If You Want To Provide A Better CX, It’s Time To Get Soft

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Every company wants to provide a better customer experience. Whether you’re a startup or an established national brand, keeping your customers happy is a top priority.

But, when you’re a SaaS business that counts on subscriptions, user retention, and customer success, keeping your existing customers happy is everything. Without this key element, a SaaS business will never have the ability to scale or grow, let alone survive.

And how do you keep people happy over a long period of time? It’s not by creating a stellar product or app for them to use, or because you’re the lowest priced option. Keeping people happy long-term requires relationships - plain and simple.

If you want your company to have the ability to create lasting relationships with your customers, it’s essential that the people you hire have the right skills. Whether it’s your customer service rep who interacts with the customers, or the software developer behind the scenes, each and every person is a representative of your company.

Relationship-building isn’t just about what happens with your brand and your customers. It’s also about what happens behind closed doors. Your team is what makes your business possible, so the relationships they build amongst themselves are just as important.

What I’m getting at here is that countless studies, along with expert advice, are pointing toward the importance of soft skills for any business or team that relies on building internal and external relationships.

Soft skills, commonly understood as people skills, are the things you can’t measure. You won’t see them on a resume, and their importance can often go overlooked. But there is a direct, proven correlation between soft skills and improved customer experience.

Here are just a few of the soft skills you want to ensure your CX professionals, along with your entire team, are demonstrating they possess:

COMMUNICATION SKILLS: can the person listen carefully, treat kindly, and explain clearly?

EMPATHY: does the person truly desire to understand where other people are coming from, so they can help them be successful?

WILLINGNESS TO HELP: does the person have an instinctual drive to do more than just put out fires and go the extra mile to truly make an impact?

INTEGRITY: can the person tell people what they need to hear, instead of what they want to hear?

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: does the person have the ability to recognize when they are acting or reacting emotionally, and have the discipline to choose a different behavior?

LISTENING SKILLS: does the person genuinely hear what customers and internal team members have to say?

STRESS MANAGEMENT: is the person able to manage their daily stress levels without deflecting onto others?

PROBLEM-SOLVING: does the person have enough confidence to tackle tough situations and stick it through until a real solution has been achieved?

LEADERSHIP: is this person inspiring to others and helping them become the best versions of themselves?

TEAM-BUILDING: is the person a natural at building relationships and bringing those around them together in a positive way?

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. There are literally hundreds of soft skills that appear to be beneficial in the world of business, but the 10 listed above are the most important ones when we’re talking about improving the customer experience.

If you want to build relationships with your customers, start with building out your team of people who already demonstrate the soft skills that have been proven to correlate with things like your net promoter score, customer satisfaction scores, and your number of referrals and recommendations.

How To Create A Solid Foundation For Your SaaS Community

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A major component of building a successful brand and thriving SaaS business is going to be your online community. With goals of customer retention, repeat purchases, upselling opportunities, brand advocates, and people you can easily collect data and research from, it makes sense for SaaS companies to want to build an online community of their very own.

But how? There are probably more than a million online communities out there. Everyone wants to start a Facebook group today and use it to sell their wares and quit their 9-5, so how could you possibly build something that is somehow different and spectacular?

Many experts, SaaS related or not, all come back to one core component. The essence of your community isn’t about who runs it, or what product or services you’re trying to sell in the background. What really makes an online community special is its energy. It’s the tone, the chemistry, and how your community makes people feel. There’s nothing tangible about this, and the main goal should be to make your online community feel like an offline one.

Whether you want to treat it like friends grabbing coffee or colleagues enjoying lunch, you’ve got to remove the sensation of that online barrier. You’ve got to give people what they need to truly build relationships with one another, and get past the hurdle of feeling like internet strangers.

Real communities are about helping each other and sharing common interests, and online ones need to be treated the exact same way.

Here are some tips to help you set the foundation to start building a solid online community around your SaaS business:

Make sure you’ve clearly defined and outlined who your ideal customer is.

From a sales and marketing perspective, you should already know exactly who your ideal customer is. You want these exact same people in your online community. You want a group of people who are into the same things, share the same values, and support your brand. Actively market your online community to your ideal customers, and you will have a solid foundation of people to start with.

Define your vision for this community, and create a plan or roadmap to get there.

A community created for the sake of having one isn’t going to deliver the miraculous results you’re hoping for, so you need to get clear on what you want to get out of this. Decide what the purpose of the group is, and create a plan to get there.

If you want people to get to know each other in a real way, you’ve got to run the show.

You’ve got to provide new members and existing members alike with continuous opportunities to share their stories, get to know one another, and simply be real. For example, instead of asking new members about their business, ask them deeper, more personal questions like, “what is something you wish you could do every day?” or “if you could be the best at something, what would it be?”.

Engagement is absolutely essential amongst your members, so it’s up to you to make that authentic communication and relationship-building happen. Get clear on who you want in your group, and what value you want your members to get from being active participants. Don’t create one to make more sales - it just doesn’t work that way. Create a community to provide value and bring people together, and the sales will come authentically.

How To Monitor The Core Elements Of Your SaaS Business Part 3

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This is final part of our series on monitoring the 3 core elements of your new SaaS business.

In case you missed it, we’re working with the belief that a SaaS company can be defined as a simple funnel:

Marketing → Sales → Customer Success → Revenue

Yesterday we went through sales, and the day before we covered marketing. Today, we’re going to dig into the customer success stage and put all the pieces together.

Stage 3 = Customer Success

It’s taken a long time to get to this point. You’ve wined and dined your leads, and done the work to convert them once they gave you a sign they were legitimately interested in what you had to offer. You made the sale, closed the deal. Now what?

The SaaS industry has its own set of unique challenges, this being one of them. Customer success is everything. If people aren’t happy, if they don’t continue to use your app after that initial sale, everything was for nothing. Sure, you made some money in the short-term for the sale, but the growth and scalability of your business goes out the window.

Without a solid strategy to track, measure, and improve customer success, all the marketing and selling in the world won’t keep you afloat. Your new customers have a goal in mind. There’s a reason they purchased your product. If you want them to keep using it, you’ve got to give them the outcome they were looking for - and fast. Your onboarding process is a crucial component to helping your customers become successful with your product. People continuing to use your product is a pretty good indicator that they’re satisfied and getting what they need, but how will you keep up as their needs and demands evolve over time?

As we’ve already mentioned, you can’t measure what you don’t track. You’ve got to start somewhere with this, and measuring successful usage and activation is a fairly simple way to do it.

Successful usage and activation

Set your parameters around what you determine successful usage and activation of your product are. Then, you can fill in the dots and essentially create a graph that will show you what percentage of your users are continuing to perform this key action over a period of time.

