A Short Guide to Customer Experience Optimization For SaaS

As a SaaS owner or product marketer, you definitely know that success is highly dependent on good customer experience optimization. After all, customer success is directly tied to customer lifetime value and feature adoption which makes it even more important to keep the customer’s experience positive.

If you want to streamline the customer journey and help your users achieve their business goals then read on. We’re going to go over the importance of customer experience optimization, which metrics you should be keeping an eye on, and how you can optimize the user journey to make customers happy.

Let’s dive deep in!

TL;DR

  • Studies show that 56% of customers are ready to pay more for a better customer experience
  • The customer experience in the early stages is most crucial since it has the highest churn potential for new customers.
  • Customer experience optimization boosts satisfaction, reduces churn, and increases your bottom line.
  • Customer experience optimization can drive customer expansion and referral traffic from power users.
  • The five experience optimization metrics you should be tracking are NPS, CSAT, churn rate, retention rate, and LTV.
  • You can use data from NPS surveys to optimize customer experience measures by pinpointing the most pressing issues.
  • Understanding what your customers need is the first step to optimizing the customer experience.
  • Every individual interaction from signup to AHA moment can contribute to customer experience optimization.
  • Sharing insights from customer experience optimization campaigns can help your team tailor the business’s online presence and social media pages to the goals of its online market.
  • Tailoring landing pages to the feedback from your customer experience optimization campaign can lead to more revenue and faster user growth.
  • Tracking analytics across your customers’ journey can help identify high-friction points.
  • Adding a self-service support model with relevant content could reduce the number of tickets while improving the customer experience.
  • Segmenting customers by their NPS feedback can make contextual onboarding a lot easier.
  • Churn surveys can get valuable information from customers who are leaving or even change their minds at the last minute.
  • A bad customer experience is often caused by friction, unintuitive interfaces, the lack of in-app guidance, or a combination of these factors.

What is customer experience optimization?

Customer experience optimization — sometimes referred to as CXO or EXO — describes a process where you optimize your customer experience throughout all customer touchpoints and interactions. Analyzing customer data can play a big role in optimizing customer experiences as well.

Why is customer experience optimization important?

A 2021 Bloomreach study found that 56% of customers are willing to pay more if they get a better customer experience. It also found that they wouldn’t buy from the same business again if they had a poor customer experience.

This just goes to show that a customer’s perception of your business can make or break brand loyalty. It’s clear that companies have been catching on to the importance of experience optimization considering they ranked it as their top priority — beating out product and pricing!

Customer experience priorities
Source: SuperOffice

In summary, an optimized customer experience can increase the ratio of happy customers, raise the average order value, and give you a competitive advantage when it comes to customer retention. The importance is further amplified for SaaS businesses that rely on subscriptions.

What are the benefits of a good customer experience?

In addition to keeping customers happy and driving repeat purchases, there are a few other benefits that experience optimization can yield:

  • Subscription upgrades that drive expansion revenue.
  • Word of mouth traffic hastens user growth through more referrals.
  • Drives loyalty and retention

How to measure customer experience?

If you want to remain effective at the ongoing process of experience optimization, it’s essential that you’re able to measure the customer experience accurately. The most reliable way to do this is by watching specific KPIs and metrics.

Here are the top five that you should keep a very close eye on.

Key metrics to track for customer experience optimization

Customer experience KPIs
Source: Lumoa

This infographic from Lumoa breaks down the top metrics for measuring a great customer experience. Familiarizing yourself with them can help you prioritize when you track metrics or analyze data.

In a nutshell, here are the 5 key customer experience metrics that you should monitor constantly.

  • Net promoter score
  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Customer churn rate
  • Trial to paid conversion rate
  • Customer effort score

Net promoter score

The net promoter score, or, NPS is a metric that tracks user sentiment for your product. It is done by asking them how likely they would be to refer your product to a friend on a scale of zero to 10 — with the logic being that they would only recommend a product that they like.

Userpilot NPS survey
NPS survey created with Userpilot

This makes the NPS metric a great way to deliver relevant data to your product marketing team so they can continue to identify areas that could contribute to a great customer experience. Put simply tracking NPS trends over time can drive long-term growth for your SaaS.

Calculate NPS score Userpilot
NPS calculation

To calculate your net promoter score, all you have to do is deduct detractors (those who respond with six or lower) from your promoters (those who responded with 9–10). Users with an NPS score of 7–8 are considered passives and don’t affect the calculation.

