11 Most Effective SaaS Customer Success Best Practices For 2023
According to a study by Gainsight, almost 70% of SaaS businesses consider customer success to be an important aspect of their company.
And that just makes a lot of sense, given that the SaaS business model lives and dies by the satisfaction of its customer base.
For a SaaS company, growth isn’t just about getting a considerable market share and acquiring new customers. It also involves taking care of customer retention, driving customer loyalty, and encouraging customers to become advocates for your business.
And one of the best ways to improve customer retention is customer success.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the SaaS customer success best practices that you can use to ensure your customers get the most value out of your SaaS product.
We will explore all the different aspects you need to consider when creating a successful customer experience.
But first, let’s get on the same page regarding what customer success is.
What Is Customer Success?
Simply put, customer success is a strategy that focuses on creating an amazing experience for your customers. It includes making sure that they are using your SaaS product correctly and helping them to get the most out of it.
It’s important to note that customer success is different from customer support.
While both departments help your users have a better experience, customer success takes a more proactive approach to providing assistance and value.
Rather than waiting for a customer to reach out with a technical issue, your customer success agents actively find ways to help your customers reach their goals using your SaaS product.
Now that we have a better understanding of what customer success is, let’s look at some best practices for implementing it in your SaaS business.
1) Build A Customer-Centric Company Culture
If you want your customer success efforts to be holistic, then the first step is to start from within. For A SaaS business, customer success shouldn’t just be a department in your company — it should be part of the very fabric of your business.
Providing each user with an excellent customer experience should be at the heart of everything you do in your SaaS business.
From how you design and develop your product, to how you market it and interact with customers, making sure that their success is prioritized must become a core value.
Your team needs to understand that every action you take — from creating content for external marketing campaigns to handling internal projects — has a direct impact on customers’ experience with your product.
2) Develop An Excellent Customer Onboarding Process
One of the most crucial aspects of SaaS customer success is user onboarding. Your onboarding process is the first point of contact for your customers, and it sets the tone for their entire journey with your product.
Your goal should be to make the onboarding experience as seamless and painless as possible — from signing up to actually using the product. But how do you actually do that?
Here are some tips:
Start With A Warm Welcome
Make sure your onboarding process starts off on the right foot by welcoming new customers and introducing them to your product. Remember that your customers are real people, not just a name on a list. So make sure that your onboarding process reflects that.
Your welcome message should set the tone and explain what your new customer can expect from the onboarding process. It should set the expectations on how long it will take, what they need to do, and what they can achieve by the end of it.
Regularly Check In With Your Customers
Throughout the onboarding process, you should keep checking in with your customers to see how they’re doing and if they need any help.
This is a great way to provide personalized customer service and ensure that your new customers are on track to completing the onboarding stage.
Follow Up After The Onboarding Process Is Complete
Customer onboarding doesn’t end when your users are done setting up their accounts. Remember that this is just the beginning of their customer journey with your product.
Make sure you follow up after the onboarding process is complete to ensure that they are happy and comfortable using your software. This will also give you a chance to answer any questions they may have and address any issues they might be facing early on.
Maintain Frequent Communication On The First 90 Days
The first 90 days of the customer journey with your product are essential for making sure that they stay on board.
This is when your customer success team should be in constant communication with their users, making sure that they are not encountering any problems and are on track to achieving their goals.
This means that your team should be regularly checking in with customers, providing helpful advice, and helping them troubleshoot any issues they may have early on.
3) Build A Comprehensive & User-Friendly Knowledge Base
Another important part of SaaS customer success is providing your users with access to helpful resources that they can access on their own.
This is why it’s important to have a comprehensive and user-friendly knowledge base. This will give your customers access to valuable materials anytime and anywhere.
How do you make sure that you have a well-built knowledge base? Here are a few tips:
Organize Your Resources In A Logical Manner
To best serve your customers, your knowledge base should be as easy-as-possible to navigate. That includes organizing your pages in a logical manner.
For example, you can group related pages under a “Sales Pipeline” section. This would include tutorials on how to create a custom pipeline, how to move leads through the pipeline, and more.
