Given that there are more companies starting than there are mature SaaS businesses, it makes sense that most companies are more concerned with getting more customers than retaining those that don’t exist yet.
But what about those SaaS companies that already have product-market fit and have high churn, how do they keep customers subscribed to their SaaS business?
The first assessment is the Job To Be Done (JTBD)
Jobs To Be Done drives product decisions and reviewing the job that your product does is an assessment of how people use it, in this context.
It’s possible your SaaS product that doesn’t function well with a subscription model.
Imagine having an app that does financial reporting for clients. What if your clients use it for annual reporting instead of daily, weekly, or monthly? Perhaps you should change your model to a per/report price and then explore a different product that clients would use for more frequent reporting.
Another example may be that you’re trying to add features that your customers don’t need. CRM’s serve a great purpose, but when they try to tout themselves as a database for website activity, they always fall short of the mark. When you have a value proposition and start building features that don’t help create more perceived value for new customers and actual value for current customers, you’re working on the wrong features.
When you know that your services solves the job to be done, you’re on the right track.
Learn About Past & Present Customers
You’ll need to have a program in place to talk to your customers, typically standard email followups or customer-centric solutions like Intercom.
The majority of you will read this and say one of these things:
- “Yea, yea, yea. We know what our customers want.”
- “I look at our reviews and they look solid.”
- “We think _______________.”
I don’t want to hear any of them. If you’re not actively talking to your customers, both good and bad, then you’re just guessing. Successful companies are the ones that listen to customers and drill down on the ones that they’re building for.
Since churn is what you’re concerned with, you should be asking specific questions about their decision to go with your service and why they didn’t like the past solution.
- At what point did you start thinking about switching? (before you switched to us)
- How many free trials did you sign up for?
- Do you remember how long you tried them out for? 15 minutes? 1 hour? Several days?
- Have you researched any of our competitors since you started paying for our service?
You can adapt this line of questioning for current and past customers and continue the line of questioning as you uncover how they make decisions about solving their problem.
You want to make sure you know how they make these decisions, if this solution creates other needs for them, and to what degree you solve that problem.
Understand usage: what your customers don’t tell you
When you’re talking to customers, often you’ll see them try to help you build your product in a specific way or change your marketing based on their own opinion. It’s an interesting contradiction because they’re showing empathy and they want to help you build something great. In doing so, they’re actually compromising the integrity of the exercise, making it harder to process.
Compounding on this is the fact that they likely don’t know exactly what they want. The world would be much simpler if we all knew what we wanted. Adding features that some people want (or say they want) is not a good strategy to pursue. It might seem better to serve your customers by fulfilling feature requests, but you’re not solving the JTBD. And you’re not using data.
How do you do that? Identify the core functions of your product and measure how customers use them. What features do you best customers use? Do they use them on a regular basis?
What about your worst customers or your churned customers? At what point did they stop using the service? Was there a common breakpoint? Did they use the same features as your best customers?
Bringing it all together
Keeping customers subscribed and keeping churn low is hard. If you stay aligned with the job to be done, understand what motivates your customers to stay or churn, and understand them from the perspective of behavioral data, you’ll be in position to keep them and continue to grow your SaaS company.