Selling cloud and software-as-a-service applications is all about driving usage, adoption, and customer success—not about selling. This is obviously true for onboarding new customers, who start with a free trial and will only pay you if they like what they see. It is even more true for existing customers, who will only renew their subscription if they love what you do for them. Below are five tips on how to generate and maintain maximum customer love, in either situation.
1. Make Customers Love Your Product
Customers will love your product if they get the following from it.
- Tremendous Value: Is your application delivering on its promise? For example, if your app is built for project management, are users successfully creating projects, inviting colleagues, and increasing productivity via efficient collaboration? Also, do you have a workflow in place to increase the success of lagging customers? This approach allows you to improve your product based on what you learn.
- Enjoyment: Just getting the job done is not enough. Your product should be a delight to use. Invest in usability and product design and make your product truly intuitive. How do you know you are doing a good job at this? There’s a good chance your customers are on Twitter, recommending the product to colleagues.
- Great Support: Build wizards to walk your customer through how to successfully use your app. If there is a bug, reach out with a solution. Help could be a phone call, e-mail, or a link to a piece of educational content.
- Good Health: Successfully using the application
- Average Health: Using the application, but not at the level of a successful customer
- Poor Health: Not using the application; unsuccessful
- Reason: Why did the customer leave?
- Membership Length: How long were they customers before cancelling?
- Engagement Trends: How engaged were they throughout their subscription?
2. A Customer Success Team
Assign one executive on your team to be responsible for customer success. This person’s function should be to help customers realize the value they subscribed for. The success manager will also guide every new customer through a series of training steps. After the initial 90-day onboarding period, the success manager will monitor for any signs of customer unhappiness to determine if a customer needs more attention. The entire customer success team should also be responsible for renewals and expansion sales.
In a subscription economy, customer success is key to your growth. Successful customers stay longer, increasing your revenue.
3. Create a Customer Health Score
Invest in technology that tracks customer health. Start with a simple survey tool like survey monkey It will help you determine what your Net Promoter Score is on a quarterly basis. You can obtain a Net Promoter Score by asking customers how likely is it that they would recommend your company to a friend or colleague, on a scale of 1-10? The percentage of Detractors (0-6 rating) is then subtracted from the percentage of Promoters (9-10 rating) to obtain a Net Promoter Score.
Even better, track customer health in real time by analyzing customer usage of your application. It turns out that almost all cancellations are preceded by a period of no use. You can create in-house scripts to track how engaged customers are with your application, and segment customers by their engagement score.
To help customers succeed, you need to find out who’s doing well and who’s struggling to get value from your application. The only way to do that systematically is to define a consistent health benchmark for your paying customers, then track each account to see who needs help. Here are some example benchmarks:
What defines a healthy customer depends on your service, but be sure to define, track, and monitor it on an ongoing basis
4. Nurture Your Paying Customers
Lifecycle marketing is the discipline of marketing to your existing customers, based on the status of the relationship. There are two important lessons here. One, don’t stop selling once customers sign up for the paid service. Two, don’t treat all customers equally. That means you should communicate very differently with a customer in poor health than with a customer in good health.
For example, send customer success stories to the customer who isn’t actively using your software. Perhaps call and check in with those high-value customers who started off using your software but then disappeared. Or consider asking active users to participate in customer case studies and referral programs.
5. Learn From Churn
When customers are cancelling or not renewing their subscription with you, they churn. So, what will you learn from every customer that leaves you? You won’t. Unless you have data. This is why you should consider creating a churn database. This would be a place where you store information about cancelled customers. It should contain the following:
See if you can identify and mitigate trends. Your goal should be to improve the experience for current and future customers. Customer success should be a pillar of your business. Happy customers help generate new leads and business. Unsatisfied ones create PR nightmares. In our connected world, customer success is your most important marketing asset.