Whilst it is relatively straightforward for any company to focus on tangible aspects of growing a business, including, but not limited to, building strategies around meeting quarterly sales targets, for example - it is not always easy to build a focus around those intangible, more abstract aspects that aren't easy to quantitatively measure, namely, the company reputation or 'goodwill'. Perhaps because it is difficult to measure this with a KPI, it's not a topic that a management team wish to divert their focus to, for fear of reprimand for missing out on those tangible sales targets - I guess that is somewhat understandable. However ultimately, reputation will be the main decider in achieving company scale, and differentiating your offering from competitors - not the amount of money that is pumped into Adword spends every month (which can get very costly, and is growing more expensive as the number of firms in the SaaS space grows). Below, I have outlined some relatively obvious, but inherently effective areas of focus, when it comes to enhancing the companies reputation - areas of focus that I have observed in my personal experiences (and, conversely, seen to hinder company reputation when these factors are put on the long finger).
Support response time
As a former colleague of mine once said - "as an [support] agent, you are a customer's first impression of the company". A major part that forms this customer's impression is the time taken to respond to their query. For example, Amazon.com have set a response time for their 3rd party sellers of 24 hours - i.e. if 3rd party sellers do not respond to their user's questions within 24 hours, they may be penalized (such as suspended for a period of time, or even a lifetime suspension). Whilst this is frequently a point of frustration for Amazon 3rd party sellers, it has been put in place to recognize the high level of quality customer service that is expected in the 21st century, and, ultimately, to protect the reputation of the overall Amazon brand. Many companies will set their own target response times internally, significantly shorter than 24 hours - because they know that their competitors will try to outperform them on this important KPI. If a new trialist sends a query via email and do not receive a timely response, it is most likely that they are not going to become paying clients. If a paying user sends in queries, and it periodically takes a long time to receive a response, then their dissatisfaction will increase over time, potentially driving them to competitors, and making it less likely for them to recommend your service by word of mouth.
Timely Bug Fixing
This is one that you would be amazed how often will fall by the wayside, but bug fixing, or lack thereof, can shape the impression that users have of your software. It is easy to think of the frustration that a user has when a bug they reported is not mended for days or weeks, no matter how non-trivial. However, you have to consider, the number of potential customers that are also experiencing the bug, but have not reported it. How do they feel that they are experiencing the bug, not reporting it, and attempting to work around it - and it lasts for weeks? Probably quite unfavourably towards that, and the platform as a whole. It could breed long-term frustration that may ultimately lead them to churn, leave poor reviews on sites such as Trustpilot, and spread negative thoughts via word of mouth (people talk!) - only further hindering your customer acquisition process.
Beefed-up content strategy
Content is becoming an increasingly prevalent method of marketing - due to its measured effectiveness. However, reports have indicated that the average amount of social shares per content piece on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. has declined by 50% between 2015 and 2017, due to the increased content prevalence. Whilst this may be viewed by some that the effectiveness of content is on the decline, it can be seized as an opportunity to move ahead. It may be very easy (and let's be honest, very tempting) to write an entire blog that is effectively an advert - but with this increased prevalence of content, potential clients are going to see right through these advertisement-oriented pieces and turn away. It's time to focus more on writing pieces that offer tangible benefit, whereby the reader can say that they enjoyed the read or they took information of value from the content. The content may not always tie directly back to your offering, but, the reader will have a positive association with your brand, that you have offered them something of value for free.
With many companies having a primary focus on new customer acquisition, paying customers can frequently get the sense that they have been thrown in the keep-net and just left there indefinitely, to fall by the wayside. Whilst it isn't always the case, customer's will often state, perhaps after one bad experience after payment, something to the tune of "that company don't care about you as soon as they have your money, avoid them". This can have a serious impact on people's perception of your brand, and it's hard to undo this damage once the negative experiences move into the public domain. It's definitely worth having a retention or 'customer success' team - one problem with this, is, as your company grows, it can be hard to scale viably without hiring more agents to apportion the workload evenly between customer success agents. Thankfully, there are more efficient methods of scaling without simply hiring more agents. It is possible to determine to both determine what customers are most likely to churn (to prioritize who is contacted) and determine what actions those customers need to perform in order to be successful - allowing you to maintain a small, focused and efficient customer success team and still maintaining and enhancing the sense of goodwill with your paying clients!
Whilst Traitly Predict cannot help you with all of the four areas discussed above, we can help you with optimizing customer retention to lower your churn rate. Traitly uses powerful AI algorithms to segment customers based on how likely they are to churn - by looking at what has caused past customers to churn. Traitly can also derive actionable insights on a personalized customer-oriented optimal journey, based on what successful users have done in the past and how their experiences differed to unsuccessful customers. Users can be intelligently targeted via email through your CRM systems or smart notifications or adverts via social media platforms on what they need to do next. For more information, feel free to contact us anytime!
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