renewal journey

Don’t tell your sales team this, but getting a new customer is only half the battle. Often much less. 

If you’re in customer success or on a product team, you know the majority of revenue for a SaaS company comes from keeping those customers around for the long haul.

The first step to that goal? Creating a detailed map of the subscription journey — from onboarding to renewal.

Step 1: Onboarding new customers

A customer’s decision to renew or cancel starts to come together from Day 1. Onboarding is a critical moment in the customer journey. If everything goes as planned, the new user comes away with all the information they need to get the most out of your service. 

On the other hand, a poor onboarding process will leave customers with a slew of unanswered questions, forcing them to figure things out on their own.

We don’t need to tell you that it’s easier to keep a happy customer satisfied than smooth over bad experiences. By the time customer success teams have a chance to intervene, users could aleadly be looking at their other options.

Be honest about your onboarding strategy. A lot of companies believe they’re delivering the goods: 69% of UserIQ webinar participants reported scoring early onboarding wins

How can you be sure, though? 

Feature adoption rates are a big reference point for measuring onboarding success. You can also go back and review conversations your sales team had with customers before they joined. What tools were they most excited about using? Have those customers taken advantage of those same features since the start of service? If not, that’s a big red flag that something went wrong during onboarding.

Step 2: Continuing engagement and support

The day-to-day struggle to continually engage and support customers is where the rubber really meets the road with customer success.

What’s the best way to go about building strong relationships that lead to long-term retention (not to mention plenty of upsell and cross-sell opportunities)?

It’s all in the data. That’s not some big secret. Every customer success team pores over volumes of user data to understand customer sentiment and anticipate their behavior.

A more accurate suggestion would be that it’s all in the right combination of the right data. 

Go-to sentiment indicators like health scores and help desk tickets may give you misleading info on their own. It’s reasonable to assume that zero tickets means everything’s running smoothly. But the customer could actually be so disengaged that they aren’t invested in fixing the issues they encounter.

Recognizing the signs of poor customer sentiment (minimal user activity, bad NPS scores, low feature adoption and usage, etc.) earlier could have helped turn the tide. Combine objective and subjective insights if you want to get a complete view of every customer, including the silent passives who won’t say anything at all.

Step 3: Reeling back in churned customers

Some amount of customer churn is inevitable. By some counts, you can expect to see 6-8% of your users leave — and that’s if you’re going by industry averages.

The thing is, though, your relationship with the customer shouldn’t end when they drop your service. You can win back a significant number of churned customers by zeroing on their reasons for leaving and showing them you can deliver the exact experience they want.

Clearly, if someone canceled, then they never really realized the value of the platform. The good news is it’s never too late to help customers experience that “aha moment” where everything comes together.

Mapping out the customer journey — in all of its different permutations — gives you the visibility you need to understand what sets your renewals apart from the cancellations. The decision to either stay or go are molded through every interaction and experience. If you can see that clearly, then you can start refining the user journey to lead more customers toward renewal.