Published
June 30, 2022

SaaS customer success

To improve customer retention, companies need to invest in customer success. Learn how to build a customer success program for your SaaS business with this guide.

Contributors

Elena Morgina
Elena Morgina
Marketing Manager
Vivien Evrard
Vivien Evrard
Brand/UI designer

Customer Success in SaaS

Customer satisfaction in SaaS is sometimes ignored. Many companies focus only on attracting new customers, forgetting the importance of retaining existing ones.

However, in SaaS, it costs less to retain customers than to acquire new ones. According to Harvard Business Review, it costs 5-25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

This is especially true for the SaaS, as it relies on returning customers to be satisfied, loyal, and able to get the most out of the offering.

Measuring the SaaS customer success can help determine:

  • What do your customers really need?
  • What do customers experience when using the product?
  • What product features are often underutilized by users?
  • Is the customer satisfied with the results?

Answering these questions will give you a strategy for building effective customer success, reducing future customer churn and extending customer lifetime, and increasing business profitability.

Elements of a customer success management strategy.

What is SaaS customer success?

SaaS customer success is about the methods, strategies, and ways to get your customers to confidently achieve results with your product.

In self-service SaaS companies, there are very often very few barriers preventing customers from unsubscribing and switching to a competitor at any time if they believe they can get a better price, product, or service elsewhere. 

This underscores the importance of customer retention, which is why it's important for SaaS companies to develop a customer success strategy.

SaaS customer success is different from other industries. For many product or service providers, the transaction is complete when payment is made and the product/service is delivered.

However, in SaaS companies, the business is built on a system of subscriptions that provide a constant revenue stream for the business. In return, however, customers expect corresponding value for their money. 

SaaS customer success focuses on their needs and ensures that they get the most value from your product. And a key element of that assurance is post-sales customer support.

Customer support differs from its predecessors mainly in that it is reactive rather than proactive. Customers contact customer service for situations that arise, and the goal here is to resolve them as quickly as possible before sending them off.

At the same time, customer success is a continuous process of ensuring that every user gets the most out of your product. In other words, it's a proactive process, not a reactive one, as with customer support.

Customer success is an ongoing process. It requires constantly making sure that every customer gets the most out of your product.

What isn't customer success?

Despite some similarities, Customer Success is not just a fancy synonym for Customer Support.

Customers contact customer support when they already have something to complain about. Typically, customer support staff members encounter problems that are always due to the same causes.

They can't completely eliminate the causes, but only address individual problems. This approach is reactive.

The biggest difference between customer service and customer success is that Customer Success Management are proactive. Based on usage data, they recognize early on when a customer may become dissatisfied in the future.

This allows them to intervene in time to resolve the problem before it becomes a complaint.

Key criteria for distinguishing customer success from customer support.

The SaaS Customer Onboarding Experience

The essence of onboarding is to introduce the client to the features and value of the product. It begins immediately after the launch of a new project.

At this point, the sales manager has already communicated with the customer and knows what he expects from your product.

The manager summarizes the goals and objectives of the new project in a letter and sends it to the user.

The letter also gives the customer the contact information of the Customer Success employee as the person who will take care of him/her from now on. At this point and begins the cooperation CSM (Customer Success Manager) with the user.

At the very beginning, the CSM analyzes the project and looks at the tasks described. After that he prepares a list of tips on the identified bottlenecks and recommendations with instructions on how to achieve the goals.

After registration, the user starts receiving a chain of introductory emails. They can come every day to a new client as long as the free trial period is active. The frequency can be chosen by you.

An example of such a letter:

Emails sent by SnapCall to new customers.

Tracking onboarding process is the most important stage in working with clients. It is actually the foundation on which brand loyalty is built. By comparison:

  • Of projects that didn't go through onboarding: 55% of users paid for the service after the free test period; 48% paid for the second month as well.
  • Of the projects that went through onboarding: 66% of users paid for the service after the free test period; 50% paid for the second month as well.

Make it easy to communicate with your customer support team

Your customer success team should first and foremost be able to register, set up, and access all of your products. A well-structured registration process is critical to customer satisfaction.

Various SaaS providers have dedicated onboarding managers who can guide customers through the onboarding process step by step with ease.

