— July 25, 2019
In the world of SaaS products, fine-tuning is a near constant endeavor. Every product goes through the process of checks and balances, and sometimes there are more downs than ups. Just because you have a ‘failing’ product doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up shop. Instead, this could be the perfect opportunity to revamp and refocus your go-to-market strategy.
If your product is struggling to keep up with industry demands, it’s time to seek help from the audience that is working with your product every single day: your customers.
If there are problems with your product, your go-to-market, or the value of your product, then your customers are likely to know about it. This audience is prime to help your team not only understand the problem better, but determine the best course forward. After all, they’re the ones closest to the problems and opportunities.
Let’s take a look at a few specific ways that your customers can actually help set your product on the right path to success:
#1: Ask for feedback – continually
Asking customers for direct feedback is par for the course for CSMs, but asking them to help solve direct issues isn’t as common. If your customers are the ones bringing up issues or are directly impacted by the holes in your product, ask them what they think could be done better. Talk about where they’re seeing the most value and where the product could be improved. This isn’t the time to mince words or skirt the issues at hand.
Be direct, transparent, and honest. Telling your customers what you’re trying to do (improve your product) and why you’re doing it (because you want to deliver more value) can help encourage both sides to be upfront and honest about the downfalls and the opportunities.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Why did you decide to partner with our company in the first place?
- What is it about our product/service that sets us apart from others?
- What is one thing that we need to do to create a better experience for you?
- How are we helping you reach your goals? How are we holding you back from your goals?
#2: Pay close attention to back-end metrics
Another way customers can indirectly help refocus a failing product is by paying particular attention to specific metrics. CSMs and product teams can look at customer metrics to determine exactly where the product is falling short, how customers are using the product, and what features are going untouched or unnoticed. This can be incredibly insightful for all departments because, in some cases, these areas of under-utilization can present untapped areas of potential.
Additionally, if your customers are seeing the same issues over and over with a single functionality component, it might be time for your product team to go back to the drawing board. This is also a great way to determine whether or not your sales, customer success, and product teams are sufficiently aligned.
If your sales team is heavily touting the value of a certain feature but no customers are actually using it (or if they are, it’s not delivering the promised value), it could be an internal messaging issue. If your product requires a complete rebrand or refocus, it’s these areas of customer insight that can help direct success.
Here are a few key metrics to pay close attention to:
- Product and feature usage
- Customer sentiment
- Customer advocacy
- Customer engagement
- Customer relationship
- Customer ROI
#3: Use beta solutions as a way to test new features
Often times, a product falling short of customer expectations is the perfect time to pivot into something new and innovative. If your company has loyal customers who are willing to work with you on a new idea, then you can develop a new beta solution with their issues in mind. If your team realized that the way your product is being used isn’t the best use of your platform, talk to a long-term, loyal customer about a new workflow or value proposition.
By allowing customers to test a beta, they have the ability to give feedback, they feel valued for having been asked to help test a new product before their peers, and they can see whether or not this new service product, feature, or service fits in with their current operations.
Another strategy is offering certain customers early releases of products. These should also be positioned as a ‘unique opportunity’ on a ‘limited basis’. After all, everyone likes to feel special, and signaling your customers out as top tier can help increase retention rates.
Working through a beta solution requires trust, transparency, and teamwork between a customer and CSM team. Instead of coming to the customer with a solution fully baked, they would be working directly with your team to plan, develop, and implement this solution. By working hand in hand, your team will earn their trust and respect for the long run.
The bottom line: Practice transparency and face issues head-on
Companies are often hesitant to bring up areas of contention or problems with customers because they don’t want to draw attention to their failings. Sorry to be the bearer of hard truth, but your customers have probably already noticed these issues.
By asking current customers for feedback, analyzing customer metrics for answers, or talking about new potential areas for growth, your team can actually help reverse any negative feelings or sentiments that your customers are feeling. Instead of sweeping issues under the rug and just hoping customers don’t bring them up, your team will have the upper hand by actually focusing on these areas.