Cultivating and Building Long-Lasting Relationships in the SaaS Economy

6 min read
26 May

In this interview, Nir Kalish, Head of Customer Success at Blameless, talks about the importance of providing a well-rounded and excellent customer experience from start to finish. Nir believes that "relationships are the future of business."

Whether you're fixing negative business incidents or trying to do more of what works, I always believed that if you put the customers first and treat them well, it will come back and pay you in spades.

Customer Success: The art and science of "people experience."

When I think of CS as an institution, Nir says, "it is compared to a mirror where it shows (or displays) the exact image (organizations DNA) that stands before the mirror glass (customer's end-to-end experience)."

In other words, the organization's DNA (reflect the customer's sentiments, opinions, aspirations, personal motivations, business needs, and challenges), and how organizations deal with each challenge (and leverage opportunities at the same time).

CS reflects organizational accountability towards the customer's end-to-end experience (or customer's journey). It stands to a reason that the key to [business] success is helping (or enabling) customers find success (on the product or service they've subscribed to) and helping them realized the value of the partnerships.

This paradox is quite tricky to understand, but the companies that get this right are the only ones that will win their business and trust from the customer's viewpoint. For that reason, organizations must have clear-cut strategies on how to solve the pain (or business needs) that need solving.

Predicting success (especially in the B2B world) remains in valuing customer experiences in diverse and dynamic contexts. It can only achieve "IF" they're getting what they're paying for and setting the proper expectations on how the solution fits the overall business goals.

Having a good relationship (with the customers) can enhance customer satisfaction, improve sales and retention, and strengthen employee satisfaction. It is why CS becomes an integral part of the business operation, not just for survival and growth but to discover new outcomes CSMs can deliver (or bring to the table). It is no longer enough to sell software; it is mandatory to facilitate value realization early on.

Improving service satisfaction metrics

The primary role of customer success is bridging customer needs and business capability. Often, customers are not sure of what their specific objectives are.

By clarifying their goals upfront or helping them direct their focus (w/ their preferred outcome), CSMs can steer them towards the most beneficial and advantageous solution.

In the SaaS world, businesses keep customers from solving problems to building lasting relationships. It takes a longer-term view of the relationship to provide as much value as soon as it starts.

Different methods can help organizations understand how satisfied customers were (with the product or how successful they are with the partnership). These are through the following metrics:

  1. CSAT
  2. NPS
  3. Active users (daily, weekly, monthly)
  4. New users adoption
  5. Churn by reason's type, renewals, and upsells (by upselling reason such as organic, new departments, etc.)
  6. Customers feedback
  7. Weekly risk/health score
  8. Package usage
  9. Marketing goodies (reference, conferences, design partners, videos, G2 Crowd, etc.)

It is essential to handle customer complaints and how each feedback should be dealt with and measure customer satisfaction. CSMs should follow-up with the customers and keep in touch with them regularly to see if things improve (or where the issues stand).

Putting a systematic way of gathering customer's feedback is paramount. Feedback (loop) can start on the tool/s (in-app), where customers can input their opinion or feedback.

Also, an organization needs to ensure that each feedback is recorded (in the CRM) and shared across the organization. Having open access and a full understanding of these interactions will be helpful (for CSMs). In complicated cases, triage with the CS team, the product/RnD, or marketing has been useful.

"You can't improve your service satisfaction metrics if the customer's feedback hasn't given the same priority." Customer satisfaction is no longer a hygienic practice. It's becoming a commitment and brand promise, to begin [with].

Once you have a clear grasp of this feedback, you can make changes to improve each metric and enhance your company's overall metrics.

Business framework that foster success

Once the organization identified which metrics drive specific business impacts and behaviors, it's time to implement some rules on succeeding business goals (or objectives). From the process improvement and innovation standpoints, Nir suggested a few critical points to think through:

This business framework fosters agreement on how each other team should work together, communicate with urgency, and plan to succeed, hold meetings with clarity, and communicate effectively. 

Similarly, it gives the organization a "personal touch" on how they want their people to perform and achieve business goals. What you expect them always to be doing and what not to never do.

Bottom line – a close and trusted relationship gives businesses numerous opportunities to learn how customers interact with their product/platform and help them reach customers through multiple touchpoints.

This business framework fosters agreement on how each other team should work together, communicate with urgency, and plan to succeed, hold meetings with clarity, and communicate effectively.

Engage customers at the critical journey points

"If you earn your customer's trust, it needs to be kept. It is hard work."

It all comes back to the idea of a "mutual and genuine relationship." When a company makes business lives more comfortable, invariably, customers are no longer paying for the product; they are paying for their outcomes.

When a company makes business lives more comfortable, invariably, customers are no longer paying for the product; they are paying for their outcomes.

How we communicate with our customers is critical. It is a balanced approach to how to serve your top 80% versus the remaining 20%. It is vital to sit down (with the customers) and identify which areas or business KPIs need to focus on.

Aligning with those - with the stories - are pivotal in developing and cultivating business relationships. Remember, every day (as CSM); our job is to find out and ensure customers are successful. The evolution of the customer needs must show on every touchpoint customers have and through with the business.

"Likewise, feedback from the customers is a gift." I liken their feedback to a stock market - it is a long investment, and investing with the customers is a lifetime. You'd have hiccups; however, if you're listening to your customer and using those feedback constructively, it can be advantageous and can be used differently, like improving the product or creating intuitive customer journeys.

Involving customers at every stage of the conversation does three things: aligning with customer needs, growing with customers, and providing success (both for customers and organizations).

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