I hear CS practitioners talk all the time about providing a frictionless experience with their clients to ensure quick onboarding, quick time-to-value, additional cross/upsell, etc. All of these are great and should be the focus of your CS efforts. However, in today’s low-barrier to entry world, you also need to make sure you are creating a max friction exit experience.
Low or negative churn is every CEO’s dream. It’s easy to think that providing a great customer experience always results in a low/negative churn. But what happens when there is an acquisition at your customer’s company? Executive sponsor transition/departure? Champion transition/departure? New, shiny SaaS product taking your industry by storm? The cold, hard fact is that you can provide a fantastic customer experience and have your client churn due to reasons outside of your control.
The Holy Grail of SaaS is this: Create a platform with frictionless entry leading to max friction exit. While this may sound counterintuitive to the Customer Success mantra, the core goal of each company is to make money (or you wouldn’t have a job!). In practice, this can be accomplished without abandoning your Customer Success ethos.
Start by reviewing good sources of friction:
- System of Record: Is your platform fully integrated into critical business processes and practices? Do both end-users and executive management rely on your platform for the conveying of critical information?
- Number of Anchors: How many products in how many departments have you deployed? One product is easy to replace, but if multiple products are integrated into multiple departments, departure requires pain – both operationally and financially.
- High Utilization: Are a few end-users using a few sections of your platform, or are many end-users using many (and sticky) sections of your platform?
- Training: Do you have certification classes that not only teach best practices for usage, but also provide instill a sense of ownership and pride in your end-users? Don’t be above gamification here.
- Value: Are you continually delivering incremental value and communicating those ROI updates to executive management? Cost centers are easier to cut than investments.
There are, of course, less CS-friendly application of friction as well.
- Data Control: While the data belongs to the company using your product, how easy do you make it for them to export the data and switch to a new platform?
- Integration Control: Investments in systems integration can be significant and difficult to unwind – this can be purposeful.
When a great CS practice keeps these sources of low and high friction as priority #1, they can achieve that holy grail of low/negative churn and keep a great customer experience at the same time.