Barely five years old, Customer Success has fast become one of the key pillars of the most successful SaaS businesses. With that in mind, we’ve declared 2019 the year of Customer Success. Here’s why…
Where did it all Begin?
Ever since companies started providing customers with software, they’ve hired people to maintain those relationships and ensure that they’re happy with the product. Commonly these people were known as Account Managers.
Before SaaS, a customer would generally pay for the software license upfront with a one-off payment. Therefore, while it was important to have happy customers, it wasn’t the end of the world if they stopped using the product.
Once SaaS became the default option for selling and purchasing software the dynamic between companies and customers changed significantly. The customer now pays in regular installments, so if they stop using the product they stop paying.
That shift in power from the provider to the customer meant that maintaining customer relationships became more important than ever.
What is Customer Success?
The ultimate goal of Customer Success is to prevent and reduce churn. The primary way they can do this is by ensuring that their customers are getting the most value from the product.
A Customer Success Manager (CSM) proactively reaches out to customers, making sure they aren’t experiencing any issues with the product. Unlike Support teams, who help customers deal with problems as they arise, Success teams attempt to prevent the problems from ever happening.
CSMs are also on hand to educate their customers on best practices, providing guidance and training on how to use the product. This helps the customer gain even more value.
They also help by encouraging upgrades to new plans, identifying features that would help their customers even more, and explaining the benefits of them.
Finally, they’re often tasked with creating and maintaining all of the help documentation on offer.
As you can see, they’re instrumental when it comes to keeping customers on side, and ensuring they get their value for money.
Why is Customer Success so Important?
As I’ve already mentioned, the introduction of subscription models into the world of software had a marked change on how companies valued their customers. While companies have always aimed to put customers first, SaaS means that the customers have far more power.
In fact, customers will make or break a SaaS business. The biggest metric for many SaaS business owners, the one they all focus on, is churn. Churn has a big impact on MRR and, perhaps more importantly, on lifetime value. If your customers aren’t sticking around then you’re in trouble.
You can have the best product in the world, and be inundated with new customers week after week, but if your customers aren’t getting enough value from the product, then they’ll start looking elsewhere. It’s down to Customer Success teams to help those customers find value.
Ultimately, when they do their job well, CSMs prevent churn, and ensure a steadily increasing MRR. Most, if not all, of the biggest SaaS businesses wouldn’t be half as successful without a strong Customer Success team.
The Year of Customer Success
Last year we focused almost exclusively on Product teams. We believed that Product managers were instrumental in developing a product that customers loved to use.
While Product still have a massive part to play in 2019, we believe that building the right product is only part of the equation. If you don’t have people constantly making sure your customers are using the product successfully, then all the Product team’s work is for nothing.
Product Management and Customer Success are two sides of the same coin. Both are hugely responsible for the success of a SaaS business. Both are needed.
But this year we think Customer Success will prove to be a bigger, more influential, role, as customers start to demand more value from the products they purchase. As more competitors start up, the choice widens.
If three products essentially do the same thing, then it’ll ultimately come down to Customer Success to make the difference.
That’s why 2019 is the year of Customer Success, and if you haven’t invested in your Success team just yet, you might want to start.