In the past five to seven years, the world has witnessed a massive explosion in terms of the growth of SaaS (Software as a Service) industry. As we know, the benefits of using a SaaS product are manifold – cost-effectiveness, scalability, security, flexibility, and simplicity. As a result, individuals and organizations have increasingly started investing in SaaS products.
As the below graph suggests, the SaaS industry is predicted to be worth around 132 billion U.S. dollars in the global market by the end of 2020. Another study shows that nearly 73% of the organizations will be purely running on SaaS applications by the end of 2020. This clearly shows that the demand for SaaS products is massively increasing, resulting in the industry expanding manifold.
Now, if you are running a Saas product, what would give it a competitive edge over the others available in the market? Ideally, your product must offer all the necessary features and functionalities that your users demand and need. However, realistically, this might not be feasible. Then, how do you ensure that any person or organization invests in your product and becomes a loyal customer? The answer is not very difficult – by building and delivering a product that customers love!
It is but obvious that you cannot please all customers with one single product. Being a part of a SaaS organization myself, I have seen that no two clients are the same – they all have diverse requirements, demands, and customers. I am pretty sure that even the most successful SaaS companies, such as Dropbox and SalesForce, still receive hundreds of feature requests. But, that doesn’t make them any less loved. Do you know why? Because they have always put themselves in their customers’ shoes. In other words, they have worked meticulously on their customer journey mapping right from the very beginning.
Today, I would be sharing tips for getting the customer journey mapping right so that your organization too can build a product that everyone loves.
But before I start, it is important to have a clear understanding of the keywords – touchpoints, interactions, and engagements.
Source: Hacker Noon
As described in the image above, a touchpoint is an instance when a customer is exposed to your brand. It could be by means of an advertisement, a cold email, or a social media post. An interaction is a two-way communication between the customer and your organization. This could include a website visit or a comment on a social media post. Finally, an engagement is a promise by the customer to act in favor of your brand, such as a demo request or a call to the sales representative.
Here are a few steps that you can follow to get the customer journey mapping right for your SaaS product.
1. Identify who your customer is
The first step to laying a strong foundation for building a great SaaS product is by identifying who would use the product – the customer. Start by defining the buyer persona. Include information such as personal demographics (age, education and career), goals they wish to achieve as an individual or in their job role and the challenges that they face. For instance, ClearVoice, a cloud-based content marketing platform, identified a Mr. John Johnson, who is a Marketing Manager, as their buyer persona.
This helped them in understanding Mr. Johnson’s needs, desires and problems, and strategizing how he could be compelled to interact and engage with their brand.
2. Identify the pain point your product is trying to solve
The purpose of an individual or an organization to invest in a SaaS product is to make their lives easy by letting the product execute and manage a certain task. It is important for SaaS businesses to be crystal clear about the problem they are addressing.
For instance, do you know how Drew Houston conceived the idea of Dropbox? He repeatedly forgot to carry a USB flash drive when he was studying at MIT. Even the file hosting services that were then available were either faulty or complex. He was sure that thousands of other students faced the same issue and wanted to solve that, once and for all. Therefore, he created a cloud-based file synchronization software, that the users could use to store, share, access and update the same files on any device. Having successfully addressed this pain point, Drew Houston’s Dropbox currently is used by over 500 million registered customers across the globe.
3. Identify the touchpoints, moments of interaction, and engagement of the customer with your brand
Luckily, the touchpoints, moments of interaction, and engagement in the SaaS business are readily available.
Source: Hacker Noon
After identifying the touchpoints, the onus is on your marketing efforts, such as social media posts and ads, customer testimonials, word-of-mouth, and cold-emails, to make a lasting impression on your customers. Make sure that your audiences understand clearly how your product is going to make their lives better.
4. Make the interaction phase easy
Once your customers reach the interaction phase, it should not be painful for them to interact with your brand and its employees. To get this right, you could set up a dedicated team or an external user to help you enhance the experience that your customers have at the multiple interaction moments with your brand. Request the team to challenge all such transitions and report any issues that it encounters while moving from one customer-interaction phase to another.
5. Compel the customer to engage with your brand
At the last stage, you must ensure that your customer understands the value and benefits that he would receive in doing business with your brand. Further, he must also be aware of what he would miss out on if he decides not to engage with your organization. By weighing the pros against the cons, he can make an informed and empowered decision.
Now, for a clearer understanding, let me explain all the steps using a hypothetical situation.
For a customer experience management tool, I identify my ideal customers to be the C-level executives and managers who are responsible for customer retention. These employees could be looking for help to reduce customer churn. So, I would like to solve this pain-point: the inability of the brand to retain its customers.
Let me now choose the touchpoint at which customers get exposed to my organization to be a social media post. Now, one of my followers, say Mr. Andrews, reads an article where I have shared some customer retention tips. Also, he identifies with it and finds it capable of bringing about a change in his own organization. So, he shares it on his Twitter feed and tags all his entrepreneur buddies from college. One of them is Mr. James, who is facing a similar issue with customer retention. He has tried all possible tactics – handing out discounts, collecting customer feedback, and training his employees. Yet, something seems missing.
Mr. James wants to check if I have any different and valuable tips to offer and, thus, visits my article. This is his first interaction with my brand.
Once he reads the article, he finds it insightful. He has a fair understanding now of what his brand is doing wrong and what he needs to do in order to right the wrong. This builds his faith in my blog and compels him to signup for my newsletter to keep receiving such tips in the future. That is his first engagement with my brand. And when he finds an article that he likes, he circulates it in his social network.
During this entire journey of Mr. James with my blog, how do I ensure he has a great experience that my competitors can not offer? By making his journey easy, convenient, and differentiated.
When he first got exposed to my brand, he would not have come across my blog had I not made it easy for Mr. Andrews to share it on social media. I had to have the social share buttons at the right place on my article.
Also, I had to ensure that my article would be useful and provide value for both Mr. Andrews and Mr. James. Along with tips that every competing article provides, I added statistics and broke down the tips into a step-by-step process that any organization could easily implement. Additionally, I shared the most common mistakes that organizations might be making unwittingly and how they could correct those mistakes. I made the article very relatable and engaging for those readers who might be tackling with the problem my product promises to solve.
Mr. James also found the article so compelling that he even signed up for my weekly newsletter. To make it easier for him to receive more posts from me, I added an exit intent pop-up on the blog page that opens right before he is exiting my article. The sign-up process was a simple one-step process: Mr. James just puts his email ID and he’s done! It was not a cumbersome one asking him questions or more details.
Now it is up to me to ensure that he becomes a regular visitor to my blog. Once he signed up for the newsletter, I kept sending him content, weekly, with the know-hows and know-whys of customer retention, the tools to use, unique ideas for retention, and the need for him to focus on customer experience to increase customer retention.
I am sure that all these factors combined turned him into a fan of my articles and compelled him to spread the word in his network.
If I were to send him content other than customer retention, such as the most profitable companies around the world, he would have lost interest in my content. But if I send him a relevant and appropriate article about how the top profitable companies ensured high customer retention, he would find it very useful.
Thus, for SaaS companies to make their customers love their product, they need to ensure that they have done the customer journey mapping right.