Just Out of Reach or Within Your Grasp?

Oh, it’s so close… and yet so far. Your prospect trials and existing customers are busy sending you signals from within your product – but are you listening?

  • Do you know what to listen for or how to take action?
  • Can you identify which steps or actions taken by your customers generate the best results?
  • If you are indeed listening and monitoring, does the product information or signals flow into your CRM, Marketing automation, or Helpdesk tool so you can respond in a timely manner?

Granted – true Customer Success depends on a lot more than just product data. Customers need access to education or training materials, guided onboarding experiences, and knowledgeable Sales and Support when they are simply stuck.

With today’s SaaS offerings, however, there is an abundance of data to mine and guide us towards good customer outcomes. Having reams of actionable product data is certainly changing the way we interact with customers on both the Sales & Marketing and Support fronts. Let’s dig into a simple view of the customer lifecycle, and check out some of the major milestones and potential interaction points.

CS Interaction Points

Before we get going – you’ll need to step back and ask yourself two key questions:

  • What is a successful outcome for your customer?
  • What are most critical tasks that a customer must accomplish?

You’ll need to answer these two questions in order to set up the appropriate monitoring and tracking activities.

Stage 1: Trial to Convert

Your trial is your customer’s first experience with you and your product, so you have to make sure it’s a positive one. The first key aspect to convert a trial-er is to maintain fast and easy communication with them on their preferred channel. After you have them in a discussion with you, keep them engaged and using your product so they’re seeing the value they could derive if they became subscribers.

Fast and Welcoming Responses

  • How quickly did you acknowledge your potential customer? A day, within the hour? Within 5 minutes?
  • How did you reach out?
    • Was it an in app message? Email? Perhaps a phone call to higher value prospects?
    • Was it personalized?
  • Do you have some type of regular ongoing communication during their trial? (Either driven by time or event milestones?)

Engaging with Your Prospect

  • How often is your prospect engaging with your product? Number of logins, days since last login in?
  • Are they taking important actions?
  • How quickly do most trial-ers move from trial to convert? Who’s lagging? And if so, want helpful reminders or hints can you provide?
  • Can you measure the revenue upside from rapid outreach? Is there improved conversion? A higher ASP with sales assisted?

Stage 2: Onboarding

Your trial-er is now a PAID customer. In this stage, your focus is on getting them up and running and keeping the momentum going. First, reflect upon your answers to the successful outcomes and critical tasks to be accomplished questions. You should be looking at actions and activities that support those outcomes and critical tasks you’ve identified.

Go beyond “last login” or “number of logins” as precursor to successful onboarding – for example, are any of these customer interactions leading indicators?

  • Entering critical information (for example, personal or client information, content)
  • Viewing a dashboard or report
  • Sending a document or invoice to their client
  • Adding a team member or users to your service
  • Integrating with any other Apps or tools (such as Salesforce, Hubspot, Zendesk, Intercom, QuickBooks or Bill.com, Marketo, etc)

As you become more attuned to your client onboarding – you can start to build more metrics around the onboarding process / funnel.

  • What is the average time to onboard? Do some customer segments move more quickly through the onboarding process (i.e.: self service/small businesses may move quickly while larger departments or enterprise clients may take 60-120+ days to onboard)
  • If you have milestones in your onboarding process, are customers moving through the steps or do they slow down/stall at certain points?
  • Are customers falling out during the initial onboarding phase? Are they starting to churn within the first 60-90 days?

Bonus Round:

  • Can you measure REVENUE impact from improved onboarding?
  • Can you identify “sticky behaviors” (ex: integrating with an CRM or App, or adding a second team member)… and can you measure the LTV from the customers?

Stage 3: Expand

Look for areas to expand existing customers, such as the number of seats, product use cases that drive higher plans, additional products or applications, or adding professional services

For higher touch accounts, have CSMs identify expansion opportunities.

  • Expansion within existing accounts – adding more users, or expanding into other areas/departments via internal referrals
  • Additional product features beyond the initial use case Depending on your product or service, some examples may be ex: advanced reporting, security or user permissions, speed/bandwidth
  • Additional services – is there an opportunities in services such as: enhanced support/service, on-site or on-line training, professional services (hands-on)
  • Additional apps or products to extend functionality (Can your partner ecosystem help?)

For your lower touch, more automated customer outreach (1 to many outreach), can you leverage the same concepts listed above as part of a broader customer outreach program via email, blogs, or in app messaging?

  • Identify high volume / high usage accounts as potential prospects for additional seats / licenses
  • Heavy usage accounts with single user ID. Learn about these customers – is there an opportunity for additional seats? What are they doing to drive so much usage – what is their secret sauce?
  • Promote key use cases and customer scenarios which highlight enhanced features and higher plans. By educating your customers around key use cases, you have the opportunity to showcase successful customers, remind customers of enhanced functionality, and attract revenue via promotions.

Bonus Round:

  • Can you measure EXPANSION REVENUE as part of your opportunity funnel? Can you capture these potential opportunities within your CRM for tracking?
  • Any surprises from your existing customers? Is there a use case or product feature that customers LOVE that wasn’t on your radar as a top feature? If so, how can you educate customers effectively?

Stage 4: Retain / Renew

Identify which customers have a high probability to renew, or cancel upfront (120 days+ renewal date) and take action with those segments.

For higher value and higher usage customers –

  • Outreach to high value customers – protect and grow your top accounts
  • Find and activate potential promoters – can the become reference accounts / client testimonials for your web site?
  • Seek referrals from happy clients (work with marketing on community, co-marketing, and promotional offers)
  • Leverage the expansion opportunities captured in the previous section – can these be closed at time of renewal?

For those customers who are not engaged or active, identify the “at risk” customers for follow-ups in advance. Identify common themes or issues, and start targeted outreach via phone, email, and surveys to re-engage them. Determine what barriers exist, and how these accounts fell off the product bandwagon. The follow-up should be a re-engagement campaign via messaging, webinars, and special offers to generate goodwill and clear out any issues with the product.

Bonus Round:

  • Can you quantify or measure baseline renewal value as well as expansion (or contraction) revenue?
  • Can you Identify which customer segments and customer use cases have the strongest renewal rate? Churn rate?

Well, that’s a lot to cover…no wonder why Customer Success teams are swimming in data! It’s everywhere…. and never ending! How can a team manage the incoming flood of data, review and take action in a timely and relevant way?

By actively leveraging the power of your in-product usage data throughout your customer journey, you can guide your customer, help them realize the value of your product, and keep them on the path to Customer Success.

An Action Plan

  • Map the customer journey and lifecycle: trial, onboarding, expansion, and retention
  • Establish clear triggers / milestones in each section of the customer journey
  • Record and measure these critical moments
  • Take action and respond to the customers
  • Test and learn which methods have most impact and establish them as best practices