Customer success is more than a trendy term used by SaaS companies. In fact, a solid customer success strategy can help any business reduce churn and increase recurring revenue.
But, how do companies create success strategies that improve the customer experience, increase production adoption, and improve internal communications?
We reached out to 19 customer success experts to see which strategies they have used to help customers realize value in their product or service, and improve retention.
A customer success strategy is a plan of action that helps your business ensure all customers are successful and happy. In some businesses, this is handled by a single department. In others, the customer success strategy links each member of the organization.
Regardless, a customer success strategy stems from a deliberate partnership with customers throughout their entire journey with your business. It helps them get more value from your product or service and drives the customer experience forward toward desired goals.
A solid customer success strategy is necessary to improve both retention and renewals, as well as upselling and cross-selling. One thing all customer success strategy examples have in common is that they foster proactive relationships with customers.
The following strategies help your business forge successful relationships with customers, and in the process, reduce churn and boost retention.
What it means: Don’t try to measure everything - it's not possible. Look for the metrics, signals, and profiles that are indicative of the outcomes you care about, and base your scoring on those.
Why it matters: To measure customer success, it is important to identify specific metrics to track and improve and to use them to guide conversations and action plans.
Providing customers with the support and education they need to use a product effectively is crucial for customer success. This helps customers understand the product's full value, use it more effectively, and achieve their desired outcomes.
Chris Martin, CMO of FlexMR, highlights the importance of education in his interview, stating that their customer success strategy includes a robust support and education service layer included with all contracts. This includes 12 hours of support from a dedicated help desk team, a comprehensive knowledge base, and self-serve training courses.
By improving access to education, they have positively impacted client satisfaction, product usage, and revenue retention.
Effective support and education services can also help to improve customer loyalty and retention. By providing customers with the resources they need to succeed, companies can build stronger relationships with their customers and demonstrate their commitment to their success. This can help to reduce churn and increase the lifetime value of customers.
By investing in support and education services, companies can improve customer satisfaction, drive product usage, and build long-term customer relationships.
The "aha" moment is when customers truly understand a product's value and see its potential for use in their business. For SaaS companies, identifying and encouraging this moment is critical for driving product adoption, retention, and revenue growth.
Petra Odak, CMO of Better Proposals, explains in her interview that the "aha" moment for her company is when a customer sends their first proposal and gets it signed. To encourage this moment, they send targeted emails to push customers toward this point as early as possible.
By identifying and encouraging the "aha" moment, companies can help customers understand the product's full potential and see how it can be used to achieve their desired outcomes.
This can help to increase product adoption, reduce churn, and increase revenue growth. By focusing on this critical moment, companies can ensure that their customers realize the product's full value and build long-term relationships.
Setting goals with target dates and regularly following up with customers to review their progress can build customer trust, loyalty, and retention.
By investing time in understanding customers' goals and helping them with plans to reach those goals, a company can build a stronger relationship with its customers. This process also allows for creating personalized plans for each customer, which can drive their success and the company's success.
Additionally, regularly reviewing progress toward goals can help identify areas where corrective action is needed, leading to faster improvements and, ultimately, greater success.
Launching a product adoption tool can significantly increase user adoption and overall engagement through the customer lifecycle.
By providing users with a guided experience highlighting key features and actions within the product, a company can increase the likelihood that users will engage with the product meaningfully. This can lead to a better understanding of the product's value and, ultimately, to greater retention rates.
Additionally, product adoption tools can provide valuable data on user behavior that can be used to improve the product and the user experience further.
Providing customer-oriented support, weekly webinars, and training can improve retention and relationship with buyers and allow clients to have all the product's value for their businesses.
By taking a proactive approach to customer success, a company can increase the likelihood that customers will be successful with the product and remain loyal over time. This approach also allows for ongoing education and training, which can ensure that customers are using the product to its fullest potential.
This, in turn, can lead to greater satisfaction and retention rates and increased revenue from happy customers willing to expand their use of the product.
