How to show customers the value of your business relationshipby
In an increasingly competitive SaaS world, proving the value of your products and services is how you can measure up and stand out in the crowd, writes the CEO of Custify, Philipp Wolf.
We’re constantly pushing the ante of customer expectations in B2B. It seems that every month, we see new and exciting ways to drive customer value.
But what’s that I hear? Your churn rate is still high? Are your customers still going away? Why could that be?
The likely reason is you’re not paying attention to how you demonstrate your value addition. In many cases, that value is self-explanatory, but that still requires customers to do the work of finding out and processing how much you’ve actually helped them.
Few professionals have the time or motivation to do that until it’s too late, and they have to justify the cost of your subscription. So, one of the keys to long-term retention and loyalty lies in actively proving the value of your business relationship. And today, I’m going to show you a few practical examples of how to do that.
Create and adopt a value realisation framework
Value realisation is becoming increasingly important in SaaS, and having a framework for driving customer value is the best approach to secure a future-proof process that also includes ways in which you can demonstrate value addition to the customers.
It’s called a value realisation framework, and it’s essentially a process that fits between onboarding and loyalty on the customer journey. It allows you to be strategic in picking your method of delivering value to clients at scale. You can break the process down into:
- Value definition. This is the stage where you find out what sort of value customers are after and then proceed to set measurable goals and KPIs based on that value.
- Value delivery. Once you know your customers’ value definition, you can get busy delivering it. Through integration, implementation, and retention tactics, you can make sure customers achieve what they want from your product or service.
- Value realisation. Also known as the A-ha moment, the Eureka moment, or simply the moment where it all clicks, this is the moment when customers get it - they get your product, they get your business model, they get the help you’re offering them, and most importantly, they get what they’re paying for.
- Value validation. Once they get it, the next step is to repeat it. At this point in the framework, customers want to replicate the initial results and scientifically test their subscription. If they manage to repeat their successes, it’s likely they’ll become loyal customers, provided you continue delivering the same quality level as before.
- Value optimisation. It’s not recommended to rest on your laurels, especially in such a competitive market as SaaS. So once customers pass the value validation stage, CSMs should ensure the framework stays up to date on industry trends and in sync with customers’ desired outcomes. To do this right, you must gather feedback, conduct customer surveys, and use the results to improve your offer.
Practical ways to show customers the value of your business relationship
1. Request customer feedback, act, and report back
To increase the effectiveness of your value realisation framework, you can set periodic reviews of your accounts, where you request specific feedback from customers and then act on it. The basic steps of this process should include:
- Obtaining customer feedback. Either by simply asking or through feedback forms, online reviews, or direct support requests. To effectively do this at scale, research to find the overall best channels for feedback and make a habit of checking those periodically.
- Sharing and acting on customer feedback. Once you have the feedback, share it with relevant stakeholders and act on it, starting with the most relevant feedback from high-ARR, best-fit, or most engaged customers.
- Report back to customers. To show customers the value of your relationship, you need to close the loop and get back to customers once you’ve listened to and implemented their feedback.
If this process works well, you can expand it into a full voice of the customer initiative to serve customer needs at scale and up value realisation.
2. Create and send high-value content specific to customers’ needs
Creating and sending high-value content to customers, also known as customer marketing, is one of the top tactics to add value to your accounts while also expanding your marketing efforts. Here are a few ideas of what you can create:
- Longform, authoritative blog articles. A cost-effective way to kickstart this is through simple articles. Focus on finding topics relevant to current market trends and customer concerns, then make them as informative and actionable as possible. Soon enough, your customers
- Industry guides and reports. If a topic comes up often in customer conversations or if it’s a growing concern in the industry, you can create a standalone PDF guide that tackles the issue in-depth. Customers will appreciate you keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry and helping them do the same. Some examples include The State of Onboarding 2023, The State of Customer Messaging in 2023, and our own Quiet Quitting in Customer Success Study.
- Tactical cheat sheets to assist customer processes. SaaS works with complex business concepts, and many of them can fly over the heads of your customers. To help them, you can compile cheat sheets on topics they care about, such as SaaS pricing, SaaS metrics, and more.
Making such materials available to customers is a simple and effective way to show your value to them. In addition, it can help convince new leads and turn them into paying customers.
3. Offer an instant form of value addition upon signup
One way to quickly convince customers of your value is to provide them with something tangible very early on in your relationship. Also known as instant or immediate value, this helps convince customers in the initial stages of their journey that they’ve made the right choice. It represents something they gain or unlock as soon as they become subscribers. This could be:
- A one-on-one consulting session
- A fresh industry guide or report
- An actionable cheat sheet
- A trial, demo, or free plan that actually brings in value
Example of a report that can be sent to customers upon signup to provide instant value addition.
