A subscription business model for software is an exciting opportunity to expand the scope of traditional customer relationships in a way that delivers ongoing value for both you and your customers. But with recurring revenue comes the challenge of recurring interactions. You must ensure your users are consistently engaged and satisfied with every interaction with your software and company. To get to that point though, both start-ups and established companies need to build a strong business and operational foundation, intensely focused on customer success.
Aligning Your Corporate Mission
Customer success is inextricably intertwined with your own success as a SaaS company. To have any advantage in the competitive software service space, it’s vital that every part of your company is devoted to ensuring a successful user experience with every aspect of your service, from lead nurturing to user interface and billing.
Accordingly, customer success not only has to be your overall corporate mission, it should also permeate every department, whether they work directly with customers or support the teams that do.
Culture Needs to Start at the Top
To start, this requires strong leadership that recognizes and embraces the fact that success relies on maintaining positive customer relationships that provide ongoing value. Customer success, therefore, is now a key strategic element.
While executives can easily say they support customer success, actually ensuring that it is guiding day-to-day operations is a different matter. To tackle this challenge, many successful SaaS companies have created an executive role that is directly accountable for customer success and has ownership of customer retention KPIs. From Chief Customer Officers to Vice Presidents of Customer Success and Customer Success Specialists, the community of professionals in SaaS devoted to making sure customers get the most value out of a service has grown to the point where there are now professional associations specifically for these individuals and teams. Others have bestowed this responsibility on existing directors of customer service or marketing.
Infusing Customer Success Across Departments
However you choose the seat of customer success leadership, it is an interdepartmental role that strategizes at the executive-level to create and foster a culture of customer success. Specifically, it involves monitoring KPIs, identifying causes for churn and coming up with cross-department solutions to alleviate those causes, so make sure you find someone who understands the many facets of your business and is comfortable with figuring out the reasons for changes in metrics.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
The trickle-down effect of these strategic efforts to each business unit and every employee must emphasize the importance of every role in the company for facilitating customer success. With 69% reporting that job satisfaction is at least partly determined by the meaningfulness of their work, directly linking employees’ work to customer success is also an opportunity to get employees engaged. Employees can be your best brand ambassadors, so getting their buy-in is crucial for enacting a culture of customer success.
Reinforcing the key role each person plays in meting out customer success can then be done through ongoing communication of KPI’s and each role’s impact on them, which some firms have linked to commission or bonus structures. Find a way to align the company’s success with that of every member of your team!