A two-tiered perspective in customer success strategies and offerings can ensure that both segments of the client base see desired outcomes and value when they're together in the platform.
A company should design customer success strategies with the understanding that its customer base may consist of two tiers: high-touch customers who require significant attention and guidance, and low-touch customers who may prefer a more self-service approach.
By offering different levels of support and resources to these two tiers, a company can ensure that all customers receive the level of service and attention they need to succeed with the product.
This approach can help improve customer retention rates, as well as increase revenue from both tiers of customers.
Implementing a strong follow-up process, including hand-written thank you cards and 30, 60, 90 day calls after purchase, can effectively retain customers. Following up with customers after they make a purchase can be a powerful way to build relationships and improve retention rates.
By reaching out to customers at specific intervals after a purchase, a company can show that it values its business and is committed to its success. Hand-written thank you cards can also help personalize the experience and make customers feel valued.
Additionally, follow-up calls can allow customers to ask questions and receive additional guidance on how to get the most out of the product.
By investing in a strong follow-up process, a company can demonstrate its commitment to customer success and increase the likelihood that customers will remain loyal over time.
Paying attention to customer performance data, listening to customers, and proactively checking in with them can be a powerful way to inform proactive actions and meet customer needs.
By monitoring customer performance data, a company can gain valuable insights into how customers are using their product, what features are most important to them, and where they might be struggling.
This data can then be used to make informed decisions about product development, identify areas for improvement, and tailor support resources to meet specific needs.
Reducing time-to-value in the product itself, such as through in-app onboarding paths, can guide users to the value they're looking for and increase engagement. The longer it takes for users to see the value of a product, the less likely they are to stick around.
By simplifying the onboarding process and guiding users to the key features that will provide the most value, companies can increase the likelihood that users will engage with the product in meaningful ways.
This can lead to greater satisfaction and retention rates, as well as increased revenue from customers who are willing to expand their use of the product.
Monitoring customer usage behavior throughout the customer lifecycle and quickly responding to trends that indicate something might be going awry can help course correct and improve retention.
By analyzing customer usage data and identifying trends that indicate a customer may be struggling or disengaging with the product, companies can take proactive steps to address these issues. This can include providing targeted support or resources, reaching out to customers directly, or making improvements to the product to address common pain points.
By taking a proactive approach to customer success, companies can improve retention rates and create more loyal customers over time.
Calling each client after launch to ask for feedback can provide insights for customer service and lead to testimonials that benefit marketing.
By reaching out to customers directly and asking for their feedback, companies can gain valuable insights into what is working well and what can be improved. This can inform ongoing efforts to improve the product and the customer experience, as well as provide valuable testimonials and social proof that can be used in marketing efforts.
Additionally, this approach demonstrates a commitment to customer success and can help build trust and loyalty over time.
Simplifying language, being friendly and welcoming, and making customers active participants in the solution can improve customer success and retention. By making the product more accessible and user-friendly, companies can increase the likelihood that customers will engage with the product in meaningful ways.
This can include simplifying the language used in product messaging and instructions, creating a welcoming and friendly customer support experience, and providing opportunities for customers to provide feedback and suggestions.
By making customers active participants in the solution, companies can create more loyal and engaged customers who are more likely to stick around for the long term.
Find out which customer success strategies have worked for companies such as Donorbox, Onfleet, DashThis, and SPOTIO.
Mavens & Moguls | Founder & CEO
To keep your customers engaged and connected you must leverage multiple channels. The key is to create outreach campaigns not just via e-mails and newsletters, but through various social media platforms too. Make sure that it reaches the right customers, and encourages them to reply, and spread the word.
Omnichannel creates a seamless experience for customers regardless of channel or device. Consumers now engage with a company in a brick and mortar store, online or mobile app, by catalog, or via social media. Every piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary. People use multiple devices during a single transaction process.
