How SaaS companies can improve their customer experience

An overview of key strategies SaaS businesses can employ to improve and enhance their customer experience.

Article

Sara Staffaroni

August 12, 2020

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The SaaS, or software as a service, business world has undergone some significant and rapid shifts in the past few years. Selling an innovative product isn’t enough to ensure success anymore. B2B buyer expectations have changed, and it’s easy to get left behind. 

Many SaaS businesses are looking for ways to improve and enhance their customer experience (CX) because it’s central to their success. A better customer experience can improve customer engagement rates, reduce churn, and increase profits and revenue. 

Why is CX important for SaaS?

In SaaS businesses, there’s a very strong focus on the product itself. Of course, this focus is healthy because, after all, your software product is what you provide to your customers. And with companies that take a product-led growth approach, the product becomes even more vital. 

But having a top-notch product just isn’t enough anymore in the SaaS world. Competition has gotten fiercer as more and more companies enter the SaaS arena. Your customers have more choices than ever, so your business must find another way to stand out. Plus, most SaaS enterprise software revenue comes from subscription services, meaning you need to keep your customers engaged and satisfied over the long term in order to reduce churn. 

That’s where SaaS customer experience management comes in. Providing an exceptional customer experience, as well as an excellent product, helps your SaaS company gain and keep customers for the long term. Would your customers prefer to work with a business that makes buying and onboarding easy, is readily available when issues arise, and provides a great user experience with a great product? Or would they rather work with a company that simply takes their money and doesn’t do much else? The winner in this case is clear. 

SaaS B2B customer expectations have risen, and your business needs to focus on the B2B customer experience to keep up with the times. It can be difficult to know where to start when you’re accustomed to focusing on the product alone, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. 

Here are the five essential areas of the customer experience SaaS companies should work hard to enhance and hone. 

1. Improve customer onboarding 

Providing an excellent customer experience begins right at the start of your customer relationship. That means your onboarding process needs to be centered around the needs of the customer to help them feel welcomed and supported from their first interaction with your business. 

Post-signup “welcome communication”

Making your customers feel valued should start right when they sign up to use your product. This is true whether they sign up for a free trial, begin using your freemium product, or are paying customers brought in through your sales team. Even users who don’t pay anything now may become loyal and lucrative customers, so welcoming everyone is essential. 

Your welcome communication should thank users for signing up as part of your community. It should be sent right away, so they’re not wondering if their signup was successful. Additionally, itt should offer tips for getting started, and provide an introduction to someone who will help them get set up if that’s part of your business model. 

Product walkthroughs and orientation

The next step is helping your new customers get set up and start using your product successfully. This is a vital part of the onboarding process. After all, you don’t want users to feel like you’ve taken their money (or even just their email address) and left them to fend for themselves. 

It’s important to recognize that different users will need different levels of guidance when they’re onboarding. Some may have used your product or similar ones before and need only a minimal orientation, while others could be completely new to your SaaS product and want a full walkthrough. Offering several options for setup and orientation, like self-serve resources and guided walkthroughs, ensures you’re giving customers what they need. 

Consistent customer support

When customers and users are learning how to set up and start using your product, they may encounter issues or have questions. It’s important to make sure that they know how to reach your customer support team and the team responds quickly and consistently to any inquiries.

2. Invest in website UX 

An excellent website user experience is essential for any business, but it’s especially important for SaaS businesses. That’s because your website is often the primary mode of engagement for your customers. They’ll use your website to find resources, get support, and explore pricing options, among other uses. Your site must provide an excellent user experience so customers feel satisfied when they visit.  

Page speed and performance 

Slow-loading websites are a major pain point for users and will cause them to abandon your site if it's a recurring issue. Ensure your website is optimized for top-page load speed, even if that means sacrificing some cool graphics. You also want to ensure that your site is free of bugs or other errors that can cause frustration and a poor user experience, like dead links. 

Effective navigation 

When your customers need information, resources, or help, they want to be able to find those things on your website quickly and with a minimum of effort. That’s why having effective and clear website navigation is important. Users should be able to find exactly what they want right away, so check to be sure it doesn’t take more than three clicks to get to any page on your site. 

Clear and engaging content 

Many of your product users will also look for industry resources and best practices to use your product. Your site should provide content on these topics that is clear and easy to understand, but also sophisticated enough for advanced users. It should be engaging as well; no one wants to read dry, dull white papers. 

Mobile compatibility 

Many of your users will access your website on their mobile phones or tablets. Your site needs to be accessible and fast no matter how your customers visit it, so check to be sure your site is completely mobile-friendly.

3. Create a process for soliciting and acting on customer feedback 

Once your customers are onboarded and oriented, they’re ready to begin using your SaaS products. They signed up for or purchased your product to solve a pain point or issue, and they expect your product to deliver. But they might run into problems along the way which can damage their customer experience. 

How will you know if your product is living up to their expectations or letting them down? You need to regularly solicit feedback from customers to find out. 

Soliciting feedback

There are several effective ways SaaS businesses can solicit feedback from customers to gauge their overall customer experience.

Focus groups

Bringing in users and customers to engage in conversations can yield a variety of insights into how they use your product, SaaS product features they’d like to see, and problems they’ve encountered while using it. 

