Ultimate Guide: Customer Success for SaaS

January 5, 2022

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The world of business has become an extremely competitive place. It has made it difficult for companies to compete.

One of the ways your business can excel is by turning to customer success. And for good reason, according to a study by Harvard Business Review,

84% of customers report that their expectations had not been exceeded in their last interaction with customer service.

It sets the difference between sustainable growth and failure. Although it started in SaaS organizations, it has branched out to include all types of organizations, especially ones that have a recurring revenue model. The leading companies are emphasizing customer success. If you fail to invest in customer success, your business will fall behind.

This ultimate guide to customer success software for SaaS aims to provide you with all the information that you are looking for.

1/ What is Customer Success?

2/ Differences between Customer Success vs Customer Support vs Account Management?

3/ Why having a Customer Success Team is vital for your revenue?

4/ Why should you have a customer success solution?

5/ How can I get started?

6/ Recruitment

7/ Structure your Customer Success Team

1. What is Customer Success?

Customer success is a simple and effective way to support customers in using a service. Based on building a long-term relationship, gives you the knowledge you need to overcome potential problems and thus increase your profits while increasing the churn rate. It dives deeper and looks beyond just selling to customers. Thanks to Customer Success, the customer’s needs are identified and satisfied.

Thus, it allows businesses to increase revenue and boost customer loyalty.

The success of the client, according to a definition of Lincoln Murphy, is to make him achieve his objectives thanks to the actions established with your company. The definition can be broken down into customer needs that must be met (outcome) and the means through which they are achieved (experience). Customer success can be explained as a long-term business strategy that maximizes profitability through customer and company interaction. Hence, it requires a more holistic approach to customer service and sales than what you might be used to.

2.  Differences between Customer Success vs Customer Support vs Account Management?

Understanding the differences between customer success, customer support, and account management is critical. It is common for people to mistake the three as being the same thing. However, it could not be further from the truth.

Customer Success vs Customer Support

Unlike customer support that involves a more reactive approach, customer success requires the business to be proactive. Customer support focuses on dealing with the problems that customers face and handling those problems case-by-case.

Customer Success vs Account Management

On the other hand, account management is a dated concept that goes back to the agency era. It involves account managers who strive to woo dissatisfied customers and only handle the problems as they come. Thus, it is still reactive, unlike entirely proactive customer success.

Customer success is all about looking into the future and pinpointing problems and opportunities before they arise by collecting and utilizing data points. It plays a huge role when it comes to strategy development. It enables the business to better understand customer experience and lifecycle to improve it for the better. Besides, customer success teams focus on the customer and how they can help the customer succeed rather than how the organization can succeed.    

3. Why having a Customer Success Team is vital for your revenue?

Employing a customer success team is possibly the best decision that a business can make. It helps increase customer retention by tackling churn issues. This enables the business to benefit from recurring revenue. The team proactively supports and engages with customers to up-sell/ cross-sell products and services. Each team representative would communicate your ability and willingness to make sure that the customer is successful by eliminating roadblocks that might come in the way of that success.

Churn is something that every business needs to learn to manage. This is where the customer success team truly shines. It collects and analyzes customer feedback, which it uses for improving customer retention and loyalty. As they collect and track feedback, they will gain a better understanding of what makes customers churn and how to lower the rate for improving retention. The more loyal your customers the greater your profitability. Focusing on customer success allows you to deal with main issues and carry out other tasks.

Customer Success Main

Issues Churn and Upsell

SaaS companies understand that acquiring new users is more expensive than retaining existing ones. If you already have customers using your software, you can up-sell and cross-sell to them to increase revenue. However, managing churn and upsell is not easy. Customer churn is considered to be a pest that you cannot ignore. If you ignore it for too long, it can put an end to your business. It chews up small pieces of the organization from the inside until there is nothing left. Most SaaS companies realize its importance sooner or later.

Other Tasks

The customer success team will also perform other tasks such as the following.

  • Turn customers into brand advocates: by putting customers’ needs first and making them realize their objectives through your product
  • Maximize customer lifecycle: by promoting a product or a service by considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining it
  • Engender referrals: ensure that the word of mouth is used as much as possible to earn more customers
  • Grow CLV (Customer Lifetime Value): With a high CLV, each customer brings you more revenues for your company
  • Estimate your product practice: to know how the product is used and its general performance

4. Why should you have a Customer Success Solution?

If you are still not convinced why you need a customer success solution, here are some reasons that will help change your mind.

A. Centralize your data

The main reason why you need a customer success solution is that it helps centralize your data. This enables you to get a full, comprehensive view of the customer data for gaining a better understanding of your customers. When you centralize customer data, you get to access every bit of it and analyze it for deeper insights.

B. Create a health score and send alerts

A customer success solution can be used to create a health score for each customer and send alerts to them. Stay on top of everything with the software. It can be used to assess risk, evaluate health, and take much-needed action. Keeping tabs on customer health allows you to know just how much customers engage with your business. You also get to find out if they have completed onboarding, paid invoices, and are ready for an upgrade. The solution will provide you a dashboard to monitor everything.  

C. Create playbooks

If you use the best customer success software, you will be able to create playbooks. Learn from best practice customer success playbooks to reach unprecedented heights. If you do not know what a customer success playbook is, it is a list of predictive and reactive steps along with best practices that cover every activity the customer success team encounters. It contains sure-fire winning tactics that allow your business to grow.

By creating playbooks, you get a script for different scenarios. Thus, you would be able to approach and manage just about every scenario in the best way possible. By creating customer success playbooks, you get to map out the progression of the customer lifestyle in line with product usage. It will enable you to improve loyalty, increase conversion rate, and reduce overall churn.