Make sure that you are able to listen and respond to these interactions. E-commerce retailers should preserve items in a shopping cart across devices so if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you access the site on your desktop too for example. If you recently bought a pair of pants they can recommend a great shirt or sweater to go with it.
SPOTIO | CEO
During implementation we ask them how their company plans on measuring success using our product, what are the specific metrics they are going to be tracking and looking to go up or down. From there we put them in a mutual action plan and reference them during future conversations. If we're moving toward their goals Great! let's keep the progress going if not we can work with them to identify why and do corrective action.
FlexMR | CMO
A core feature of our customer success strategy has been a robust support and education service layer included with all contracts. This means all our clients recieve access to 12 hours of support from a dedicated Help Desk team, a comprehensive Knowledge Base and - most importantly - self-serve training courses. These courses cover both academic topics and the practical training required to make the most of our software. Courses are delivered via email, over 1 - 4 weeks depending on the topic and include a mix of written, video, creative and interactive tasks.
We have found that improving access to education has had a hugely positive impact on client satisfaction, product usage and revenue retention.
Better Proposals | CMO
One key thing for all SaaS businesses is the “aha” moment, when the customers realize the value of your product and continue using it. For us, that’s when the customer sends their first proposal and gets it signed. When a new customer signs up, we send them targeted emails to push them towards this point as early as possible. If they sign up but don’t use this main feature of the app, their chances of upgrading to a paid plan or continuing to pay decrease significantly.
Return On Now | President
We provide active reports on all activities as well as periodic overall checkins on how well the strategies we recommend are going. Typically, if we do well, our services will result in both immediate and longer term benefits to the clients, with leading and lagging indicators clearly spelled out so they understand the process of building a successful conversion strategy aligned with various means of driving traffic to the domain.
Monsido, Inc. | Director, Global Customer Success
We work with our customers to identify their goals for success in relation to our web governance and accessibility tools. We then help them set action plans with target dates for them to reach those goals.
We follow-up with them on a regular basis to review their progress and celebrate their completion, or to provide assistance or additional training if they are not meeting their goals.
By investing time and gaining understanding of our customers' goals and helping them with plans to reach those goals we build customer trust, loyalty, and secure our service's value from the customer's perspective which strengthens retention.
Ziflow | VP of Growth
We've recently launched a product adoption tool to ensure our prospects and customers are experiencing our product in a more guided manner. Once the user experiences a handful of key interactions, user adoption and overall engagement through the customer lifecycle significantly increases.
Callbell SAS | Growth and Marketing at Callbell
At Callbell, we realized that one of the biggest problems in service marketing is after-sales support. From that moment we decided to provide a very customer-oriented support, we developed weekly webinars on our tool for all audiences and weekly trainings for our clients. In this way we manage to improve retention and relationship with our buyers and in turn allow our clients to have all the value of our product for their businesses.
Dryrun | Director; Client Success
We have a two-tiered client base so all success strategies and offerings are vetted through the two-tiered perspective to make sure that both of our segments see desired outcomes and value when they're together in the platform.
We reverse-engineer this process as well; our practice is to create and manage customer success initiatives as though they are gifts that we give to direct-touch clients for them to deliver to their end-clients. Steering our customer onboarding so as to create delight and insight in platform for the end-client helps clarify messaging and success goals.
HealthMarkets | Executive Sales Leader
The most effective customer retention is all about whether or not my team or I follows the process of implementing a strong follow-up process. We do a 30, 60, 90 day call to each customer after they purchase a product to make sure everything is going well. The first follow-up they get from us in a hand-written Thank You card. If we were merely aggressive in contacting our clients up to the point of purchase only, there would be some major persistence issues on the team.
Liz Hawkins Tahawi
Onfleet.com | Director of Marketing
For starters, we go with the basics: pay attention to customer performance data as it will inform you far ahead of the story, be it good or challenging, so you can work to be proactive and meet news with intention.
