Many times, B2B SaaS companies get so caught up in trying to attract new customers that they end up neglecting their existing customer base. However, few things are more valuable to a company than recurring revenue from repeat customers. In order to keep your customers coming back for more and reduce your churn rate, make customer success a priority for your company.
In this blog, we’ll explore what customer success is, why an effective customer success team is vital for SaaS companies, and six strategies that you can use to improve your customer success efforts.
Why Customer Success Is So Critical for B2B SaaS Companies
A well-known rule of thumb in business is that new customer acquisition is much more expensive than leveraging your existing customer base. However, earning repeat business from your existing customers and keeping customer retention rates high is a tall order if you don’t prioritize customer satisfaction.
This is where a customer success (CS) team comes in. CS teams are all about ensuring that customers are able to use your products and services to fuel the success of their own business. They proactively support customer needs and help them unlock the value of your SaaS products as their business grows.
Most of all, CS teams play a central role in reducing customer churn and extending the lifetime value of your existing customers. Their efforts have the potential to substantially increase the revenue of your B2B company.
What Customer Success Isn’t
Customer success isn’t reactive or generic.
While it’s certainly important to respond when customers bring a question or concern to your attention, one-off issues are a job for your customer service or support team, another important role. Your CS team should actively strive to identify potential opportunities and solutions for your customers rather than just reacting to issues as they arise.
Likewise, success means going beyond generic check-ins with your customers. Since customers often won’t know exactly what they need from you to succeed, or all the ways your product could help, your team needs to actively work to identify new solutions and opportunities to present to customers.
6 SaaS Customer Success Best Practices to Implement
Effective customer success efforts go far beyond basic customer support and generating upsell opportunities. As a B2B SaaS company, your bottom line is tied to your customer’s bottom line. So, it’s vital that your current customers feel confident with your product or service and can use them to reach their goals.
With that in mind, here are the six best customer success practices that you can use to promote the success of your customers and, ultimately, the success of your business.
1) Understand Your Success Metrics
Every decision that your customer success team makes should be driven by accurate, in-depth data. Monitor your own internal data, paying attention to key customer success metrics like your churn rate and Net Promoter Score to see how customers really feel about your efforts and product.
It’s equally important to analyze your customer data. For example, are your customers spending less time with features they used to rely on daily, or adding lots of user seats? By analyzing any data that your current customers are willing to provide, you can better pinpoint opportunities for success and notice issues faster.
2) Build a Strategic Customer Journey
Many companies spend a lot of time considering the customer journey of a customer that has yet to make a purchase. However, the customer journey doesn’t end after the purchase. It’s just getting started. The best CS teams place their customers on carefully designed paths to success to take them from paying customer to loyal customer. This customer journey can include upselling opportunities along the way, enabling you to draw more value out of new customer relationships.
Ultimately, though, the primary objective of any customer journey should be to make sure your customers feel heard, valued, and satisfied every step of the way. This is the way to happy customers that will be thrilled to offer your company their repeat business and even make referrals.
3) Implement an Effective Onboarding Process
Start your customers off on the right foot with an excellent onboarding experience. It’s one of the most effective ways that SaaS companies can promote customer success.
With the right introduction and education, your new customers will get comfortable with your software and use it in their workflow more and more, increasing their product adoption and seeing the benefits faster. (This is especially important for companies selling SaaS products that have somewhat of a learning curve to utilize.)
You can use a variety of tools and resources to teach new customers the ins and outs, including quick video walkthroughs, live tutorials, how-to pages, infographics, blogs, FAQs, and more. You don’t have to guess — ask your customer what is most helpful for them and their team.
4) Proactively Engage With Your Customers on a Regular Basis
It should go without saying that it’s difficult to promote customer success when you don’t fully understand customer needs.
With that in mind, one of the most important jobs of a customer success manager is to engage with customers on a regular basis. This can be through weekly emails, monthly calls, quarterly business reviews, and more. This way, the CSM can develop a deep understanding of who they’re working with and tailor their strategy accordingly.
In order to keep a finger on the pulse and make sure your CS team is always aligned with your customers’ objectives, maintain an open line of dialogue. Encourage and request customer feedback, and take that feedback to heart whenever it’s offered. You can also incentivize survey responses to uncover more insights and show customers their opinions are valued.
5) Avoid Annoying Your Customers
While it’s important to maintain regular contact with your customers, you also don’t want to go overboard and risk annoying them. Your customers are busy people. Most of them will be happy to make time for beneficial meetings that provide some sort of real value. If your CS team is contacting customers too frequently just for the purpose of checking in, however, they risk becoming an auto-ignore email or phone call.
It’s a fine line to walk. The easiest way to avoid wasting your customers’ time is to only reach out when you have something valuable to offer or important to point out. (This is separate from scheduled, agreed upon check-ins.) This way, you can still proactively engage without running the risk of souring them on your services.
6) Put the Right Tools in Place
Monitoring customer satisfaction and improving retention will be an uphill battle if your CS team isn’t equipped with the right tools. Software is the cornerstone of many top-notch CS teams, much like your SaaS product helps your customers.