This service is very customized and geared toward businesses and specialized companies. SaaS companies automate the onboarding process using product overviews and automated emails with helpful suggestions.

Provide customers with several options for contacting you to be available at all times, and to prevent problems from arising.

Don't forget that offboarding matters too!

Many SaaS companies are focusing mainly on obtaining customers and retaining them. Your offboarding processes have the same importance as your onboarding ones.

It's your goal that your customers go away on a positive note and not leave forever. You are still your customers today. It has several important steps that must be completed during a successful offboard experience.

Step #1. Find out why they are leaving

As soon as the user initiates the cancellation procedure, you should contact him and find out the reasons for his decision.

Main customer reasons for stopping using the product.

Step #2. Offer customers a solution that fits their motivation

When you begin to analyze the customer feedback you receive from customers, you'll find that most often their decision to leave is based on four specific "categories" of reasons:

Top 4 reasons customer churn.

Bought away

These customers switch to another product because they think your offer is too expensive. This user behavior may signal a more general problem with your marketing personas or pricing strategy.

To remove these people's doubts as quickly as possible, you need to offer them a discount or a lower rate plan. For example, users who claim they are leaving due to the overpriced service are offered a 50% discount for 3 months. However, be extremely careful, because with these techniques, customers may agree to the discount and leave as soon as it expires.

Moved away

These customers leave because your product no longer fits their needs. Alternatively, it may be due to a "change of course" or a change in their own business model.

This category also includes users who have been testing your service for a while, but have not found it useful for their needs.

In an effort to retain such customers, you can offer them an extension of the free-trial period or a free upgrade to a more advanced plan.

Their feedback is very important because it can point you to a new segment of your audience that you need to adapt your product.

Pulled away

Some customers will cancel accounts to switch to an alternative solution or go to your competitors. Giving a discount or a free upgrade is the easiest way to retain these users in the short term.

Based on their feedback, you should analyze the value proposition of your product and offer these people the features they want in a competing service.

Pushed away

These users leave because they feel that your team is neglecting their interests. In some cases - having had a bad experience with the service or choosing an alternative solution - these customers may become active opponents of your product.

It's important that in these situations you try to provide them with better support and communication.

Step #3. Continue to show value even after the user has canceled the account

Even if your customer has had time to click the "Cancel" button, you shouldn't stop interaction with them and demonstrating the value of your product.

Use the information you learned about these users from the previous 2 points to tailor your approach and maximize the chances of retaining them.

For example, 15Five found that many of their users left because they tried the product before they were ready to start using it by the team.

To keep these customers engaged after the free-trial period was over, 15Five created a series of educational content emails on what the audience was really interested in-they told them how to become a better manager.

Example of ongoing communication with clients after they have left.

In this way, 15Five was able to bring doubting customers back to their brand without focusing their attention on the core product.

Project supervision

In fact, the customer success process never ends. The manager always has his finger on the pulse.

For example, if it is the implementation of SnapCall video calls, the manager keeps track of how the project calls are coming in and makes sure there are no problems with their implementation.

When enough data is collected, CSM produces a report for the customer - an example call analysis with an explanation of typical values and indicators, with examples of arising technical problems.

Thus, the user understands how to independently analyze the calls and solve technical problems. At the end of the test period, the manager contacts the client to get impressions of the service.

During onboarding, the Customer Success Manager is always in touch and waiting for new tasks from the user. The more active the customer and the more questions he has, the faster he achieves his goals.

CSM for its part can share a selection of useful articles, help to deal with calls in the analytics system, or set up goals.

The second stage: the active existence of the project

By the end of the first month, everyone is usually already familiar with the Personal Cabinet and asks CSM questions more often.

During the second and third months, users actively absorb the features of the product and begin to adjust their business processes, often to the point of making changes to the sales department and website.

These changes are reflected in call tracking. Therefore, in two months we offer to audit the project and ensure that video calls work properly and still solve the client's problem.

After three months, you can already draw conclusions about what really brings results. Not all clients can make this assessment on their own.

This is where the SnapCall team comes to the rescue once again. We conduct a basic audit of campaign results by the number of calls and check them for typical mistakes.

