How customers use and interact with your product trumps everything.
Customer success has become a popular buzzword for software as a service (SaaS) companies looking to increase the amount of time and money customers spend on their platform. By tracking customer usage along with associated account health and addressing those preemptively, SaaS firms hope to build a thriving base of loyal customers and subscription renewals that help them grow their revenue and reputation in the market.
It’s a smart strategy: The more you invest in keeping customers engaged, the more likely they are to reciprocate by sticking with your platform — or even better, recommending it to others. Not only does this approach boost business, but it also extends the lifetime value of customers, helping ensure that they will use your product for years to come.
But even if you have the most proactive customer success team in the world or the best metrics in the business, your efforts will falter without a strong foundation of product success. The experience customers have when they use your platform trumps everything. It doesn’t matter how many digital touchpoints you have or how well you manage them. No amount of customer outreach can shore up support for a poorly designed and poorly adopted product.
To drive customer success, you must focus on your product first. Are customers using it in the right way? Have you put enough effort into helping them understand the different aspects of your platform or the most relevant features for them?
Pillars of Product Success: Onboarding and Adoption
Product success is vital to helping customers develop a deeper appreciation for your platform and creating a stickier relationship with them. This starts with onboarding. The more you can personalize this process for users, the more apt they will be to use your platform.
If you operate a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, for example, consider the needs of the different stakeholders using it and what’s most important for them to know. Administrators and managers need to understand how the system is configured and how to create roles and restrictions within the application. Salespeople and account managers may need more instruction on how to input data and navigate through various forms. Executives and customer experience (CX) managers may be more concerned with how to efficiently use dashboards and reports to glean insights.
Personalizing the guidance you provide to these stakeholders through your onboarding program can go a long way in making them feel more comfortable using your platform. Instead of using generic messaging that provides a broad overview of the product, developing targeted messages for different types of users that talk specifically about the features they need most and how to use them is a more compelling way to bring them on board.
Once you’re confident that customers are sufficiently onboarded, the next step to ensuring product success is evaluating how well customers are adopting the product. Are they maximizing their use of the features they need? How frequently are they using them? Are they aware of additional features the platform offers that might benefit them? The best way to convince a customer to upgrade from a basic plan to an advanced one is by getting them to use your platform so much that they are asking for additional features.
Successful onboarding and adoption naturally make your customer success efforts easier and more effective. Not only are customers more likely to become loyal users of your platform and invest even more time and money into it, but they are willing to advocate for your product and recommend it to others.
Tackling Product Issues With Personalization
It’s not performance or functionality issues that stifle product success — it’s not knowing about them soon enough. If you onboarded 100 users to your platform, but 60 of them stopped logging in after two weeks, you need to know as quickly as possible so you can find out why and fix the issue. Tracking user patterns and behaviors can help you keep tabs on what’s working and what’s not so you can personalize your follow-up conversations with customers and gather meaningful feedback to solve their problem.
Knowing more about how customers are using your platform as well as its features can also help you develop the right metrics for gauging product success. Take a CRM for example. How often should the sales and executive teams be logging in per week? What features do they use the most? How does usage compare for CX managers on the East Coast versus those on the West Coast? Breaking usage down by demographics such as roles and geography can provide a more holistic view of how customers are responding to and adopting your product. But the ultimate goal is the same: to increase the number of customers using your product and more of its features as time goes on.
Integrating Product and Customer Success
Many SaaS firms view product success and customer success as separate entities within their operation and relegate teams charged with achieving these objectives to silos. But the two are interdependent and work best when teams are able to share information seamlessly. For example, customer success managers need to be able to access data about individual users and their usage patterns in real-time without having to search for the information in a different application or request it offline.
Using multiple systems to drive product success and customer success not only complicates their implementation, but it can also double costs. Having a single, integrated system that aligns these functions and integrates them by default creates a synergy between the two that can help firms grow their subscriptions and revenue exponentially and build a more loyal and passionate customer base at the same time.
This article is written by Prithwi Dasgupta, Founder & CEO – SmartKarrot. It originally appeared on Medium.