 Source: [https://medium.com/point-nine-news/monitoring-a-seed-stage-saas-business-345b758334dd][0]

Source: [https://medium.com/point-nine-news/monitoring-a-seed-stage-saas-business-345b758334dd][0]

Net Promoter Score

Your net promoter score (NPS) is a tool you can use to measure your online loyalty. What this really comes down to is customer satisfaction. It measures which of your followers are promoters or detractors of your business, in addition to the passive people who sit in the middle that are irrelevant for this purpose. For small ticket items, your NPS should be 25-30, or higher. People rave about your product online, and many say they’d be disappointed if they could no longer access your product. If your NPS is 10-15 or lower, it signifies that your product market fit is off.

For those higher-ticket purchases, expect to see your NPS at 10-20 or higher. Any less than 10, and there’s a problem.

Customer Churn

Lastly, you need to monitor what percentage of your customer base is lost month over month, or year over year.

You can calculate it simply as:

SaaS Part 3-1.jpg

Industry averages show that typical churn rates are:

  • 3-7% for SaaS companies who target SMB’s
  • 1% for SaaS companies who target large-scale enterprises
  • Unknown for companies who target individuals and small businesses

Even at the very beginning stages of your business, reducing your churn rate should be a top priority. A high churn rate can mean all kinds of negative things, all of which should be handled sooner rather than later. Your onboarding process might need work, or perhaps your customer service is lacking. Start with a benchmark and work on improving it.

Tying it all together

So this concludes our 3-part series on metrics to monitor for your marketing, sales, and customer success.

Marketing → Sales → Customer Success → Revenue

If you want to reach the point of earning consistent revenue and building a thriving, growing business, you need to have the right strategies and metrics in place to take people from being strangers to customers and raving fans.

Transparency Is The Secret Weapon To Churn Reduction

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Reducing churn is a top priority for any SaaS business out there that hopes to survive long-term. You will find yourself consistently losing customers for a wide variety of reasons:

  • Bad customer fit
  • Poor customer service
  • Lack of customer success planning
  • Insufficient onboarding process
  • Product or service glitches
  • Pricing and value discrepancies
  • Unknown reasons or things you can’t control

Figuring out why people are leaving is the key to solving the problem, so you can unlock the mystery of what your customers require to stay happy long-term.

Some SaaS companies get the offboarding process completely wrong. But not you. After reading this article, you will not be one of those companies who succumbs to the urge to make it as hard as possible for customers to leave you. Instead of grasping at straws to reduce the amount of customers walking out the door, you’re going to embrace the challenge. You’re going to change your mindset and view every single lost customer as an opportunity to do better.

When you change your mindset about the mission of your onboarding process, it becomes a lot easier to see how you can use this to your advantage.

The secret ingredient to a great offboarding process? Transparency.

One unique element that all SaaS companies need to take full advantage of is the insight into the behaviours of their customers. Many companies and industries would kill for the ability to see what their customers are doing and when, so the significance of this shouldn’t be overlooked. This insight should give you the ability to start seeing problems early, and recognizing the signs when someone is about to leave.

When you couple the genuine desire to understand the customer success gaps along with complete and utter transparency in your offboarding process, you will be able to significantly impact your churn rates in the best possible way.

Here are some ways to use transparency to create an onboarding process that’s capable of saving the relationship.

CREATE AN EASY-TO-USE OFFBOARDING WORKFLOW

Ensure that people can easily access the cancel button, but make sure you’re walking them through a simple yet impactful workflow, too. Without making it difficult to delete their account, offer them some easy-click options to tell you why they’re leaving. Maybe they don’t know how to use the platform, or perhaps it’s too expensive. Each option can be delivered with a solution to solve their immediate problem, or cancel anyway.

Never make it hard to cancel, but always provide a solution to the main problem that’s causing them to leave you. Offer educational opportunities, customer support, and anything else relevant to each specific selection.

CONTINUE CUSTOMER SUCCESS THROUGH THE OFFBOARDING PROCESS

It’s not you - it’s me. Someone breaking up with you doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Maybe it’s just not the right time. Whatever the reason is, don’t kick them to the curb once they’ve cancelled.

Use the offboarding process workflow to continue to educate your customers, and keep pushing them towards customer success with educational content and tutorials. It puts their needs first, and gives them a reason to come back if and when they’re ready. This also keeps the communication lines open and demonstrates your commitment to customer service.

PROVIDE EASY ACCESS TO YOUR CANCELATION POLICY

Transparency is about empowering your customers to make decisions that are right for them. If you aren’t making it easy for them to understand basic things like your cancelation policy, you’re opening the doors for confusion, frustration, and a poor customer experience.

You’ll have people who register one day and pay for an annual subscription. The very next day? They want a full refund. Maybe you allow this, maybe you don’t. Whatever your policy is, it needs to be crystal clear and easily accessible. You want to ensure they see it before they buy, and have continued access to it afterwards.

While customer churn may keep you up at night, it’s much easier to swallow when you use every lost customer as an opportunity to do better. Use your offboarding process to understand what your customers need to be successful, and look for creative ways to make the process simple, transparent, and about the customer.

How To Monitor The Core Elements Of Your SaaS Business Part 2

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Yesterday, we released How To Monitor The Core Elements Of Your SaaS Business Part 1 and today we’re doing part 2 with a focus on the sales process.

To bring you up to speed, we’re working with the belief that a SaaS company can be defined as a simple funnel:

Marketing → Sales → Customer Success → Revenue

When you’re in the early stages of your SaaS business, it’s crucial that you understand how these components work together and understand what to measure and what to pay attention to.

Yesterday, we introduced this topic and worked through the marketing stage. Today, we’ll move on to the sales metrics.

When potential customers are in the marketing stage, we’re talking about leads. But once we manage to bring those people along our journey and they show us an intent to buy, they move into the sales-qualified leads (SQL) part of our funnel and become our prospects.

Stage 2 = Sales

Although it will vary, a typical sales pipeline will look like this:

Prospect → Demo or Trial → Proposal → Negotiation → Win or Lose

You want to make this process as easy as possible for people to flow through. You want to monitor your pipeline’s size and velocity, as well as the conversion rate. Ultimately, you should aim to close 25-30% of your prospects.

It’s important to understand and plan for the sales cycle of your customers. If it’s a smaller purchase, you can expect to close within 30 days. For bigger decisions, it can take 2-3 months. But for monumental decisions, expect a 6-9 month sales cycle.

When calculating how many people you need to drive into your pipeline, plan for 3-4x your revenue targets and work backward to achieve your goals.

