As far as SaaS companies are concerned in late 2017, one of the most important topics that we could cover is the idea of customer success. By improving customer success rates, businesses are far more likely to see financial success. I like to think of it like this – Customer success leads to retention. Retention leads to revenue.

So how is customer success achieved? First, let’s talk about something a little less fun…customer churn. Customer churn (when a customer cancels their service) occurs at every stage of business. When a company works to reduce their customer churn rates, they are also likely doing the very same steps to increase their customer’s success rate.

Many startups will focus on closing large enterprise clients. This is understandable. Enterprise clients offer more stable cash flows, glowing references, and more business opportunities for scaling and growing services. However, SMBs (small to midsized businesses) matter just as much. For starters, getting smaller clients is much more manageable with automated processes while enterprise clients are more expensive to onboard.

The essence of customer success is to work on customer retention to reduce customer churn, whether that customer is an enterprise client or a small SMB. In this article, we’ll take a look at some ways of achieving customer success over the lifetime of their subscription.

“H” is for Handoffcustomer handoff

The smaller the company, the less hassle the first handoff is. If your company is relatively smaller, then it is likely that the person that recruits a customer is also their primary point of contact with the company over the lifetime of their subscription. If this is the case, there is no problem. However, it isn’t always so, especially for larger companies. Usually, the person who recruited the client hands them over to a customer success management agent, and they become the new client from then on. It is essential in such circumstances to inform the client of this change so that they do not experience any confusion.

There are a handful of important factors to consider when passing a client or lead over to another team member: who will be working with the lead, the size of the lead, the possibility of a larger team working with the particular client, and so on. Make communication a priority for your team to cover any gaps in the process.

“C” is for Champion

Have you ever worked with a customer who just gets what your company does? They might even love the service you offer and are happy to explain it to everyone they know. A customer champion is a person on the other end of a business deal that understands your products in and out and can easily vouch for it.

Customer champions understand the most fundamental aspects of your product as well as the benefits of the service you offer. Customer champions will also typically be excellent communicators.  That is why they are so valuable to the work you are doing. Having a customer champion isn’t particularly difficult either. All it requires is communicating with someone who always has an ear on the ground and whose colleagues find easy going and approachable.

“T” is for Trial

This point is particularly important for large enterprise clients. Say you have a free trial for your product for 30 days. Your smaller clients will be fine with this trial period. Your enterprise clients, on the other hand, will typically see it as only the beginning.

By the time the trial period is over, larger companies will only be beginning to draw up a blueprint for how they will integrate your product into their systems. During the trial phase, your client will likely incorporate your product into a more massive project. Remember, most clients today are employing a whole host of different digital sales and marketing products, only one of which is your product. They might also be pursuing other strategies such as emails, new sales staff, etc. It’s crucial to keep your product at the top of their list of priorities while also keeping things simple.

The trial phase should be split into two phases. The first is to define everyone’s roles. Have a discussion with the client about what to expect. Also, you need to have clear rules for how to get the top brass at your client’s company informed of crucial role changes and technical tweaks whenever you plan to grow the account. The second phase is creating a blueprint for the customer. This plan will detail the workflow, making it easier for them to follow it.

“A” is for Adapt

There are many changes that could take place at your client’s company. These vary in size and impact. For example, your customer champion might switch from their current position to a different one. If such an instance arises, you should move quickly to recruit a new customer champion.
Another form of change is one that affects relevance. Your customer might discover a new product or change the way they do things, impacting the significance of your product to them. Do you still offer enough benefits to justify them paying you for your services? champion

Remember, your product needs to give more value than it takes. There will typically be regular cost-benefit analyses conducted on your product to see if it’s worth keeping. In such cases, you should be prepared to defend your product and show why it is still a great proposition.

“G” is for Growth

When an enterprise client starts out with your product, they’ll usually apply it to a specific unit of their business. If they understand the benefit of your product and want more of it, scaling up becomes a point of discussion. This is the perfect opportunity for you to grow an enterprise account and bring in more revenue. Most of the hard work building a relationship and earning trust will have already been done. Make sure to plan and act as quickly as possible before the opportunity disappears.

“S” is for Success

There are so many factors to customer success we could probably have a paragraph for each letter of the alphabet. It’s important to learn from each experience you have with a client so that, as your company and processes grow, you learn what works and what to avoid along the way. Remember these primary factors to helping your customer be satisfied, and you will be well on your way to success too!