Customer pulse surveys 

Sending out surveys via email, or including surveys on your website, allows your customers to offer in-the-moment feedback quickly. You can check in with them to see if they’re satisfied with your product and to understand if there are issues that should be addressed. 

In-app events & metrics 

You can also review a host of analytics from customer use data in your app, such as how much time users spend using it, retention and engagement data, and behavioral analytics. This data can provide additional insights into how users are actually engaging with and using your app. 

Identify pain points 

Feedback from your customers can help your business identify pain points in your user experience. Users may encounter bugs or issues you didn’t even know existed, and you want to ensure they have a fast and easy way to report those problems before they turn into a bigger mess. Pain points in your SaaS product features can increase the likelihood that users will churn or move to a competitor, so finding and addressing them proactively is good for your bottom line.  

Acting on feedback 

Gathering feedback from your customers is just the first step. You must also act on the information you received by creating an action plan for the feedback you collected. 

How will you make the changes and improvements your customers have told you they want?  The plan you develop will likely involve multiple departments across your company (e.g. billing pain points will be forwarded to your finance department). As you continue gathering feedback and acting on it, your SaaS experience management strategy will pay off with an improved customer experience. 

4. Break down internal silos 

B2B SaaS customer experience is notorious for internal organizational silos. The process of becoming a customer, getting support, and using your product involves cross-departmental collaboration. When your teams aren’t aligned, your users could have a frustrating experience, no matter if you’re at a small start-up or enterprise SaaS business. 

For example, the SaaS experience can be greatly hindered when the handoff from the sales team to the team that performs the install isn’t seamless. Additionally, if the customer is promised features that aren’t working or those capabilities are removed, there are likely silos between sales, marketing, and CX that need to be addressed.  

Silos make it more difficult for your customers to do business with you, which reduces loyalty levels and increases churn. How can you break down these silos that negatively impact the customer experience? Here are two effective ways to do it. 

Build c success-focused teams 

Developing internal teams focused entirely on customer success and customer experience can help bridge the gaps in your organization so everyone is on the same page. Customer experience teams connect the dots between touchpoints on the customer journey and ensure each part of your company is aligned, reducing customer frustration. 

A customer success team helps customers make the transition from prospects to regular users. Having a regular pulse on each stage of the customer journey will enable your team to determine how to increase customer engagement and retention. Customer success teams also have to work across multiple disciplines and departments to improve customer experience.

Make customer experience part of the culture 

How do you create a good customer experience? By ensuring CX is at the heart of everything your organization does. A strong commitment to the customer experience should be at the center of your company’s culture, not only the customer-facing teams. By beginning everything you do with a focus on the needs of the customer, you’ll create a better customer experience over time.

5. Measure customer experience 

How do SaaS companies measure and improve customer experience? You need to examine your current state and track trends in your CX by measuring key KPIs of the customer experience. 

There are many metrics you can use to measure your current customer experience and track trends. General customer experience metrics, such as Net Promoter Score® 

 (NPS®), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), are useful measures for any B2B Voice of the Customer program. They can give you insights into general satisfaction and loyalty levels among your customers while making it easy to follow trends over time. 

For SaaS companies, there are several other metrics you should track to measure your customer experience. Customer churn, or how often customers sign up and then fail to renew with your company, is damaging if your churn levels are too high. It indicates there’s something missing in your customer experience like a poor user experience, a lack of support when issues arise, or low ROI.

That’s why SaaS companies should track churn-metric KPIs. Gaining new customers can be a time-intensive and expensive proposition, so ensuring you’re retaining customers over the long haul is essential to your company’s success. Reducing churn rates also increases your customer lifetime value, meaning you’ll earn more from each customer while spending less on acquisition costs. To check how your company is doing at reducing churn, here are key KPIs to track. 

Three churn-metric KPIs 

Customer churn 

Customer churn is the percentage of total customers who choose to stop using your service during a specific time period. You can calculate your customer churn rate by dividing by the number of cancellations by the number of subscribers at the beginning of the period. Customer churn is strongly tied to customer satisfaction, so if you’re noticing high rates, you need to do some problem-solving and ask current customers for feedback. 

Gross revenue churn 

Gross revenue churn is the percentage of revenue lost during a time period due to cancellations or downgrades. You can calculate this churn metric by dividing the revenue lost in the time period by the revenue at the beginning of the period.  This kind of churn tends to come from your smaller customers, so this number might be lower than your customer churn rate.

Net revenue churn 

Net revenue churn is the percentage of revenue you’ve lost from your existing customers in a time period. To calculate your net revenue churn, divide net revenue lost (the difference of revenue lost from subscription churn minus new revenue from upselling to existing customers) from existing customers in a period by your total revenue at the beginning of a period. 

Net revenue churn is an essential measure of success for SaaS businesses. It can be a confusing metric because positive numbers are bad while negative ones are good, but it clearly illustrates the impact of churn on your business’s bottom line. If your net revenue churn rate is near zero or positive, your company can only grow by acquiring new customers, which is a pricey proposition. Focusing instead on improving the customer experience can help you retain existing customers who are more profitable and stable.

Key takeaways 

Creating an excellent SaaS customer experience has too often been an afterthought. But in these competitive times, it can’t remain that way. Your business needs to take a customer-centric approach by asking for feedback, acting on it, and measuring your success so you know where you stand. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive customer experience platform that can help you create an exceptional customer experience for your SaaS business, try GetFeedback today.

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