In today’s competitive software-as-a-service (SaaS) market, meeting customer expectation trends is the key to attracting and retaining more users in 2021 and beyond.

Delivering an outstanding customer experience (CX) along the entire buyer’s journey and at every touchpoint can help you exceed these expectations.

Let’s look at how software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies can create a customer experience that’ll help them differentiate their offerings, improve customer loyalty and reduce churn by addressing these customer expectation trends:

  • Customers have the power to switch
  • Customers expect a tailored brand experience
  • Customers want the latest and greatest
  • Customers expect interactions to be all about them
  • Customers are more protective about their data

5 Ways to Reduce Churn

As a company that offers software subscription-based services, your customers constantly evaluate whether they want to keep using your software from month to month. If your CX lags behind your competitors and fails to meet customer expectations, you stand to lose subscribers.

In the age of the customer, improving your CX is the best way to acquire and retain more business. Here’s how to meet the latest customer expectations:

Add Value Throughout the Customer Journey

As consumers realize they have the power to switch vendors and the barriers to do so have dropped sharply, SaaS companies can no longer try to retain subscribers by making it difficult to change providers.

Instead, entice users to stick around by delivering value every step of the way along the customer journey. Here’s how you can start building trust from the get-go and nurture relationships through the various customer lifecycle stages:

  • During the awareness stage, share valuable content such as whitepapers, how-to articles, industry reports, etc., to provide useful information to prospects researching your topic or category.
  • At the consideration stage, use live demos and case studies to show how your products can help your prospects. Provide presales support and consultations to help customers clarify their objectives and select the right tool that meets their needs.
  • During the decision stage, offer free trials to help prospects experience how your platform can help them achieve their desired outcomes. Be sure to design an onboarding process that demonstrates how your software delivers value.
  • At the retention stage, help users get the most value out of your program. For example, you can hold exclusive webinars to show customers how to implement the latest strategies or best practices with your software.
  • Don’t forget to cultivate advocacy. At this stage, the right strategy not only helps you deepen loyalty but gain referrals from happy customers. For example, you can implement a referral program or hold customer appreciation events.

Improve Your CX Based on Customer Feedback and Behaviors

Listening to your customers and updating your CX based on their input is one of the best ways to ensure you’re investing in improvements that address what’s most important to your clientele.

As part of your retention strategy, use phone calls, emails, surveys, testimonial requests and more to gauge customer satisfaction. Leverage social listening tools and online reviews to see what customers are saying and address comments promptly. This will not only help you rectify issues but show you care about your customers.

Be sure to let customers know they are being heard. Communicate how you’re improving your product based on their feedback. Also, share your product development roadmap regularly. Your communication should focus on how future updates are designed to meet user needs and improve CX.

Keep in mind that not all dissatisfied customers will publicize their opinions. You need to identify subscribers who are about to churn and find out why. For example, you can analyze user behaviors and reach out to profitable users demonstrating (in)actions that precede churning. Proactively reach out to them, gather their feedback and improve your CX to retain their business.

Provide Real-Time Customer Support and Interactions

People are accustomed to instant gratification. Customers expect their inquiries to be addressed in real-time through channels of their choice. As such, responsive communication plays an important role in delivering an outstanding CX that’ll improve retention.

You should offer real-time pre- and post-sales support through multiple channels, including live chat, messaging, phone, video calls, screen sharing and more. Implement an omnichannel customer service platform to deliver a seamless experience while enabling you to route inquiries to the right team members so customers can get the appropriate support right away.

Also, bolster live-agent support with a self-service portal where customers can find the information they need immediately, whenever they need it. Populate the portal with valuable and searchable content such as video training, tutorials, knowledge base, troubleshooting guide and frequently asked questions. Then, use artificial intelligence-powered chatbot technologies to direct users to the right content to minimize frustration.

Your onboarding process also should address the “instant gratification” component. For example, offer an interactive tutorial that guides users to accomplish specific tasks so they can experience the satisfaction of accomplishing a task and the benefits of using your platform. The more they understand how your software delivers value, the more likely they’ll keep using it.

Create a Highly Personalized User Experience

Customers expect brands to deliver a highly personalized experience tailored to their needs. With the right customer data management and customer relationships management systems and third-party data, you can leverage a wealth of information to create a highly relevant customer experience at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

For instance, you can use behavioral triggers to deliver the next piece of information or an appropriate call-to-action based on a prospect’s last interaction with your content. You also can deliver content and offers to new users based on their free trial progress and how they interact with your onboarding content.

You can further empower users and increase their engagement by letting them create a personalized experience on your platform. For example, allow users to customize the interface and create shortcuts for features that they use frequently. You can encourage them to fill out optional fields on their profiles, such as industry, interest, job title, how they use your software, etc., then use the data to inform how you deliver targeted content and recommend the most relevant features.

Using the right analytics tools and personalization technologies, you can adjust the CX based on real-time user interactions as well as behaviors and preferences. Use push notifications to share how-to tips on how customers can personalize their experience, highlight new features that are most helpful to them and remind them about updates that’ll help them improve outcomes.

Prioritize Customer Data Protection

Data breaches can tarnish your brand’s reputation, diminish customer trust and impact the CX of those affected. According to a study by PWC, 88% of people indicated the extent to which they’re willing to share personal information can be predicted by how much they trust a company. Meanwhile, 87% of them said they’ll take their business elsewhere if they don’t believe a company is handling their data responsibly.

The need for SaaS companies to deliver a personalized experience means you’re collecting, analyzing and processing a large amount of user data. Since customers expect companies to respect their privacy and protect their data, communication and transparency are key to building the trust you need to retain your customers.

Build trust and transparency by clearly stating how you’re collecting customer data and how you plan to apply it. This part is critical: Be sure to get explicit consent from customers to use their information. For instance, make it easy for customers to review your privacy policy, adjust their privacy settings and change their permissions without jumping through the hoops.

A Customer-Centric Approach Is Key to Increasing Loyalty

The new paradigm in which the customer holds the power is here to stay.

Customers now expect SaaS companies to constantly offer better products, services, pricing and customer experience to keep winning their businesses.

To reduce churn, increase customer loyalty, and differentiate your SaaS offering, you need to put customers front and center by shaping your CX according to the latest customer expectation trends. This is an iterative process: The moment you stop listening to your customers and acting on their feedback is the day you’d start falling behind your competition.