Customer Success, SaaS | 6 MIN READ

What Is Customer Activation: Practical Steps to Increase SaaS Activation Rates

For Customer Activation, all you need to work on is Time and Consistency. Learn how to do so.

Shoeb Ahmed
Shoeb Ahmed
Mar 2, 2021

Customer-Activation

Customer Activation

So you have managed to convince your customer that your product is exactly what they need. All the stages that led them to buy the product were well orchestrated and produced the desired outcome. That outcome is the activation point for traditional businesses. In a modern SaaS world, your business activation (with respect to a customer) cannot happen until your customer activation.

Any business is nothing but an exchange of value. Your customer gives you financial value and in return you give them business value (through product).

Business activation is the point when customer buys your product. Customer activation is the point when they receive value for the first time.

When you buy a phone, the value you gained from your first call would be customer activation for the company, partially. If you don’t use it for say 1 year, the company’s customer activation would be dead. They won’t be able to send you regular updates and enhance your product experience.

Hence, for SaaS companies to claim customer activation, the value realization from the product must be an ongoing steady state.

Ways to increase your SaaS activation rate

There are just two principles for increasing your activation rate: Time and Consistency.

How fast can you deliver value to a customer and how consistently do you do it decide the rate of SaaS activation.

Time

Your customer doesn’t care about all the processes required to get started. All they want is to get the value quickly with the least effort needed.

To speed up your value realization process in SaaS, you need:

  1. Faster sales
  2. Agile onboarding

Faster Sales

Do a proper study of customer’s domain and objectives for which they are buying your product. There could be multiple aspects of your product that you must choose from for showcasing to the customer.

I would suggest identifying three main objectives of the customer and three features of your product that help fulfill those objectives. During the sales meet, all you need to do is to map them clearly and concisely to show value fitment.

Don’t overwhelm your customer with your enthusiasm to show everything about your product at once. Sales is the door, not the home itself.

Another thing important here is to think long-term. For this, involving customer success during sales would be prudent. Think of sales as a Tinder app. Customer success and customer are the two singles who want to start and maintain a relationship for the long-term. Without letting them speak, if Tinder speaks on one’s behalf to another, it would jeopardize the relationship when they actually meet.

By involving customer success during the sales process, you set the right customer expectations and show them the inner picture of the organization. Only a customer success professional can show the preview of the actual long-term relationship of the customer with the company.

Agile onboarding

This is the time when customer success takes over completely from sales. Onboarding has three parts:

  1. Technical implementation
  2. Customer orientation
  3. Customer training
Technical implementation

Integration with the customer’s technical environment must be done as fast as possible. Tech-heavy products are often a big time-consumer when it comes to integration. Hence, you should have an integration-friendly architecture of the product. Using templates and keeping data models and data structures ready would be helpful.

Customer Orientation

Don’t keep your customer in dark for what’s about to come. Think of your relationship as a life-long graph. The peaks are the values the customer gets during this tenure. Make them aware of these peaks by sharing your value plan with the estimated time needed to get them.

This plan should contain specific customer success metrics relevant to the customer to get their first time value, second time value and so on.

Don’t tell them what they need to do. Just tell them what they will get. Because “the one who has a why can bear almost any how” as said by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Customer Training

Gone are the days when you can decide a curriculum that works for everyone. Each customer has their own way and speed of learning. All you need to do is to provide the resources for them to design their own self-learning path. They can also try learning in parallel while using the product.

Consistency

SaaS is a long journey of value exchange. You have to keep doing it consistently for a fruitful relationship. Achieving a consistent activation requires:

  1. Recurring value showcasing: Keep documenting your achievements and show them all in a quarterly call. Each time you do it, it adds up towards cementing your relationship with the client.
  1. Engagement: You need to be constantly in touch with the customer to help them succeed. Rather than speaking, listen more for effective engagement. Keep your digital ears open to listen to them through real-time monitoring and intervene when needed.
  1. Personalized communication: While tech-touch engagement is good, you cannot do the same for all. You need to have contextual communication with your long-term, at-risk as well as early-stage customers.
  1. Growing understanding of customer business: As you grow serving customers, so should your understanding of their business. It will help you at personal level as well apart from the obvious benefits you would add to your customer. Think of each customer as an opportunity to learn about the whole industry they operate in. With the greater understanding of many industries through varied customers, your knowledge would become a powerful asset.

Final Thoughts

For fine-tuning your customer activation rate, analyzing current activation phenomena would also help. Divide all your customers into three categories based on activation time: Fast, medium and slow.

Analyze what clicked for the fastest ones and replicate the same for all as much as it allows. Likewise, identify the friction-points for the slower category and remove them from your sales or onboarding process.

Another useful approach can be to create an architectural diagram of all the steps between sales and user activation. Write all the actions needed at each step and see how you can minimize the time and effort of the customer at a granular level.

Just follow the principle of giving your customer what they want as quickly as possible and your SaaS activation rate would surely soar.

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Originally Published March 2nd, 2021, Updated March 2nd, 2021

Shoeb Ahmed

Shoeb Ahmed

Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.

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