The all important sales team

Your sales team is going to be instrumental to your success, so you want to do everything you can to help them succeed. But, you can’t improve what you don’t track.

You need to invest in your sales people and give them the appropriate amount of time to become successful. On average, it takes new sales people 3-6 months to ramp up to their full potential, so account for that in your forecasting. Once they’re reached their full potential, you should expect them to realistically achieve 85% of their quota.

You will want to calculate and track your average productivity per rep (PPR), as this will be the foundation for much of your sales forecasting and calculations.

A straightforward formula to follow is:

Revenue = # of sales people x average PPR

If you know the productivity you will likely get from your team, you can use that to figure out how many sales people you need to make your revenue targets.

Forecast Lead Velocity

Another major sales element you want to forecast is your lead velocity. Lead velocity refers to the metric that quantifies business growth in terms of qualified leads. Some argue that this is the single most important indicator of your current and future success.

If you’re measuring qualified leads and maintaining a consistent conversion rate, you can use this formula to yield a percentage growth rate for your leads, month over month.

At the end of the day, sales is simply a people and numbers game. With the right calculations and forecasting, you should be able to predict how many sales people you need, what they are capable of producing, and have a clear view of your company’s growth.

Remember that hiring will be your biggest bottleneck, and ensure you give new team members enough time and support to reach their full potential. Use your current PPR as a benchmark, but work on continuously improving it.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish off this series with the customer success portion and tie the core elements of marketing, sales, and customer success together.

How SaaS Startups Can Build Relationships With The Help Of Automation

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In a business economy where customer loyalty and relationship-building have become currency, we’re all totally aware that when it comes to longevity, it’s the businesses that prioritize their customers who make it. Gone are the days where a marketing department wastes their time crafting mass messages to the media.

Today, the name of the game is personalization. It’s about showing your customers who you are, what you stand for, and proving to them without a doubt that they matter. If you want your customers to stick around, they need to feel valued. They need to know that you care, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to keep them happy.

So in this world of hyper-personalization, your gut may be telling you to run the other way when someone brings up the term automation. It might cause you to envision those dreaded “Hello, friend…” emails that do nothing but clog up your inbox.

While many, many companies and organizations have gotten automation completely wrong, the good news is that as we continue to make technological advancements, the capabilities and new personalization opportunities available through automation are endless.

One really great example of this is Netflix. You probably get the same emails I do, only we’re getting specific messaging that’s based on our viewing history. Netflix uses our history to send us personalized recommendations - automatically.

When you’re scaling a business, you just don’t have time for the relationship-building and personalization that is required to deliver this type of experience. Maybe you did at first, but this model isn’t scalable. The problem is, personalization is exactly what the consumer wants. The obvious trick here? Using automation to help you deliver a personalized experience.

The next big thing in personalized automation? Chatbots.

If automated personalized emails still impress you, you’re going to want to sit down for this one. Right now, Chatbots are working hard to fill the gap between human contact and automation - when used properly, of course. These little guys have the power to serve hundreds and thousands of customers on auto-pilot, and deliver a personalized experience.

Companies are in a tricky spot. In a world where the bulk of consumers say they’d leave a brand if they felt like a number, organizations need to tread carefully. The demand for personalized customer service is huge, but companies can’t always afford to have the volume of bodies required to keep up with the demand. It looks like the way of the future will be using both - something people are referring to as blended artificial intelligence.

In their 2018 forecast, Forrester predicted that blended AI is the wave of the future, but also suggested this would likely result in lower customer satisfaction levels “as companies drive more traffic to chatbots, self-service, and chat that are not fully optimized to engage customers effectively.”

So again, if you want to make this work, you’ve got to do it right. Some say the key is simple - just make your bots customer-centric. In the best scenarios, the bots will be used as a communication facilitator, and not act as a barrier for human contact. The bots should be able to handle specific tasks, and know when to pass the customer on to a live agent for personalized assistance.

Bots excel at things like customer segmentation, and opening the line of communication after someone has completed a specific action. You can use them to answer simple questions, but make sure they can hand the customer off to the right person when the time comes.

If you want to scale your SaaS startup, Chatbots can be a phenomenal resource to help provide automated customer service that can get personal as soon as it’s necessary.

How SaaS Startups Can Build Relationships With The Help Of Automation

GOJI_How_SaaS_Startups_Can_Build_Relationships_With_The_Help_Of_Automation.jpg

In a business economy where customer loyalty and relationship-building have become currency, we’re all totally aware that when it comes to longevity, it’s the businesses that prioritize their customers who make it. Gone are the days where a marketing department wastes their time crafting mass messages to the media.

Today, the name of the game is personalization. It’s about showing your customers who you are, what you stand for, and proving to them without a doubt that they matter. If you want your customers to stick around, they need to feel valued. They need to know that you care, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to keep them happy.

So in this world of hyper-personalization, your gut may be telling you to run the other way when someone brings up the term automation. It might cause you to envision those dreaded “Hello, friend…” emails that do nothing but clog up your inbox.

While many, many companies and organizations have gotten automation completely wrong, the good news is that as we continue to make technological advancements, the capabilities and new personalization opportunities available through automation are endless.

One really great example of this is Netflix. You probably get the same emails I do, only we’re getting specific messaging that’s based on our viewing history. Netflix uses our history to send us personalized recommendations - automatically.

When you’re scaling a business, you just don’t have time for the relationship-building and personalization that is required to deliver this type of experience. Maybe you did at first, but this model isn’t scalable. The problem is, personalization is exactly what the consumer wants. The obvious trick here? Using automation to help you deliver a personalized experience.

The next big thing in personalized automation? Chatbots.

If automated personalized emails still impress you, you’re going to want to sit down for this one. Right now, Chatbots are working hard to fill the gap between human contact and automation - when used properly, of course. These little guys have the power to serve hundreds and thousands of customers on auto-pilot, and deliver a personalized experience.

Companies are in a tricky spot. In a world where the bulk of consumers say they’d leave a brand if they felt like a number, organizations need to tread carefully. The demand for personalized customer service is huge, but companies can’t always afford to have the volume of bodies required to keep up with the demand. It looks like the way of the future will be using both - something people are referring to as blended artificial intelligence.

In their 2018 forecast, Forrester predicted that blended AI is the wave of the future, but also suggested this would likely result in lower customer satisfaction levels “as companies drive more traffic to chatbots, self-service, and chat that are not fully optimized to engage customers effectively.”

So again, if you want to make this work, you’ve got to do it right. Some say the key is simple - just make your bots customer-centric. In the best scenarios, the bots will be used as a communication facilitator, and not act as a barrier for human contact. The bots should be able to handle specific tasks, and know when to pass the customer on to a live agent for personalized assistance.

