We’ve all seen the nature pictures and videos of how a mother sea turtle raises their young. The short answer is that they don’t. They lay their eggs, cover them with sand and leave them to survive as best they can. Of course only a few survive to adulthood. Many get lost on their first trip to the sea and many get eaten by predators. Only a few survive their first year. The species only survives based on the instincts they are born with and the large numbers of eggs and hatchlings. Are you inadvertently making your new SaaS customers survive more on their own instinct than with your support? Are you leaving them to predators such as confusion, complexity, poor user experience and limited support? Are they lucky to survive their first year? Hopefully the picture isn’t quite that bad for your customers but everyone can benefit from having a few more customer hatchlings survive to adulthood.
Everyone talks about easy “onboarding” for SaaS customers but what does that really mean? It means enabling your customers to get significant value from your application as quickly and easily as possible. They do this by gaining the confidence and expertise to use your application.
To gain confidence it’s important that there be early successes and that the first steps go well. Some ways that companies help this is by having templates, standard configurations and applicable examples. It is much easier to help a customer to change a standard configuration than to create one from scratch and provides quicker positive feedback. An early successful transaction or analysis can can go a long way toward making a customer feel comfortable with your application.
To gain expertise it certainly helps if your application is easy to use and intuitive. This is where the investment that you made in user experience really pays off. The biggest factor in gaining expertise is the positive feedback loop of a positive experience while using it, then quick value, which then drives the customer to use it more. Nothing is worse than spending painful time getting an application set up and then not getting the value you expected resulting in a downward spiral.
Think about likely ways that you can generate positive feedback loops and successful upward spiral and guide your customers in this direction. Depending on the type of application, whether it is a consumer application or B to B application, this first feedback loop might take minutes, hours or possibly days but remember that the shorter you can make it the better.
Expertise comes from use and if a customer doesn’t like to use your application they won’t gain the expertise needed and they won’t get the value.
Of course not everything will go smoothly for every customer. A variety of things can occur and you want to be able to have both reactive and proactive customer support. You want to be available when the customer contacts you by phone, email or text with the right information and you want to have the right kind of information in your FAQs and forums.
You also want to have proactive support. Back to the turtle analogy, you want to be able to see if you customer is headed in the wrong direction or is about to be attacked by a “predator”. Customer engagement analytics are a good way of standardizing and automating part or all of this interaction. It can also be more ad hoc with proactive “How is it going?” questions.
You’ve worked hard and spent a significant amount of money on acquiring these customers. Make sure that you are doing the right things to encourage, support and help them grow. Making them rely on their instincts in a survival of the fittest mode may work for the sea turtle population but it’s not a good strategy for new SaaS customers.