The Customer Success Team is not the only group in charge of customer success. Preventing churn is everybody’s job, so your engineers should talk to the clients’ engineers often, the CEO should greet as many customers as he/she can and have direct communication with the largest customers (every customer should have the CEO’s email address), and the head of onboarding should also touch base to make sure customers don’t need a refresher on the product.
Contract structure is important. All contracts should have auto-renewal with a small pricing increase at renewal (Vista Equity makes all their portfolio companies use contracts with clauses like this). In addition, as an alternative to paid pilots, give customers a 90 day out when they sign up. This will lower the barrier to customer acquisition.
The first 3 months predict the next 9 months. Your team should be especially high touch in the first 3 months. A customer’s experience in these formative stages when they’re paying the most attention to your product must go well, so be especially attentive and proactive.
Low usage or unwillingness to adopt features can be warnings. If a customer isn’t using your product, isn’t reaching out to you with questions or issues (customers reaching out to you for help is a good thing!), or if a customer isn’t adopting new features, reach out and make sure nothing is wrong.
Educate the customer. Make your customer better at using your product by educating them constantly, and share ways in which other customers are using the tool. Customer feedback drives the product roadmap and customers feel like they have ownership in the product because their suggestions are incorporated.
Your CS team should do nothing but CS. Customer success reps are not good at selling the product, trying to collect receivables, are do anything else that isn’t CS. They don’t want to do it, wont be good at it, and will only serve to alienate the customer. If a customer thinks a CS rep is going to badger them for a payment or try and upsell them, they may be less inclined to reach out when they have an issue and ultimately churn. Use dedicated Account Mangers for upselling (AE’s should focus on new sales).
Be generous with users. If you’re pricing based on value and not users, make sure the client can add as many users as they want. The more users at the client, the more evangelists you’ll have. We’re big fans of finding alternative ways to price that isn’t just user based as it does make for a much stickier base.