Bots excel at things like customer segmentation, and opening the line of communication after someone has completed a specific action. You can use them to answer simple questions, but make sure they can hand the customer off to the right person when the time comes.

If you want to scale your SaaS startup, Chatbots can be a phenomenal resource to help provide automated customer service that can get personal as soon as it’s necessary.

How To Monitor The Core Elements Of Your SaaS Business Part 1

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If you’re in early stages of your SaaS business, finding a way to compartmentalize, monitor, and track your core elements is crucial to your success. Many experts have likened a SaaS business to a simple funnel with 3 core components, and that’s what we’re going to focus on here.

It’s simple:

Marketing → Sales → Customer Success → Revenue

The top flow of your funnel is your marketing. This is where your traffic becomes leads. Leads move into the sales process, and either convert or don’t. Once a sale is made, the goal is to ensure customer success with your product. Finally, you’re going to experience some revenue!

Let’s break down each section and look at some tips and tricks to monitor, measure, and track.

Stage 1 = Marketing

Your marketing represents the very top of your funnel. This is where you start attracting potential customers to your business and attempt to lead them down your funnel. It’s essential that you’ve validated your product market fit at this stage, and continue to do so on a regular basis throughout.

The most basic explanation I can give you about ensuring you’ve nailed your product market fit (PMF) is to ensure you’re tackling a burning issue that people are actively seeking a solution for - and you need to be able to identify who these people are. Next, you need to create a minimum viable product and have that same group of people test and validate your idea. You do this before building a final product, as you’ll need their feedback to help ensure you create the best possible product. We’ll dig deeper into this concept in another blog post.

With your marketing, there are some key things you need to monitor to ensure you’re nailing the product market fit.

If your PMF is on track, you will see:

ORGANIC TRACTION

Most of your signups will come from organic, non-paid sources. Your registrations will grow consistently month to month.

If you’ve missed the mark, you’ll find that the bulk of your signups are coming from paid sources.

SIGNUP RATE

Ideally, you should see at least 3-5% conversions from prospects who visit your website.

If you’re only getting around 1% of people converting, that’s not a good sign.

CONVERSION RATE

You should have at least 5-10% of users who opted-in for your free trial transition into paid customers.

If you’re only getting 2-3% of people converting, or less, it’s a strong sign your product market fit is off.

ACQUISITION CHANNELS

You experience a steady increase of high-quality inbound leads, but you’re also able to generate leads through outbound marketing.

If all of your customers come from outbound marketing, and most of them know each other, this signifies a problem.

If you’re not seeing the numbers you should be, the easiest place to start is with tackling the conversion rates. Ensure your messaging is clear, simple, and powerful. Do the work to ensure you’re targeting the right customer segment, and see what you can change to get your customers to their ideal outcome faster.

All leads are not created equal

Once you’ve clearly defined and understood your main metrics, it’s time to consider your sales channels. You’ll need to create a system to calculate and monitor your sales-qualified lead (SQL) cost per acquisition channel.

When you’re in the seed stages of your business, it’s advised to focus on ONE paid channel that’s both scalable and delivering the lowest cost of acquisition. Unpaid acquisition should remain your top priority channel, and you want to start writing content to grow your inbound acquisition as early as possible.

Once you’ve got your marketing figured out, it’s time to focus on your sales process.

This topic is a big one, so we’ll continue tomorrow with the last two sections: sales and customer success.

How To Leverage Qualitative Data For New Product Development

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Whatever stage of business you’re in, hopefully you get how important it is to be continuously collecting and evaluating customer feedback. Whether you’re building out your first MVP, about to push out an update for your app, or working on product roadmapping, the feedback from your customers is invaluable. After all, this is all for them - no one knows better what they want and need than they do.

Typically, your product development process goes like this. You have what you think is a great idea. You turn this idea into a minimum viable product, so that you can present it to a group of beta testers. You collect their feedback. You find out what they love, what they hate, and what they ultimately expect and want out of your product. They validate (or invalidate) your idea and give you the feedback you need to move forward (or not) with creating a final version of your product. This is of course an extremely simplified version of this entire process, but you get the general idea.

What happens when you have no minimum viable product, and no group of beta testers or customers? When you’re product roadmapping, this can often be the case. You’re trying to look down the road and figure out what people will want from you in the future - but you don’t have anything for them to actually try. And, there’s no “them”.

Getting customer feedback without actual customers

Here is what you’re going to do. If you have an existing customer base, you’re going to start there. From your existing group of people, you want to segment out the people you think would be ideal customers for your new features or latest new product.

If you’re starting from scratch and have no customer base whatsoever, that’s okay too. You need to find a group of people that mirror who you think your ideal customer is. What group of people will need your solution the most?

The crucial element of this part is getting crystal clear on who your ideal customer is. Once you’ve got that clarified, you can then find those people in your existing customer base or from the general population.

Once you’ve found a group of qualified prospective customers, it’s time to interview them to get some qualitative data.

Qualitative data is the information that can’t be measured

Once you’ve amassed a large customer base, this process isn’t going to work - but at the very beginning, this is how you can collect qualitative data from prospective customers that will lead you down the right path during your product development and roadmapping process.

Schedule phone interviews with as many likely customers as you can - no fewer than 12. The point of this interview is to get the information you need to measure your own assumptions against their actual responses.

Depending on your industry, you will need to modify the line of questioning.

If you’re a B2B business, here are some insightful questions:

  • What are your professional and personal short-term and long-term goals?
  • Tell me about your current role - what exactly do you do on a daily basis?
  • What specific frustrations are you dealing with on a regular basis? What gets in your way of being productive?
  • What might make reaching your personal and professional objectives easier?

Once you’ve gotten detailed answers to these questions, simply present your product idea to them. Ask them if your product will help them reach their goals, or solve one of their major problems.

It seems pretty straightforward and simple, but you will be shocked at how many people don’t attempt this - you’ll be even more surprised by the valuable insight you collect.

Your Reading List For SaaS Marketing

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Marketing any product or service is hard, especially in today’s competitive digital landscape. But when it comes to marketing for a SaaS company, you’ve got your work cut out for you. In addition to all the regular challenges of marketing, you’ve got a bunch of other variables to fight through.

You don’t have a physical, tangible product. Your service and your app is constantly changing and evolving. Maybe your app sounds like a foreign language to most people, and you literally only have about 25 B2B companies who this is relevant to. The struggle is real.

If you want to nail your marketing, you’ve got to make sure you deeply understand the nuances and key differences of SaaS marketing versus every other type of marketing.

