Recent Events Present Both Challenges and Opportunities
By now, we all know that the country and indeed the world have changed as a result of COVID-19. Most of our nation is under a federal disaster declaration for the first time in history. Businesses worldwide have had to shift their processes and solutions to help keep their employees and customers safe and productive. And many of us are struggling with the quarantine that is necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.
For SaaS companies, this sudden shift presents challenges as well as opportunities. As businesses quickly shift to remote work, the need for additional SaaS solutions beyond the many that companies already have in their stack has increased, creating an opportunity for SaaS providers to demonstrate their value when they’re needed the most. However, because so many businesses are also struggling in the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to focus on your SaaS customer success plan to keep your current subscribers using your platform.
This isn’t a short-term situation, either. While COVID-19 could begin to subside at any point, the truth that many companies are now realizing is that work has changed as a result. People are going to become used to working remotely, and more and more businesses may begin to see the value of having a remote or semi-remote workforce. Your SaaS customer success plan must consider this likely future — not just the present.
But right now, what matters most is ensuring that your customers stay subscribed and that you reveal your solution as a true value add during this difficult time. Below, we’ll explore a few ways your SaaS customer success team can maintain and even strengthen the connections between you and your subscribers. Let’s dig in.
Demonstrating Value Through Your SaaS Customer Success Plan
1. Reach Out to Customers Strategically
Ideally, your company will have metrics and analytics in place that show how customers are using your platform — and not using it. Login frequency and duration, actions taken or not taken while in the platform, hitting certain milestones, and more all reveal how engaged your customers are and whether they’re finding your platform valuable to their operations.
As part of your SaaS customer success plan, identify different subsets of your subscriber base based on the level of risk they pose for unsubscribing. As an example, your most at-risk customers would naturally be Critical, followed by High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Low Risk. You may wish to further segment these groups based on the monthly recurring revenue or annual recurring revenue they provide to your business.
Once you have these segments identified, your SaaS customer success plan should include reaching out to Critical customers first. Offer personalized refresher training sessions, solicit customer feedback, make strategically priced offers, or anything else your business deems appropriate in an effort to keep these customers subscribed. Larger accounts may merit a personal visit from an account executive or lead developer. From there, tailor your outreach efforts accordingly. But focus on the most at-risk customers first.
2. Focus on Customer Success Early to Increase Adoption
Early user adoption is critical to the success of each account. By understanding how customers are using your platform early and setting analytics-informed milestones that reveal the likelihood of long-term subscription, you can better position your customer success team to know whether a customer will stay subscribed and take action if needed.
The earliest stages of this process are important and typically begins with onboarding. Often, SaaS companies will walk new subscribers through the first steps of getting to know their platform, ranging from logging in and setting up account details to taking the first action your platform was designed for and generating a report.
Your SaaS customer success plan should focus on these first few weeks and tasks heavily. Identify where the early roadblocks to customer success are — these are often what cause customers to quickly change their mind, lose interest in the platform, and so on. Outreach efforts — automated or not — must clarify how the platform works and what resources are available for them to learn more or to get support.
3. Conduct a Closed-Lost Follow-up Campaign
Your SaaS customer success plan is not simply a customer service-related team or department. Customer success carries over to account management and sales. Working with the latter, consider conducting a closed-lost campaign (prospects who were moving forward in the sales process but did not end up becoming a paying subscriber).
Often, companies make the mistake of leaving these contacts untouched once the opportunity is gone. But just as they decided to not move forward with you, they could have easily decided that the solution they chose is no longer right for their needs. A closed-lost campaign is an ideal automated opportunity to stay in touch with these prospects so that your sales team can remain in contact with higher priority accounts and new opportunities. They are brought in only when a closed-lost contact reaches a certain stage in the outreach process (ideally an automated email workflow).
Closed-lost messaging should be friendly, inviting, and position your company as open to receiving feedback. This encourages engagement from the prospect. Even if they don’t request a refresher demo or resubscribe, any feedback you receive will be useful as you look to strengthen your SaaS customer success plan and platform for the future.
4. Proof Matters, So Build It and Use It
One of the most obvious yet overlooked opportunities with a SaaS customer success plan is that the team responsible for carrying it out is interacting with prospects, customers, and lost customers on a personal level. This is the ideal time to build connections between the challenges being presented to the team and how other customers overcame similar challenges in the past.
What this looks like is flexible, but your solutions could include new case studies on your website, video testimonials from customers, setting up reference calls between prospects and current customers — anything that provides the social proof people are looking for to know whether your platform actually helps companies achieve their goals. Specifically, focus on stories that show how your platform was able to overcome challenges quickly.
This is particularly relevant during this time, as many companies have had to rapidly shift gears, acquire new hardware and SaaS solutions, and more so employees have what they need to stay productive remotely.
Where Funding Fits into Your SaaS Customer Success Plan
Customer success requires a couple of things to be successful. First, it requires people. While automation is ideal and efficient, it can’t answer the more specific questions or frustrations people might have. Whether your company is just a few people or much larger, customer success should be part of your team.
Second, it requires tooling. You likely already have a solution in place for email marketing and workflow automation, but if you don’t, or if your current platform doesn’t have the features needed to set up a proper customer success campaign, it might be time to look for the next-level solution. Venture debt financing from River SaaS Capital is the ideal funding avenue for these types of growth areas within your SaaS business.
Designed to be flexible and accommodate your growth strategy, venture debt financing functions much like a loan and can be structured to provide the capital you need only when you need it, helping you to save on interest. Long-term, the repayment obligation puts owners in a stronger position should the time come to sell, as there is no equity-based repayment due to a VC or angel investor.
If you’d like to learn more about venture debt financing from River SaaS Capital, fill out the form below, and a member of our investment team will be in touch with you right away.