Friday, October 16, 2015

Customer success is not science for SaaS startups



SaaS customer success is a foggy trend with many different definitions and solutions. At the end of the day it's not complicated at all: If your customers don't succeed with your product, you will not succeed in your business.

This is true especially for early stage SaaS startups seeking their strongest story and value. Customers are able to evaluate new SaaS products easier than ever, but they also have power to leave at any moment after sign-up and between subscription renewals. High churn rate is one of the biggest fears of any new SaaS startup.

SaaS business is also full of hidden pitfalls. Early adopters and rapidly growing sign-up figures might mislead SaaS founders to think that their product is already strong enough. Only long term customer success can expose was the hype based on true value of the product or just catchy headlines in social media. That's why it's important to manage, measure and understand your customer success since the very beginning.

How can customer success tools help a small SaaS startup to create better value? 

There are countless aspects to consider in customer success from product development to sales and customer support, as listed for example in Customer Success: The Definitive Guide by Sixteen Ventures. Because it's such a wide concept, for early startups customer success is often just a mindset instead of practical tools or processes. The problem is that a mindset is mostly based on assumptions, not real data. To get the real data, you need systematic tools.

Early stage startups with only few customers need very practical tools compared to more established SaaS companies with thousands of daily users. Most of the customer success solutions actually focus on latter with scientific algorithms or customer health analysis. This kind of statistical approach is mostly useless for recently launched products.

Instead of high volume based statistical analysis, startups need effective processes.

This is where a simple customer success software can make difference. Instead of data science, startup founders need simple insights to understand how current customers are using their SaaS products. These insights can expose what are the barriers where onboarding fails and customers end to churn. Typical customer success insights include for example:
  • Real-time user tracking and customer profiles with activity levels 
  • Automated SaaS onboarding processes and funnels based on users’ behavior 
  • SaaS overviews that combine data from different apps of your sales stack
You may already use tools such as Intercom.io for customer support communications, Insigthly as a sales CRM or Stripe analysis tools for SaaS metrics. But to get combined customer overview across these services you might want to have a look at our product, SignupLab - a simple CRM and customer success tool for SaaS startups.