Stage Three: Advanced Project Existence

At this stage, the client is no longer just using the service, but mutually beneficially cooperating with it.

This is the best time to discover unobvious but useful features of your solution early on.

For example, many companies can benefit from integrating with other platforms.

On top of that, the department is tackling small challenges that arise during the project on a daily basis.

If a customer sells a product with seasonal demand, the CSM must respond to problems and changes in a timely manner.

SaaS Customer Success: Customer-focused functions in B2B SaaS

#1: Customer Engagement

You can't just sell, you also need to make sure that the client uses your product. How often does he access the program? Does he use the product? The service?

Also, very often the consumption can be seasonal or permanent. Thus, you will need to consider the frequency of use of your product.

In addition, when we talk about engagement, we also mean getting feedback from customers. How often do your customers come to you with feedback? Do they know where to come? Not with complaints, but with feedback?

However, it's engagement that directly affects business metrics:

◾ You increase customer retention:

Increasing the engagement of SaaS customers leads to higher loyalty.

If a Customer Success Manager speaks to a customer who expects the customer to be responsively engaged to solve their problems, they are much more open than a sales or account manager who only comes in for a contract renewal.

◾ You improve your product:

By increasing engagement, you stimulate interaction between the people who use your product every day and its creators.

If we talk about SaaS solutions, this feedback always has a very complicated path. After all, the people who initiated the purchase and the people who use the product are often completely different and they have different motivations.

Creating a feedback loop allows you to improve your product based on user requests and suggestions, setting up even the most unmotivated people to use your product.

◾ You create a community of users:

When customers have the opportunity to interact with each other, they share their personal experiences, their tips and tricks. Users often answer each other's questions on industry forums, blogs, etc.

Involving the first circle of early adopters and then brand advocates is a critical process in building a community. This first circle can then significantly reduce the load on your tech support team.

#2: Customer Satisfaction

The main focus of any CSM is to make the customer experience as good as possible. The idea is that the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they are to get the most out of your product and shout about their good experience - ultimately increasing your satisfaction score.

#3: Implementing the product in company processes

Increase the degree of product implementation in the business processes of the company - this is the key task of CSM at the stage of adaptation (implementation) of the solution.

When selling complex, multi-component products and services in SaaS, there is a high risk that the company will start using only part of all functions.

However, the more roots your product puts in the company's processes, the harder it will be for competitors or even rivals of your product within the company to displace it.

To ensure this, make sure customers always have the tools they need to get the most out of your product, including:

◾During the implementation process (training, education, technical support, etc.);

◾When you provide new functionality (newsletters, etc.);

◾When you release product updates (technical support, multi-channel communication with current customers, etc.).

It's important to note that all of these activities should not be viewed as one-time or one-way. Just as you communicate updates or feature rollouts to your customers, they should be able to give you feedback and suggestions for improving your product!

In this way, Customer Success can influence decisions made in sales, marketing, products, training, support, etc.

Customer Success Metrics for SaaS

Working with users is only one side of the coin. In parallel, Customer Success monitors the indicators that are primarily important for the service.

Customer Lifecycle

It is a term that describes the entire spectrum of a customer's interaction with a company, from the moment they become acquainted with its products or services to the moment they make a purchase and leave (leave) the company.

The customer lifecycle relates directly to relationship marketing. It is not about instant profit, but about constant and long-term profit. Thus, it is implied that the primary goal is to retain existing customers, not to attract new ones, as in traditional marketing.

The 5 stages of the customer lifecycle. 

Churn Rate

It is the ongoing process of individual customers abandoning the purchase of a company's products or services. Customer churn is defined as the ratio of the number of customers who left in a given period to the number of customers who used the company's services in the same period.

Since customer churn is a negative phenomenon that can cause significant financial damage, companies consider the share of customer churn as one of their key business indicators, monitor and analyze it.

This is especially relevant for companies with a contractual and transactional business model as in SaaS, which implies regular payments from clients.

Why Customers Churn: Top 5 Causes of Churn.

NPS (Net Promoter Score)

It is an index that reflects how loyal consumers are to the product. NPS is a metric that shows how customers feel about your company. The customer loyalty index determines:

◾users' willingness to recommend your product;

◾what is the probability that they will buy from you again.

