In the SaaS world, especially, satisfying and retaining customers is crucial to a startup’s success. Unhappy customers translate to customer churn, which ultimately acts as a leak at the bottom of your ship. It’ll drag you down. On the flip side, successful customers become advocates for your brand – accelerants for your growth.
As such, it’s critical that companies prioritize customer success – that we plan for it and, even more importantly, measure it so as to determine if we’re doing a good job with meeting our customers’ needs or not.
Measuring customer success can be challenging, though, because it entails weighing both qualitative and quantitative metrics, which are often incongruous. Positive quantitative data doesn’t necessarily translate to good customer health, for example.
Despite this, most startups follow something of a boilerplate blueprint for collecting, assessing, and using this data. For instance, they do things like issue surveys asking customers to detail how likely they are to recommend the company to a friend. They then use that data to generate a Net Promoter Score (NPS).
But this really isn’t enough, as it doesn’t provide you with real insight into the health of the account. Your picture of customer success is therefore inherently incomplete.
So how can you measure your customers’ success in a way that provides you with information that’s actionable and truth telling?
Read more: Loyalty Programs in an Omnichannel World
A different approach – with requisite investment.
In my role as CEO of Contentstack – an enterprise CMS and Content Experience platform – we incorporate industry standards to help us measure customer success, including NPS. We also employ more traditional means of supporting customers. We’ve implemented and invested in account-based customer success managers to serve customers and help them feel supported around the clock, for starters, and we’ve built a 24/7 support infrastructure that allows users to get tech support whenever they need it.
Here’s where we took things a step further, though.
To measure the success of our initiatives, we track each unique type of user we serve along with their respective adoption journeys. We have two types, depending on the end user: one journey for developers, and one for business users.
Each journey is composed of 4 “persona stages” which end users pass through: New User, Adopted, Power User, and Advocate. As each type of user passes through the stages of the journey, we track to make sure they’re doing the things we know they need to do at each stage in order to make real progress. We measure that success using our unique Data Analytics platform.
What this allows us to do is determine when and where there are drop-offs in the journey. Then, we can send targeted collateral to the user in question to provide them the specific support they need to move forward.
We also assess sentiment in every account on a quarterly basis. This is a qualitative measure that typically requires a live conversation.
We couple this information unique to users’ journeys with things like support engagement, usage metrics, and NPS to formulate a final health score for each user and account.
The result, upon launching this initiative, was an increase in retention rates and growth in customer accounts.
The reason we saw such immediate and encouraging results are simple: Our intense focus on users at the individual level allows us to give each user the type of help they need when they need it. Users never feel lost or like they’re uncared for. Instead, they feel like they have a dependable partner along for the journey.
At the same time, collecting this more precise type of data gives us more actionable intelligence about our users. It also helps us to identify ways in which we can increase the use of our product in any given account.
It’s not enough to know that a user reported an 8/10 on a survey regarding their satisfaction with your product. You need to know exactly what problems you are helping them solve so you can then tackle those problems for prospects and future users.
Ultimately, you should never underestimate the importance of obtaining user feedback.
I don’t mean to imply here that you should ditch surveys or engagement with your customers altogether. It remains important to give your customers a voice. When customers feel like they’re being heard, that makes a big difference in their all-around satisfaction with your product or service.
But at the end of the day, to focus your entire customer service apparatus around obtaining customer feedback at the end—or even the middle—of the customer’s experience is not enough. You must go a step further, ditch the status quo, and track your customers’ success as precisely and purposefully as possible.
This level of investment in customer success could mean the difference between your ship sinking or sailing to new heights alongside your growing customer base!