One of the best ways to learn is to read, read, read. Learn from those who have gone before you and who are willing to share their secrets, successes, and failures. While there are countless fantastic blogs and online resources out there, we wanted to compile a list of some of the best for your weekend reading pleasure.

Here are just a few of the SaaS marketing and growth resources many experts out there are pointing to and recommend to their own audiences:

Both Sides of the Table

With 36k followers, this blog covers entrepreneurship, venture capitalism, startup lessons, and related newsworthy stuff. It’s based on the perspective of an entrepreneur turned VC, who is part of the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California.

Chaotic Flow

This blog by Joel York aims to share knowledge and opinions that will support executives who create and deliver SaaS, PaaS and IaaS applications to critically analyze real-world, go-to-market strategies and tactics by applying sound business principles to their disruptive technologies.

Copy Hackers

This blog isn’t SaaS only, but there’s a major focus on copywriting for marketing and SaaS companies. Copy is a major component of online marketing, and Copy Hackers is your go-to for all things copywriting and messaging.

Forget the Funnel

This blog and company strives to help tech marketers become better at their jobs. The founders of the business are independent consultants and advisors for some big names like Unbounce and Sprout Social.

Hitenism

Hiten is the founder of Quick Sprout, KISSmetrics, and Crazy Egg. His blog is about SaaS and growth hacking, and he sends out a weekly newsletter where he shares the week’s best for SaaS businesses.

Nichole Elizabeth DeMere

Nichole teaches SaaS founders how to build, engage, and grow communities around their products. This blog touches on everything from customer experience to product management to retention.

OkDork

Noah Kagan is the guy in charge at Sumo and his blog is filled with his own personal stories of marketing, startup life, productivity tips, and personal improvement.

Openview Labs

This blog provides its readers with insights, actionable advice, and words straight from the mouths of founders to help SaaS companies grow, scale, and manage.

Do you have any SaaS marketing and growth resources you’d add to this list? Let us know!

Types of SaaS Churn & How to Fight Back

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We wrote an article this week about how the main reason for customer churn can almost always be tied back to customer success issues. While this is very true, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take specific reasons for churn seriously, and try to combat them the best way we can.

While many of these reasons will still ultimately relate back to customer success, some of them have different solutions so we wanted to dig deeper into this ever-evolving issue. Customer churn is a major growth hurdle for all SaaS companies, and it’s something you want to fight strategically. Otherwise, you’ll be losing people as quickly as they come in. And that just doesn’t work for the SaaS model.

The reality with churn is that some of it can’t ever be controlled. Some of these reasons will be outside your power, so we want to focus on what we can control.

Here are 4 reasons you’re losing people.

ONBOARDING

Your onboarding process encompasses two crucial elements: the customer signing-up for your service, and said customer achieving their desired outcome with your service.

There is a gap between these two elements, and if the gap is too big, or takes too long to close, there is a major risk of customer churn. For example, perhaps your app has been purchased to help a small business manage their accounting. In this moment, the desired outcome for this particular person is that they need to send out automated invoices, instead of doing them manually. How long will it take your new customer to get there? This leads us nicely into the next section, customer success.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Continuing from the example above, it’s safe to assume that for this client, their version of customer success was setting up a system to send out automatic invoices to all their clients, so they don’t have to continue to do it every month. That was the initial goal and desired outcome, which a great onboarding process easily facilitated. Checkmate.

But, the glory is short-lived. The client suddenly realizes they’d like to have all bank and credit accounts automatically synced, so they no longer have to manually enter business expenses. The desired outcome has changed, and if your service isn’t prepared to help achieve those ever-evolving goals, your customer will be looking for someone else who can.

Ensure that through both the onboarding process and customer success journey, your customers have easy access to tutorials, educational materials, and videos that will ensure they are able to continue to evolve with your service, and continue to be successful.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

What happens when something unexpected happens, and your customers need support immediately? If you’re not there to provide it, in the way they want to receive it, there is a major risk of churn.

Our small business owner from above needs to get paid. Suddenly, the invoices stop sending and it is unclear as to why. To this business owner, this is an urgent matter that needs to be dealt with immediately. Ensure you’ve got agents reachable via online chat, email, and telephone to ensure your customers get the support they need. Otherwise, someone else will snatch them up and give them the customer service they deserve.

YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG PEOPLE

This is a tough pill to swallow, but it happens all the time. If you’re attracting the wrong customers, they will never become successful with your product of service, and the churn is inevitable. Continuing with our friend above, let’s assume that this business owner absolutely hates doing anything on his MacBook. He works off his iPhone and iPad, as he is always on the road.

It turns out, the bulk of your app’s features won’t work on his phone. So after all this seemingly successful onboarding and adoption, it turns out, this product wasn’t the right fit after all. Although this customer seems like your ideal client, it turns out he isn’t and his preferences mean he will never become successful with your service. Understand who your ideal client is, but take it a step further to assess customer fit to ensure your targets are fully equipped with what they need to become successful with your product or service.

These 4 areas are some of the most common churn culprits, but with the right steps, you can point things in the other direction.

Proven Strategies That Help SaaS Startups Survive & Thrive

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SaaS business models are like no other, and it’s not easy to make it in this dog-eat-dog world. There are countless business models and strategies that SaaS companies learn about and try, but here are some strategies that have been proven in the field and validated by experts.

5 key strategies that help SaaS startups survive:

Everything must be easy, and on their terms

This strategy is one that all SaaS businesses should employ, and its importance can not be overstated. Everything that happens within your app - whether it’s a feature or a tutorial - must come easy to the end user. Your service should be intuitive, but also customer-driven. Consumers want what they want, when they want it. They need to be in charge of how and when they access the information, and they expect you to have it ready for them when they decide they want it.

Walk before you run

Don’t waste your valuable time and resources trying to close deals with the Fortune 500’s of the world. They have an extremely slow sales cycle, and are being targeted by countless other businesses at this very moment. Focus on the low hanging fruit - the smaller businesses that actually need your product or service and have the ability to jump when they see what they want. You’ll get there eventually, but don’t try to skip over the natural stages of growth.

Never forget about your need to scale

Don’t get caught up in things that will make it difficult or impossible to scale your business, like offering customization in your early stages. If you invest in creating custom solutions, you’re suffocating your scalability. Instead, focus on offering configurations that don’t change the core product but still facilitate customization on an organizational level.

Incorporate Your Cost of Sale Into All Marketing & Budgeting Plans

As you start to grow, you’ll develop different sales channels and mediums of acquiring new customers. Don’t make the mistake of counting all new customers equal. For example, a smaller deal worth $5,000 suddenly becomes revenu-neutral or even revenue-negative if a sales team had to travel to close the deal. A phone call, however, would show a positive ROI. Make sure you understand your numbers so you can continue to make the best sales decisions moving forward.