Add A Search Bar
When a customer visits your knowledge base, chances are that they already have a certain concern in mind. And you would want them to get help with that particular concern as quickly as possible.
This is why it’s important to include a search bar on your knowledge base. This will make it easier for users to quickly find what they need help with.
Mix Up Your Resource Types
Your knowledge base should be able to cater to the different types of learners. That means providing a variety of resources such as written tutorials, video demos, and even interactive materials (if you have the capacity to create some).
This will help ensure that all your customers, regardless of their preferences, are able to understand the information they need quickly and easily.
What’s more, having a good mix of various content types will make your knowledge base more engaging and interesting to use. And that will add more to your customers’ overall user experience.
Keep Your Resources Up-To-Date
It’s of paramount importance that you keep your resources up-to-date and accurate.
Outdated information can lead to confusion and frustration among users, especially if they are unable to achieve what they set out to do in the first place.
So make sure to update all of your knowledge base content, especially when you roll out a major update. And if you have integrations with other software, keep track of changes on their end as well and update your knowledge base as necessary.
This will help ensure that your customers always have access to the most relevant and helpful information they need.
4) Know What “Success” Means For Your Customers
One of the main goals of customer success is to help your users achieve the outcomes they want to achieve using your SaaS product. However, to do this, you first need to know what that outcome is in the first place.
And even for a single SaaS product, your customer base can have a wide range of various goals they are trying to reach.
For example, let’s say you have customer relationship management (CRM) software. Some customers may simply be looking to increase their team’s productivity with the help of your SaaS solution.
Another customer may be trying to optimize their sales process. While others may just want to get better insights into their data.
The point is that every customer will have their own definition of “success”, and it’s up to you to understand what that means for each individual user.
Once your team knows these goals, they can start tailoring their strategies accordingly so that the customer can reach their desired outcome as quickly and efficiently as possible.
5) Plot Short-Term & Long-Term Milestones Towards Each Customer’s “Success”
Taking off from the best practice we just discussed, your customer success team should be plotting out both short-term and long-term goals that each customer needs to reach in order to achieve their desired outcome.
Here are some good ways to set your long-term and short-term goals:
Break Down Big Goals Into Smaller Objectives
For the short term, your team should set smaller, “bite-sized” goals that your customer can achieve within months or even weeks.
But these goals shouldn’t just be some random objectives you decide on a whim. It’s important to make sure that they are all contributing towards your customer’s ultimate goals.
For example, let’s say one of your customer’s goals is to double their overall sales conversion rate within a year. Your customer success manager can work together with your customer on creating a plan that outlines the specific tasks they need to complete over the course of the following weeks or months.
Some of those smaller goals could be creating airtight lead scoring criteria, then building a custom sales pipeline, then setting up automation for follow-ups, and so on.
Set Measurable Goals
Whether short-term or long-term, these goals should be measurable so that you can accurately track your customer’s progress.
This means having the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place so that the customer success team can easily report on a customer’s progress within a given timeframe.
For example, if one of your customer’s goals is to increase sales by 150%, then the team should have metrics in place to track and measure this goal over time until it is achieved.
This could be various conversion rates within their sales pipeline. Or it could be various email marketing metrics, social media metrics, and metrics for whatever sales channels they’re using.
By setting measurable goals, your customer success team can determine what’s working and what isn’t. This would allow them to make the necessary adjustments and optimizations in order to help your customers reach their desired outcomes faster.
6) Segment Your Customer Base & Tailor Strategies Accordingly
It’s important to remember that no two customers are the same. What works for one customer may not work for the next.
That’s why it’s essential to segment your customer base and tailor your strategies accordingly, especially if you provide a horizontal SaaS product that doesn’t cater to any one specific industry.
There are a few ways you can segment your customer base:
Customer Segmentation By Industry
If you do have a horizontal SaaS solution, segmenting your customers by industry is an absolute must if you want to provide top-notch customer success services. The challenges, goals, and needs of customers in a certain industry will be different from those of another.
