these customers need to be given the right guidance exactly at the point of need.
Organizations need to create and deploy rich and interactive content and have in-built engagement tracking metrics for detailed insights into product effectiveness. They also need to enable microlearning, allow effortless self-service so that the users find what they need faster, create clear user segmentation for better personalization, and automatically collect feedback to identify areas of improvement.
- Incorporate feedback into every product decision
Your customers need their voice to be heard. Even if they might be speaking in a whisper.
Having access to complete, clean, contextual and correct customer data helps organizations determine how the customer is using the product. This is ‘Implied Feedback’. Organizations also need access to clear and explicit customer feedback in the form of surveys, feedback forms, NPS surveys etc. as well as have insights into the implied needs of the customer and then incorporate that in every product decision to drive loyalty and retention.
- Enable effortless communication
Things need to be extremely comfortable and convenient for the customers.
With many contributors to customer success such as the product engineering team, the marketing, and communications team, the finance team etc., creating proactive engagement can become a challenge. This also demands the customer to shuffle between tools to get a job done. What the customer needs is effortless, two-way communication with all the stakeholders of customer success and remove any communication ambiguity.
- Manage change effortlessly
Customer retention also depends on how you manage change as the product evolves and grows. Having an in-app, omnichannel approach ensures that customers can be notified of changes via multiple channels, and the right and contextual guides can be delivered to them where they want it.
With insights into user behavior, organizations can send in the right recommendations in the product itself to ensure that the user is able to navigate the change in the product features or functionalities easily.
- Enable in-app product extension
Continuous customer engagement is the key to reduce churn and drive customer retention. However, with many contributors to customer engagement, it becomes essential to orchestrate all the main contributors to customer success to give the best product experience to the customer. Every single time.
This can be achieved by enabling in-app product extension as then organizations do not need to ask the customer for information regarding the product. In-app product extension ensures that the product experience is improved by analyzing the user’s behavior and thereby drives customer engagement and ultimately retention.
- Measure and manage effectively
Gaining insights into customer sentiment and their usage and behavioral data helps in identifying areas of improvement and pain points.
By gaining access into real-time user behavior with actionable analytics reduces the problem resolution times. By measuring the activity within the product, organizations can understand and re-engage their users by arranging one one-on-one personalized engagements at scale. These efforts contribute significantly to customer retention.
- Allow multi-channel communication
Continuous customer engagement can also be driven by enabling multi-channel communication.
This works as a solid retention strategy as organizations then get the flexibility to push all relevant messaging to the users within the product and the website. This communication can also be accessed in a device-agnostic manner to extend communication with the user.
- Clear visibility into customer sentiment
Customer retention happens when organizations create continuous customer engagement – whenever they want it and however they want it.
This can only happen when the organization has clear visibility into customer sentiment. This can be achieved with the help of real-time insights into customers usage history, surveys, and feedbacks as well as insights gleaned from demographic behavioral and event data.
Along with this, organizations have to ensure that as the product grows, they enable personalization and scale together. It is quite apparent that enabling manual intervention at scale with the sophistication today’s software products need is a tall order and could lead to failure. Organizations, therefore, have to enable AI-based Business Process Automation that uses complete customer data to drive both personalization and scale.
In our next blogs, we shall be taking a deep dive into these elements and see how they impact customer engagement and influence customer retention.