And: we listen to customers including all actors and also proactively check-in. I think a smart strategy might also be not to tie yourself to "QBRs" as these dictate a certain quarterly cadence and as a habit, become perfunctory and expected.
It might be better to book "EBRs" - executive business reviews - periodically. This allows your team to connect with customers in a formal, proactive way, but tied to your schedule and/or their needs.
TepFu | Founder
We have focussed on how our Lazy Marketing Academy members feel from the start and work tirelessly to ensure they know they are loved beyond revenue. They know it’s not about the money for us. They rarely leave. It’s all about the feels.
Donorbox | CMO
At Donorbox, we don't have typical SaaS economics, our customer pays us a small commission for the amount they raise.
Referral Rock | CEO
We have a required on-boarding package where the customer pays an additional fee. The fee helps them understand the value and makes the commitment to utilize our customer success team's expertise.
The job of the customer success team is to project manage, advise on best practices, and drive goal oriented behaviors to get the customer to launch their referral program.
By driving the customer towards this goal, the customer can then start to see the value of the product.
DashThis | Product Manager
At DashThis, we consider that reducing time-to-value in the product itself is the way to go. Our customers come to us for a software, and so we try to improve the experience and get them to the value they're looking for as fast as we can by guiding them in the product.
One thing we've done to reduce the time-to-value is improving our in-app onboarding path.
DashThis is a digital marketing reporting tool allowing to easily aggregate marketing data and create dashboards with the most important KPIs.
So when landing in your first dashboard in DashThis, we've inserted a widget inviting the user to create his first KPI. This widget guides him through the app in order to create the most relevant KPI.
Without this widget, users used to get a bit lost, ending up never creating any KPI, and leaving their trial session after a couple of minutes, missing the whole point of DashThis!
Since the implementation of this widget, we've seen significant increase in the engagement of our new users. They realize the potential of the tool way more quickly, and appreciate the fact that they were able to get there in a very short time!
Truckstop.com | VP of Customer Success
Even after a customer has taken action to realize their first value out of our product, we monitor their usage behavior throughout the customer lifecycle to be able to quickly respond when we see trends that indicate something might be going awry, such as customer support tickets, no logins or decreased usage in the past 30 days, or negative NPS score, and use those as opportunities to identify what the customer might need to course correct.
Orbit Media Studios | Co-founder and CMO
Call them all. Our process (we do web design) involves a final step that a lot of companies skip: we call each client, two months after launch, to ask how we did. What could we have done better? Did we meet your expectations? How could we have been more helpful?
The insights for customer service are excellent (no surprise) but if you do it right, there's a hidden marketing benefit (big surprise!) because these calls lead to testimonials. If a customer gushes with love after working with you, one quick request and you can turn those words into a testimonial.
https://www.proprofschat.com/ | Customer Support Manager
Communication is an important aspect of customer success - true. And so is having professional conversations with them. But in our attempt to sound professional we fail to realize that there is a lot that our customers won't understand. They won't understand the technicalities of the product or the calibre it may hold for their business by simply speaking to them in terms of features.
We surely need to simplify how we speak to our customers, in fact be more friendly and welcoming to them. That helps us reinstate their trust in our brand and encourage them to be more open with us in the future conversations. This is one of the ways where your business can truly achieve customer success and improve retention.
https://qualaroo.com | Growth Marketing Specialist
Proactive in Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Being proactive in business always pays off, especially when it comes to customer feedback. Companies often start collecting feedback from customers when they see a downfall in specific metrics.
Instead of waiting for such warnings, companies should proactively engage and ask customers about their opinions and experience. Make customers part of your product team and not mere end-users who come to you with support tickets.
Ask customers with surveys on how they use your products to explore its new applications, how you can improve their overall experience, and make them feel their voice matters. It helps strategy teams to discover fresh and unanticipated insights coming straight from customers. All in all, make customers active participants in your solution and not just problems using real-time customer feedback with surveys.