Finding Your "True North" Moment
Adam Joseph, Founder, CustomerSuccessManager.com
At a recent Customer Success conference in London one of the speakers discussed their organisation’s “True North” moment. Although I had never heard of the specific term, it soon become clear it was describing something that I had contemplated on several occasions throughout my career in Customer Success – at what point do your users become long-term adopters? The answer to this question is your “True North” moment.
For example, Facebook determine their "True North" moment to be when a new user connects with 7 people within the first two weeks. At Twitter, it's when a new user follows 30 accounts. At both points, both Facebook and Twitter believe that they will have “users for life”. The next logical question is what is your organisation’s “True North” moment and if you don’t know, how do you figure it out?
1. Get the Fundamentals Done Right
If you don’t have the foundations in place to get your customers off to the best possible start, then the “True North” becomes almost meaningless. Failure to do this will lead to prolonged launches, poor customer experience, increased frustration (both internally and externally) and a higher probability of downgrades and ultimately, churn.
The key fundamental aspects would include (but not limited to):
2. Use your Customer Metrics
What does a “Successful Customer” look like? Although each of us may have our own subjective response to this question based on our previous experiences, it is vital to look at what your customer metrics are telling you.
For example, what does your usage data tell you about the customers who renew year after year verses those that churn or downgrade after their initial contract period? Drilling into these metrics should help identify some key usage patterns. Naturally, these data models should also consider critical external factors that will impact their usage of your solutions (e.g. the role/department of your user base, seasonal considerations, etc.) and what end-results that they are expecting (e.g. generating a pipeline of opportunities, sending out Marketing campaigns, etc.).
3. Listen to your Customers
As mentioned above, understanding the value that your customers achieve by using your solutions is critical to finding the “True North” moment. Although analysing your usage metrics is an important step, it is even more accurate if you also consider customer feedback as well. There are several ways to collect this data both formally (e.g. surveys, Quarterly Business Reviews, customer forums, customer training sessions, etc.) and informally (e.g. phone calls, emails, etc.).
Essentially every customer interaction should be used as an opportunity to check in with your customer to properly understand:
Combining the knowledge gained by interacting with your customers alongside usage metrics should provide you with the required insight to be able to accurately calculate your “True North” moment.
4. Multiple “True Norths”
Once you have collected, correlated and understood the customer data, you should overlay this with how you segment your customer base. Although both Facebook and Twitter have identified their one “True North” moment, for other SAAS businesses it needs to be more nuanced to consider the range of variances of their customer base.
For example, the value that a small B2C (Business to Consumer) retailer expects from your solution is going to vastly different from what a B2B (Business to Business) Professional Services firm requires. It is for this reason you should consider creating multiple “True North” moments which are focussed on each of your key customer segments.
5.Constantly Update and Refresh
Nothing stays the same for long (especially in the SAAS world), everything moves quickly and is in a state of continual flux. Just consider the types of changes that will likely happen in an average year within your business:
When you also consider that your customers will also likely be experiencing the same levels of changes it is becoming ever harder to stay close. Given this, you have a stark choice; adapt to your customers’ needs or become irrelevant and be left behind as they sign a contract with your competitor(s). Continually review your “True North” moment(s) and make the necessary changes to ensure that it continues to be relevant and that you truly capture the moment at which your solution truly becomes the “can’t live without” and not the “nice to have”.