Create a Customer Success Roadmap

Customer success will play a huge role in the survival of your SaaS business, at every single stage. This is something that will never go away, so you want to embrace it. At the very beginning, when a customer first decides to use your product or service, they have an initial desired outcome that your product needs to meet. The thing is, this is an ever-evolving process. Today’s goal is conquered, and tomorrow there will be a new one. If the business wants to keep the customer, they need to anticipate what the ongoing desired outcomes and goals of their customers will be throughout their lifecycle, and have things in place to meet them along the way.

As you claw and scrape your way to success, remember these 5 strategies - they’ve proven successful for those that have gone before you!

How To Help Your Product Team Improve The Customer Experience

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If you want to help your product development team create a better customer experience, you really need to help them get into the heads of your customers. And what’s the easiest way to do that? It’s not what you think.

Empathy.

We all know what empathy means: it’s having the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing and to put yourself in their position. It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

But what’s all this got to do with product development? It turns out, a lot.

If product managers truly want to get to know their customers and understand their pain points, they need to understand the emotional landscape these people are dealing with.

Product managers who lead with empathy will constantly be asking themselves things like:

  • How does using the product make the customer feel?

  • How does the customer feel when they’re not using the product, compared to when they are?

  • What would be the ideal emotional outcome for this person?

  • How does this person want to feel while using the product?

And while this is all about getting people in the feels, the real effects of empathy in product development can be seen across every measurable customer experience metric. Empathy isn’t really something that can be measured, but the results of it sure can be.

Product teams who are struggling to connect with their customers on a deeper level need to be asking themselves things like:

  • How can we become emotionally connected with our customers?

  • What are the most impactful positive (and negative) emotional responses?

  • Which emotions should we try to tap into?

Here are some quick and easy empathy practices that can help send your product development team down the path of improved CX:

  • Incorporate empathy-driven customer feedback into your product development team’s process. Customer feedback and surveys are most commonly used in the customer service department or offboarding process, but this is a massive missed opportunity. The product development team should be actively uncovering the real emotional drivers behind people using your product.

  • Insist every team member is actually using the product or service. You can’t expect your team to wear someone else’s shoes, without actually wearing them. In order to understand the frustrations and emotional impact, ensure your people are customers, too.

  • When tracking and sharing customer experience metrics, do not focus solely on the negative. Ensure your team gets the full story, and hears from happy clients as well. This can give major insight into the emotional reasons people are using your product, and help you understand how they want to feel.

  • Incorporate empathy KPI’s into your product development process, and create some benchmarks around what your company believes represents a happy customer. You’ve got to start somewhere, and you can’t measure what you don’t track.

  • Take your Buyer Persona to the next level with an Empathy Map.

  • Have members of your product development team spend time regularly with the customer service department. Have them answer questions, and connect with actual users. This will ensure they wholeheartedly understand what problems customers are dealing with on a regular basis, in real-time.

Although empathy is considered a soft-skill, the numbers don’t lie - incorporating empathy practices into your product development process is one of the easiest ways to drive that CX needle up!

Want To Decrease Churn In Your SaaS Business?

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When it comes to SaaS businesses, decreasing churn is always a primary concern. If you want your business to succeed, it’s crucial that the people who start using your service keep using it - if not, you’ll never grow.

There are plenty of reasons that churn happens:

  • Your onboarding sucks
  • You’ve got no plan for ongoing customer success
  • You aren’t providing adequate customer support
  • Your competitors are doing a better job at the same thing
  • You’re signing up the wrong people
  • Your service isn’t seen as a priority
  • You haven’t won over the entire organization (B2B specific)
  • Your product has bugs or inefficiencies that turn people off

Your customers will decide to stop using your product for countless reasons, but the ones mentioned above are the most common.

Many experts, however, say that the easiest way a SaaS business can have a massive, positive impact on their churn rate is to get back to basics, and focus on customer success.

If you want to keep your customers, you’ve got to set them up for success. Most of the churn reasons above can be linked directly to customer success, believe it or not.

If you want to position your service to ensure that the likelihood for customer success is as high as possible, there are a few foundational things you need to get right.

For starters - are you attracting the right customers? It’s essential that you’re attracting customers who have the potential for success with your product or service.

Second, does your onboarding process move your customers toward their desired outcome? The point of onboarding is to help your customers be successful with your product - is your process giving them exactly what they need to accomplish their goals? Understanding your customer is one thing, but understanding what their ideal outcome is will be a separate issue.

Lastly, does your onboarding process trigger red flags for potential success issues? Your onboarding process should be continually optimized to ensure you’re filling in any gaps, and using this process to ensure your customers are successful and reach their desired outcomes with your product or service.

Focusing on customer success means you do the work to attract the right customers and use your onboarding process to its maximum potential. Your onboarding process (and the continued optimization of it) will be one of the key pillars to helping your customers achieve their desired outcomes and reducing churn.

Once you’ve addressed the main customer success components, there are a few other aspects you’ll want to dig into.

Take a step back and figure out why your loyal customers are staying. What are you giving them that is so spectacular? Knowing what your strengths are will help you continue to grow on those core elements, and also help you to better understand your customers. When pushing through difficult times, it can be more affordable to work on expanding your strengths than trying to tackle your weaknesses.

Lastly, figure out why people are leaving. You probably can’t fill every gap right away, but prioritize your list and start taking a serious look at your own gaps, and address them one by one. A strategic, steady approach can seem slow, but it’s much more sustainable.

The main lesson here is that when you need to decrease churn, start with analyzing your customer success process to ensure you’re giving your customers what they need to be successful with your product or service. Everything else is secondary!

How To Keep Your SaaS Customers Engaged

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If you want to survive as a software-as-a-service business, keeping your customers engaged should be very high on your priority list. SaaS companies have unique challenges when it comes to customer acquisition, due to the nature of running a service-based business.

As a SaaS business, you’re relying on long-term customers. They probably have annual or monthly contracts, and you need to keep those people engaged and using your service if they’re going to want to continue to incur this cost.

For some businesses, attracting a steady flow of new customers works just fine. But in this world, it’s simply not enough. You need to keep the customers you have, and you do that by keeping them engaged with your brand and your service. When people start to stray, you need to find a way to re-engage or that customer will be lost.

Here are some proven strategies to help you engage, and re-engage, with your SaaS customers.

Offer video tutorials

What features are your customers most interested in using? What features are underutilized because no one seems to know about them? Use this opportunity to educate your customers in an engaging way. Blog posts and PDF’s are great, but videos give a much more engaging experience. The more your customers know about everything your app can do, the more likely they are to continue using it.

