The new year is a time for reflection as well as outlook, and for SaaS leaders, it’s no different. For this installment of our From the Experts series, we asked industry experts about their expectations and predictions for the year ahead. Chad Horenfeldt, Jason Whitehead, Evan Klein, and Irit Eizips all weighed in on what they believe is to come.
All four individuals were asked the same question: Where do you see leading SaaS companies investing customer success resources in the coming year?
From the responses, three key trends emerged. Let’s dive into what’s driving each change the experts expect.
Becoming data and technology-driven
An increased focus on data will be driven, in part, by C-level executives answering to venture capital and private equity firms, according to Evan Klein of Satrix Solutions.
Evan told us that “most Satrix Solutions’ clients have raised money, and a large percentage of them are expected to share customer success metrics with the Board of Directors on a regular basis. ”This need to prove customer success will spur more resource allocation to “establishing ‘listening posts’ at important customer touchpoints” as well as “investment in acquiring the customer experience insights that C-level executives need.”
Our 2018 User Adoption and Onboarding Benchmarking Survey also highlighted a need for data-driven insights. Only 33% of the 450+ SaaS leaders surveyed say they have visibility into their users’ onboarding progress, making it difficult for companies to understand user adoption.
Aligning Customer Success as a cross-functional practice
On top of investment in data-driven technology, both Evan Klein and Chad Horenfeldt of Updater foresee culture coming under the microscope in 2019.
Chad shared that “the preeminent SaaS companies in 2019 will not only invest in more technology for Customer Success teams, but they will also create the right culture to foster innovation.”
He notes that the real challenge for customer success leaders is to create “the right mindset, environment, and freedom within their organizations to get their department and other functions working together to experiment with different approaches to achieve company goals.“
Evan also recognizes the importance of a company-wide focus on “customer satisfaction, retention, expansion, and advocacy.” Evan added that “the reality is that you can’t fully realize the benefits of those efforts without a systematic voice-of-customer program, and building the service-focused culture necessary to engender customer loyalty.”
Jason Whitehead of Tri Tuns, LLC also sees customer success as a company-wide effort. “I think SaaS companies are investing in building and maturing their Customer Success strategies, processes, and staff development efforts. They will also focus more on aligning their internal Customer Success teams with other departments.” Our CEO, Rachel Orston, dug in deeper with Jason on this topic last year in a fireside chat about the importance of a company-wide approach to user adoption, which you can check out here.
Driving a proactive and operational approach to Customer Success
Additionally, Jason believes there’s work to be done within the customer success team. He says SaaS companies are “finding they need to increase the skills and confidence of their CS staff to enable them to better engage customers and deliver the desired results.”
Chad feels a necessary component of a strong customer success team in 2019 is “the time and space to leverage the tools that are available to [team members], the permission to try new things and fail, and the ability to easily measure results so they can report on what is working and what isn’t.”
“In 2019, I believe we will see more companies invest in scaling their customer success operations. The main area of opportunity is to outsource or hire resources that could create and manage one-to-many programs as well as manage the technology that supports such initiatives.”
Irit sees “proactive outreach based on client data analysis, early warning systems to mitigate churn and downsell risks in a timely manner, as well as the development of live webinars and workshops to support the implementation process of new features” as lucrative areas of improvement for customer success teams in 2019. Growing Customer Success capabilities internally can be a challenge, and Irit foresees companies investing “in [consultants] that have the skill set and know how to help them scale through technology and tech touch.”
Overall, the SaaS industry is gearing up for next-level customer success efforts through concerted efforts across the entire organization in 2019.