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A new year is quickly approaching, and in the current economic climate, it's increasingly important for SaaS organizations to focus on renewals. Acquisition, after all, is far more expensive than renewal, and teams must work together in 2023 to make sure renewal strategies are as strong as they can possibly be. Read on to discover five tips that will help you develop a scalable roadmap to renewal and keep customers coming back.
To put it simply, any type of impersonal, reactive customer success doesn’t work. Particularly during times of economic hardship, organizations are constantly evaluating which of their products and services are above and below the line. Customers will churn if they don't trust your business, and building trust should start well before the renewal period.
That’s right: Customer success teams need to be prepping the renewal roadmap even before a prospect becomes a customer. This means understanding why each customer came to you in the first place, knowing their pain points, and staying familiar with their goals and objectives should they shift along the way.
During onboarding, your CS team should be proactively sharing the information customers care about most, such as predictive data and forecasting, as well as clear roadmaps toward goals. Then, during the adoption stage of the customer lifecycle, bring your customers usage data and provide recommendations for improvement toward their goals. By being proactive in this way, your CSMs can avoid the renewal-time scramble and have a solid foundation well before the renewal conversation even begins.
In order to set the stage for a successful renewal conversation, communication needs to be as smooth as possible at all prior stages in the customer journey. This means sharing feedback with all necessary parties as quickly as possible, being clear about timelines and milestones, and making sure everyone involved in the renewal process is on the same page.
To streamline communication leading up to renewal, be sure to celebrate and remind your customers of major milestones with your product, like time until renewal or goals achieved. It also helps to have your presentations and email communications ready in advance — this will make sure there's less to do when it’s “go” time, and will free up time for CSMs to focus on other key initiatives.
Finally, it should be easy for your customers to get in touch with you throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle. This should be a closed loop: customers need to be able to submit questions and feedback easily, your team needs to be able to share these with other departments easily, and your CSMs should be able to share status updates with customers easily. Streamlining communication through a feedback loop will ensure each customer feels heard, further building the trust they need to sign on for another year.
Successful renewals most likely won't come from customers with low engagement, low success scores, or multiple unresolved customer service escalations. Ultimately, your team needs to know how to recognize the signs of an unhappy or disengaged customer as early as possible. This means recognizing the red flags of churn and taking all measures necessary to improve the customer’s experience with your product. Sometimes, a red flag may be as simple as not understanding the value of your product — but fortunately, this is something you have control over. If warning signs are detected, you can strategically deliver key data points to build trust and credibility.
However, red flags aren't the only indicator your team should be paying attention to. You also need to be able to recognize positive signals that a customer may give you throughout their journey. At each stage, keep an eye out for any indicators that a customer may be looking to upsell or expand. Recognizing green flags as well as red flags can help you take advantage of every opportunity and strategize accordingly, and enable you to craft a solid pitch at renewal time.
Renewals are made possible by CSMs that show proof of product value at every stage. As shown in Matik's hierarchy of data, this proof may look different in each stage of the customer journey, but each piece of data delivered to customers should build up to a cohesive narrative.
Use data to gain a holistic view of customer health and share this data early and often. Find a way to share ROI data, forecasting data, predictions, and benchmarking in the weeks leading up to renewal in order to strengthen your case. This will give your customer the confidence they need to renew. Also, data should be used internally just as often to understand each customer’s health score and NPS score so your CSMs can make informed decisions.
Finally, your renewal process needs to be scalable. Create a templated renewal presentation with all of the data touchpoints your CSMs need to prove the value of your product, and once you've found a strategy that works, standardize it and make it automated so you can take advantage of it across the board. CSMs will have more time to spend on other valuable tasks if they're free of tedious tasks like building renewal presentations, and your customers will appreciate a well-designed, consistent format.