The work with metrics is simple: the company carries out NPS survey after client buys a product or service - clarifies whether he was satisfied with everything. Then it analyzes the results, draws conclusions and looks for areas for improvement.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement taken from asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of 0-10.

CHS (Customer Health Score)

The point of this parameter is that you select several criteria that may indicate that the customer's activity or interest is decreasing, and therefore there is a probability that he will soon "drop out".

For example, he has stopped contacting technical support, refuses to meet with the customer success manager, sends obvious excuses, or does not show himself at all. If there are internal systems for evaluating engagement, you can see from the inside that the company has become less consumed by the product and so on.

Obviously, you can't tell much from two metrics. That is, if, for example, the NPS is good, but the involvement is low, it will not give us anything.

It's also obvious that collecting ten metrics is time-consuming and labor-intensive if you don't have automated assessment tools, and usually no one has them.

A set of 4-5 metrics looks optimal. The basic version most often includes two, the rest are optional:

◾NPS/loyalty index,

◾Utilization ratio/intensity of usage.

The list of "optional" metrics includes dozens of variants depending on company needs (and possibility of data collection):

◾CSAT/satisfaction,

◾Feature usage,

◾Availability or lack of feedback,

◾Problem-free payments,

◾Number of days to renegotiate a contract,

◾Value-added services (for training and service improvement),

◾Time to first transaction (for new customers),

◾And so on and so forth. Anything you have can be used.

If a manager sees that a few projects' customer health score is too low, they analyze the reasons and advise customers how to improve the situation.

Customer health is a quick summary of how a customer is doing in regards to their engagement with your company.

The key roles on a customer success team

Successful customer success managers are people who combines the qualities of a salesperson, a marketer, and a technical support specialist. Therefore, preference is given to employees with sales and technical support experience. Because of this multi-tasking nature, Customer Success managers produce employees who understand service almost better than anyone else.

Below are some customer success roles, from executive to entry level, that you should consider when building your organization.

Organisational structure of the client success team.

Manager/team leader of customer success

These are managers who assist the team in implementing strategies to grow and optimize the company's clients. They are responsible for ensuring all phases of the customer journey, including onboarding, business analysis, retaining customers, upselling, customer feedback analyses, and collaborate with cross-functional teams to ensure visibility and alignment.

Vice President of Customer Success

The Vice President of Customer Success plays a key role in achieving customer goals, product usage, business transformation and revenue growth by ensuring customer engagement, success, retaining customers, customer loyalty and growth. He is also responsible for architecting the organization and solutions for successful customer success, including achieving the right balance of service and support.

Implementation manager

The implementation manager is responsible for making the most efficient implementation of innovations for potential customers and clients, as well as acting as a constant technical liaison with customers, responding to their requests , collecting customer feedback and ensuring a high level of service in all the involved departments. Working with product and business teams, he helps streamline all parts of this process by leading the setup, implementation and user training for customers.

Chief customer officer (CCO)

The CCO is the driving force behind building a customer-centric culture at all levels of the organization. It is his job to build a 360-degree view of the customer, specifically identifying gaps or weaknesses in CX at all touch points in the customer journey. Whether it's customer service or sales, the CCO will be the first to assess how customer experience can be improved.

In addition, he or she is responsible for developing a customer service strategy that ensures revenue growth by boosting customer retention, cutting churn, and encouraging referrals from profitable customers

Customer success managers

Customer success managers are those who are assigned by company management to work with clients after they have agreed to close a deal. They are the ones who make the customer get to know and learn the product (or service) from the inside out. The role is also said to be the liaison between the customer service department and the sales department.

SaaS Customer Success: How to Keep and Grow Your Customers

Create a map of the customer journey.

Visualizing the customer journey will allow you to see how potential customers are looking for a product and what steps they are taking to purchase it. By visualizing the customer journey, you can find new ways to increase conversions.


A customer journey refers to the path of interactions an individual has with your brand, product and/or services.

Create a customer experience team.

Choose those who will follow customers through their entire lifecycle. The account manager must be communicative and know everything about the product and how to use it. This is the only way he or she will be able to help customers solve problems and achieve their desired goals.


