Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.”– Toma Kulbytė, SuperOffice
Last week, we attended a fantastic webinar hosted by Paddle which discussed the benefits of customer-first thinking, and how to build a customer-first strategy for your SaaS company. The webinar was presented by Paddle’s senior product marketer James Doman-Pipe and Kustomer‘s customer experience VP Alex Gadd.
This presentation was jam-packed with fantastic customer-centric strategies and powerful statistical data. Here are 6 lessons we learned from this fantastic webinar!
1. Building a customer relationship is always worth your time.
Citing Zappos Steven Weinstein’s famous 10 hour and 43 minute customer service call as a great example of customer-first thinking, Doman-Pipe delves into the numerous benefits of going above and beyond for your customers. Contrary to what many believe, the “faster is better” rule typically found in outbound telemarketing sales doesn’t apply to the B2B/B2C SaaS world. And why is that? Because in SaaS, you’re not selling a product. You’re selling a relationship. You’re targeting people who need a service, and you’re attempting to convince them to pick your team to provide that service. You want them to choose you and continue to choose you day after day, year after year. You’re looking for a marriage between you and the customer, because with a recurring revenue billing structure, the longer and more meaningful the relationship – the better it is for everyone involved.
According to SaaS Capital, businesses that prioritize the customer and dedicate their time to a customer’s success can see a 40% increase in revenue, 50% faster growth, and experience many positive effects on churn and customer happiness.
With all of these things in mind, it should be clear why building strong customer relationships is always worth the time.
Time spent understanding your customers’ perspective is never time wasted.– James Doman-Pipe
2. Personal understanding is your greatest competitive advantage.
Doman-Pipe talks about the important role that personal, individualized customer understanding plays in longterm SaaS customer retention. Not only gaining an understanding of your target market and ideal customer profile, but gaining an understanding of each customer individually.
To really build a relationship with your customers, you have to have an understanding of their mindset, their persona, their motivations, aspirations, the gains they want to achieve, the pains they have and what made them seek a solution in the first place. You need to know and understand them so deeply that it becomes your competitive advantage.
There are many ways to build this context and understanding. Customer interviews and periodic surveys are great ways of doing this, but you can also make things even more personal. Call your customers right after sign up, or even when they pass on your product. Never miss a chance to gain customer understanding and make deeper connections with your customers. Your customers are everything to you and your company, so show them that you really understand them and care about them.
It’s important to note that this kind of customer-first investment isn’t something you can fake, or turn on and off. There’s no shortcut to caring. You must have a genuine love for your customers, a curiosity about them, and a deep appreciation.
“If you want to understand how a lion hunts don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”– Jim Stengel
3. Customer-centricity isn’t about closing the deal.
As mentioned above, customer-centricity is about building a relationship. It’s not a sales tactic, it’s a lifestyle. A SaaS sales pitch is kind of like a first date, and closing a deal is kind of like getting engaged. You’re not looking for just any customer, you’re looking for a companion. This means that you’re only looking for customers who are truly a good fit for your service, and choosing to let the bad-fits go.
Customer-centricity transcends your personal business agendas. It’s about putting the customer’s needs before your own, and this means helping customers to be successful regardless of whether or not they end up choosing your product.
If you’re not a good fit for them and their needs, help them find someone who is. This will be appreciated, and this honest customer dedication will come back to benefit you again and again throughout your company’s growth.
Remember, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Make sure that loyalty, honesty, empathy and integrity are the four cornerstones of your brand.
Imagine your customer is your best friend — listen to their concerns, be a shoulder to lean on, and then shift the focus from what went wrong to how you can help make it right.– Rachel Hogue
4. Feedback is only helpful when you listen closely.
Customer feedback is the most important part of Paddle’s customer-first framework. But it’s not just about giving customers the chance to give their feedback. It’s about how you use it. Listen closely and interpret it through their world, the lens of their priorities and goals.
You can’t truly understand someone’s words without first understanding the person saying them. Everyone is different, and what may be true for some may not be true for others. This ties into the personal understanding discussed above.
Don’t take feedback at face value. Rather, dive into the mind, environment, and influences of the person giving the feedback to really understand what they’re saying, and why they’re saying it. Remove your own biases so you can spot opportunities and really see things as they are.
The customer’s perception is your reality.– Kate Zabriskie
5. The less customer effort, the better.
Kustomer’s Alex Gadd discussed the importance of customer sentiment scores, and how all sentiment scores are not equal.
While Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) are the two most common metrics for tracking a customer’s feelings toward their buying experience, simply tracking these two metrics is not enough. With NPS and CSAT interchangeably scoring how customers feel about a company after the interaction, Gadd points out that the level of effort it takes a customer to achieve a positive outcome does not get measured using this scoring method.
This is where Customer Effort Score (CES) comes in. CES is a newer metric, but one that is quickly proving its worth. The lower the effort, the more positive the customer views the interaction. The more positive the interaction, the better the NPS score, and so on.
Simply put, the less effort on the customer’s part – the better. Tracking CES will help you lower customer effort more and more, and improve the customer experience overall.
What gets measured gets improved.– Peter Drucker
6. Above all, provide great service.
This may be a bit of a “duh” moment, but it’s worth digging into the statistical reasons for prioritizing great customer service.
A study done by the Gartner Group revealed that 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers. That means the revenue sources you’ve been trying to find are most likely sitting right under your nose, waiting to be nurtured and cultivated.
Empathy is such a big part of customer experience. When you can give a customer a sense that you’ve heard them and their needs, that’s a powerful thing.– Alex Gadd
Putting it all together.
Looking at this data objectively, it’s clear that weaving a customer-first mindset into every fiber of your SaaS business is the only way to achieve real SaaS success. This is what separates the big guys from the little guys. Plain and simple.
Automate the things that can be automated so that human beings can take care of your human customers on a human level, taking time to understand them and to be there for every step of their journey.
Remember, if you’re not a part of your customer’s journey, someone else will be.
What are some of your takeaways?
Did you attend this webinar? Let us know if you have any takeaways of your own, or if you have any questions or comments about the ones we listed above.
Thanks for reading!