SaaS teams are living a lie.
They believe the same value that acquired a customer will lead to a renewal. While focusing on customer retention is commendable, teams must reexamine their data to exceed customer expectations and achieve business growth.
“With the right insights, you can target your efforts in a meaningful way that will maximize renewal rates by showing your customers you’re paying attention to their needs,” writes Raj Badarinath, former vice president of product marketing at Avangate.
That means monitoring your target audience’s behavior to improve customer success. Let’s explore how data impacts your SaaS renewals.
Analyze Product Usage
Engagement is critical to encouraging customers to renew their monthly or yearly subscriptions. If a customer isn’t using your product, don’t expect them to stay a customer for long.
When customers initially purchase your product, they’re excited and ready to dig into the platform. The problem arises when that excitement dwindles and they don’t see the value anymore.
It’s similar to when children receive a popular toy adore. They play with it for a couple of days. Then, next week it’s buried under a pile of clothes not being used.
You don’t want that to happen to your products. By monitoring your product usage data, you can learn how often and when your customer logs into your application. This insight serves as a roadmap to engage the customer in product adoption.
Identify key behavioral actions that most renewal customers take. Let’s say that’s completing their full profile within your platform. Then, it’s in your best interest to start sending emails and in-app messages persuading customers to finish their profiles.
Also, set up triggers in your analytics platform to alert team members when the usage data drops for specific customers. This proactive measure ensures you connect with customers when the decline starts, not months later.
Product usage is helpful for spotting “at risk” customers. Use the data to facilitate customer renewals.
Validate Customer Value
Customers buy products to solve a particular problem. They want solutions that will offer some type of benefit.
For SaaS businesses, that value must be ongoing; your company can’t survive if it’s solving one-time challenges.
Dave Blake, CEO and founder of ClientSuccess, suggests creating milestones throughout the customer journey:
“Define success milestones along the journey. This should be very clear to everyone. These milestones are moments that manifest that a customer is progressing and having success with your product or service. We call these moments of truth.”
This strategy works because your team can monitor the growth of the customer’s success. Also, if you add these milestones to the customer’s dashboard, she can see her achievements within your application.
One of the best ways to confirm value is to simply ask the customer. You don’t need to conduct one-on-one interviews with every single person. A short email works well, too.
Below is an email Alex Turnbull of Groove received during the early years of starting his company. The customer validates the value received and states a concern as well.
Asking for customer feedback prepares your team make critical business decisions. It also gives you perspective on which customers will renew.
Monitor Customer Support Tickets
A huge part of customer success relies on exceptional support services. No matter how streamlined your product may be, SaaS customers will have questions about your product.
Customer support tickets are qualitative data showing whether or not your customer understands how to use your platform. By simply tagging their questions with beginner, intermediate, or advanced, you can monitor over time if the customer’s product knowledge is progressing.
Depending on your business, this strategy may indicate gaps where you need to offer more educational tools. Encourage your marketing and support teams to work together to produce content addressing the ongoing needs of the customer, like integration setup and common feature mishaps.
Sometimes the quality of the ticket response isn’t the issue. Analyze your response times and channels to track if you’re offering the best support at the right time and place. A three-day response time might be too long of a wait, and your customers may prefer live chat, rather than email.
Keep in mind that support also extends to social media channels. Customers constantly leave messages on Twitter and Facebook to give suggestions and air out grievances.
Asana understands the importance responding to social media posts. Here’s their response to an upset customer:
The company might not earn a renewal from this customer, but it shows a good faith effort to the rest of their customer base.
Track Net Promoter Scores
Satisfied customers serve as a step in the right direction for earning renewals. When people can offer more positives than negatives about your product, you know your team is making progress.
With the Net Promoter Score, your team can gauge the satisfaction of specific customer interactions. You can learn their feelings towards email support or even a live chat session.
And if you’re monitoring the customer satisfaction within a time period, you can identify areas of improvement in your system—which is beneficial for your business.
“The great thing about NPS is that it’s totally customer driven. When you track it over time and see what causes fluctuating scores, you can move into a cycle of continuous improvement where you quickly respond to any issues that affect your customers. This is good for long-term growth,” states Trevor Hatfield, founder of Inturact.
Skyword recently sent me an email asking for my feedback. Without directly asking if I like their platform, they gained data from me based on my response to a 1-10 rating scale.
Focus on delivering your brand’s promise to boost customer satisfaction. It’s helpful for earning the customer’s trust to gain that next subscription renewal.
Investigate Internal & External Factors
Every customer renewal isn’t solely determined by your actions. Internal and external factors beyond your control can force customers to cancel their subscriptions.
So exactly what major influences are affecting your customers? And how will you learn about these changes?
As a B2B brand, your customer’s management might be evolving, and they’ve decided to select new vendors. Or another company acquired your customer, and now new leadership is moving in a new direction.
Other outside influences could include changes in shopping trends that eliminate your customer’s product demand, or a public relations crisis diminishes the company’s value.
Your SaaS business isn’t responsible for these possible cancellations. However, you are responsible for doing the research the mitigate this revenue loss for your business.
Do the research to learn more about your customer’s industry to prepare for these incidents. Setting up a simple Google Alert can notify you about fluctuations in your customer’s market.
Also talk candidly with customers about their current and future needs. They may feel comfortable discussing how certain changes affect their relationship with your business.
While every customer won’t renew, you can take proactive steps to forecast for these adjustments. Take the time to counteract revenue drops before they happen.
Analyzing Data to Secure Renewals
Don’t assume your current customers will automatically renew their subscriptions. Take a look at your data to analyze post-purchase behavior to ensure customer retention.
From product usage to customer support tickets, your SaaS customers are leaving behind clues on whether or not they will continue with your service. Leverage this data to increase your renewals.
About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.