There are three main areas this trend watch focuses on (and more on SaaS if you really need to know). These are all big topics and could each be covered separately but I am covering them under one and writing related posts under the tag of SaaS value drivers, see posts at bottom of page. But first a word on value outcomes. Outcomes have to be measurable (and ideally this includes a measurement and understanding of what led to them, i.e. inputs), but crucially, they must be based on value for the customer. Ideally they are outcomes that materially impact on critical business metrics in the customers business or in the business function the software is used for. All these areas of activity should be optimised to drive the greatest value outcomes for customers.
Customer Success – Guiding Value Outcomes
Customer success is arguably an outcome that activities in all three areas strive to achieve. But as it is referred to here, it is the human led function typically undertaken by customer success managers. It often also requires a high touch approach, working directly with customers to guide and shepherd them to success and value. I work as a customer success professional and write many posts on the topic but in summary, the types of functions and activities carried out by advanced customer success teams are as follows:
Typically only engaging after the sale is made, astute CSM’s however, set outcome expectations upfront.
Intimate education, crafting understanding and moulding experience with products and services.
Customer satisfaction is not new but it’s a static notion. Health is more dynamic than that and a key focus.
A support team emphasising fast time to impact at scale and the measurement of input to outcome.
Customer Success Marketing – Amplifying Value Outcomes
Customer success marketing is distinct from regular marketing in that it focuses on customers who have already purchased the product and/or service and are using it. It’s not the effort more closely aligned with sales and focused on driving initial customer acquisition. Customer Success Marketers work closely with product, marketing, and customer success functions. While their counterparts in product marketing serve the sales team to drive conversions, customer success marketers support the customer success team to drive retention and amplify customer success through marketing efforts like those listed below.
Customer Success Marketers typically get involved in supporting retention efforts by carrying out activities such as:
- Onboarding materials, presentations, and email nurture tracks
- Ongoing product communications, highlights, and positioning
Amplify Customer Success
Amplifying a customers success means focusing on multi customer activities (for scale) and single customer activities:
- Customer events, webinars, case studies and community activities
- Helping drive engagement and success in customer organisation
Product Led Growth – Embedding Value Outcomes
Product led growth is where many of the activities spoken of above are delivered through the product itself. Think of it as the ultimate scale motion where activities are automated in the place that matters most, where the user and product meet and experience is created in real time. While you might expect that the custodians of these activities are product focused employees (engineers and product managers), this is not simply a bolt on function that can be silo’d like that. All customer facing staff should be involved. Moreover, this should be led from the top and considered a pivotal go to market strategy that effects the companies very business model.
Things like a freemium model to get customers to try come with a price (or loss of revenue, depending on how you see it), but often succeed in trials that can convert to paid. This is just one example that needs to carefully be considered beforehand.
Using your product as the main vehicle to acquire, activate, and retain customers also requires careful consideration and ultimately good tactics. Tactics vary from thoughtful user onboarding experiences to ongoing in-app messaging.