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The Virtuous Cycle of SaaS Customer Success

By Jay Nathan

I think of a SaaS company as a contiguous system of interdependent functions.

All of the functions are critical to the livelihood of the business and we can’t make changes to one area without impacting another.

Here are a few examples:

Example #1: Increasing the velocity of Sales by offering a trial program will speed up deal flow, but increases time to onboard. Customer Success Consultants have to deal with the objections that used to be handled by Sales.

Example #2: Moving Customer Support offshore may result in a poorer customer experience, therefore impacting customer reference-ability and Sales’ deal close velocity.

Example #3: Marketing a key feature before it’s ready for production usage results in churn due to missed customer expectations.

And the list goes on…

Billing, hiring, product release management, engineering bug resolution processes all have an impact on customer experience.

SaaS businesses are unique from this perspective — and interesting for us data geeks! They can be measured end-to-end; front-end lead generation to service delivery, expansion and advocacy have industry-standard metrics.

The interconnectedness of the metrics is central to what SaaS Customer Success really is. It’s not a department. It’s a fundamental mindset driven by the SaaS CEO’s understanding of her business and the interdependencies of its metrics.

For this reason, a customer-centric culture, driven by the CEO, is the first thing I evaluate when working with new clients. Everything else flows from that. If we don’t have it, chances are there are no Customer Success strategies, teams or processes that will close the gap between where we are today and where we want to be in the future.

Published April 7, 2017
About the Author

I've spent my career working in technology companies to build customer-centric teams, processes and technology platforms. In 2017, I founded Customer Imperative, a consulting firm that helps fast-growing B2B SaaS companies improve renewals, increase expansion sales and scale customer engagement. See full bio ›

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