CS Power Tools

Customer Success is essential to the long term health of your business; every SaaS company needs to make room in their budget to support one. Without a Customer Success team, the responsibilities for account retention, upsells, and proactive maintenance fall to the Sales team and Support teams, each of which are more focused on meeting quotas and troubleshooting, respectively. However, there are techniques that each company can implement to reduce financial output and increase ROI.

The challenge in Customer Success is knowing when to act. It’s easy to set quotas, goals, and metric targets, but how does a CSM anticipate a customer’s needs, and proactively optimize their account? How do you spend effectively such that you optimize inputs for the maximum outputs? These five foundational methods for Customer Success will improve your CS operations, and spend your funds and team members’ time most efficiently.

Make the Right Investments

If you don’t invest in the correct tools and personnel, your cash will be wasted away in inefficient uses. The first step is to hire the right team. It doesn’t have to be large group, but rather a collection of people with complementary skill sets that are open to dealing with uncertainty and continuous growth. An untapped resource is the current Account Managers who can be trained and shifted over to the Customer Success team.

No new hires means you don’t have to spend on their salaries, and allows you to shift over any redundance in Sales and Support who are looking to pivot to a new function. Similarly, spend on a Customer Success Automation platform. This allows your CSMs to get beyond the daily grind of repetitive activities, and focus on more productive account expanding activities. With constant updates on customer health in real-time, you’re never unsure of a customer’s status or their happiness levels.

Base It On Lean Growth

Your primary agenda when you setting up your Customer Success team should be to establish an ROI with the least cost input. Emphasize Lean Startup principles, and focus on the MVP, the minimum viable product, with which your customer would be satisfied. Ask customers what success looks like to them, and how using your product or offering can help. Focus on those base requests before getting fancy with upsells, and extraneous features.

Customers want to get to the heart of the issue, before anything gets complicated and requires too much effort to maintain. If you can lock in those initial customers and retain them for the long haul, you have created passionate advocates who will be loyal to your offering. The best way to do this is to reduce TTFV, time to first value. Keep distance between the closing of the sale and the beginning of onboarding short and sweet, so the customer never forgets what you can offer them.

Record All Micro-Costs

When pitching Customer Success to your executive team, be honest about the real costs it will take to start up a new operation. If you set expectations at where they should be, there won’t be surprises that cause leadership to balk and backtrack on their commitment to take a risk on CS. Once you get the go ahead with a defined allotment, allocate economically. Spend the most on the areas that are likely to yield the most renewals and upsells.

Allow your team to get into the swing of Customer Success, and then record what each revenue increase requires in investment and personnel effort. Always have an accurate dollar amount for each success story so that you can make a compelling case the next year as to how you will need extra enforcements to scale operations. If executives like what you are delivering, and the cost to benefits ratio, you have made a case for an expanded budget next year.

Reduce Need for Customer Support

Troubleshooting each customer’s account can be very labor-intensive process for Customer Success Managers. If you can streamline this process, then each CSM can instead optimize accounts proactively, and work on building relationships with the clients that are not just predicated on fixing bugs. The best way to do this is to allow customers to help themselves. Create help documentation that prompts them in the product, right by each critical feature, so that they never feel like they’re stumbling around in the dark.

If they’re having difficulties navigating through the product, direct them to videos that break down each step. Not only does this practice save your CSMs time, but it also is preferable for the customers! As it turns out, 91% (Zendesk) of customers prefer to use a knowledge base, if it helps them solve their problem, because it is so more productive than waiting to contact their account manager.

Metric Your Pitch

While implementing the new processes and training the team, choose a few KPIs, key performance indicators, that accurately assess how your team is performing. By observing changes and trends, you can determine which practices work, and which should be phased out. Focus primarily on churn, a term in which all employees in your company will be well-versed. The most compelling way to make the case for Customer Success is to demonstrate that you’ve increased retention by a double figure percentage.

No one can argue with efficacy, and say that your finances were ill-managed. In the same vein, utilize surveys, like NPS and post-QBR feedback, to establish that customers are now more satisfied with your product than ever before. If there has been constant growth, highlight that. If levels have always been high, show that CS, at the very least, isn’t less effective than previous account management techniques.

Perform for the Next Year

In order to receive funding and gain executive support, you need to demonstrate sustainable value. This repeatable value has to take the form of quantifiable revenue, not only for your company, but also for your customers. By utilizing the techniques listed above, present your Customer Success team with strategies to boost productivity and ensure capital growth for the next year. If you show how well you can allocate your current resources, and the resultant ROI, your company will be fully onboard the CS train. Customer Success is an investment into long-term, sustainable, revenue growth, not an extraneous and unnecessary cost. Within the next two years, every SaaS company will have a Customer Success team. Do you think we’re correct in our prediction?

Which strategies do you implement to increase Customer Success ROI?