Customer Success: The Definitive Guide

Screen Shot 2014 03 29 at 12.33.57 AM Customer Success: The Definitive GuideMy original definition of the SaaS Business Model, published way back in 2009, included a tight-coupling of Core Product/Intellectual Property, Marketing, Revenue Model, and Network Centricity… but now I’m modifying the definition to include Customer Success.

Having worked with over 300 SaaS companies – as well as Enterprise Software vendors migrating to SaaS – I can say without a doubt that Customer Success must be a fully-integrated, tightly-coupled component of a complete SaaS Business Architecture.

Why? Simply put: No Customer Success = No Your Success.

Said another way… Customer Success is the new “vendor lock-in” … you make sure they’re successful, they make sure you’re successful. It’s a Win-Win!

Said yet another way – and this cannot be overstated – if your customers are not achieving “success” with your SaaS, your success is at risk.

Of course, what “success” looks like for your customers is 100% unique to your customers in the context of your product. So while there’s not a one-size-fits-all definition of lower-case customer success – that’s up to you to know – as far as the concept of upper-case Customer Success is concerned, I’ve attempted to define that for you.

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22 Ways to Reduce Churn with Growth Hacking

reduce churn growth hacking 300x187 22 Ways to Reduce Churn with Growth HackingAs the SaaS industry continues to rapidly mature, more folks are looking at churn in SaaS companies – investors, analysts, executives, consultants, etc. – and more and more methods of measuring churn are going to surface… and that’s awesome.

Of course, the problem is that, while analytics and metrics and new ways of measuring churn are fantastic – and no matter how you slice it, accurately measuring churn is not actually that simple – ultimately it’s what you do with that data that matters.

So… even with all the different ways of measuring churn, how do you actively retain customers?

What methods, tactics, techniques, and ways of thinking will help you keep the customers you already have so you can more efficiently grow your SaaS business?

Enter… Growth Hacking.

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Predictions for Customer Success in 2014

Nick Mehta LiveOffice Web 291x300 Predictions for Customer Success in 2014It’s safe to say that 2013 was the year of Customer Success, especially in the SaaS industry. But where do we go from here? What does Customer Success look like in 2014?

Luckily, I’m friends with someone who’s job it is to know – or at least attempt to predict – what’s going to happen in this space in the near future, so I asked him to tell us what he thinks.

His name is Nick Mehta and he’s CEO of Gainsight – one of the Customer Success companies that came to prevalence in 2013 – and he’s going to share with us some predictions for the Customer Success movement in 2014.

In case you’re wondering, I did a small paid consulting engagement with Gainsight in early 2013, but haven’t been paid by them for anything since, and certainly didn’t get paid for this post.

Nick is a friend who’s opinion and industry knowledge I value, so I’m excited for him to share his predictions for 2014 with us.

I’ll turn it over to Nick now…

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Do the Right Thing (and fight the Zombies)

zombie customer 300x300 Do the Right Thing (and fight the Zombies)So I got this email the other day asking me a SaaS Customer Success question that’s really more about ethics and karma than running a SaaS business.

The gist of the email was what to do if a customer has been paying for 6 months but never started using the SaaS product…. these are what I call Zombie Customers.

I’ve attempted to answer the question in a meaningful way, but I am the first to acknowledge that there is a lot more to it than just what I talked about in this post.

That said, it’s a pretty straightforward question with a pretty straightforward answer… that you will completely disagree with!

Here we go…

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SaaS Customer Success: Best Practices for Unplanned Outages

cloud app y u no work 300x225 SaaS Customer Success: Best Practices for Unplanned OutagesSo I got an email recently about best practices for dealing with unplanned outages from a SaaS Customer Success standpoint.

I’ve attempted to answer the question in a meaningful way, but I am the first to acknowledge that there is a lot more to it than just what I talked about in this post.

That said, I think my answer provides a great way to think about Customer Success and unplanned outages by taking full advantage of the SaaS business model architecture.

Check it out….

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SaaS Marketing: 21 Growth Hacks to Test Today

saas marketing growth hacking 300x192 SaaS Marketing: 21 Growth Hacks to Test TodayBelow are 21 SaaS marketing growth hacks you could test right now.

Of course, these are tactics and while everyone loves tactics, if they don’t make sense within your very well thought-out SaaS marketing strategy, you should probably not implement them, right?

In fact, you should also probably make sure you have a well thought-out SaaS marketing strategy, too.

Now, some of these “hacks” I’ve used and have seen a big impact… others are just ideas I haven’t implemented yet but might if the occasion arises… and some are just crazy ideas that I think would work if the situation is right.

Guess what? I’m not gonna tell you which ones are which so use your imagination and a good bit of caution.

I’m also not going to show you live examples of what I’ve implemented or give you results. You see, I’ve helped my clients with these tactics and they’d like a little bit more time out in front of you, thank you very much.

The goal here is to get you thinking in the right direction, that’s all. Fair enough?
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SaaS Sales Funnel: Stop Optimizing for the Wrong Customers

omg SaaS Sales Funnel: Stop Optimizing for the Wrong Customers“OMG… That’s not who’s signing up for my app!” exclaimed Jerry, after we discovered who his ideal customers are and that he’s been optimizing his Sales Funnel for the wrong customers.

You see, Jerry owns a custom software dev shop that spun-out a web app they used internally for managing parts of their business as SaaS.

He was stressed – to say the least – since his SaaS product hadn’t taken off like he wanted.

In fact… to say he was completely frustrated with his progress would be an understatement.

I mean he was fed up, man… the original “had it up to here.”

But we figured out what was wrong, and now Jerry is a happy man.

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SaaS Freemium Customer Acquisition Costs

I got an email the other day asking about Freemium Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) and whether or not to include the cost of supporting and marketing to free users in the cost of acquiring paying customers.

Here’s my quick answer and some other resources for you to check out.

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SaaS Marketing: Are you Lazy or Deliberate?

When it comes to SaaS marketing, we know that Random Effort Yields Random Results… but it gets worse.

The problem I see too often – and the catalyst for this epic post – isn’t Random Marketing, but what I call Lazy Marketing.

And lazy marketing is perhaps a more insidious form of marketing, if for no other reason than the fact that it looks like its working.fast n loud 300x102 SaaS Marketing: Are you Lazy or Deliberate?

It’s not until you take a step back and examine what’s really going on – the actual results – that you see it is not only not working…

… but it’s killing your business.

It’s time to stop being lazy and get deliberate with your marketing.

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SaaS Churn: Measure Revenue or Customer Retention?

Okay, this is it… finally, my definitive answer on measuring SaaS churn!

I’ve heard it all before… things like “Lincoln, you talk about churn a lot, but you don’t ever say anything!”

First, that’s just hurtful.

Second, all of these “how do I measure the success of a SaaS business?” questions depend on so many different factors, it’s super-hard to generalize.

Wait… let me re-phrase that.

It’s super-easy to generalize; it’s just hard if you care about sending the wrong message.

And I don’t want to send the wrong message, so I’ve laid it out as simply as I can.

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