While the concept of customer success has been front and center in the business world for decades, it is often somewhat removed from the company itself. A product or service may be designed to solve a common industry problem, but whether or not customers are successful using it may depend mostly on them. Once the product or service is delivered, the business takes a more passive role–relying on clients to reach out with questions, problems or concerns. Only when a customer calls, emails or chats is there an opportunity to facilitate greater customer service and success.
In the era of product-led growth, fostering customer success becomes a much more interwoven part of the entire customer journey. Instead of interacting with you only during intermittent transactional moments, your customers should essentially have a personalized company representative continuously at their side, guiding, teaching and fostering customer success.
As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, you must position yourself as an integral part of your customers’ workflow. Just as in any relationship, it takes time to develop trust, and an important way to do that is by paying attention during every stage of relationship development.
If you offer a freemium product or a free trial period as part of your product-led growth strategy, this introductory period is critical to capturing paying customers in the long-run. Be sure to focus on fostering customer success in these early stages.
Unfortunately, many customers put in about as much effort as they are paying, and at this level, that’s nothing. The challenge for you is to quickly demonstrate product value and problem resolution to your customers with as little friction and input as possible.
While conventional onboarding tutorials are a cost-effective way to reach these toe-dippers, they are often ignored. Instead, you want to rely on in-app engagement tools that can not only provide assistance at the moment of need but also track and analyze a specific customer journey so that more personalized assistance can be delivered. In addition, collecting any nuggets of information about your customers’ goals can help you guide them to your product’s most valuable features.
Once your customers get hooked on one feature of your solution, it’s important to foster further engagement to reduce eventual churn and increase long-term retention. If you can successfully understand individual customer behavior collected through in-app tools, you can better intervene with suggestions, problem-resolution, or value-adding services. At this stage, it’s important to find the right balance between using automation tools and incorporating the human touch.
For example, you may be able to generate a list of customers who logged in daily and then suddenly stopped engaging with your product. Use this information to reach out to see what caused the halt, remove barriers, or clarify confusion before your customers cancel subscriptions. Analytics reports can help you pinpoint common trouble spots for customers, and you can use this information to provide feedback to your product development team.
As your relationships with your customers grow, you’ll continue to better understand what each customer needs. Your job as a SaaS provider is to stay one step ahead, always offering the next feature that can foster even greater success for your customer. This will result in more consistent renewals and greater overall commitment to your specific product.
Ideally, you will want to achieve a high level of intimacy with each of your customers. A long-term commitment not only means one happy customer, but in the world of product-led growth, it means you now have a new, unpaid marketing team member. Fostering customer success is the best way to promote and spread the promotion of your product through the ranks of an organization.
By reaching a true partnership with your customers, you have also cultivated an idea-generation team, ready-access to thoughtful feedback on new features or complementary tools, and flaggers or early problems or issues. Both qualitative and quantitative data are more readily available, feeding the improvement cycle. Working collaboratively is beneficial for all parties as improvements are often immediately appreciated by existing customers and easier to promote to new ones.
At this stage, the relationship becomes a win-win situation for both you and your customer, each helping the other to foster long-term, personalized success.
Just as product-led growth has evolved from conventional sales and marketing strategies, customer success in this ecosystem will change from the traditional. Instead of discrete, transactional opportunities to serve customers, you now have an opportunity to be continuously present at every moment of your customers journeys.
Understanding how to guide, educate, support and intervene at the right moments to help your customers achieve success will be the key to rising above the competition, fostering unparalleled customer stickiness, and generating long-term revenue and profit.
If you'd like to learn more about how in-app collaboration will help your product grow, schedule a demo today.