By Paul Schmidt
As your business grows, retaining your existing customer base becomes just as important as generating new customers. A leaky funnel in a SaaS business will have you overspending on customer acquisition and will prevent you from reaching your SaaS growth goals.
Whether you come from a B2B or B2C SaaS organization, here are five SaaS growth strategies you can use to improve customer retention, loyalty, and referrals:
1. Strengthen Your Onboarding Process
What are your processes after a customer signs a contract? Onboarding your customer with proper expectations of outcomes, at the right pace, with the right education and implementation program is crucial for making good first impressions.
One of the keys to successful onboarding is capitalizing on the excitement and momentum the customer hopefully has by the time they sign the contract.
A few elements to incorporate into your onboarding include:
- Quick and frequent communication of next steps
- Clear and transparent documentation of the onboarding process
- Proper tracking and analytics of your customers’ behavior to ensure they are reaching the leading indicators for customer success
After successful onboarding, you need an ongoing system and process for ensuring that customers continue to receive value from your products/services.
2. Increase Product Stickiness
Your customers hate friction. The more you become a part of their day-to-day workflow, the more friction will be experienced in replacing your solution when the time comes for contract renewals or when they are approached by your competitor.
One way to measure stickiness over time is by measuring the amount of time your customers spend in your application and the average amount of functions a customer uses within your product. Obviously, the goal isn’t to get customers to live in your application all day long, but rather for them to turn to your application in order to carry out more and more of their daily tasks.
3. Survey and Segment
How frequently do you gather customer feedback? NPS (net promoter score) surveying is one of the most common ways for businesses to assess customer satisfaction over time, but surveying can happen in a number of ways.
By gathering customer NPS every 3–6 months, you can segment your customers’ satisfaction levels within different periods of their lifetimes. This is useful for understanding what approximate period of time it takes for the customer to reach certain friction points with your product. From there, you can align your customer success team to help reduce or limit this friction.
4. Implement Workflows for Customer Retention
Your customers are all in different phases of their lifecycles with your products. One of the ways to lower churn and identify quick ways for customers to buy more is by implementing automated notification workflows for your marketing, sales, and customer success teams.
Here are a few examples of effective triggers that most marketing automation systems can deliver upon:
- Notify your customer success team when a detracting customer starts looking for a way to cancel their contract or stops using your product. Customer success can initiate its playbook for retaining a bought-out customer.
- Notify your account executives when a passive customer is a good fit for additional products or services based on product usage.
- Notify your customer marketing team when the promoter customer is a good fit to leave a five-star review, testimonial, or refer one of their colleagues to your company.
5. Invest in Customer Marketing
Customer marketing (CM) can include anything that helps you strengthen the bonds with your existing customers. An effective CM department can help reduce churn, increase loyalty, product usage, and customer referrals. Here are some of the most popular customer marketing initiatives that successful CM teams use:
- User Groups: User groups are a powerful way to increase loyalty by allowing customers to meet similarly minded customers, encourage product training/usage, and provide exclusive access to your beta products and employees.
Depending on the size of your user base, these meetups could be local, regional, national, or completely digital.
- Generating Social Proof: When faced with a new buying decision, where’s the first place anyone looks to validate their decision? Third-party review sites, case studies, and unbiased testimonials of your products.
As your customer base grows, continue to mine your list of NPS promoters (that are also active product users) to turn to for case study contributions or sales references.
Improving customer retention isn’t the sole job of any single department. By setting goals, generating the right reporting mechanisms, and growing your promoter list, your SaaS customer flywheel will continue to spin faster each day.
The original version of this article was published by the author in October 2019 and has been updated since.