Till a while ago, nobody thought much of customer experience improvement – let alone SaaS companies, who prided themselves in creating some of the best products but left it to the customer to figure out how good it really was. But not any longer. Now, customer experience and service are everything; it has even taken the entire SaaS ecosystem from a market led one to a product led growth path. Customer experience is driving sales and building brands. It’s important to constantly improve customer experience with a personalised touch, because, as Nick Bonfiglio, author and CEO, says, “each customer uses your software in a unique way, you want to have meaningful individual conversations with them while they’re in the product.”
So, What is Customer Experience and How to Improve it?
For a software-first or a SaaS company, from the moment a customer becomes aware of its product (ads, word of mouth, social media posts, etc) to getting him to engage with the product (free trials and freemiums) and interacting (getting hands-on with the product) combine to form an overall customer experience and perception of a brand for people. So, a great customer-centric strategy that optimises customer experience should be a dynamic combination of customer service, customer success, customer satisfaction, customer engagement, customer interaction and much more.
Here are five ways to build up each customer’s perception of your company, product and brand by improving customer experience.
1. Time is money: Value the customer’s time
Today, every customer is multi-tasking and mobile-enriched and demands data that enables them to make strategic decisions pronto. While businesses measure customer experience on various parameters, this Forrester Research found that a whopping 77% of customers rate a company’s service as per how it values their time. So time to stop forcible onboarding, and make ?
- Anticipate the customers’ needs
- Ease up sign-ups and onboarding
- Be quick with responses
- Leverage social media and chats to find quick resolutions to customer issues
Woo the customer with speed and efficiency and turn them into your advocates. Multiple surveys conducted in the recent years have indelibly linked customer experience and PLGs with customer’s time. A Twitter poll showed how airlines customers are willing to pay an astounding $19.83 if that would enable them to get a response to their queries within just six minutes. So provide value to the customer here and now, and drive growth – this is the simplest way to improve customer experience. So, time to stop forcible onboarding and give other educational tools for customers to know your product, perhaps?
2. Empathise: Feel the customer’s pain
Keep in constant touch with the customer, talk to them, feel their pain, hear their problems patiently – show them you care. This comes from understanding your customer and their needs – actually, anticipating them.
- Listen to them: Be a good listener, and find out what are your customers’ worries and aspirations
- Find out what drives their successes: What matters to them, their priorities. Make their success yours to show them you care
- Work on customer satisfaction: Acknowledging their feelings will help you get to know them better, and help you turn even a negative experience to one of positive advocacy.
For SaaS companies, it’s imperative to win over customers with empathy. Improve Customer experience through empathy can only happen if you align all departments of your company, from marketing to sales to product design to adopt a customer-first attitude. Instil empathy in your company culture by initiating customer-centric initiatives. Give EQ equal importance as IQ. These days there are tools to map and gain insights about how employees perceive workplace empathy using a clutch of company values, CSR initiatives, behaviour and workplace culture to help companies where empathetic practices are needed.
3. Don’t make frequent radical changes to the product
Comfort of use is everything when it comes to software applications. Certain usages become a habit – almost a reflex – for the customer, and he uses them without much thought, thankful almost, for an automated process that’s taking care of a certain part of his workload. Imagine his chagrin when he is forced to change the way he works frequently due to your unannounced updates. So, overhaul your site only if you must, and it will have a significant impact on conversions and revenue generation.
Incremental changes versus Radical redesign
This is a raging debate in the design architecture world, with making ‘room for improvement’ often winning. The Japanese even have a name for it: Kaizen, meaning ‘changing for the better’. So, before you mindlessly bung the old out of the window and go for a radical redesign, rethink its necessity along user-centric goals. Go for it only if it’s the last option. Meanwhile, use the Kaizen principles to
- Look for gaps in workflow, fix it – update tools, get a new set of them if needed to create intelligent workflows
- Train your workforce to know the product inside out. Begin with yourself
- integrate all your departments to focus on customer – know the customer, his demands, needs
- Take customer feedback seriously – be prompt to act on it, empathise to add value to it
- Keep making imperceptible changes along the way
As much as quality of a product is key to user experience so is stability and dependability on the product. This is disrupted by frequent changes. So, while quality assurance is a thing in SaaS businesses and customers need to believe they’re getting value for money, don’t fall into the pitfall of thinking customers will think you’re at the top of the game if you keep updating your site.
4. Keep the human touch alive and active
Great CX strategies are all about customer success teams taking over from chatbots at the right time, and creating an emotional, long-term bond with the customers. This is what matters most when it comes to customer retention and renewals. Agreed, chatbots can answer customer queries at any time, but they do lack that intuitive next step a CSM can take when it comes to user queries. The worst crime ever is to get bots to pretend as humans – it never works. Social media is awash with examples of mistimed bot answers to customer queries. So, what’s the alternative? Let the customer
- Access forums where others have answered the queries
- Come to live chats – provide a time window
- Have links to instruction documentations and educational resources
- Approach a dedicated customer success employee
The last point is often the deal maker for the customer. A dedicated CS employee is a struggling user’s lifeline. In fact, reach out to him. Schedule a phone call, communicate, provide tips, alleviate their stress during the initial days, and chances are, you’ll have them with you for life. Never let the customer dig around for information about your product – build multiple customer journeys instead.
5. Never underestimate the power of monitoring
Don’t stop looking for those signs. Monitoring metrics are often the crux of the company’s success. It’s that important. Customer success metrics can tell you whether you’re on the right path or the wrong one. It can tell you early on whether your product is adding value or not. These days there are many free as well as subscription monitoring metrics available online. Keep checking whether the customers are indeed finding success by using your products and services. How is the relationship between the customer and your product/company progressing? What do you need to do to further this relationship? Are they getting adequate onboarding and educational information to be successful? Monitoring metrics tells you when to change, and how much to change. It’s a way of gauging the customer feedback in a more scientific and calculated way to further your business as well as their success. 14
So, all in all, CX is the only thing that really matters in today’s world for SaaS companies. They are the voice of the customer that tell you what’s in demand and what’s the need of the hour. Look carefully and you’ll see that all those phenomenally successful companies you keep hearing about, they’re constantly looking at creating a personalised customer experience via various channels to keep the customers on their side all the time.
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published June 15, 2020, Updated June 29, 2022