- Customer success tips are important for any SaaS startup strategy.
- Bill Cushard, Head of Content at Service Rocket
- Luke Diaz, Customer Success Team Lead at Optimizely
- Lesley Yarbrough, Head of Customer Success at GrooveHQ
- Jeff Vincent, ex-director of Customer Happiness, now Director of Product Management at Wistia
- Bill Thompson, Head of Customer Happiness at Olark
- Chase Clemons, Support Pro at Basecamp
- Matthew Buckley, Marketing Manager at New Breed
- Greg Lefort, CEO Azendoo
- Steli Efti, CEO & co-founder at Close.io
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Customer success tips are important for any SaaS startup strategy.
Before we begin, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page: customer success is not to be confused with customer support, they are not the same thing. AT ALL!
Customer success can be defined as a proactive, real-time sales approach consisting of building relationships with existing customers, understanding in depth their company and product goals, and helping the customer meet those goals through regular contact.
On the other hand, customer support is a more traditional approach to business. It’s also called customer service and has it’s own function. The customer support team seeks to solve individual product issues by providing product guidance for specific customers. This is mostly a reactive approach as the customer is usually calling to report a ticket or a problem they are encountering.
B2B SaaS businesses generally integrate the 2 sides of the customer relationship approach.
Without further ado, here’s some customer success tips from experts we had the pleasure to talk to:
Bill Cushard, Head of Content at Service Rocket
Bill is a keen enthusiast of customer training as it anticipates pain points. In his opinion
Training covers how the product works including most common tasks and should also cover pitfalls and things to look out for.
Effective training helps learners understand what the product is, what is possible, and why it is an important part of how someone gets their job done.
Luke Diaz, Customer Success Team Lead at Optimizely
Luke currently leads a 15-person Customer Success Manager (CSM) team in charge of over 80% of Optimizely’s revenue.
The CSM team manages launch (onboarding), success management (adoption & value), renewals (retention) and expansion (account growth; in tandem with the Sales team).
From my Luke’s tandpoint, Optimizely is very advanced on the topic. Yet every startup—whatever their stage of development or price point—can learn from Luke’s very actionable tips:
In order to effectively lead the CSM team, Optimizely focuses on 3 metrics:
Customer value derived from the product
Lesley Yarbrough, Head of Customer Success at GrooveHQ
As head of customer success at GrooveHQ, Lesley knows a thing or 2 about keeping your customers happy.
“These guys [the customers] already know all the customer support tricks. We try to be very cordial while providing clear, to-the-point answers — there’s no need for embellishment.”
According to Lesley, most customer support teams can benefit from this practice : Leave the nice, marketing-ish formulations to the automated messages, but keep it straight-forward when it comes to a specific problem.
Jeff Vincent, ex-director of Customer Happiness, now Director of Product Management at Wistia
For Jeff, showing that you care is key.Your users are human beings just like us all. Either a paying customer or a “free trialer”, they are still using your product and deserve to do it right.
The goal of the customer success team is to help customers get 10 times the value they’re paying, even before they seek support.
“Thus, we do our best to improve clarity on what our product is for, and we built an important knowledge base to offer self-training to all our users.”
On the other hand, what you shouldn’t do is throw tech jargon at your customers. To be really efficient, a customer success team needs to fully understand the product and its tricks, and communicate it to the users based on his or her level of understanding.
Bill Thompson, Head of Customer Happiness at Olark
According to Bill, at Olark, customer success is way more than a department of a distinct function; it truly is part of the company culture.
It’s what they call “all-hands support”. From the CEO who spends 3 hours every two weeks, to engineers spending half a day every two weeks: everyone is expected to be in touch with customers, while managing the distraction it implies.
One of the greatest benefits of doing ‘all-hands support’ is that it makes product development a lot easier
On the whole, all-hands support is delivering a personalised, memorable customer attention which truly adds considerable value to the brand
Chase Clemons, Support Pro at Basecamp
Customer success is part of Basecamp’s DNA. In their own words:
“Treating people right is fundamental to how we do business”
According to Chase there are some do’s and dont’s you should respect:
Whatever the topic and the tone used, answer each and every message you get – it’s the very least you can do since they’ve spent the time telling you what’s not working for them.
While not aiming at doing other people’s job and solving world hunger, if you know you can help a customer, just do it!
Make promises you can’t keep. If you can’t guarantee that, don’t promise it to the customer.
Forget to draw the line & know when to stop. Especially if you provide online customer support, it can be tempting to answer emails any time of the day. Sometimes you just need to disconnect from it.
Matthew Buckley, Marketing Manager at New Breed
For Matthew customer happiness and retention is as important as attracting visitors and converting leads.
Customer success has been incredibly impactful on the growth of SaaS companies because it can help to reduce churn, impact new revenue, drive team performance.
Customer success starts and ends with top-notch customer support. Without relevant information, you shouldn’t be reaching out to your users.
The goal of customer success isn’t solely customer happiness, but “[helping] them reach their desired outcome.”
Greg Lefort, CEO Azendoo
Sometimes called “the new growth hacking”, the concept of “Customer Success” is on everyone’s lips, including Greg’s.
According to Greg, there are 4 critical steps in achieving customer success:
1st step: support – answer all demands and questions whatever the channel
2nd step: observe – understand how our customers use our product and identify patterns and usage bottlenecks
3rd step: learn – highlight areas of improvement
4th step: engage – proactively reach out to our users, to help get the full value of our product.
Steli Efti, CEO & co-founder at Close.io
Another CEO, Steli Efti is sharing his tips for customer success.
For Steli the very model of a Software-as-a-Service business includes a constant renewal process.
Thus, SaaS startups must prove outstanding value overtime and keep driving their customers towards success using their software.
According to Steli,
“customer success means caring about making your customers successful. It starts with you selling to people you think you can make successful instead of selling to everybody.”
The team at Closeio calls every trial signups within 5 minutes of the signup (if it happens during reasonable hours), to welcome them and ask if they have questions. It may sound crazy because a new signup won’t have any question just 5 minutes after signing up,but actually this is an incredible sales and customer success technique, Steli argues.
Also, 90% of the sales training is about learning how to qualify a customer.