Customer Success, SaaS

SaaS retention opportunities are hidden within the Customer Success Gap. ft. @LincolnMurphy

You know that space, perhaps a vast expanse or a narrow gorge, between what your customer wants to have happen, and what your product actually delivers? Lincoln Murphy coined a term for this – he calls it the “Success Gap.

But in between your customer’s desired outcome…

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And what your product does…

Is a space brimful of opportunities.

But it’s also where many companies run into trouble.

As Murphy says – you might think you have one gap to bridge, but you actually have two. The first gap is between your product’s functionality and your customers’ hopes. The second gap is between what you assume your customers’ successful use of your product is – and what success means to them. Watch out for that step, because it’s a doozy.

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What a customer’s success looks like to you (don’t be fooled)

Let’s say you’re tracking customer usage of your product (as you should be) and you notice that a customer is following all of the patterns that you’ve seen make for a successful, long-term, happy client. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a gap. Even if they are completing all the tasks, do you really know whether they’re reaching their desired outcome?

What if their desired outcome is out of your control – and far outside the scope of your product?

You might be thinking, “well, then there’s nothing I can do. Not my problem.”

Oh, but it is your problem! It’s your problem to solve. Because that’s where the opportunities live.

See, while you may be selling a product, that’s not what your customers are buying. They’re buying a desired outcome, and if they don’t get that desired outcome, they feel like they’ve wasted their money.

Therefore, if your customers are using your product, it behooves you to know whether they are finding success with it – by their definition – and if not, you have a chance to help.

Opportunities in the gap

This is where customer success content can make a huge difference. Let’s say your company is an e-newsletter service that captures email signups and lets users create simple newsletters with templates. Your customer Robin sends out a newsletter every month for six months, but his open rates are dismal because his newsletters are staggeringly boring!

Robin might be faithfully using your product, but that’s a far cry from getting the kind of engagement he dreamed of when he signed up.

If you’ve set up the right data, maybe you can target exactly what is going awry for your less-than-successful customers and create a content strategy around that. But, even if you don’t have that kind of data set up, you can think in terms of “What does my customer need to do his or her job better?” Create content around that, and you’re narrowing the gap.

But, content isn’t the only way to bring the two sides together. You could also develop additional services, add-ons, or partnerships. Maybe better templates that include grammar-checks and suggestions for how to craft titles for higher open rates? Maybe you form a partnership with a copywriting company to do a webinar on writing attention-grabbing copy?

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Use that success gap as a jumping-off point for ideas to make your customer go “Oh? Yeah!”

I think Lincoln Murphy sums it up best: “If you know a customer is not achieving their Desired Outcome, either automatically or because the customer self-reports, don’t just let that stand… give them something to do, read, watch, or otherwise learn to improve the result next time.”

But I would add this: People are busy, distracted, and have other priorities. Because of this, we want solutions delivered on a silver platter and we’re willing to pay for the privilege. So don’t stop at instruction delivered by webinar, blog, email or newsletter – find ways to build these success lessons into the product itself.

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