Dec 8, 2016

Read Time 6 min

Making customers’ first experiences count, why you should love your unhappy customers, calculating customer delight


Churn Fighting Focus: Making customers’ first experiences count

When the phrase “we’ve won the customer” is used, we tend to think of the moment when a prospect becomes a customer, when they first sign up for your product or service. But when 40-60% of software users only open an app once and then never log in again, the reality is that this initial moment of conversion is not really where the “win” of a customer happens. For most businesses, there is another milestone that needs to be reached before a customer can reach their full value potential: the moment they achieve their first success with your product.

The time between when a customer signs up and when they experience their first success is wrought with risk of churn. During this time customers are much more likely abandon your product because they get lost, don’t understand something, don’t get value from the product or simply lose interest. But as this thoughtful post by Groove explores, there is on key focus that can help a business minimize initial churn: onboarding. As the author puts it, “Making that transition as fast and smooth as possible for your customers will win you higher retention and happier customers.”

There are many articles about how to devise and execute effective onboarding (we particularly like this one, this one and this one) but we especially love this post from Groove because it provides practical examples of onboarding done right. While all ten examples they provide are worth reading, here are the three that stood out to us as most impactful:

  • Set Expectations: A journey is easier if you have a clear idea of where you’re going and how long the trip will take; it’s the reason we all love Google Maps so much. This same idea applies to onboarding: “By showing your users exactly where they are in the process and how much they have left to go, you make it easier to get started, and via the endowed progress effect, make them more motivated to finish with every step that they take.”
    • See it in action: When Etsy helps a new user set up a shop, a progress meter clearly tells the user what to expect next and how far they have come. While this visual technique is very effective for self-serve applications, if your onboarding involves steps outside of your application, this best practice still applies to you. Before you dive into any onboarding activities, make sure your clearly outline the steps the customer will be going through and what will be required of them during each phase.


  • Leave Something to Discover: You’ve worked hard on your product or site and it’s natural to want to show your new customers everything that you’ve built for them. Resist. That. Urge. As Groove explains, “Onboarding isn’t about sharing everything. It’s about taking the user through the first critical steps to success.”
    • See it in action: Slack has many valuable integrations and “hidden” features like voice calls, do not disturb, starred items and more, but none of these are part of the initial onboarding experience because a first-time user doesn’t need them to have a fantastic experience. Don’t worry about secondary features or non-core integrations in the onboarding process. Leave the user something great to discover about your business later on. For now, focus on getting them engaged enough to want to learn about those extra features.


  • Build the Relationship: If you want your customers to be successful, you first have to understand what success means to them. As Groove puts it: “You might have your own idea of customer success (for example, when a customer uses your product a certain number of times), but customers never think in those terms.” What is the best way to understand customer-defined success? Asking.
    • See it in action: Groove themselves make asking a customer about their goals a central part of the very first onboarding email that every new user receives. “The answers that we get to that question are incredibly valuable when it comes to understanding how our customers define success. We get responses ranging from ‘I wanted a help desk that could help us stop missing support emails’ to ‘we needed something to help us respond to customers faster’, and everything in between.” Getting insight like this will help you improve your onboarding process.


Customer Success Around the Web

  • Why you should love your unhappy customersAs CS pros, we always love to engage with our delighted customers; these experiences are rewarding and affirm the value of our efforts and the quality of the product we’re supporting. But it is also important to love your unhappy customers, as their feedback may very well be your richest source of information and insight. This thoughtful post explores the value of soliciting, really hearing and proactively responding to feedback from unhappy customers, including methods for collecting feedback, how to respond to extreme negativity and implementing real changes based on real feedback. A must-read for any company with customer satisfaction as a central goal.
  • The math of customer delight“Surprise and delight” has become a mantra for customer experience. You delight your customers by meeting their needs within the expectations they have for whatever you are offering, whether those expectations are high or low. But how to do you design for customer delight? This interesting read offers guidance on this challenge through the SD2 Report Card, which helps companies rate themselves on the essential elements (the 10 E’s) of service design and delivery, from expectation to execution to empathy. A great exercise for any CS team that is trying to isolate areas in which they need to improve.
  • Account management in the SaaS eraIn the past, the account manager role had similarities to that of an account executive. The difference was that account managers simply look after the financial aspects that an account brings in, while everything else was handled by various teams or departments across the company. But with the boom of the SaaS era, things have changed and account management is more diverse and people in those roles require certain traits to succeed. This read dives into why an account manager is so important to your business and the key responsibilities of a superb account managers. An important read for anyone still considering the role of account management at their company.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom comes from a recent episode of Strikedeck Radio featuring Kim Oslob, VP of Customer Success at Whisbi. In this episode Oslob discusses how to effectively structure the first six months of leading a new Customer Success team. Inspired by her original blog post – 10 Steps to Creating a Winning CS Team – Oslob has a lot of great advice to offer about how to make a team productive and cohesive. But her thoughts on the importance of revenue-based metrics we felt was particularly noteworthy:

“Without metrics you will never be able to impact revenue and see what needs improvement. If you are not able to impact revenue, you will always be under stress. Focus on metrics that highlight where the team needs to improve. Segment your customer base based on revenue. Track your top 20% of customers faily, your next 30% customers weekly and the rest for the 50% monthly. I would highly suggest using a tool specific for Customer Success Professionals that integrates with your existing Salesforce. That way you can clearly manage the metrics and share what is needed with key players. Your goal should be that by the end of the sixth month, you are ready to show small wins and a modified yearly plan to executives and the board.”


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