However, remember your customers had different goals in mind when they started their relationship with you. So keep your focus on delivering those outcomes.
4. Use product analytics and train customers to see the value themselves
Having your own reporting and analytics tool inside the product is a surefire way to communicate value to your customers. But communicating is only the start. Here’s what you need to do to really drive the point home:
- Showcase the reporting tool during onboarding. Show customers your reporting capabilities. They’ll then know they can check their performance at any time and see how you value additions for themselves.
- Ensure account setup during implementation. Showing the feature is not enough. You need to check that customers are getting correct data, or they might believe false numbers and churn. You can solve this during the implementation phase - either by helping customers manually or showing them how to optimise their setup.
- Train customers to use your analytics and reporting tools on their own. A good portion of customers won’t understand your metrics right off the bat, so you need to explain those to them. Moreover, you should effectively teach them how to use your analytics since it might not be as intuitive as you think, depending on your niche and audience persona. This can also be done manually or through product tour software.
5. Take a personal interest in their business and outcomes
When you’re dealing with complex products, customer outcomes, or use cases, a high-touch engagement model is a necessity. But even at that point, you can try to go beyond what’s expected and genuinely take an interest in your customers and their desired outcomes. To do that right:
- Hold very high-touch meetings. Sit down with them and dive straight into the pressing issues your customers face. The meetings in and of themselves can become a way to add value.
- Add your higher-ups to the calls. Having a quick touchpoint with the CEO can make customers feel extra special.
- Send thank you messages from the CEO. In the same vein as the previous point, you can prepare some thoughtful “thank you for your business” messages or ask your CEO to write one and then send those out via email or chat. The key to making them valuable is to focus on specifics and give actionable advice directly responding to account issues.
Your customers will appreciate you taking more time than usual to understand their business and goals.
Your customers will appreciate you taking more time than usual to understand their business and goals. If you’re concerned about the costs - you can reframe those as part of your customer/audience research and factor it into your COGS, as you’re essentially offering a consultancy service on top of your already existing products or services.
6. Show your value as an account by solving customer issues proactively
While messages and meetings can be fantastic for keeping your efforts orderly and in sync with customers, CSMs should also try to be proactive in customer interactions. That means using a customer success platform to find and predict moments when customers need assistance and then stepping in to help them - solving their issues, if possible.
Customers will be pleasantly surprised by your attention to detail as long as you don’t overdo it. To avoid that, stay focused on customer goals in your interactions, closely monitor customer metrics and health scores, and use common sense to gauge the appropriate reachout frequency.
7. Offer actionable value as early as possible
The quicker you show value, the more attentive and receptive your customers will be to it, understanding early on that you’re there to help them. You can use TTV to measure how well you’re doing at value addition.
The quicker you show value, the more attentive and receptive your customers will be to it.
Time to value measures the time it takes customers to achieve the value they expect from a product or service. Employing tactics to lower TTV is the easiest way to ensure your clients get to see the value your business provides:
- Ask for, learn, and understand customer outcomes. Every client has a goal in their business relationship with you. Take the time to understand those goals and do your best - with the help of the CS team - to facilitate those goals.
- Look for A-ha moments tied to customer outcomes and then implement tactics (such as product tours or implementation calls) that guide customers towards them.
- Use your customer success platform to monitor customer goals on a regular basis and step in whenever you see they need assistance in a proactive manner.
Once you’re done, go back and inform customers of the help you’ve provided; otherwise, it might go unnoticed.
8. Share proof of your Success on channels that customers watch
One of the simplest ways to showcase the value you provide to your customers is through testimonials, reviews, and other forms of social proof. The process goes as follows:
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on platforms such as G2, Capterra, and other similar ones.
- Ask for testimonials from your top accounts. Real opinions from real users will always be more convincing than whatever your marketing team can come up with.
- Create case studies. Use your best-fit customers to showcase how you’ve helped them in a data-driven and repeatable way. Then, when a client sees the case study, they’ll understand the sort of value you can provide and reach out if they need similar help.
- Share social proof in places where you know customers will see it. Think social channels, in-product messages, product notifications, email messages, website pages, blog articles, and more.
Social proof may be more of a marketing tool, but pointing it out to existing customers will make them more aware of your contributions and value additions.
In an increasingly competitive SaaS world, proving the value of your products and services is how you stand out as a helping hand to customers drowning in an ocean of mediocre software.
We’re surrounded by subscriptions - so you need to ask yourself: what makes mine so special? Why would people add another subscription just for me? If you can answer these questions with some hard proof and data from your value realization efforts, then you know you’re on the right track
Philipp Wolf is the CEO of Custify, a customer success software platform for SaaS businesses. During high school, Philipp started working at Avira where he successfully built and led various teams with his hands-on approach. After seeing how companies spend big money getting...