Actively collect customer feedback

Use customer surveys, questionnaires, and interviews to find out where the gaps are. Are there features your customers wish your app had? Are they satisfied with your level of customer service? You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Collect the feedback, and make sure you use it to improve both your service and software.

Use every opportunity to personalize

Personalized marketing is essential if you want to make an emotional connection with your customers. Use their names whenever possible and show people blog posts and other items that are based on their individual search habits and usage.

Start email marketing

Use email marketing to build relationships and keep your business top of mind for customers. This isn’t a place to be sales-y, but an opportunity to provide value, educate, and connect on a meaningful level. It’s also a great way to collect feedback, and encourage people to connect with you on social media.

Create a benefits or loyalty program

Rewarding your loyal customers for sticking around is a fantastic way to keep them engaged. There are countless ways you can do this - just be sure you’re in tune with what your customers want from you, and remember to keep it personal. It doesn’t need to be expensive, either. You can easily reward people for usage with perks, discounts or gamification, rather than offer cash rewards or other costly incentives.

Engage on social media

Last, but certainly not least, comes the pink elephant in the room. If you want to engage with your customers on a regular basis outside of your app, you need to be where they are. And where are they? That’s obvious. They’re on Facebook, Instagram, or some other social platform of choice. But don’t be there for the sake of being there, or to try and use this as another sales channel. As with email marketing, this is a space to add value. What type of content are your customers interested in absorbing? How can you help them? This is also a great space to offer customer service, conduct surveys, and more.

Those are 6 proven strategies to help engage, and re-engage, with your SaaS customers.

Why Product Management Is Vital For SaaS Companies

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The product manager plays an important role in all tech companies, but even more so in SaaS businesses. Product managers are responsible for creating the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product. It’s their job to figure out what customers want, and to then create and execute the plan to give it to them.

Great products are the essence of SaaS companies, so it’s essential that the product management process sets the company up for long-term success and also aims to keep it ahead of the curve. You need to give consumers what they want before they’ve moved onto something else, and try to anticipate what they’re going to want from you in the future.

You need to prioritize finding out what your customers want from you.

The importance of putting your customers first can not be overstated. Every successful SaaS company started with a great service or product that consumers were desperate to have - but if you want to thrive long-term, you’ve got to keep delivering bigger and better results.

Understanding what your customers want is one thing, but giving it to them is another. How quickly can you bring a new product to market? One skill that Steve Jobs was known for was thinking ahead - he had the ability to anticipate what consumers were going to want, before they ever asked for it. This is how you get (and stay) ahead of the curve.

Onboarding is an important piece of this puzzle, too. This process isn’t just about getting an account set up - it’s about ensuring the customer has everything they need to be successful with your product and to ensure customer satisfaction. Your onboarding process should be continuous, and customer-focused.

Shared product roadmaps are becoming more and more common, and this ties into this exact principle. What better way to find out what consumers want than to let them be part of your product development process?

B2B or B2C? Customer expectations no longer differ. Gone are they days when your staff are willing to adopt subpar software at the office. As consumers, we have been trained to expect seamless integrations and easy, intuitive navigation in all the apps and softwares that we use.

If you expect entire organizations to adopt your software, and to continue using it, you’ve got to provide them with a fantastic customer experience. The reality here is that although the organization is the one paying the bill, but it’s the employees who are your real customers.

A few companies have really, really nailed this. Slack and MailChimp are the first two that come to mind.

A major component of product management is knowing and anticipating what your customers need and want from you, but it involves so much more than that. Product managers need to understand the company’s vision while they execute the product roadmap. During this process, there’s got to be continuous learning about the market and customers. Product managers work with every department to keep everyone working towards a common goal.

The people that fill these roles are wearing 45 hats on any given day, and play a major role in influencing the entire organization. The importance of the product manager cannot be overstated, and this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

How SaaS Companies Can Use Branding To Improve CX

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The power of branding is huge - we all know that. But when you’re not a tangible product, it’s even more important to have a strong brand. When people can’t hold your product or service in their hands, your brand and their customer experience is really all you’ve got.

As a SaaS company, the experience you provide your customers with is everything. And, your branding is a huge part of that. How do people feel when they’re engaging with your product? What do people think about, when they think of you? All of this comes back to your brand.

Providing a fantastic customer experience is crucial if you want users to remain engaged with your business. But, keeping your customers engaged long-term is no small task. One lever you can use to majorly impact this is your branding.

Here are 4 different branding strategies that help SaaS companies improve their customer experience.

Invest in a proper branding package

Your logo and colors have a massive impact on how consumers feel about your brand, so this isn’t a place you want to skimp. You don’t need to go crazy with costs, but ensure you at least have a logo done properly.

Don’t just throw something together - do your research. What do the competitor’s logos look like? What do you see happening for your industry in the app store? There’s a lot that goes into creating good logos, so make sure you fully understand why you’re making the decisions you’re making. Your logo can be what makes or breaks a person’s decision to hit the download button, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.

Seek out strategic partnerships

Are there holes in your product or service that could be better filled by a strategic partner? And are there potential partners that your audience already identifies with and uses? Connecting your brand with other known brands that compliment your product or service will open your business to larger audiences and new demographics you may not have been able to reach alone. Alignment with other popular brands with strengthen your own.

Any partnerships will need to be mutually beneficial, so make sure you approach any contacts with a plan that demonstrates how you can help them before you’re expecting anything in return.

Adopt education as part of your brand

There’s no better way to build trust online today than through educational content. Consumers will expect your business to provide them with the information they need to make the best use out of your product or service - if you don’t give it to them, you’re making it hard for them to become successful, which will in turn cause them to have a negative experience.

Make education part of your brand promise and use engaging things like videos, webinars, and tutorials to educate and relationship-build at the same time.

Ensure every single staff member is a brand ambassador

Your customer service agents, your technical staff, and anyone that interacts with the public is acting as the face of your company. Ensure that each member of your team is consistent with their knowledge, their attitude, and the way they represent your company.

Empower and educate your staff, so they are able to handle each and every situation that is thrown at them. This will help to build trust, and ensure every customer that comes into contact with your business is having the same positive experience.

When it comes to branding, don’t just think about your fonts and colors - it goes far deeper than that!

Components Every SaaS Marketing Strategy Needs

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Businesses that want to do more than limp along require a solid marketing strategy to ensure continued growth. A marketing strategy has been defined as a “long-term, forward-looking approach to planning with the fundamental goal of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.”

