17 SaaS Customer Success Best Practices to Improve Customer Retention

Userpilot Team
13 min readApr 22, 2024

In SaaS, it’s advised to follow customer success best practices to ensure that users achieve their desired outcomes with your product and become loyal advocates for your brand.

But what strategies work?

In this article, we’ll share 17 best practices that you can implement today to increase retention, revenue, and engagement.

TL;DR

  • Customer success builds long-lasting relationships, increases customer retention, lifetime value, and advocacy, and informs product development.
  • Teams of customer success are responsible for building playbooks, managing churn, streamlining onboarding, enhancing customer experiences, driving account expansion, and gathering feedback.
  • 17 customer success best practices you can apply in any SaaS include:
  1. Tailoring the onboarding experience using customer data to increase retention and success.
  2. Sending email sequences post-sign-up to guide customers through the product.
  3. Use progressive disclosure to avoid overwhelming users.
  4. Offering personalized demos to show the product’s value and encourage deeper engagement.
  5. Implementing an onboarding checklist to help users progress through the customer journey.
  6. Introducing secondary features to exceed expectations and customer satisfaction.
  7. Incorporating gamification like badges and progress bars to make the user experience more engaging.
  8. Using targeted in-app messages to guide users through key features effectively.
  9. Providing educational content to keep users engaged and informed.
  10. Building an in-app knowledge base to address common issues and reduce user friction.
  11. Triggering upsells strategically based on user engagement and value addition.
  12. Collecting feature requests to align product development with user needs.
  13. Announcing new features contextually to specific user segments to increase their adoption.
  14. Sending in-app surveys to gather relevant feedback and iterate your strategy.
  15. Encouraging referrals and reviews to expand word-of-mouth.
  16. Tracking user behavior to identify and address potential churn risks.
  17. Triggering exit surveys to understand reasons behind churn and improve customer experience.
  • Key metrics to measure the impact of your customer success strategy include LTV, CSAT, NPS, churn rate, and retention rate.
  • The best customer success tools include Userpilot, ChurnZero, and Gainsight.
  • Implement the customer success best practices with Userpilot code-free. Book a demo to give it a try.

What is customer success?

Customer success is the practice of ensuring customers get their desired outcome when using your SaaS.

It involves understanding your customers’ needs, goals, and challenges — as well as providing them with the right solutions, support, and guidance to help them succeed.

Why is customer success important for SaaS?

Customer success is essential for any SaaS business, as it provides opportunities to build long-lasting relationships with customers as they succeed with your product.

This leads to a great number of benefits, including:

  • More customer retention and less churn. Helping your customers achieve their desired outcomes reduces the likelihood of them switching to a competitor.
  • Increased customer lifetime value (LTV) and revenue. Delivering value to your customers throughout their journey creates more opportunities for upselling, cross-selling, and referrals.
  • Improved customer advocacy and word-of-mouth. By exceeding your customers’ expectations with a personalized product experience, they will be more likely to recommend your product to their peers, colleagues, and friends.

The role of your customer success team

In short, customer success teams are responsible for ensuring your customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product.

Doing this involves multiple roles, including:

  • Building and implementing a customer success playbook that can provide the best chances of success to users.
  • Managing churn and customer retention, making sure that users stay with the brand as much as possible.
  • Designing a frictionless onboarding process to ensure users can find value in the product as soon as possible.
  • Enhancing the customer experience to make it as smooth as possible.
  • Driving account expansion by identifying upselling opportunities in-app.
  • Collecting customer feedback through in-app surveys to understand customer’s sentiments about your product.

17 Customer success strategies & best practices to implement in your SaaS

Let’s explore 17 customer success strategies that can be implemented in SaaS:

1. Personalize customer onboarding process based on customer data

Providing a personalized onboarding experience opens the door to driving more customer success and increasing customer retention.

The best way to do it is by segmenting your user base and creating a relevant onboarding sequence for each.

segmentation customer success best practices
Segmenting new sign-ups with Userpilot.

For instance, you can use a welcome survey to gather information such as the user’s industry, their role within their organization, or their main motivation for using your product. Then craft an onboarding path that addresses their specific jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) and responsibilities.

welcome survey customer success best practices
Welcome survey example.

2. Add additional value to customers with onboarding emails

Onboarding emails are essential in nurturing a positive relationship with new users or customers by providing them with a structured introduction to your product or service.

For this, you can create an email sequence that triggers automatically after sign-up. You can take this as an opportunity to simply give a warm welcome to your users, or send emails that guide users through the product’s functionalities step by step.

onboarding email customer success best practices
Onboarding email from Todoist.

3. Use progressive disclosure in your product UX

Progressive disclosure in UX is about showing only the most essential elements upfront and providing access to additional features as needed.

It’s super helpful for customer success teams as it allows users to navigate the product without feeling overwhelmed.

