It’s not enough to have a slick product if that product doesn’t address specific user needs. It’s also not enough to interact with customers during onboarding if you can’t incorporate feedback and augment the product.
The only way a SaaS company grows and retains customers is when the offering stays relevant, adds value, and when user happiness is maintained.
Product management and customer success teams have a number of overlapping focus areas. However, they operate at different altitudes and tend to focus on different metrics.
Yuval Karmi, Co-Founder, and CEO at Simpo took the time, ahead of his presentation at The SaaS Metrics Summit to answer some questions about how SaaS product and customer success teams can meet critical KPIs together, share insights and improve the user journey for long-term retention and growth.
Q: Who sets your KPIs? And who decides what LTV you’re aiming for?
A: As a SaaS business, KPIs are set by the leaders of multiple business functions. Product, Sales, Marketing and Customer Success all participate. It’s important to agree on the right set of metrics that directly impact the type of behavior and activities each team executes over that period of time. We call these key initiatives and track progress on management calls and all-hands meetings.
KPIs can vary depending on the maturity of the organization and also based on the overarching company goals which the business is driving towards. For younger companies, half-year tracking is standard with a possible reset at the half year point. Today, Simpo is tracking KPIs in a six month timeframe and regular check-ins.
At Simpo, we determine product-specific KPIs such as improving the product’s ease of use and the ability for a user to self-serve. For sales and marketing, KPIs are focused on the number of trials month-over-month and conversions to paying customers. Shared metrics include feature adoption leading to upsells and retention.
At Simpo we believe our customer’s willingness to upsell or renew is directly related to the ongoing value they derive from the product, seeing new roadmap features roll out, plus excellent support and efficient onboarding.
In terms of determining LTV, this depends on the actual customer type and the plan type. Simpo’s customers include small - mid-size organizations, mostly SaaS with some large enterprises, that are predominantly inbound. Long-term value for Simpo’s customers means they renew year after year and also acquire more seats or usage across the team. This usually means expanding beyond one business function to include product management, customer success, support, and in some cases marketing and growth teams.
Q: With so many data sources available, how do you and your team ensure you focus on the right metrics?
A: Simpo relies on Salesforce as the master record across multiple stages of the customer journey including trials, conversions, and acquisitions. Additionally, the marketing team uses Hubspot which tracks when users engage at the early stages of the journey during the trial or product evaluation stage.
Additionally, the team relies on Simpo - our own platform - to tell us which users are engaged and how they are adopting different Simpo platform features. We know usage by user, team, group, and also access to knowledge articles plus surveys, feedback, and NPS scores. All valuable indicators to tell us the health of a particular user or account. We lean on other 3rd party tools for deeper analysis which includes Heap and FullStory.
Having multiple tools can spawn different reports and dashboards which can become overwhelming so we narrow down the most critical KPIs at the key phases of the user journey and everything is tracked via Salesforce.com. We have integrated other tools into Salesforce so that shared dashboards and reports give a holistic picture.
Q: Do you have any tips on crafting killer KPIs?
A: When it comes to tracking KPIs, less is more. Additionally, we recommend you carve up the important customer journey milestone stages and then select a minimal set of metrics to track within that part of the journey. In other words, the early journey phase might be a number of trials by timeframe and growth rates. The next phase would be % conversion from trial to paying customers. Latency of journey stage is a difficult thing to track as you will likely dispute the actual starting point and date. Often, users come back to suit their timing. It’s never based on the provider’s timing, as much as they would desire it so.
Once a customer converts to paying, an important metric to figure out is how active the account is. This is usually a composite metric based on frequency of log-in and time spent in the app on a daily, weekly, or quarterly basis. For Simpo, this is measured not only by log-in frequency but also by the number of touches created over time which includes announcements, walkthroughs, and surveys. Activity level can be condensed down into an overall health score. This is a good indicator of dependency on Simpo’s platform. Usually the more dependent, the more valued, and the higher probability to renew or potentially upsell at the right time.
In the later stages of the user’s journey, advocacy is an important measure. For Simpo, this means frequency of feedback, willingness to engage in quarterly business reviews (QBRs), and also NPS scores. Because Simpo is still a young, growing company, we rely heavily on customer feedback to help drive product roadmap direction. We close the loop with customers as new features are developed, sharing alpha and beta release details before finalizing for general availability.
Younger companies need to pay close attention when tracking customer feedback as it does impact customer loyalty, renewals, and in general market competitiveness.
Q: How often do you track KPIs?
A: Simpo tracks important metrics every quarter with a six-month deeper review across all indicators. Adjustments are then made after the six-month time marker. Key project initiatives that are largely cross-functional undergo team reviews every month and quarter and this has visibility all the way to the management team as well as board-level.
Q: What KPIs should SaaS companies be tracking?
A: Typical metrics include some or all of the following depending on the company’s maturity, growth phase, and important milestones to getting to the next phase of company growth, which may include another investment round.
- Customer acquisition costs
- Number of new active trials
- Conversion rates to customer (from trial) or rate of new logos
- Account usage and activity level
- Latency by user journey phase
- Total contract value
- Long-term contract value (multi-year etc.)
- Upsell rates (expansion)
- Retention rates (or churn)
- NPS rates
- % of Referrals (from 3rd parties such as partners).
We don’t recommend driving towards all these measures, at the same time. Pick the most important ones for the three or four journey phases and share them with everyone involved. Usually, that means all GTM team members that includes sales, marketing, product, customer success, and support. For smaller organizations, the engineering team wants to be involved.
Q: When you are looking at metrics like Retention and CLTV at Simpo, how do you identify behavior that's a leading indicator? And how do you then incorporate those leading indicators into your strategy?
A: We have determined an overall account health score based on a composite measure that includes several factors such as the frequency of Simpo usage and number of touches created across different end-user segments. Generally speaking, the more Simpo features that are adopted by a customer, the healthier and more engaged the account is.
However, it’s important to factor in the exact use-case and pain points we are solving at that point in time which actually changes over the course of deploying Simpo. For example, we have customers who rely on Simpo to reduce support tickets and friction when users need help and assistance. This enables our customers to achieve scale at a lower cost plus improvements on the users’ experience because they get immediate answers when they run into an issue.
Because Simpo integrates with HelpDocs and other knowledge base systems, we can make significant improvements to streamline the entire adoption journey. Users stay in-app without having to use third-party tools to find answers or wait for email responses and ticket resolution.
Over the lifetime of a Simpo customer, different use-cases are important and invested in. This is generally guided by Simpo’s seasoned customer success team who consult and guide as the account matures and learns additional value capabilities for their end-users.
Q: How often should you revisit your KPIs?
A: We believe this should be done in six-month increments. Sometimes new metrics can be introduced at that point or some can be eliminated if they are not helping to achieve top-line numbers, such as revenue or growth rates. As a young, growing company, six months is about the right interval as the market is continually evolving and changing.
Looking for a deeper understanding of the metrics your SaaS business needs to succeed? Reserve your ticket for the SaaS Metrics Summit, April 21, 2021. More than 15 masters of SaaS metrics will be coming together to host 10+ hours’ worth of action-led presentations.
Walk away with tons of new and proven tactics, strategies, and ideas to take your business to the next level. Check out the stages.