I previously wrote about how important it is to keep customers motivated and focused along their journey in adopting your product.
The single most critical element for SaaS companies looking to retain customers is product adoption.
It is also the prerequisite for deriving value from the technology which is fundamental for account expansion.
Adoption of the technology is arguably the paramount focus for Customer Success.
Customer Success consequently goes about driving product adoption in many ways and has many tools to support driving adoption.
I want to specifically cover an interesting approach one SaaS company has taken yielding significant results in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.
It is a self-assessment.
I lead the regularly held Toronto Customer Success Executive meetup hosted by Gainsight and recently interviewed one of the participating executives about their self-assessment program.
What follows is a summary of what led the company to create the self-assessment and the positive and unexpected results that happened as a consequence.
Prior to asking their customers to self-assess where they are in the adoption and value realization of the technology, the company focused predominantly on onboarding and deployment and had relatively little communication with the customer thereafter until renewal time.
Come renewal time the conversation was focused on product and deployment issues and it was up to the CSM to try and articulate the value the product was delivering.
A hard sell when the CSM did not have their pulse on the account and know what the status of the deployment was.
This company was encountering all the typical problems that Customer Success face as a result of little engagement with their customers throughout their journey.
As Customer Success organizations normally do as they mature their practice, this organization looked to address that by implementing regular quarterly business reviews (QBR) and to benchmark their customer’s progress.
Initially they created an assessment tool as a vehicle for encouraging further product adoption but they found that CSM’s were spending more time justifying the scores than what the objective of the assessment was set out to do, namely identify the next steps the customer needed to take.
So this particular Customer Success organization decided to address that aspect by requesting that customers self-assess themselves prior to the QBR.
The results surprised them!
Customers were ranking themselves much harder and lower than the CSM’s had been.
The result being that the tone and dialog of the QBR’s completely changed.
Whereas before customers were focused on the score and how they were evaluated, now the dialog is about how much better they are doing than they originally thought and what next steps can be taken to continue their progress.
CSM’s are now focused on the amazing progress customers are making and being strategic partners.
The results in terms of adoption velocity, loyalty and upsell potential have all increased as a result.
Additionally, CSM’s are happier as their role has morphed from one of reactive or defensive positioning to a model of encouragement and strategic dialog.
The moral of the story, have customers tell you how great they are and then tell them they’re even better!
Everybody wins and the focus turns to how much more they can do with your product.