For example, let’s say you provide a project management tool. You may have customers from various industries such as construction, hospitality, and health care. And each of these customers will likely have different needs and goals when it comes to using your product.
Your customer success team should segment your customer base into different industries and tailor their strategies to match the needs and goals of each one.
This could be setting up different onboarding sequences, having specialized customer success reps who are knowledgeable about that specific industry, or even creating custom dashboards with metrics tailored to match a particular customer’s needs.
Customer Segmentation By Business Size
You could also segment your customer base by business size. Different-sized businesses will have different needs and goals, so it’s important to craft your customer success strategy according to their specific needs.
For example, a small business may be focusing on acquiring as many customers as possible in a short span of time. A mid-sized business may be looking to scale up and increase efficiency. And a large enterprise may be focusing on reducing costs and improving customer service.
Your customer success team should be aware of these differences and tailor their strategies to match the needs and goals of each respective business size.
7) Focus On Customer Education & Training
Another of the most important SaaS customer success best practices is to focus on customer education and training.
The better your users understand how to use your product and its various features, the more likely they are to achieve their desired outcomes. That’s why it’s essential for your success managers to provide adequate training and resources to each customer.
Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Keep Providing Your Customers With Informative Content
Your customer success team should regularly provide users with helpful content such as blog posts, eBooks, webinars, and more.
These resources can help them get the most out of your product by teaching them how to use different features and how to best apply them to their specific needs.
Host Training Sessions & Workshops
In addition to providing helpful content, you should also consider hosting training sessions and workshops. This is a great way for your customer success team to interact with your users and provide them with hands-on guidance on how to use your product more effectively.
For example, if one of your customer’s goals is to increase their efficiency, then the customer success team can host a training session to teach them how they can use specific features of your product to do just that.
Create A User Forum Or Online Community
You should also consider creating a user forum or online community. This is an ideal platform for your customers to connect with each other and share their experiences working with your product.
This can be incredibly helpful for new users who are just starting out, as they can read about different strategies from more experienced users and learn how others have achieved their desired outcomes.
What’s more, having an online community centered around your product can work wonders toward building customer loyalty and advocacy. Your customers will feel more connected to your SaaS product and your brand, which could lead to higher customer retention rates.
Provide Case Studies To Your Customers
Case studies can also be very insightful for your customers, as they can provide concrete examples of how others have achieved their desired outcomes with your product.
These case studies may be able to give them the guidance and inspiration they need in order to be confident that they, too, can be successful with your SaaS product.
What’s more, your customers may be able to pick up a few practices and strategies that they can apply to their business, thereby increasing their chances of success even further.
By educating and training your customers, you’re not only helping them get the most out of their investment in your product, but you’re also building stronger relationships with them in the process.
8) Track Customer Usage & Data
Another crucial best practice for customer success is tracking customer usage and data. You can do this using various tools, such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel.
These tools allow you to track specific user behavior such as how often they use the product, what features they’re using the most, and how long they spend on each page.
This can open the way for you to provide personalized and granular support and recommendations to your customers, such as the following:
Track Each Customer’s Progress Towards Their Goals
This data can help your customer success team track a customer’s progress toward their goals.
It allows you to see what features and functionalities they’re using the most, which provides insight into how well they are doing on reaching their objectives.
What’s more, you can also identify any potential bottlenecks or areas that need improvement.
This way, your team can provide more nuanced support and guidance to help them get there.
Find Upselling Opportunities
In addition, tracking user data can help you find upselling opportunities.
For instance, if your customer is using a particular feature or functionality more often than the average user, then it may be time to suggest add-ons or an upgrade that can further improve their experience.
This way, you can maximize the lifetime value of each customer.
But upselling shouldn’t just be about increasing your bottom line. Remember that being a customer-centric SaaS business is also about providing the right solutions and recommendations that can help your customers reach their desired outcomes faster.
That’s why SaaS upselling should be more about serving your customer better rather than just increasing your revenue.
If your SaaS product and customer success team are really helping your customers reach their goals, your customers’ needs will inevitably grow as well.