That’s all straightforward enough, but how do things change when we’re building a marketing strategy that’s for a SaaS company? Service as a software companies have their own unique set of challenges and it’s crucial that each company’s marketing strategy is tailored to match both their business and their customers.

Every marketing strategy should include things like:

  • Clear guidelines, goals, and objectives
  • Division of roles
  • A clear roadmap
  • Customer research
  • Market research
  • Adequate resources
  • Timelines and review schedules
  • Analysis

But when it comes to SaaS companies, there are a few other things you’ll want to ensure make the cut.

Perform an analysis of success potential and customer fit

Customer research was mentioned above, but SaaS companies need to take this process further to ensure they are only selling those customers who are truly a good fit. If you sell to someone who is not equipped to be successful with your product or service, you will inevitably provide them with a poor customer experience. Selling to the wrong people will do more harm than good.

Create a customer-focused onboarding process

Onboarding processes are beyond important, but make sure yours is customer-focused versus product-focused. The point of the onboarding process is to move your new customer towards their desired goal with as little friction as possible.

Create customer success content

Your content marketing strategy will be part of your holistic marketing plan, and it’s important for SaaS companies to create content that is specially crafted to help users become successful. Create content that will help move your customers to their desired outcome, to ensure that customers are easily finding everything they need to be successful and more likely to continue using your app. If a person feels frustrated by something and a quick online search yields no solutions, you’re at risk of losing them. Ensure that content is readily available.

Don’t forget about your past customers

Just because someone stopped using your service last year does not mean they wouldn’t be interested in hearing from you again. Re-engage with your past clients with new features, updated video tutorials, and discounts to get them back on board. You can also reconnect for surveys and questionnaires to uncover valuable information like why they left and what it would take to get them back. You can even create an automated offboarding process, so you’re getting this feedback immediately and not down the road.

Those are just a few of the extra components a SaaS marketing strategy should have, and some tactics you should add into your marketing mix. Surviving as a SaaS business isn’t for the faint of heart, but with the right product, systems, and processes, it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier!

Increase Your Success Potential With The Right Customer Fit

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Understanding what your customer wants from you is the name of the game if you want your app or ecommerce website to be successful. But, finding out what they want and how to give it to them is just the start of this process.

Just because someone fits into the mould of your buyer persona or customer avatar, does not, unfortunately, mean that you can be sure they’re a perfect fit for your solution.

For example, let’s say you’re selling an analytical dashboard for small marketing agencies who are planning to grow. You have two business owners who match your Buyer Persona beautifully - their names are John and Dave. Although they are running very different agencies, they’re both thirty-something unmarried males who devote their lives to their startups. They eat at the same restaurants, work in the same city, and are kept up at night by the anxiety they feel from the thought of failure.

But, there is something here that is not included in these customer profiles. John absolutely hates e-learning. He just can’t sit down in front of a computer and learn on his own. He requires an in-person experience in order to absorb anything. Dave, conversely, prefers to do all his own personal development via online courses on his own time.

As a business, part of your solution requires that customers work through your e-learning modules. They don’t have to, but if they don’t, they won’t be able to use your dashboard to its full potential. In this scenario, it’s clear that purchasing from you would be an ideal solution for Dave, but a complete nightmare for John. Dave would have a great user experience, and John would have a terrible one simply because he is not equipped to be successful in your environment.

If you truly want to achieve long-term growth and success for your products and services, you want to do everything you can to provide your customers with the best possible experience. And that sometimes means turning away customers who aren’t going to be successful. Bad experiences spread like wildfire, and you want to avoid selling to people who aren’t the right fit whenever possible.

Learning to qualify people based on their customer fit will help you to avoid selling to people who will be unable to achieve success with your product or service.

Customer Success Consultant Lincoln Murphy suggests that we break this area into at least 6 potential fits:

  • Technical Fit: does the customer have the tech to be able to use your product?
  • Functional Fit: does your product have the features or functions this customer needs?
  • Resource Fit: does your customer have the time and money to be successful with your product?
  • Competence Fit: can the customer learn what they need in order to be successful?
  • Cultural Fit: does the customer share your business’s core values and beliefs?
  • Experience Fit: does your product or service give the experience this client needs?

I’ll stop there, but you can see how this list can easily grow and it suddenly becomes clear why people like Dave and John may seem like great candidates, until we take it a step further.

Customer success is a major component of providing a great customer experience, and it’s something you should always consider when strategizing and planning.

Strategies Used By Top SaaS Companies

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We can all learn a lot from some of the strategies used by subscription-based SaaS companies like Spotify and Shopify. These businesses were once startups too, and they’ve employed some smart strategies that helped them explode their ideas into global enterprises.

Here are two of the strategies that have been used by SaaS companies to skyrocket their success.

TRY A FREEMIUM MODEL

Now, this statement might be somewhat controversial, as many experts seem to advise against it. But, if you do it right, it can be extremely powerful.

Spotify is a great example of where this works. Because they have a product that is both addictive and effective, there’s an opportunity to create an environment where there is a gap (a.k.a. annoyance) that can be easily solved for a small monthly payment.

When you’re putting together the best playlist ever for your next workout, the last thing you want is to be interrupted by an ad when you’re in the middle of a set. Spotify has given you exactly what you want, for free, but they’ve made it imperfect - and most of us are willing to pull out our credit card to fix that.

When you’ve got a service that is addictive and effective, a freemium model will be enough to hook the masses into becoming paid subscribers. In case you were wondering, 83 million of Spotify’s 180 million subscribers are now paying for a subscription.

FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE & COMMUNITY

Shopify is a really great example of the power of nailing the customer service experience and the impact of focusing on building a community of engaged users. There are countless shopping cart providers out there, but Shopify has exploded and many say it’s due to their impeccable customer service and ability to create an engaged community around their offerings and brand.

Shopify has managed to simplify the process of building an online store for basically anyone who wants to sell something online, and their platform integrates with countless other apps to facilitate things like marketing, automation, and accounting. But, in addition to providing a fantastic product, they have taken customer service to an entirely new level. You can literally email the person who developed your theme if you’re having issues, such as with getting your images to all be the same size - they will tell you how to fix it, or even just do it for you.

They’ve grown their community by finding customer success gaps and filling them. They champion the development of individuals who want to use their platform for their own businesses as a service offering, and have announced countless partnerships this past year.

They are expecting revenues in surplus of $1 billion this calendar year, and experienced a 62% increase in revenue in 2018’s Q2 over 2017’s. How’s that for providing superior customer service and community building? When you put your customers first, above all else, anything is possible.

If you want to knock it out of the park with your next app or product idea, take some hints from what Shopify and Spotify have done to focus on the long-term growth and sustainability of your business.