Not only will your business be consistent in its efforts when it follows the playbook, but it would also be able to review and reiterate to identify necessary changes and updates following customer feedback. The best thing about customer success playbooks is that they provide in-depth content and plays for churn prevention, onboarding, and adoption. They help keep your customer success team accountable, provide detailed guidance, and help with overall efforts. You must define the playbook by considering your business case, considering different customer relationships, and being mindful of who uses your product or service.

D. Track KPIs success metrics

Finally, customer success software ensures that you can keep track of KPIs. Being able to measure customer success is vital. It might seem like an abstract concept. However, the right software will help steer your business in the right direction through tracking KPIs. Keep an eye on how you are doing in terms of customer success initiatives by leveraging the solution. The success metrics can also be modified to keep up with the progress you make.
You should focus on:

  • Customer Retention Rate: This aspect seems obvious and simple, if your customer is happy, he continues to be your customer. However, this aspect is one of the most important and includes several measures of values such as the customer satisfaction score or the percentage of customers repeating a purchase
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): With the KPI, you have the best way to know the evolution of your business in the long term. To determine your score, you can send surveys to your customers and thus set up a baseline to generate referrals
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): The CSAT is similar to the Customer Retention Rate, however, it is not concerned with the recommendation rate focused on customer satisfaction with the product sold.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): With CAC, you can be one of the most important in e-commerce, thus allowing you to assess the profitability of your marketing campaigns.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CVL is the Kpi that allows you to assess the long-term value of a customer relationship. You can thus determine which sector to turn to be as profitable as possible.
  • Numbers of Customers: Probably the simplest indicator, the number of customers and lost allows you to assess if your product is working, when, how, and with which market

5. How can I get started?

Now that you know everything there is to know about customer success software for SaaS, you must be wondering how you can get started. We have broken it down into two steps that you must take as mentioned below.

Want to know more?

A. Develop a Customer Success Strategy

The first thing that you need to do to get started with customer success software for SaaS is to develop a strategy. You simply cannot rely on your sales or marketing plan as it would be too basic. The steps the plan covers cannot be standardized. You must create a customer success strategy according to the needs of SaaS and take active steps towards its implementation.

As a customer success strategy is customer-centric, it is not the same as run-of-the-mill marketing strategies. It must permeate various departments within the organization to put everything together. Here is what should be included in the customer success strategy

  • Broad Responsibility Areas: To determine areas of responsibility by client segment, geography, product line, outcome, and phase.
  • Customer Success Objectives: Define the overall customer success objectives.
  • Content: Develop valuable content that customers can use for making decisions.
  • Determine Metrics for the Customer Journey: Each part of the customer journey should be measured based on different metrics to identify milestones reached.
  • Determine Lines of Communication for Feedback: Create contact forms, review requests, and surveys for gaining valuable feedback.
  • Outreach: Find out how you would reach out to your customers
  • Retention: Determine how you can reduce churn.
  • Upsell: Establish factors for determining when to offer upgrades and suggest new products to customers.

B. Build and scale your CS Team

After you have created a customer success strategy, you need to move towards building and scaling your customer success team. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Being flexible is necessary for building a team that can serve the organization and your customers. Only the best employees can be a part of the customer success team. It would include sales staff, professional service providers, and those working at the management level.

6.  Recruitment

To create the perfect customer success team, you will need to recruit employees that possess the specific skill sets that you can instantly identify. You can start by scanning through the resumes and interviews to determine those employees that would make the perfect fit. But, if you plan on hiring or contracting someone to join the customer success team, you must make sure that the recruiting process is strong.

The team must include members who possess the required knowledge and technical expertise depending on the industry along with compliance knowledge. Customer success is one of those skills that you might not find on a resume. Hence, you have to look beyond that by focusing on soft skills that can translate to customer success. Someone who has a consulting, engineering, sales, or marketing background should make the perfect candidate. However, you still need to conduct extensive interviews and rely on the vetting process to determine the right fit for the role culturally and emotionally as the customer success team must have emotional intelligence and be empathetic while also possessing industry knowledge.

Positions for the Customer Success Team

A customer success team should include the following positions.

  • Chief Customer Officer (CCO): The CCO would be responsible for overseeing the entire customer success, product, and marketing teams for ensuring that every customer interaction is in line with the established goals.
  • Vice President of Customer Success: The VP will report to the CCO and be in charge of all
  • Strategies and their execution. The role requires one to align teams for scaling operations while keeping the customer experience in mind.
  • Customer Success Leaders: They will serve as an executive-level resource for ensuring that customer success managers help customers unleash maximum business values.
  • Customer Success Manager: Also known as client success manager, the role would require the employee to develop and manage relationships with customers to promote loyalty and retention.

7. Structure your Customer Success Team

How the customer success team is structured depends on your needs. You might need to focus more on cross-selling and upselling representatives or onboarding representatives. Once you get the team up and running, your goal should be to scale it for ensuring maximum retention and reduction of your churn rate regardless of where your organization might be headed.

Follow the link below for more content :

If you are new to customer success, you must seek help with managing your customer success team by reaching out to an expert in your industry.

To conclude, Customer Success is the key to success if you want to grow fast and keep your business healthy. Your customer success service/manager is your angel guardian as your lawyer. It’s the keystone of  your customer relationship. It allows you to retain a customer portfolio by taking care of marketing, sales, communication, and of course, customer satisfaction. With customer success, you optimize the customer relationship and therefore your own business.

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