Jun 9, 2017

Read Time 7 min

Why Customers aren’t using your SaaS Solution, 10 Biggest Mistakes in Customer Success, and Levering Customer Success Automation


Have you ever purchased something thinking it was going to be useful, make your life easier, let you retire early, give you extra money to treat yourself, or simply give you a second of relief from the daily grind? Everyone does – including your customers.

Your customer invested in your solution because they truly believed it would make a difference for them and their organization. As time went on they became less engaged, less enthusiastic, and started dodging your calls and emails. Why?

Here are a few reasons they aren’t using your solution and some ideas for Customer Success Teams to get them reengaged:

  • The Problem: Misalignment– somewhere along the line your customer saw an opportunity to address challenges that they had or to meet their new goals with your SaaS solution. Unfortunately, there was a misalignment between what their expectations were and how your solution was going to deliver on those expectations. They became frustrated with how they were going to get to their desired outcome and now your solution has become a pain in the SaaS.
    • Solution: Setting Expectations – hopefully, the team has done their job and sold the proper fit customer. It’s now our job to make sure that we’re asking the right questions and ensuring we have all their goals upfront during our onboarding call. Ask for specific goals, ask for them to reaffirm why they purchased (hint: you should already know some of these reasons by having a discussion with the original sales rep), and talk through how they plan on meeting those goals with your solution. Address unrealistic expectations now and reset realistic ones now – you’ll thank yourself for doing so come renewal time.


  • The Problem: Their priorities have changed – keeping in the know with your customers can be hard. You’re busy, they’re busy, and there certainly aren’t enough hours in the day. Unfortunately, their priorities can shift depending on what new challenges come their way and whether your current solution supports their new efforts. But we should know about these new priorities by having regular meetings (ones that add value like QBRs), and if not then we need to do some real digging to figure out why, how, and when their priorities changed to better support them.
    • Solution: Ask Questions – once a customer has stopped using our solution we start to get into our own head about why they stopped using, what went wrong, and how we can fix it. Stop overthinking it. It’s OK to ask questions and your customers will find it refreshingly helpful. You don’t have to wait for a QBR to ask to review their current goals, where they are on the path to meet them, and discuss any new challenges that have come their way. You may find that their new goals can be met with a feature that they already have within their existing investment or that can be easily addressed with a complimentary offering. If you’ve done a good job of getting them to their initial desired outcomes with your solution then this should be a comfortable consultative upsell conversation instead of an awkward sales one.


  • The Problem: The Learning Curve – as CSMs, most of us are in the solution quite frequently. Do you remember your first time logging in to the solution that you’d be supporting and selling (maybe even a few days after you started)? I’m sure you didn’t know where to find a feature, understand how to accomplish a simple function, or where to even find help. This is what your customer is feeling every time they come onboard with your SaaS organization.
    • The Solution: Tailored Help and Milestones – it is our job to ensure that the customer has had a successful onboarding – even if they have been through our “official onboarding process”. Just because they passed the class doesn’t mean that they get it. Take advantage of your customer success software to get alerted the first time they attempt to use a new feature (or even just log into the application for the first time) and to follow up with a call. A call to say that you’re thinking about them and want to lend a helping hand as they navigate this unfamiliar landscape is rarer in this field than you think. Don’t be afraid following that conversation to set regular check in points to ensure their success. If you introduce your solution in small and digestible pieces then you may find that your initial adoption rate following the onboarding is going to be much higher.


Want to learn more about setting triggers to know when your customers perform specific events or reach key touch points? Take a quick tour of ChurnZero by clicking here.


  • The Problem: Your Champion Left – have you ever had a scenario where you go to reach out to someone that is a few months out from renewal only to be met with a “I am no longer working at ABC company” reply? This presents a new set of challenges as your point of contact may have a preferred vendor for your solution already, they may not see the value or have different goals, and sometimes they didn’t even get a note that their company had invested in your solution in the first place!
    • The Solution: Automation and Triggers: you should have already made a connection with your point of contact on LinkedIn to follow their professional journey as well as their organization’s journey – which will also give you an alert when they’ve changed job roles or organizations. Unfortunately, not everyone has LinkedIn or updates it. Your customer success software should also have automation for processes in place to help you combat this. Define a set of events that will allow you to know if your customer has disengaged with your solution and automate it to set a task for you to call them. For even higher priority items you should set it to alert you immediately via email, SMS, or Slack so you can jump on it right away. It could be that they have taken a month hiatus but you’ll thank yourself for having called early instead of finding out way too late.


