High churn rates and low retention kills SaaS businesses fast.
Customers will go to competitors if they’re not happy with your product, service, or customer experience. And it’s easy for them to change their software choice without even sending any complaints.
Before you know it, revenue drops and the company dissolves. How do you prevent this?
Focus on customer retention by building a customer success team.
Customer success influences the level of experience your SaaS provides to users. It helps users see the uncommon value in your product.
In this post, we will show you how to build a customer success team that can increase customer retention, and convert people from passive users to brand enthusiasts.
The post covers:
- The roles customer success teams play in a business.
- The core goals and benefits of a customer success team.
- Key features of a customer success team.
- 7 steps to build a customer success team from the ground up.
- Common customer success roles you should know.
Let’s jump in.
What does a customer success team do?
A customer success (CS) team helps users achieve desired results from your product. The CS team provides guides, technical support, and consultations for easy product adoption.
They know your product in and out and can display your unique selling points to customers.
Think of a content manager, John, in need of a SaaS landing page for getting email signups. But beyond that, his core interest is to convert leads to paying clients for his business.
Assuming you run a SaaS landing page builder, and John is your target audience, our marketing team will attract John as a lead, while your sales team converts him to become a user.
But the journey doesn't end there. Your marketing and sales team can’t retain John, they’re out to attract and convert more customers. Instead, It’s the customer success team that is tasked with the responsibility to retain John.
They do this by looking past John’s need for an email-capturing page, to discover his core desire–convert leads to paying clients.
A customer success team sees beyond closing an account. They look for core problems your customers wish to solve with your product. And point out the unique product features that can help solve these problems.
The difference between customer support and customer success?
Customer support and customer success teams often work together, but they’re not the same. Customer support resolves technical faults that a customer may experience with your product.
Meanwhile, the customer success team helps customers along their buyer’s journey. Customer success managers proactively offer guides to help customers get value from your product.
What benefits does a customer success team bring to your business?
Here’s how a customer success team can benefit you:
- Reduce user churn rate.
- Onboard new customers.
- Upsell customers on subscription plans.
- Share reports on customer objections and buying motivators with other departments.
- Name the problem.
Reduce user churn rate
A customer success team keeps customers happy. They maintain interaction with users and commit to their every need. This is vital for customers because they want to feel seen by the brands they love and believe in.
Customers often connect emotions to their buying choices, so they won’t hesitate to renew their plans when they’re happy with your brand.
Onboard new customers
Oftentimes, new customers are left alone to go through your product learning curve. An initial feeling of confusion clouds their minds. Buyer’s remorse kicks in, and some may cast your product aside and count their losses.
A customer success team saves your customers the hassle of learning your product features all by themselves.
Upsell customers on subscription plans
Most SaaS plans have different product levels. Each level is customized to suit different business sizes. But customers often need a subtle nudge to upgrade their SaaS plans.
Have your CS team point out the benefits of an upgraded plan in an empathetic manner, and watch your business revenue spike.
Share reports on customer's objections and buying motivators with other departments
Your CS team is the bridge between your business and the users. They report complaints, requests, and objections most customers whine to them. They also report common features and benefits customers love the most.
These reports are useful for customer acquisition and retention. The reports give insights on features your product design team should focus on. And help you plan to meet their expectations.
Name the problem
CS interacts the most with your customers, hence, they know the common terms customers use to describe their problems. This info helps you resonate on a deeper level with your audience. It makes your audience feel connected to your brand.
Have you ever noticed a person singing the same song playing in your head? Doesn’t it feel like the person can hear what you're thinking?
Although we fail to note when a person sings a different song from the one stuck in our heads. The moment a person sings the same song, we pay attention and feel connected somewhat.
The same goes for your customers. They feel connected to your business when you personalize your content by using the same terms stuck in their head.
Stackla's report reveals that 70% of consumers say it’s important for brands to offer a personalized experience. Naming the problem in your content is an authentic way to offer personalized content to your customers.
7 steps to build a customer success team from the ground up
Here are the common steps you need to build a customer success team:
1– Know your Ideal customers
Audience research remains the core strategy in the marketing world. This is because it helps you cut off guesswork in your marketing decisions.
Doing any form of marketing with audience research is useful. One key metric customers use to weigh value is specificity. Nobody trusts a business without a target audience.
So the first step to building your customer success team is to know what your audience's interests are and the channels they prefer.
Your ideal customers are people who use your product, refer new customers to your SaaS, and are repeat buyers.
For example, John is the Ideal Customer for our imaginary SaaS landing page builder.
You spot ideal customers by:
- Examining case studies and success stories from competitors.
- Reading product reviews from review and user-generated channels.
- Analyzing past interactions with customers.
- Defining your customer's characteristics
2– Plan your customer success process
The next step is to set a process for customers to access your customer success team during their buyer's journey. What are the easiest touchpoints to reach your CS team? Identify areas where all your interactions with customers can be improved.
Ask all front-line employees to share the common channels customers use to contact the team.
3– Build your customer success team: Hire or transfer the right people
Time to build your CS team. Building a customer success team isn't easy. It's not the same as hiring a marketing or sales team member. You should look for people who are passionate about your product and have empathy for customers.
For top CS positions, you should transfer front-line employees from either marketing, sales, or HR department. It will take less time to train your new team when a bunch of them are from other departments. They know all about your product and work culture.
