By Mark Hennessy, Senior Director at ServiceSource
As a cloud vendor, you might find that winning a new customer can evoke the same feelings of warmth and pride that accompany the arrival of a new member of the family. In many respects, the two can be similar; you have the same feelings of responsibility and obligation that you get with the arrival of a new child, and the same desire to attend to their needs. But should the paternalistic (or even maternalistic) tendencies end there?
Absolutely not! For too many cloud vendors, the cutting of the proverbial umbilical chord is the signal for a parting of ways, with many customers left to their own devices to make their own way through their cloud journey. In fact, for the majority, the next time they will hear from their cloud vendor of choice after the initial sale has been agreed is when their contract comes up for renewal again. From the customer’s perspective, taking this call after such a prolonged period of non-communication can like an estranged parent they haven’t heard from in years trying to get in touch.
It’s clear that instead of being abandoned in this way, customer relationships are something that need to be cultivated over a number of years, and customer lifecycle management (CLM) is becoming increasingly important. With fixed-term contracts becoming a rarity, and more and more customers turning to SaaS, subscription-based models, customer churn is higher. All of which makes it vital to work with your customers in a way that engenders loyalty.
Here are my three tips to ‘raising’ cloud customers to be happy and healthy members of society, who will, perhaps more importantly, return every month to renew their subscriptions!
1. Education, education, education
Any new parent will tell you that it’s important to give your new arrival the right level of attention and, above all, education. The same is true for new customers. Be prepared to invest time and effort into building trust, by conducting regular follow-ups, and offering advice as to how customers can make the best use of your tools. Use of data analytics can be a great way of achieving this, and can give you the insight you need to be able to educate your customer as to what will work best for them.
2. Prepare yourself for the long haul
Developing any relationship, let alone one between a parent and a child, isn’t a short-term fix, and the same is true when it comes to cloud customers. There’s no point in only building a relationship for the short-term, and it’s important to check in regularly with your customers to find out what they need, and how you can help throughout your relationship with them. Only by nurturing the relationship over a long period of time will you be able to build the trust and confidence required to ensure loyalty.
3. Be prepared to take a step back
There comes a time with any child when the time comes for the parent to take a step back and leave it to its own devices. Just as smothering your offspring is not a healthy route for parents to take, so cloud vendors must be prepared to let go, when necessary and let their customers stand on their own two feet. Taking this step back, and allowing yourself to be more of a strategic partner is a long-term sign that you have built a successful relationship, and a sure sign that your customer values the relationship that you have worked so hard to cultivate.
Following these simple steps can play a significant role in improving the sucesss of your organisation. Building any kind of meaningful, long-term relationship can be a thankless task at the best of times, but in the new age of the subscription economy, it’s a philosophy that will reap its own rewards. Indeed, studies have shown that proper management of the CLM, combined with these tips, can increase the level of recurring cloud revenue by at least 15%. If you can use the tools you have at your disposal to ensure regular subscription renewals, then you’ll unlock the secret to building long-term customer engagement and loyalty. Just don’t expect to receive a card on either Mother’s or Father’s Day!