How to build better
Please don’t tell this to anyone: The most valuable asset for a SaaS company are high-quality customer relationships. I’m just kidding of course, please go out and spread the word.
Sure, building strong customer relationships matters for any business. But for a company whose faith depends on customers buying their product every month again it’s simply bread and butter.
Customer relationships can literally make all the difference between a customer churning and becoming highly successful. So successful that they actively spread words of praise about your company.
Why are customer relationships so improtant?
As social creatures we have a natural urge to connect with other humans. We want to talk and interact with other humans. We build trust and relationships with other humans, not faceless companies.
Winning your customer’s trust is like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket to the chocolate factory. Because with your customers trust comes transparency. Transparency is exactly what you need to understand your customers businesses and their needs. And with those in-depth insights, chances to help your customers achieve their desired outcomes increases dramatically.
One of the worst things I see in customer success today is that SaaS companies approach it how they feel it should be like. But you don’t win your customers trust by blasting out generic surveys and E-Mails. Using your customer’s first name does not make it less generic, by the way.
Characteristics of a great customer relationship
Trust is the most important ingredient for your customer relationships. You need to grow from the vendor’s employee to a trusted advisor, an extension of their team a true success partner. Maybe even a mentor.
However, there are certain characteristics that will demonstrate the quality of the customer relationships you’ve built (non-exhaustive list) – customers
- Take the time to answer your questions in detail
- Open up on their current struggles
- Give you access to the KPIs they use to validate your product
- Value your opinion and actively ask for it
- Inform you about what’s going in their organization
- Give you the feedback you really need to hear
- Forgive mistakes because they know you will work your ass off to correct them
How to improve your customer relationships
Don’t wait for your customers making the first step and take the initiative. Show them that you really care about their success. Lead by example with full transparency from your side and include them in every step of the customer lifecycle.
Here are 7 ideas on how to do it:
- Start every new customer engagement with a kick-off meeting. Have a good old-fashioned conversation with your customer about their goals, performance issues, skills etc. Ask them open questions but otherwise let them talk. Listening carefully is genuinely caring.
- Propose a customized onboarding and success plan. Share and discuss it with your customer and make adjustments if necessary. Start the process only if you’ve got your custromer’s approval.
- Actively manage your customers expectations about progress and results. Be honest and share your thoughts concerning possible hurdles. That does not mean to downplay your customer’s expectations but being realistic and honest.
- Take charge of your communications and set regular follow-ups to discuss your customer’s activities, performance and progress.
- Ask your customers how they’d like to give you feedback. Show that you really care about their opinion about your product and services.
- Define the metrics to evaluate the results of your joint project together.
- Share what kind of metrics you collect from your customer and why you are doing it. (e.g. active users, feature intensity).
Building better customer relationships follows a simple principle: The more you are willing to give, the more you’ll get back. Your customers are not stupid. They’ll sniff it out a mile ago when they are treated like a number. It’s time to provide customer success teams with the budgets and means to deliver an awesome customer experience.