Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to create Customer Success strategy for a SaaS product?

The question itself includes a pitfall, because it’s a bit same as asking ‘how to raise children’. Customer Success is a wide concept. It’s actually so wide that it’s not really a concept at all - it’s more a mindset than a single method or set of processes. Yet it has to be managed somehow.

It’s also a bit similar question as few years ago was ‘how to create a social media strategy’. Nowadays we simply call it a marketing strategy, because social media is already a natural part of everyday business. Same should apply to Customer Success strategy: It’s natural part of your product strategy - not an isolated function or concept.

If isolation is one pitfall, scope is another. Especially in software business, Customer Success is often scoped around product itself. This refers to customers’ actions that are directly related to product’s features or customer service. But Customer Success is definitely much more.

By definition Customer Success can happen when customer achieves a desired goal. But these goals can be achieved in many different ways - not only within your product. Often it’s a combination of different products, services and manual work. Customer has a possibility not only to change the vendor, but also to change the way of achieving the goal. This makes strategical planning difficult and customers unpredictable.

To make things easier, we can use so called Value Concepts from Growhow Customer Success Framework to identify the hotspots. They are the points in your customer’s journey where significant value is created, regardless was it produced by your software’s features or something else.

Value Concept can be a service, process or feature which is mandatory part of using your product. A strategical management tool “objective hierarchy” is very useful when defining Value Concepts. The main objectives are customer’s goals - such as ‘Tasks must be completed before deadline’. When goals are defined, you can define value propositions related to these goals - such as ‘Customer achieves deadlines faster’. Each value proposition in turn can be transformed into Value Concepts - such as ‘Task Scoping’ and ’Task Tracking’.

It’s a thin red line when the list of Value Concepts turns into Development Roadmap, so be careful not to get too far into details. Only high level concepts and points in customer’s journey need to be added to your strategy as initiatives.

When Value Concepts are defined, it’s easier to connect the dots in product strategy overall, including for example pricing and marketing strategy. In optimal case these Value Concepts can be traced all the way to your product backlog and customer support issues. This keeps your whole team aware what are the hot spots and crucial for Customer Success. Just remember that the list of strategical Value Concepts will evolve based on feedback from customers as well as feedback from development team.

To learn more how to define strategy based on Customer Success and how to drive it into implementation, please take a look at Growhow - an agile customer success framework by SignupLab.

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