  • The Problem: You No Longer Meet their Needs – this one is a tough pill to swallow. Needs do indeed change and your customer no longer requires your services. For example, maybe they’re not holding events anymore and your solution is event management software or they’ve decided that it is best to outsource IT and your organization owns a solution designed for internal IT teams. There just simply is no longer a reason for them to continue to invest in your solution.
    • The Solution: Let it Go, Let it Go– you’re going to have some percentage of churn that naturally occurs as organizations go out of business or make a like change to the ones mentioned above. If you’ve done all your due diligence to keep the customer and there truly isn’t a fit – then we need to let it go. There is a silver lining, however, if we’ve done our due diligence. You may use the opportunity to ask for an introduction over at the new company that acquired them, to ask for referrals to a friend or colleague (use your judgement here), or to simply ask for a quick recommendation for your organization that can be later used for your organization.

There is an almost unlimited amount of reasons why your customers may not be using your SaaS solution but it is our jobs as advocates of our customer’s success to identify those potential opportunities for churn, to address the situation, and to seek understanding so that we can better position ourselves to help them meet their desired outcomes.

Have a specific pain or situation that you want the team to address? Send them along here!

Customer Success Around the Web

  • 10 Biggest Mistakes in Customer Success: Lincoln Murphy just finished up his latest tour of Brazil with a presentation at a Customer Success meetup in São Paulo, organized by Gama Academy and hosted by TOTVS. Since he wanted to present something new to the crowd — something they hadn’t already heard from him a thousand times — he came up with the idea of presenting the ten biggest mistakes he sees companies make when implementing — or transitioning to — Customer Success. He includes a slide deck he put together for the talk as well as a list of the 10 biggest Customer Success mistakes he sees folks make. More over on Lincoln Murphy’s Medium.
  • Save Time (and Stress) By Leveraging Customer Success Automation: If you work for a SaaS organization, I don’t have to sell you on the value of automation. Building products and systems that scale well with minimal oversight is basically the whole idea. The idea of automation in your customer success program is to make the customer realize value with the product without actually doing the work yourself. If you can auto-deliver that value, your organization can serve as many customers as you like without sacrificing the quality of your service. It’s also critical if you want to get out of a reactive mode and into a proactive mode. Check out the rest of this post over at Glide Consulting. 

  • One Communication Tool You Should Add to Your Toolkit: From answering questions to initiating small talk, from introducing people to each other to providing feedback, we all find ourselves needing to adeptly manage different types of communication. This nimbleness, when paired with social expectations of appropriateness and efficiency in our communication, can be quite daunting to even the most experienced.The key to managing these different types of communication is to leverage structures. Read on over at Standford.edu to learn more.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom comes a recent AMA Lincoln Murphy did on Facebook where he answered what was on the minds of the Customer Success Community – a quick excerpt can be found below. The entire transcription and video can be found found here:

“So the question is how do we help our salespeople do segmentation? And the other is sort of how do we segment customers internally? And so we can take care of our most important customers. Okay.

I don’t understand why there’s this need to segment customers differently in sales, in marketing, and in Customer Success. It’s customer segmentation. It’s not departmental segmentation. This is not an inwardly-focused exercise. It usually is, unfortunately, but it should be that we’re looking at our customers in a way that makes sense to segment them. So, you know, if I’m going after (use a somewhat aggressive term) a particular segment of customers, why is that going to be different than once I get those customers I’m going to serve them?

You see, a customer has a required outcome. A thing that they need to achieve. Their business outcome right? And they have a way that they need to achieve that Appropriate Experience. That Appropriate Experience – AX as I call it – goes across the entire customer lifecycle. It doesn’t start when a customer becomes a customer. It starts when a prospect first interacts with us. It starts when the prospect first interacts with our marketing cycle. It starts when the prospect is first contacted by an SDR or an AE. Okay? It’s a life cycle thing. It starts early.

How many of you heard me say, “The seeds of churn are planted early?” Well, that happens when we interact with a prospect early on, in an inappropriate way. Right? It means that we’re not giving them an Appropriate Experience, even before they become a customer. So we can’t do that. We need to have those aligned.”

The rest of the video and transcript can be found here.


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