To apply it, you have to design interfaces that intuitively expand to reveal deeper levels of navigation. Initial menu items should be broad, allowing users to drill down into more specific features without increasing their cognitive load.

progressive disclosure customer success best practices
Progressive disclosure example.

4. Increase customer lifetime value with personalized demos

Product demos are a great tool for customer success managers to help users realize the value of your product.

For instance, you could invite customers to schedule a live demo. Then show them how your product differs from the competition, address their job-to-be-done (JTBD) with personalized sessions, and train your users to use your app in real life.

personalize demos customer success best practices
Live demo invitation with Userpilot.

5. Use an onboarding checklist to help users progress through the customer journey

Adding an onboarding checklist helps users achieve the activation stage faster. It serves as a centralized hub where users can see all the necessary steps for getting started in one place.

To create an effective checklist:

  1. Add key tasks that lead to activation.
  2. Add a progress bar so users can know how much work is left for them.
onboarding checklist customer success best practices
Creating onboarding checklist with Userpilot.

6. Meet and exceed customer expectations

Secondary onboarding is essential to ensure customers can experience real success with your product.

That said, once your users have adopted the core features, you should keep introducing them to secondary features that can provide even more value, exceed their expectations, and increase customer delight.

secondary onboarding customer success best practices
Learn about secondary onboarding on this free webinar.

7. Increase customer engagement with gamification

With gamification, you can provide a more entertaining experience and create positive reinforcement to keep users engaged and achieve success with your product (i.e., an engagement loop).

gamification customer success best practices
Example of gamification.

For this, you can add elements such as badges, daily quests, progress bars, and levels for a more exciting onboarding experience — creating a positive loop in the user that makes their path to success more enjoyable.

8. Improve customer satisfaction score with in-app guidance

In-app guidance is a very engaging way to onboard users effectively. It helps users understand your product better and enhances their experience by encouraging exploration.

To use them, identify the features that are core to your product and align with your user’s jobs to be done. Then create small, concise messages to educate customers about each of these features. And finally, set them up to pop out when a customer starts engaging with said feature.

interactive walkthrough customer success best practices
Userpilot interactive walkthrough.

For example, instead of showing a generic product tour that users are likely to skip, you can implement an interactive walkthrough to guide users step-by-step with progressive onboarding.

9. Drive customer success efforts with customer education

Educating customers about your product is a constant, never-ending task. But when done well, it will keep users engaged with your app as they find success with it.

This can involve engaging existing users with educational content such as webinars, slideouts, or tutorials and triggering them when relevant.

education customer success best practices
Inviting users to register for a webinar with Userpilot.

10. Avoid customer frustration with self-service knowledge bases

A great opportunity to offer a top-notch customer experience is through an in-app resource center. It prevents users from leaving your app to solve their issues and experiencing friction.

To create an effective knowledge base:

  1. Identify common issues that make customers drop off and disengage.
  2. Survey your users, review your support tickets, and examine your usage data to see what’s causing friction and pushing customers away.
  3. Create help resources in different formats to directly tackle these challenges. It can include FAQs, tutorial videos, step-by-step guides, or help articles.
  4. Organize your resources in content modules so users can find resources that are relevant to them.
resource center customer success best practices
Creating a resource center with Userpilot.

11. Leverage upselling opportunities

When done well, adding more upgrade prompts can drive more sales and increase your customer lifetime value.

But, instead of bombarding users with upselling messages, monitor product usage and prompt users to upgrade their plan only when it adds value.

For example, for active users who use the AI feature frequently, you can trigger an upgrade prompt that offers a premium plan with unlimited AI credits:

upselling customer success best practices
Upselling messages with Userpilot.

12. Align product and customer success with feature requests

Collecting feature requests is a simple, yet effective way to align your product roadmap with your customer needs.

One passive way to do this is by adding a feature request widget so users can tell you how you could make the product more useful, engaging, and competitive (without any friction).

You can also send a feature request survey to tell what features are the most expected from regular users — just like in the screenshot below.

feature request customer success best practices
Feature request example.

13. Introduce new features contextually to improve feature adoption

Announcing new features encourages existing users to engage with them.

But to avoid annoying users, you should trigger them contextually on a segmented audience based on feature engagement, feature requests, or user personas.

new feature announcement
Example of how to introduce new features.

14. Continuously collect customer feedback and improve customer experience

The best way to improve customer success is by asking your existing users directly.

For this, segment your users and target in-app surveys such as CES (customer effort score), CSAT, and NPS surveys to understand their points of view.

This lets you collect feedback that’s relevant to their specific needs, iterate your customer success playbook, and close the feedback loop.

in app surveys
Creating in-app surveys with Userpilot.

15. Drive customer acquisition with word-of-mouth marketing

One way to acquire customers is to reward your existing users for writing reviews or bringing in referrals through word-of-mouth.

This can involve asking your most loyal users to write a G2 review.

