The "subscription economy" is upon us. We’re all bought in. And while the extensive adoption of subscription models, especially software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, has lowered the barrier to entry for customers, the barrier to exit has also been reduced.
This means as a vendor in the subscription economy, you can no longer rest on the security of a closed deal, but instead must work smarter to consistently deliver value to your customers, so they’ll stick around and become bigger customers.
It also means that rapid and sustainable growth for your company comes not just from acquiring more customers at a faster pace, but by keeping your customers for the longterm, and growing their use of your product, and associated revenue, over that extended lifetime.
Customer success isn’t just about retaining customers or saving those that are about to churn, nor is it as easy as having access to real-time customer usage data. Rather, customer success is a holistic approach to helping your customers get as much value as possible from your product for as long as makes sense to all parties involved.
Here are five ways that focusing on customer success can help you drive rapid growth:
It all starts with attracting the right customers. If you don’t acquire the right customers – those most likely to be successful with your product – not only will you have a harder time (they’ll be less profitable, harder to deal with or please, etc.) – they’ll have a harder time using your product (which leads to more support, they’ll seem harder to please, etc.) and everyone loses. Focus on the right customers and you’ll grow because of your efforts, rather than in spite of them.
The seeds of churn are often planted early and those seeds are frequently planted during the initial engagement with the customer. Work diligently to create an on-boarding process that quickly and efficiently moves customers to a point where they begin receiving value.
Over the course of the relationship with your customer, you should be in a constant feedback loop with them monitoring “customer health.” This includes net promoter score (NPS) surveys, creating and monitoring their customer health score, quarterly business reviews, user-level activity data, etc. Ideally, you can have one system, such as a customer success management system, that gathers all of that to give you the insights you need.
Social proof is powerful, and when your ideal customer prospects see others like them using and succeeding with your product, there’s a level of validation that trumps just about everything else you say or promise. As your customers achieve various milestones along their journey with you, their willingness to help spread the word for and about you – to display their loyalty to your company – goes up; but it’s up to you to recognize this and take advantage of it.
The idea of extracting as much revenue as possible from clients, if not the antithesis of customer success, is certainly not the right way to look at things. Rather, if we can work to help our customers extract as much value out of our product as possible, the benefit to us will be increased revenue. Renewals – even if it’s for more seats, features, etc., and therefore revenue - will be a non-event for all involved; they’ll just happen.
If you’d like to deep dive on the topic of Customer Success, join us at the Pulse Conference 2014 on May 13th and 14th in San Francisco. More than 100 CEOs and top executives from companies such as salesforce.com will be presenting. Click here for more info.
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