The end of the year brings with it a long laundry list of to-dos and things to get done (and no, we’re not talking about your Christmas shopping list). B2B SaaS companies need to finish out the quarter strong, determine metrics for the following quarter and year, perform Quarterly Business Reviews with team members, ensure contacts are in place for those taking time off, and… oh yeah: ensure your customers are successful going into the new year. Unfortunately, just like this list, many organizations put customers at the end of their to-dos, assuming the customer will always be there. But it’s crucial to set your customers up for success moving into the upcoming year.
The health of a SaaS business and its customer success department are directly tied to its ability to retain its customers and prevent churn. To do this, you have to ensure that your customers are happy. That means making sure they get the promised business benefits and value of your software. So along with your never ending to-do list at the end of the year, ensure a game plan for customer success is part of your end of year planning.
4 Strategic To-dos to Ensure Customer Success Before Year End
Here are four strategic to-dos to help you build a strong customer success plan for the new year:
1. Ensure The Customer Is Prepared
Preparing your customer for the following year isn’t about following a checklist. It’s about understanding where they are in the customer success cycle and having a keen understanding of what they need to do in order to be successful in the future. Most companies have recently completed 2016 annual planning and have outlined their plans to drive success in 2016.
Reviewing those now will ensure you’re helping your customer hit the ground running in achieving those goals. Often times, this means reviewing how they are currently using your product or service, asking questions about what could be better or why members of the team are not more engaged. Dig deep into use cases and help them identify new and innovative ways to use your product or service to see the most value and return so they are sure to renew when the time comes.
In addition, understanding your customer’s industry is key. Are they in retail? If so, Q4 is likely one of the most crucial times of the year for them, and it’s important for you to understand how your product fits into their stack. What do they need from you in order to be exceptionally successful? What can you do to help ease the burden or give them more information on how to thrive during these busy months? No matter their industry, take it upon yourself to understand what success means in Q4 and even in Q1, and how you can ensure they meet those goals.
2. Review Customer Goals & KPIs for the Next Year
Similar to ensuring your customer is prepared for the following year in terms of product usage, it’s just as important to understand their goals and KPIs.
Here are a few questions to ask:
- What changes do you envision happening at your company next year? (ie – new product release, surge in hiring, new locations, etc)
- What impact do you think those changes will have on your business?
- What are your personal KPIs for next year?
- How will our product or service play a part in meeting those goals?
- What will success mean as it relates to our product/service?
- What major milestones do you see as it relates to our product/service next year? For your company in general?
Discuss KBO’s (key business objectives) and KPIs with your customers and, if possible, try to understand how your key stakeholders are measured and comp’ed. Knowing and documenting those important measurements will ensures clear alignment in the coming year.
Asking these questions and having a keen sense of what success means in the following year and then striving to hit those KPIs with your customer is incredibly important. Going blindly into a new year without having that all important conversation will set you behind before the year even begins.
3. Plan Ahead & Have a Back-Up
If you’re taking time off for the holiday season or your direct contact is taking time off, ensure you connect and have a game plan. Who will be your contact and who will be their contact? What are they looking to achieve over the holiday season and how does your company or service play a role?
Typically companies have a skeleton crew over the holidays, but it’s important to proactively and transparently communicate that with their clients so they know the protocols for contacting the right people if needed over the holidays.
And no matter how much you plan and anticipate, there is always the unknown. The servers are down, a transaction goes wrong, and so on. Ensure you trade contact lists so both you and your customer feel confident in knowing who to contact should something go wrong. Ensure you talk candidly with your contacts and ensure everyone has a plan – and even a back-up plan – so everything runs smoothly.
4. Send Your Customers Something Special
Now for the fun part! Your customers are the reason your company exists in the first place, so help them feel appreciated. You go through many ups and downs together each year, and they look to you as a partner in their company. Send them a holiday greeting or even something in the mail (you find out a lot of things about your customers throughout the year – pay attention to those details!) Even if your marketing team sends a mass greeting, ensure you personally follow-up and wish them a happy holiday season.
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.