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The Full Stack for SaaS Client Success

[Update] – After a year with Visible, we’ve changed up a few pieces to work best with our team and to help scale. It’s interesting to see, over time, how the platforms change  Checkout my updates below each section in Red.

Something that makes me throw money at people/products/services, is the experience I have with them. Over the past several years, I have noticed the little things companies do for their customers, and own employees, to increase satisfaction via experience.

What most people don’t see/understand/have patience for, are the platforms used to provide the service and experience. A great example of this is the ‘legacy’ US banking technology (which I could rant your ear off about as much as architectural facts of buildings along the Chicago river) that manages your account. This system, graciously provides the ‘awkward phone silence’ when a rep is waiting to access your account, going through level upon level of access to view your details. Over time, they have learned to fill this void with trivial conversation/up sell, to make you feel comfortable, and feel like a person who is valued.

Building a smooth customer experience is not easy, so I’m going through the important factors of what [a non-engineer] calls their ‘full stack’ to provide great customer experience & service.

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  •  Monitor
    Customer usage is key, tracking your customer’s usage allows you to segment specific users for engagement, testing, up-selling, advocacy, etc. Monitoring usage is also one of the key pieces of information to prevent the all-commanding ‘churn’.

    • Ze Platform: We take this data from our back-end and plug it into our CRM (HubSpot) to filter, segment, identify, assign, etc. We also use Intercom to monitor users for ‘automated’ engagement with a personal voice.

[UPDATE] We tap into Hubspot’s Marketing and Sales system to help with monitoring, plus Heap. Big fans of these systems.

 

  • Analytics
    When you’re scaling, you’re gaining lots and lots of users from your targeted funnels, and then some. Product managers are important in making sure you’re exceeding customer needs and continuing to build the envisioned features, versions, etc.  Marketing managers need a ways to identify the best funnels of customer conversion and best ‘cost per acquisition’ price. Having an analytics management product allows them to find the sweet spots and make your user base grow, and stick, like crazy. Customer Success pulls these analytics to further monitor and segment users.

    • Ze Platform: We’re still looking at best fits, but some good ones are RJMetrics, MixPanel, and KissMetrics. Ideally will have this connected in or around our CRM.

[UPDATE] We’re tapping into segment.io and using Heap. We’ll also looking into build this into a proprietary admin tool.

 

  • CRM
    Email is something I want to get away from as fast as possible when working with customers. Yes I do sound insane, but what I mean is the traditional email platform (gmail, outlook, whatever Apple mail is called) because there is no good way to mange the customer’s account (and expectations) easily and quickly (Streak is making a hybrid that looks interesting). A good CRM makes all the difference in keeping customers engaged and happy as well as managing a team of account managers. This also keeps Sales and Account Managers from asking too many questions, creating breaks in service, on-boarding, experience, and team happiness (you know what I’m talking about).

    • Ze Platform: HubSpot’s new CRM is pretty slick and customizable, we’re eager to keep customizing it to fit exactly how our business model defines our customers.

[UPDATE] Since we have both HubSpot’s Marketing & CRM platform, this has been very beneficial to Sales & Customer Success. Very powerful tool that will continue to evolve.

 

  • Engagement/Voice
    This section is probably one of the most interesting and emerging of recent years. In times of past, being able to create engagement or a voice inside your software (who is old enough to remember Clippy) you would need a designer and front end developer to hash out several iterations until you had enough and waited to raised more money and hire people to complete this task. Engaging customers keeps them happy while on your app, makes them a sticky user or what I learned as a “Happy Prisoner”. This starts with the welcome, goes through on-boarding, and continues as the ‘Voice’; providing valuable content from specific triggers, advising on product/industry specific news, and providing education through knowledge base, blog, or even surveys (check out an amazing project by Brett @ Visible, the Early Stage Confidence Index for Investors).

    • Ze Platform: We currently use Intercom for our Engagement and Voice, we haven’t found a perfect solution for an on-boarding wizard, we’ll update when found.

[UPDATE] Intercom has been great for engagement and voice. Our on-boarding is a mixture of having a great development and design team. Putting together fine details in a product creates an amazing experience.

 

  • Incident Management/Customer Management
    Most people know this part as your standard customer service platform, having a service like Zendesk to manage your inflow of customer queries and conflicts. There has been a movement away from this as an ‘additional’ product with  Intercom or having it hosted in your CRM (stay tuned to see my future post “Why Account Managers should not use their email app”). The important parts are being able to reply quickly, collect customer response data, create reporting, and make better decisions (something that Intercom is currently lacking).

[UPDATE] We keep the customer management inside Intercom. Our requests are low (which is awesome) but are looking for a way to track the requests to see patterns in requests.

 

  • Knowledge/Education
    The tool to help scale and educate, and even more is to create advocates and emerge as an industry leader (more on this in Advocacy). You want to have something that provides easy searching, great UI, syncs really easy to your app, and is super simple to maintain (non-devs will manage this).

    • Ze Platform: Still looking for a good fit here, most Knowledge Base systems are normally packaged with Customer Management, so we want one piece of the package without paying for the whole thing.

[UPDATE] We use HelpJuice to manage our knowledge base for our users and our internal team. Very awesome to scale from both our app and our company.

 

  • Advocacy/Marketing
    Creating a strong following of users brings a company from ‘cult-like following’ to ‘industry leader/expert’ (Product Hunt is an amazing example). We started with content on our Twitter page and have now pushed forward with our Blog. We’re pushing through great side projects (like Sentiment.VC) to continue our vision to bring visibility between investors and company founders.

    • Ze Platform: We’re using Buffer to manage our social media posts and have our blog hosted on WordPress

[UPDATE] HubSpot’s Marketing has taken over for Buffer and keeps everything in a simple silo from initial contact, to contract signature, to renewal.

 

Over time, we expect to change a few platforms, build internal tools, and condense the amount of 3rd party applications we use to keep our customers happy. I will say that a secret sauce for a non-technical operator is Zapier (saved this for the readers who actually made it this far into my ‘essay’) which makes me scale my processes like never before.

Enjoy Your Day, Go Create Something, and Make Someone Smile

Nate Morris

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