If you are leading a Software-as-a-service, (SaaS) company, recognizing growth opportunities beyond new customer acquisition targets are critical to growth acceleration. In other words, maximizing the revenue potential and scaling your company must include metrics focused on growing your current customer relationships. Through customer success, driving product adoption and renewals are the first steps in validating your product. Building an expansion framework, with advocacy and referral networks, is the next step and the secret to true acceleration and scale. Afterall, once a deal is closed, everyday customer interactions can either open doors for your competitor to take over, or what we all aim for, introduce you to new departments and companies that can benefit from your product.
Start With the Strategy
The path to growth with velocity starts with a blueprint for success. Getting executive sponsorship and setting up customer programs may take time, but with metrics and actionable insights, companies are quickly realizing the investment in programs that can serve customers ‘en masse’ are key to expansion brand loyalty.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), 80% of project success is in the planning and 20% is in the execution. This statistic can easily be applied to technology companies. If they don’t plan for growth, they will quickly find themselves in a reactive state, saving customers instead of nurturing the relationships. If you invest in listening, people and technology early, you will represent one of the few companies who is proactively delivering customer success with velocity.
Operationalize Your Strategy
Everyone talks about the power of the customer’s voice but how do you do it when you have 10 other priorities in a day? In a recent podcast with Foundation Capital, Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, talks about how he had a spreadsheet of a 1000 people he wanted to talk to and would schedule 15 appointments a day as he built his first company! You heard that right. Regardless of your title, listening to your customers, means understanding what they want and need and then doing something about it. Only then can companies build a product that is valuable and worth investing in.
Some companies send their leaders out to talk to customers, others create round-table discussions, while others gather information from research on B2B customers and B2C consumer trends on social media, through surveys, focus groups, and where groups of customers gather to talk about the product. How do you create a way for your customers and the employees they interact with each day to talk to one another at scale while gaining insights from their interactions? That is where technology comes into play.
From Impossible to Inevitable. Create Predictable Income. Page 51.
In Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin's book, From Impossible to Inevitable, they state that “Customer success is your core growth driver.” I emphatically agree, and customer success is both technology and the customer success organization - the teams who support your customers through the customer journey - from onboarding to adoption, to renewals, and beyond.
Customer Centricity starts with touch-points they are having with your customers after the ‘closed-won’ email is blasted and a customer success manager is assigned. Achieving growth targets for companies who have adopted the ‘land and expand’ strategy to gain new customers depend on the very conversations that occur during the customer journey. You want to not only hire the right people but also enable them to have customer conversations in a place where all customers can learn, but also in a way that allows for companies to understand the customer actions and needs and be able to act on them.
Most Importantly, Introduce Technology Early
Technology is central to accelerating product adoption & identifying growth opportunities. You can send out e-Newsletters, create online training programs, provide real-time support through chat and step-by-step guidance but that By immersing yourself in communities where customer success is a central focal point of business.
Enter Customer Communities
Leveraging the Voice of the Customer (VoC) in one central place helps amplify how to overcome product challenges, and how to understand how other similar customers are leveraging your product to relieve their pain points are just some of the reasons B2C companies have been customer communities. Now B2B companies are recognizing the benefits of a customer community. They can bring their customers and employees to one place to communicate, share ideas and then translate customer actions and voices into actionable Insights and customer intelligence. You can learn everything you need to know about building a ‘one-to-many’ customer communities here.
Linking actions in the community to your customer relationship management platform is important. By measuring and taking action on value-moments, your expansion team can deliver new products to customers through meaningful conversations being had in the community.
You also want to ensure your community is single-sign-on (SSO) and seamlessly accessible in your platform. If your community isn’t part of the everyday customer experience, it isn’t going to be leveraged for training, collaboration with other customers, a place to share ideas and best practices, and a place to get information first before contacting your support team or their customer success team.
Bringing Strategy, Customer Operations and Technology Together
Your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) doesn’t have to be difficult to predict, measure or grow. Start working on increasing customer value by pro-actively investing in infrastructure that enables your employees to engage with customers. Having a central place to talk to customers, to aggregate insights, and to create actionable ways to grow customer relationships will increase the probability of achieving profitable growth. Delivering and measuring customer success at scale will be accelerated by centralizing and amplifying your customer voices, starting today.
About Emilia D’Anzica
Emilia D’Anzica is a strategic management consultant and founder of Customer Growth Advisors. She is a metrics- driven builder of customer success and marketing teams and programs, specializing in creating and operationalizing customer journeys, building employee training programs, and coaching high-achieving executives. She also teaches conflict management and customer success best practices. After nearly 20 years of working globally, primarily in the tech Industry, she has a deep understanding of best practices in scaling business operations and post-sales programs. Emilia holds a BA from the University of British Columbia, a Transglobal Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California and is PMP® and Scrum® certified. You can reach Emilia at CGAAdvisors@gmail.com.