The customer experience encompasses all aspects of a company's offer - the quality of customer service, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use and reliability.

Analyze your customers.

Look at which customers bring the most profit to the company. The criterion can be the amount of purchase or the size of the average check. Select a group of the most valuable customers from your existing 10-20 customers to pass on to your customer success team.

Select KPIs.

Set metrics that you will track to measure the performance of the customer success team.

The 8 essential customer success KPIs that will help you retain loyal customers.

Availability of a knowledge base for onboarding

The smaller the check and the clearer the use case, the easier should be the process of adaptation and implementation of the solution. The key to success for such solutions is self-service at the implementation stage. But it doesn't mean that you let the customer go on their own - you give them maximum tools to do everything themselves: from sharing best practices with other customers to reading advice and recommendations from experienced users.

The more resources and tools you give them to answer their questions and the faster they find those answers, the more likely they are to buy, use, reuse and even recommend your product.

Ensure that there are already many knowledge bases available at the time of contacting customers for information on the use of your product.

Online communities you moderate.

With an online community, users can easily interact with each other and with your organization, and you can track customer interactions. Not only does this allow users to share best practices in an open, secure forum, but it also gives your customers the ability to communicate openly with their peers.

Online customer communities are places where customers, experts, partners and others gather online to discuss problems, post feedback, brainstorm new product ideas and communicate with each other about a company's products, services and brand.

Quickly updated knowledge base in multi-format mode.

Imagine if you could have a tool that answers your customers' questions before they even ask them? That's essentially what an effective, up-to-date knowledge base does, and it's one of the best ways to provide users with self-service.That said, knowledge bases in text or video format are obsolete. Combine content delivery options - video, audio, screenshots, longreads, multimedia files, auto-tips, and more.

Success Stories.

The customer may not understand, may not see the value to himself, but if he sees success stories with specific scenarios and user cases from other companies, he begins to doubt not your product, but himself and whether he tried hard enough to understand it. Give him a description of the specific steps and how other companies have done it.

Decision-making content tends to be more in-depth than informational content, which is useful when influencing a customer's decision-making process. The information you put into this content is specifically designed to guide the customer further down the 'sales funnel' to a decision that ultimately leads to a purchase.

Be available

As a rule, clients who have to search long and hard for answers to their questions either:

A) give up (and are likely to become frustrated and not return), or

B) seek help from customer service

To avoid this, proactively provide reference content through embedded widgets, apps and sites that offer contextual content supported by smart search capabilities.

Remember, a customer who can easily serve themselves is more likely to succeed, more likely to reuse your product, and more likely to stay.

Conclusion

If you want to gain a competitive advantage, build Customer Success. This is the department where user and product interests meet, and in the end, both sides win. The user is satisfied and ready to continue using the product. The company receives payments and can develop in peace - after all, for SaaS, existence depends on the customer's willingness to renew the subscription.

Key elements of customer success management.

Implementing industry-leading SaaS customer success solutions

SnapCall simplifies customer communication, enabling you to deliver superior customer service and the perfect customer experience, giving you the upper hand in your customer success strategy.

SnapCall allows you to solve customer problems faster with voice chat, video calls and screen sharing without leaving the chat room with the customer. The customer and agent don't need to take extra steps to arrange additional calls to customers.

SnapCall, launched in 2016, is revolutionizing the customer experience by helping brands maximize the value of customer interaction.

SnapCall for a data-driven approach, so you can get valuable insights after every call you make thanks to built-in data analytics.

All it takes is one click to install. Voice, video, and screen sharing are directly integrated into your chat widget.

Test it for free online.

Availability

About SnapCall

Launched in 2016, SnapCall is revolutionizing the customer experience by helping brands maximize the value of customer interactions. We combine live video, voice, and screen sharing to deliver seamless customer-business interactions. Our clients are global companies looking to create a winning omni-channel customer experience online. The SnapCall team is represented by entrepreneurial minds from all over the world. We value diversity as it’s what broadens perspectives and makes the spirit of fresh ideas ever-present in our team, which gives us tremendous power to deliver the digital transformation we bring to the world.

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Press Contacts

Elena Morgina

SnapCall Europe

Lily Masterson

SnapCall America