The Importance of Time to Value for SaaS Businesses and 10 Ways to Improve It
Time to value is the time taken by a customer post-sale to gain value from the product for the first time. Here are 10 ways to improve it for SaaS business.
Sep 23, 2020
A customer journey starts from the first time they hear about your product (at the top of the funnel). They go through various stages dealing with your marketing and sales team until they arrive at the onboarding phase. But, what is the end-point of your onboarding? This is where Time to Value comes into picture.
A customer can first be engaged while interacting with your sales executive. Then, when the onboarding phase starts, the Customer Success manager takes up the client. These stages and handoffs require a certain level of engagement from the customer to make them more familiar with your product and brand.
But, to what end are they engaging in all these stages? When do you consider your onboarding to be complete? And, at what point you decide to walk through the customer to post-onboarding steps? The answer is when they start gaining value from the product.
Hence, according to its definition, Time to Value is the time taken by a customer post-sale to gain value from the product for the first time. This is the point when a customer realizes the worth of your product. This is a crucial parameter, deciding customer satisfaction with your product.
Why is SaaS Time to Value Important?
Onboarding is one of the key phases that decides customer longevity. It is only in onboarding when they start getting the real picture of your brand. All the phases before that were just promises made by the brand. But, during onboarding, a brand gets an opportunity to show their customers the real execution of those promises.
Time to Value is an onboarding goal. During onboarding, you should aim to do the following:
Technical configuration of your product
Educating customer through help tutorials, user manuals
Integration with the client’s technical environment
Populating customer data in your product
Demonstrating how to use the product
All these steps form parts of onboarding so that the customer will be fully engaged with you. These steps don’t mean a thing until the customer reaches a point where they start gaining value. The moment they start gaining value is the time when you leave them to self-service. This is the goal of onboarding and must be pursued by every onboarding specialist.
Time to Value is a major metric through which you can prevent churn. During onboarding, a customer is always in a dilemma. The moment they see a glitch, they make up their mind to leave your service. Hence, you have to be very careful in terms of having a more efficient and speedy Time to Value.
The faster they start gaining value from your product, the more successful you will be in retaining them.
How to Minimize the Time to Value?
In the above section, we have understood how important it is to reduce Time to Value. Now, let us see how we can achieve that:
Design intuitive features in the product.
Use behavioral engagement.
Create levels of product adoption.
Set up a goal and guide users.
Identify and remove friction.
Maintain high-touch engagement.
Create and follow an onboarding playbook.
Structure user training programs.
Plan customer engagement strategically.
Design Intuitive Features
The most important aspect of customer onboarding comes from the product design itself. It should be as user-friendly as possible. When you are using your own software, it can be easy for you to overlook how a minor blip can become a roadblock for a new user. Hence, design your software in such a way that even a first-time user can navigate through it seamlessly.
Use Behavioral Engagement
It is important to monitor your customer’s usage pattern when it comes to effective onboarding. Know what features they are using more, where they are getting stuck, where they are going wrong. Based on this information, you must engage with them—either through messages or calls—to improve their experience with the product and facilitate smoother operation.
Create Levels of Product Adoption
With a first time user, it is over-ambitious for you to expect them to adopt your product in the initial phase. You must create your product adoption plan in such a way that they graduate from one feature to another systematically. Overwhelming them with all the features at once would make it difficult for them to get familiar with the product.
Start with the simple features and as they get accustomed, introduce them to more complex ones. This is applicable both in product design and customer engagement.
Setup a Goal and Guide Users
Customers could go astray in their journey if they don’t have the right goal to guide them. Give them a tangible goal during the onboarding discussion. For example, consider a revenue amount, reduced time in the workflow, or whatever suits your context. Through a goal, they will remain intact with your plan and cooperate willingly when you guide them toward success.
While an off-the-shelf customer onboarding package is useful for a large cohort, there is no better alternative than personalized onboarding. When you want to minimize the Time to Value in Customer Success, your personal attention to them helps immensely. Keep a dedicated implementation specialist or an onboarding specialist for a quick response to their needs. This will help you resolve any glitches they face quickly with minimal turn-around-time.
Identify and Remove Friction
There should be a thorough user acceptance testing of your product before and after you launch it. You must use your product from a new user’s viewpoint and identify any minor blip you come across. It might be minor for you, but it can consume a lot of time for a new user. Therefore, identify all friction points and remove them from your product.
Maintain High-Touch Engagement
This is similar to the personalized onboarding point stated above, yet a little different. Although it is not possible to maintain a high-touch engagement with every new customer, especially when you have a large installed base, you can divide your time according to the stage a customer is in. During the initial phase, maintain high-touch engagement with them until they graduate to become self-serving.
Create and Follow an Onboarding Playbook
In your journey as a Customer Success professional, it is always wise to maintain a playbook. Learn from mistakes and document them so that you don’t repeat errors in your journey. Identify what went wrong with your customer who churned during onboarding and how you can improve the process. Learning must be an ongoing process along with practical implementation toward refining your process.
Structure User-Training Programs
While it is good to provide online tutorials and support documents to the user, it is more effective when you structure it. Focus solely on Time to Value and the features associated with it. Then, educate your customer only toward that goal rather than serving them with all the knowledge at once. This will allow them to use their bandwidth toward achieving a focused goal without getting lost and overwhelmed by your knowledge articles and tutorials. As they graduate initially, then train them for higher levels of usage.
Plan Customer Engagement Strategically
As a Customer Success Manager, you need to interact with various personnel at the client-side who are at different levels. You need to hold technical discussions with end-users, strategic business discussions with the higher authorities, and so on. But, don’t lose focus on Time to Value for the customer. Organize customer engagement effectively at all levels so that your onboarding goal can be achieved without delay.
Helping users reach their value epiphany quickly helps the entire company. Your customer retention strategies should be in place right from the start. Minimum time to value is the first goal you must aspire for building a long-term relationship with clients.
Only through goals at granular levels can you add value to the customer in the long run. An even more granular level of adding value should be infused in every touchpoint you make with the customer. As you go about serving them, all these short goals achieved together will eventually result in the business expansion of your firm.
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.