Customer satisfaction score

The CSAT score is widely considered one of the seven essential customer success KPIs. To benchmark your CSAT score, you need to ask customers how they would rate their overall satisfaction with your product on a scale from one to five — or even one to seven like HubSpot.

CSAT survey by Hubspot

Once the data is in, you can take the percentage of respondents who answer with four or higher to get your CSAT score. If you improve customer satisfaction, you should see a noticeable rise in the CSAT score since a larger percentage of customers will respond positively.

Customer churn rate

The customer churn metric tracks how many customers you lose throughout a specific period of time. Regularly calculating your churn rate and collecting customer feedback is an essential part of proactively preventing additional user churn in the future.

Customer churn rate formula Userpilot
Customer churn calculation

To calculate your churn rate, you need to divide the number of lost periods by the number of customers at the start of the period then multiply the result by 100. This will give you your churn rate and serve as a baseline before you take measures to optimize customer experience metrics.

Trial to paid conversion rate

Your trial to paid conversion rate is the percentage of users that become paying customers after their free trial period ends. A high ratio of trial users converting indicates a positive customer experience since their initial interactions with the product drove them to take their credit cards out.

SaaS free trial conversion rate
Free trial conversion rate calculation

To calculate the conversion rate from free trials, you need to take the number of trial users who became paid users by the total number of trial users in the same period then multiply that figure by 100. So if 90 trial users out of 500 converted then the calculation would be:

90/500 x 100 = an 18% trial to paid conversion rate.

Various factors like trial length can have an impact on your SaaS conversion rate but, in general, it should range from 25% to 60%. It’s worth noting that paid trials tend to have higher conversion rates but they don’t generate as many signups.

Customer effort score

The customer effort score or CES is a metric that tracks the level of effort required for customers to interact with your business. Measuring your CES over time can help you spot past interactions that increase friction so you can streamline those areas of your product.

Customer effort score SaaS
CES calculation

As friction affects all your customers, you really need to draw data from the entire customer base when measuring CES scores. To get your customer effort score, survey customers on a seven-point scale to see how much effort they put in when interacting with your product.

After getting the responses, divide the number of ratings scoring 5–7 by the total number of responses then multiply it by a hundred. This will give you your customer effort score which can range from 0–100. If 110 out of 200 customers surveyed rate your product a 5–7 your CES score is 55 out of 100.

Scores in the 50s or lower are considered ideal for a SaaS business.

6 tips to optimize the customer experience

When it comes to customer experience optimization, it’s crucial that you have a proper game plan in place. The best way to get your strategy charted out would be to combine various tactics, so here are six tips that you can implement:

  1. Understand what your customers need
  2. Map out the customer’s journey
  3. Use customer journey analytics to remove friction points
  4. Provide in-app self-service support to reduce wait times
  5. Use NPS surveys to collect feedback and act on user sentiment

Understand what your customers need

If you don’t understand what our customers need then you can’t hope to understand customer experience optimization. Your customer service team and product developers should be working overtime to gather customer feedback during EXO campaigns.

A few questions you could ask customers when trying to optimize your customer experience include:

  • Why do they need the product?
  • What are their main pain points?
  • What’s the first problem they want to solve with the product?
  • How motivated are they to solve their problem?
  • How did they feel when they first interacted with the product?
  • When did the product first prove that it can meet or exceed their goals?
  • When did they first decide to pay for the product and why?
  • When did they decide to keep paying for the product and why?
  • When did they decide to stop paying for the product and why?

Running user feedback surveys can help you get answers to these questions but it’s not the only path towards obtaining such invaluable insights. You could also read product reviews, conduct interviews, run beta tests, and watch user sessions with a tool like Hotjar.

Map out the customer’s journey

To take a truly comprehensive approach to experience optimization, you need to have a clear idea of the user journey. This is why user journey mapping should lie at the heart of every customer experience optimization campaign.

User journey stages
User journey stages

From the very moment that the customer experience begins, you need to be proactively working on meeting customer expectations. That being the case, you can use the user journey map as a guide that will show you how to create a positive and personalized experience for every customer.

It will also make it easier for your employees to keep touchpoints relevant to the goals of your user — whether they’re crafting copy for a landing page, managing marketing channels, or posting on social media platforms. Personalizing every touchpoint turns new customers into happy customers.