Your department’s setup could look like full-fledged CRM and onboarding software, custom-built workflows and spreadsheets, or a combination of simple, inexpensive platforms. Whatever the case, work closely with your CS team members to make sure they have the tools and features they need.
Key Customer Success Metrics for B2B SaaS Teams
As we’ve talked about, every decision that your CSM team makes should be driven by analytics. If you would like to make data-driven decisions regarding your customer success strategy, here are some of the customer success metrics that you’ll want to consider:
Customer Churn Rate
The churn rate is calculated by dividing the number of customers churned over a specific period by the total number of all customers. If your churn rate is higher than the average for your industry, it’s a strong sign that your customers aren’t completely satisfied with the results that your SaaS solutions are providing. A churn analysis can help you get to the bottom of the issue.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score tells you how likely a customer is to refer your products or services to one of their colleagues. Since few things are more valuable to a B2B company than glowing customer referrals, achieving a great NPS is a common goal for CS teams.
Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who qualify as “detractors” (rating of 0-6) from the percentage of customers who qualify as “promoters” (rating of 9-10). It’s an essential metric to consider as you go about evaluating the customer experience of your existing base of customers.
Customer Health Score
The health score is a metric that can have a somewhat ambiguous definition. How you define the overall health and satisfaction of your customers — and the metrics you use to do so — can vary from company to company.
In any case, it’s important to create a method for putting a number or rating to your overall customer satisfaction that makes sense for your company. This number can take into account a number of different factors, including churn rate, NPS, customer satisfaction score, and beyond.
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
Another key objective for CS teams is to maximize the lifetime value of customers you acquire. Customer lifetime value is fairly simple to calculate. All you need to do is multiply your average purchase value by your average purchase frequency then multiply that figure by your average customer lifecycle.
The number you end up with will tell you how much your company can expect to gain over the lifetime of each new customer that it attracts, and this is a vital metric for gauging the results of your customer success efforts.
Customer Retention Cost
Retaining an existing customer may not be as expensive, on average, as acquiring a new one, but customer retention still comes at a cost. Any expense that goes toward customer success or customer support counts as a customer retention expense.
This can be tricky to calculate. One approach companies use to calculate the cost is to take each CS manager’s or rep’s salary and divide it by the number of accounts they manage.
While you certainly want to retain as many customers as possible, it’s important to take the cost of doing so into account. If your customer retention costs are too high, you may not end up getting much value out of your existing customer base even if you are successful at keeping them satisfied.
For more, read our roundup of SaaS growth metrics your business should be watching and analyzing.
How Sales and CS Teams Can Work Together for Optimum Results
Sales and customer success might be two separate departments within most companies, but the goals and obligations of these two departments are intertwined. Ensuring customer satisfaction requires a sales team and CS team to work together throughout the customer journey. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips for how sales and CS teams can team up effectively:
Outline OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
Carefully outlining and sharing OKRs is a great way to ensure that the efforts of your sales team are aligned with the efforts of your CS team, and vice versa. It’s hard to support each other and remove silos if they don’t know each team is striving toward.
Invest in Skill Development for Your Team
Like any other team, CS teams need ongoing training and development in order to function at their highest potential. Be sure that you’re providing your CS team and your sales team alike with the training opportunities and resources they need to succeed.
At Sales Assembly, we’re committed to helping B2B SaaS businesses provide their employees with world-class training and skill development programs. Through our industry-leading Customer Success Certification Program, your company’s sales and CS team members will gain the exact skills and strategies they need to drive customer engagement and fuel long-term customer success. Contact us to learn more.
Build Effective Motivators
Every team benefits from a little motivation and it’s an especially effective way to kick off a collaboration between your CS and sales teams. For instance, you can reward members of your CS team with a commission when they successfully upsell a new product or feature that the sales team is promoting. Alternatively, you can award a sales bonus if a certain percentage of their customers are retained. Work with team leaders to design an incentive structure that makes sense for your reps and their style of teamwork.
Create a Proper Handoff That Encourages Accountability
A smooth transition from sales to CS is critical to fulfilling your customers’ expectations and helping them find early success. To accomplish this, you need to create an organized handoff process between your sales and CS teams.
We recommend building a repeatable plan with clear timelines, roles, and responsibilities that reps tailor to specific clients. Something like this could already be built out in your customer journey or onboarding workflow. This step encourages accountability and communication across the board.
Make Sure the Comp and Quota Make Sense
When two teams are required to work alongside one another toward a common objective, it’s important to make sure that credit is given where it’s due. Putting in place proper quotas and compensation structures will go a long way toward making team members feel recognized and rewarded for their individual contributions and extra efforts.
When Your Customers Succeed, So Does Your Company
A customer-centric approach never fails, and this is where a CS team truly shines. Prioritizing the success of your existing customers is one of the best ways to reduce churn, maximize LTV, and position your B2B company for a long-term win.
We hope these best practices help you start building a strong, collaborative, and data-driven CS team. To take your CS or sales team’s skills to the next level, enroll them in our expert-led Customer Success Certification Program now.