But if you must hire talents to join your team, then you should focus on people with soft skills like:
- Good communication skills
- Product knowledge
- Customer data analysis
- Good salesperson
- Collaborative skills
It is also important to note the number of customers each team member can handle at a time. Let's say each CS specialist handles every need of 15 customers monthly. With this, you can discern how large you need your CS team to be.
4– Set clear success metrics and goals for your CS team
Set up clear metrics and goals for your CS team to work with. With this, you can achieve a much more calculated result and track ROI.
What success metrics should I focus on?
Here are key metrics you can use to measure the ROI of your customer success team:
Net Promoter Score (NPS): Net promoter score measures the average happy customers in your customer base. How many customers are likely to refer you to their peers?
How many customers will sign up for a success story or case study review? And how many customers feel excited to share their success stories from using your product? These are the common questions you ask to measure NPS.
You can get answers to your questions by sending surveys and emails to customers. Creating LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram polls might be helpful too.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Customer lifetime value measures the amount of revenue your company can earn from a customer during the relationship. CLV helps you spot your best customers–the customers that buy the best plans and contribute the most revenue to your business.
This metric helps you focus on retaining your best customers.
You measure your CLV by evaluating your customer's average revenue value compared to the lifespan of customers on average.
Customer churn rate: Customer churn rate is the percentage of customers you lose over time. Churn happens when customers fail to renew their subscription to your product.
Most businesses aim to keep their churn rate at a minimum because the cost of customer acquisition–marketing campaigns, PPC, email marketing–is greater than the cost of customer retention. It is easier to save a leaving customer than win them back. Also, retained customers generate more revenue in a business.
How do you calculate your customer churn rate?
You can calculate your SaaS monthly churn by dividing the lost customers over a monthly period by the total customers at the start of the period, all multiplied by 100.
For example, if a CRM company records 2361 customers at the start of a month. And then 1708 at the end of the same month, their churn rate will be 27.6%.
Repeat subscribers at the beginning of the month — Repeat subscribers at the end of the month
Repeat subscribers at the beginning of the month
2361 – 1708
------------------- X100 =27.6%
5– Acquire the Right Customer Engagement Tools
Complement your customer success effort with the right customer engagement tools. Let’s take a look at some valuable customer engagement tools your team may need.
Chatbots: chatbots are getting better and more reliable by the day. The chatbot is one of the easiest points of interaction between your CS team and customers. Chatbots appear on the homepage of a business website. You can use platforms like giosg, proprof chats, chatfuel, or aivo, to build a chatbot.
Survey tools: CS uses surveys to conduct customer research. It's a reliable method to note under-serving objections and complaints from customers. Surveys also make customers believe their opinions matter in your company. Use tools like SurveyMonkey, CSAT survey, Jotform, and Typeform. Twitter polls are also a low-barrier participation survey.
Co-browsing tools: Co-browsing tools allow you to share your screen with customers. This makes customer onboarding easier for your CS team and new customers.
Examples of co-browsing tools include Fullview, Loom, Cobrowse, and Crisp.
Customer success software: Customer success tool helps your CS team to spot trends, make reports, and keep tabs on customers' behavior. Common CS tools include Hubspot service hub, Gainsight, Chameleon, Tootango, and Custify.
Email marketing service provider: Email marketing is a reliable two-way communication channel for customer success teams. between them and their customers. Common email marketing service providers include convertkit, GetResponse, Claviyo, or Campaign monitor.
6– Collaborate with Other Departments
You need to encourage cross-departmental collaboration between your CS team and other departments. Otherwise, you won't be able to improve your customer retention and reduce churn.
This working relationship encourages a customer-centric culture in the company. The data reported by the customer success team influences the decision of employees.
One example of a good collaborative relationship is the synergy between customer success and the product design team.
The CS team observes the product features users enjoy the most, and communicates these findings to the product design team. With this knowledge, the product design team can make product upgrades that suit customers' needs.
7– Build a knowledge base for customers
As your customer success team grows, you’ll gain clarity on common questions your customers are asking. The best thing is to build a knowledge base in the form of video guides, FAQs, or whitepapers.
These resources make it easy for customers to solve common problems by themselves.
What are the common customer success positions you should know?
Here are common customer success roles you should take into account:
- Chief customer officer: Chief customer officer is not needed in small and medium-sized businesses(SMBs) but they contribute great value to large enterprises. The chief customer officer oversees training programs, sets customer success strategies, and presents customer success budgets to the c-suite board.
- Customer success director: A customer success director oversees every interaction between CS specialists and customers. They also keep tabs on the customer data analyst team to discover trends and customer behavior changes.
- Customer success team lead: The customer success team monitors the CS team's performance and tracks success metrics to weigh the performance of the team. The team lead ensures every CS member hits their target and aids career development by providing upskilling opportunities.
- Customer success analyst: The role of the CS analyst is to analyze and interpret customer data for colleagues and other department heads. They work with the customer success director to draw customer success processes with the help of customer data.
Your Customer Success team can inspire a customer-centric culture in your company
Employees want to crush milestones, follow work routines, and take their paycheck home. For some, customers' needs might be an afterthought. But you can’t keep your best customers with this work mindset, it will reflect in every interaction and touchpoint employees have with customers.
Customer centricity can’t be faked, either your employees have it or not. But with the help of your customer success team, you can build a customer-first work culture and then see customers as the top priority.
For example, when your CS team speaks about the unseen interest of your customers to the entire staff, they will start taking mental notes of these interests. This takes away second guesses and makes employees make more informed decisions with their customers in mind.
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