But, you might as well set up a loyalty program where customers are rewarded for inviting teammates or writing a review, and those points can be exchanged for credits, free months, etc.

Review invitation
Inviting users to leave a review on G2.

16. Monitor in-app customer behavior to identify at-risk customers

Monitoring user behavior provides invaluable insights into which users are at risk of churn.

For this, you can use tools (like Userpilot) to measure product usage metrics like login frequency, feature utilization rate, and session duration.

So if there’s a drop in login frequency — for instance — you can segment these users and come up with a targeted re-engagement strategy to nurture them (think of personalized emails, video tutorials, or even one-on-one consultations when feasible).

user behavior
Tracking user behavior with Userpilot.

17. Survey churned customers to identify why they didn’t succeed

No matter how good your customer success strategy is, churn is inevitable.

But with a user offboarding process, you can learn why a customer leaves, improve the product experience for the other users, and even reach out to ex-customers once problems are fixed.

To do this, you can trigger a churn survey when the user hits “cancel.” Ask what went wrong and improve your service to get a step closer to building an effective customer success process.

churn surveys
Examples of churn surveys.

Key metrics to measure the impact of your customer success strategy

Now that you know the tactics, how do you know if your customer success efforts are working? How do you measure the impact of a SaaS customer success team and strategies?

Here are some of the most important metrics to track:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV): LTV calculates the total revenue a customer generates for your business over their entire relationship with you. Its formula involves multiplying the average monthly income per customer by the average customer lifespan in months and subtracting the average cost of acquiring and serving a customer.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT is a simple and direct way of asking your customers how satisfied your customers are with your product. It is usually measured by asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, where higher scores indicate higher satisfaction.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measures the overall sentiment that your user base has over your product. It’s calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
  • Churn rate: The rate at which customers are unsubscribing from your app. It’s calculated by dividing the number of lost customers by the total number of customers acquired during the same period.
  • Customer Retention Rate: Retention is the percentage of customers who stay with you over a given time. It can be calculated by dividing the number of customers at the end of a period by the number of customers at the beginning of the period and multiplying by 100.

Customer success tools

No matter what customer success strategy you wish to execute, you’ll need software to set them up, trigger them, and retrieve data.

So let’s go over the best customer success tools that require no coding skills:

Userpilot: All-in-one customer success software

Userpilot is a customer success platform that offers more than the ability to trigger in-app experiences. You can also create in-app surveys, track user behavior, and get access to advanced product analytics — everything to nurture product growth.

userpilot tool
Userpilot’s product analytics.

Here’s how Userpilot can help a dedicated customer success manager:

  • Get a deep user experience understanding with analytics charts such as funnels (to spot friction), trends (to understand how behavior changes), and paths (to draw the product journey of your users).
  • Use feature-tagging and event-tracking to analyze user behavior and identify friction points.
  • You can segment your users based on their data and personalize the customer experience.
  • Analyze feature usage with feature heatmaps to understand product adoption and which areas of your product bring value to your users.
  • A/B tests different in-app flows to see what kind of content generates more engagement.
  • Build an in-app resource center to offer self-service support 24/7.
  • Collect feedback for your research using a great variety of in-app surveys such as CSAT, CES, and NPS surveys.

There are three main plans: Starter ($249/mo), Growth ($749/mo), and Enterprise (custom pricing).

ChurnZero

ChurnZero is a customer success platform designed to help subscription-based businesses reduce churn and increase customer retention. It can provide real-time insights and proactive management tools to understand customer usage patterns, automate tasks, and engage with customers effectively.

churnzero
Churnzero dashboard.

It includes:

  • Real-time customer health scores.
  • Automated playbooks to trigger specific actions based on predefined customer behavior criteria.
  • In-app communications to send messages directly to users within your app.
  • Segmentation based on usage data, health scores, and more for targeted actions.
  • Detailed analytics tools to track trends, usage, and overall health of customer accounts.

Gainsight

Gainsight is a comprehensive customer success platform that helps companies drive engagement, expand revenue, and foster loyalty. It’s designed to integrate seamlessly with existing CRM systems so you can manage customer relationships effectively.

gainsight
Gainsight dashboard.

It includes:

  • Customizable metrics that provide immediate insights into customer satisfaction and risk.
  • Journey orchestrator to automate customer communications for various stages in the customer journey.
  • Advanced analytics tools that evaluate customer data to generate detailed reports and forecasts.
  • Tools to manage and analyze customer interactions across various touchpoints.
  • Revenue Optimization tools that leverage customer data to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities effectively.

Conclusion

For SaaS companies, retaining customers is as impactful (if not more impactful) than acquiring them.

That means following customer success best practices that keep your customers happy is essential for healthy growth and success.

So now that you know the best practices for achieving SaaS customer success, why not get a Userpilot demo to apply them without coding?

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Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com