Churn is the great adversary of the SaaS (Software as a Service) company. Even when times are good, it's there in the shadows, whispering in your ear that this can't last forever.
And when things go south and next quarter is looking like it might be the last one, it's there perched on your shoulder, cackling like a demon.
But an effective customer success strategy can be a godsend, keeping customers onboard and renewing through the fiscal year.
There are a few things you can do that will keep your customers happy, satisfied, and, god willing, expansion customers.
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Don't Pick the Wrong Customer
First off, by bringing in customers who have a real need for your product, you can keep them onboard for longer to begin with. Take a look at your customers. Use sophisticated data to profile them across demographics, geographic locations and marketplace niches. What common characteristics do they share? Companies with most or all of these shared qualities are your ideal customers.
These customers are more likely to have reasonable expectations for your SaaS and less likely to leave because you can't give them the world for a handful of pennies. You're better off trying to acquire users who both need and understand your product. It's like pre-screening your dates. You'll find people who you're more compatible with.
Why build a house out of sticks when you can build it out of bricks? Why push a stone all the way up a hill when you can roll it down a gently sloping plain?
It's a Partnership
Don't look at your customers as some kind of oil well or gold mine to extract the maximum resources from in the shortest possible time. Instead, look at them as farmland. They can be a steady source of revenue but you have to take care of them: grow nothing but cash crops and you deplete the soil. Invest in your customers: show them their voice matters to you by putting a strong emphasis on customer feedback, from surveys to advisory boards and focus groups.
Customer advocacy is also key: do what's best for your customers even if it means slightly less profit in the short term for your company. For example, offer them a discount for renewing a service, or even refer them to another company's service if it more closely fits their needs. The customer is an investment. And unlike Jordan Belfort in "The Wolf of Wall Street," you're in it for the long haul.
Customers are a renewable resource. Isn't it time to go green?
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Under the Gaze of Brother Eye
To anticipate customer need, you need to have a 360 degree perspective on your customer: what services they use, what services they might use in the future, their experience with customer support at your company, who their contacts are at your company, and more. The more data, the more comprehensive a picture of your customer you will have, and the more able you will be live up to their expectations.
Even if they don't know exactly what is happening, the customers will be impressed when they don't even have to ask for things. It's the difference between the Marriott and the Ritz Carlton. Nothing's wrong with a three star hotel, but it's not luxurious.
Honesty is the Best Customer Success Policy
Be an open book with your customers. Share reports about churn, surveys about customer satisfaction, even biz data. Give them the feeling that you have nothing to hide. Your customers will appreciate the transparency.
A company that discloses information important to their customers, especially when others don't, that is a company you can trust. It also gives your company a modern, youthful vibe: these guys don't follow conventional wisdom. They don't need secrecy. They're here, they're clear, get used to it.
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Customers are the metaphorical oxygen that keeps your company going. And churn threatens to take that oxygen away. Considering how much effort you likely expend in acquiring them, it's a no-brainer to be equally as adamant in keeping them around, whatever it takes.
Make substantial financial investments in your customer relationships. Putting your customers' needs above your company's short term goals will ultimately pay off in the long term.