In 2003 there were 30 Chief Customer Officers worldwide according to the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) Council, reaching 450 by 2011. Over time, however, there has been a gradual recognition of the importance of having an executive in the C-Suite responsible for elevating and growing the customer experience; as of this year, 22% of Fortune 100 Companies and 10% of Fortune 500 Companies have a CCO onboard.
Building Relationships is Key to Survival
This recognition is of particular importance for SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, who are heavily dependent on renewing their existing book of business year after year as a part of their overall revenue strategy.
While with traditional enterprise sales the customer is paying for a one-off purchase that may or may not go hand-in-hand with an annual service fee, SaaS companies are constantly having to cultivate the customer relationship if they are to stay in business.
Earlier this month, Thomasz Tungaz, a venture capitalist at RedPoint, published a blog titled “Why your SaaS Startup Needs a VP of Customer Success Sooner than you Might Think”. In it he talks about the importance of ensuring that sales, marketing, product and customer success are aligned in their vision to ensure that all four teams are working harmoniously:
- Marketing is bringing in leads that have the potential to turn into repeat customers.
- The sales team is representing the product as it is today and not as they hope it will be tomorrow.
- The customer success team is abreast of the entire customer lifecycle to ensure the client experience is positive from closing until forever.
Without an executive taking charge of the customer experience, the risk of high churn-rates grows exponentially.
Tungaz’s advice is all the more relevant as more companies transition into the SaaS model. According to a Deutsche Bank report, during the last decade the SaaS category grew 11X in market cap value, and its share of the total software market capitalization grew from 2% to 14%.
The report predicts the SaaS category market cap to reach ~$600bn by 2020 with a share of ~38% of the total [market cap] of software, making the SaaS business model extraordinarily attractive even to older, more established companies.
Success means moving the relationship beyond the sale.
While it is exciting to see more companies offering SaaS products, it is crucial that the C-Suite focus not only on drumming up new business, but on keeping it as well. Customer retention is paramount in keeping a SaaS company afloat, particularly as a company matures. While customer acquisition and lead conversion are integral parts of growing a SaaS business, with time, retention and renewals gain equal and eventually greater importance.
Renewals are the lifeblood of our work.
At DoubleDutch, we create mobile applications for thousands of events annually, so pretty much every customer has the potential to substantively increase CLTV (customer lifetime value) for the company. Most events take place at least annually, and oftentimes a client will produce multiple events over the course of a year. Many of our clients like UBM, SAP, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers host multiple events a year and are using our app to power events globally.
If our client relationship stopped with a sale, we would fail, and fast.
The Power of Association
While retention is closely correlated with concrete metrics like the quality of the product, the utility of the features, and adoption-rates, an equally powerful metric is overall quality of your customer experience.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the food was fantastic but the experience was lacking? The wait staff was rude, the service was slow; how likely are you to return to that restaurant? This power of association carries over to most industries – including SaaS.
We understand the transitive properties of a positive – and a negative – customer experience, which is why DoubleDutch holistically focuses on delivering exceptional experiences to the client not only during an event, but also throughout their relationship with us.
The satisfaction of our customers is intrinsically linked with the end-users’ – event attendees’ – experiences with our products, who not only influence the overall success of the app but a large percentage of them can and have become clients.
With many SaaS products, the end-user is not the client, and their experience must be factored into the customer success equation.
Much of what makes for exceptional experiences is simple, clear, and transparent communication. Agreeing upfront on goals and deliverables sets the stage for not only having a mutually agreed upon, reasonable vision of success, but also allows us to understand how and when is appropriate to overdeliver.
This attention to cultivating a lasting relationship with customers coupled with every touchpoint your client has with your brand along they way – whether through advertising, your marketing and sales teams and their interaction with your product – will be the key factors in their decision to take their business elsewhere, renew or become a valuable advocate for your brand.
The consistency in messaging, feel and reliability need to resonate through every channel, every step of the customer lifecycle, and this attention to the customer needs to start in the C-Suite.
DoubleDutch is an award-winning provider of mobile event applications, with a unique focus on capturing and surfacing data from live events. Companies like Cisco, Novartis, and Estee Lauder, and associations like American Hospital Association, Global Workspace Association, and the Professional Beauty Association are using DoubleDutch at meetings and conferences worldwide.