That’s why it’s important to be prepared and track data so that you can recognize when upselling opportunities arise.
Identify Customers Who Are At Risk Of Churning
Another way to use this data is to identify customers who may be at risk of churning.
By tracking usage and data, you can compare the behavior of customers that are staying with those who are about to leave or have already left. This will help you pinpoint areas where customers aren’t getting what they need in order to be successful.
From there, you can take targeted measures to improve the customer experience and reduce churn.
9) Build A Customer Feedback Loop
One of the essential best practices for customer success is building a customer feedback loop. This means engaging with your customers and asking them to provide feedback on their experience with your product.
Here are some ways you can build an effective feedback loop:
Have Feedback Form Ready For Every Interaction
Make sure that there is a feedback form ready for every interaction with your customers. It should be easy to access, either in the form of a survey or a prompt after the customer has used your product in a meaningful way.
This will allow you to measure customer satisfaction and get an understanding of how they feel about their experience.
Communicate What You’re Going To Do
What’s more, note that this is a feedback loop, not a one-way street. That means your customer success agents should communicate what they are going to do about your customer’s feedback.
Will you make changes or updates based on their suggestions? Will you use their feedback to improve the customer experience in general?
Let your customers know that you are taking their suggestions seriously and will be using them to improve your services.
By doing this, you can build trust with your customers and demonstrate that your team is committed to improving their experience.
10) Use The Right Customer Success Tools
Using the right customer success tools can help you streamline customer success processes and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
But what types of tools do you need for customer success?
Let’s talk about some of them.
Customer Success Software
Various customer success solutions are designed to help you track customer engagement and usage, alert your customer success managers, and automate customer onboarding processes.
Some examples of customer success software include Gainsight, Totango, and ClientSuccess.
These types of customer success software can also be used to create reports that provide valuable insights into customer behavior and usage data, so your team can take proactive steps to improve customer experience.
As we mentioned earlier, you can use tools like Google Analytics and Mixpanel to track usage, demographics, and other data points that can help you understand your customers better.
By tracking these things, you can gain valuable insights into what works for each customer and what doesn’t.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help you store customer data in one place and manage various aspects of customer relationships, such as upselling opportunities.
Some examples of CRM systems include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pipedrive.
With tools like these in place, you can track customer data and communications, automate task assignments, and generate reports to help you make better decisions.
11) Track Your Customer Success Metrics
Last but not least, tracking customer success metrics is essential for every SaaS company. These metrics will help you understand how your team is performing and if your customer success efforts are paying off.
Here are some key customer success metrics to track:
Customer Churn Rate
Customer churn rate is the percentage of customers who cancel their subscription or stop using your product. Measuring customer churn rate can be the first step in identifying the reasons why customers are leaving and taking steps to improve customer retention.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score
The customer satisfaction (CSAT) score measures how satisfied your customers are with their experience with your product. It’s usually measured with a survey that customers respond to after an interaction.
Tracking CSAT can help you understand how happy your customers are with your product and take steps to improve customer satisfaction.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty and advocacy. It usually starts with a survey asking your customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service.
With the help of the survey and the NPS rating, you can measure how many of your customers are true advocates of your SaaS product.
Customer Health Score
The customer health score is a metric that measures the overall “health” of your customers.
This metric is usually determined by looking at different actions that may add or deduct from each customer’s health. These actions may include logging into the SaaS platform, engaging with customer support, and more.
By tracking this metric, you can identify which customers may need help and take steps to improve their experience.
Final Thoughts About SaaS Customer Success Best Practices
More than ever, customer success is essential to the long-term growth of a SaaS business. Without a solid customer success strategy in place, you risk unhappy customers and high levels of customer churn.
Now, each SaaS business is different. The best customer success strategy will ultimately depend on various factors like the size of your customer base, the product you offer, and the industry you’re working in.
However, there are best practices that have worked for many SaaS companies in the past.
By putting these best practices into action, you can create a meaningful and lasting relationship with your customers that will help drive growth for your business.
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