For Userpilot and many SaaS companies, the map looks something like this:

Userpilot user journey map
User adoption flywheel

Use customer journey analytics to remove friction points

At every point between the initial purchase and the AHA moment, there are opportunities to improve the customer experience by reducing friction. If you want to identify high-friction areas, all you have to do is look at your customer journey analytics.

Certain parts of the journey will have a below-average conversion rate, indicating that customers are experiencing friction or pain when going through that specific stage. Upon isolating these points of the journey, you can start digging deeper to find and address the cause of friction.

One example would be a signup flow with too many fields and a mandatory email confirmation before they can actually start using the app. People are too busy to jump through hoops when using a new product which is why frictionless signup flows are becoming increasingly popular.

Other customer experience management tactics like in-app experiences and contextual email automation can also help users stay on the right path. As a general rule of thumb, friction should be lowest at the start of the journey since that’s when customers are most likely to churn.

Provide in-app self-service support to reduce wait times

American Express’ 2017 Customer Service Barometer found that 60% of American consumers prefer self-service support options over traditional customer service channels. Furthermore, a survey by Coleman Parkes found that adding a self-service knowledge base can increase retention rates by 85%.

By providing a self-service path for customers, you’ll give them the ability to solve their own problems instead of waiting in a live chat queue or on hold. This will even have the added bonus of making them more familiar with the product since they regularly self-solve upon running into an issue.

In addition to improving the customer experience, a self-service software model also benefits your employees. Instead of answering the same questions over and over again, your support agents will be able to focus their time and energy on more complex cases that actually require their attention.

There are many approaches you can take when implementing a self-service system. Chatbots, FAQs, and interactive product walkthroughs are a few methods you could consider. Regardless of which approach you take, you’re sure to see a sharp reduction in the volume of support tickets.

Wanna build an in-app help center without having to code? Get a Userpilot demo and see how!

Use NPS surveys to collect feedback and act on user sentiment

Asking customers for feedback on your product is really a win-win situation since you get valuable information while users get an opportunity to voice their concerns. NPS surveys are usually the best place to look since the explanation on why they gave a certain score can shed light on many issues.

While taking criticism is never easy, you should go through the feedback from your detractors thoroughly since their insights can be more valuable than the praises sung by promoters.

You can also segment customers by their NPS feedback since personalized interactions can go a long way in making your users feel heard. Here’s an in-app NPS survey that we made with Userpilot.

in-app NPS survey Userpilot
Find out how you can implement in-app surveys without writing a single line of code by speaking with one of our product specialists!

Supplementing your NPS surveys with a feature survey could also help since you’ll have a holistic view of the elements that are impacting the customer experience. You can even take this a step further with user testing of upcoming features before you launch them.

Use churn surveys to improve customer retention

Churn surveys — also called cancellation surveys, exit surveys, and customer loss surveys — are a subset of microsurveys that ask users a question(s) after they cancel their subscription or downgrade their plan.

Most churn surveys have a long list of questions sent to the user via email after they’ve churned. That said, this is actually a suboptimal approach in the context of SaaS. Instead, you should try using in-app churn surveys that pop up right after the user clicks the cancellation button.

This increases the odds that they’ll actually complete the survey rather than miss the email or straight out ignore it. Believe it or not, in-app churn surveys can even change some users’ minds in the nick of time.

You can take the opportunity to remind them about the features they’ll be missing out on if they cancel and the user data that will be lost forever. You could also offer a “pause my account” option to increase the odds that they resume the subscription at a later date.

MailChimp is a great example of how in-app churn surveys with a pause button can reduce churn.

MailChimp pause subscription churn survey
MailChimp pause subscription churn survey

Regardless of what your churn survey says, the in-app delivery is sure to increase its efficacy. In a perfect world, you’d be able to optimize every user’s customer experience before they churn. Reality is a bit harsher so we should at least try to get as much key feedback out of the users who leave.

Conclusion

As you can see, experience optimization doesn’t have to feel like rocket science. The surefire way to optimize your customer experience is to listen to your users and identify trends in customer data. Putting the customers first can work wonders for your business.

Great customer experience can drive more sales, boost conversions, encourage users to try new features, and ultimately increase revenue for the company.

Ready to prevent a bad customer experience and focus on the most important touchpoints? Grab a free Userpilot demo to get started!

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Userpilot Team

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