Get your product and customer success teams on the same page to improve net retention

It’s easy to say things like “We’re customer obsessed,” but statements like that are hard to actually execute. In many companies, the product and customer success teams are separate entities, and when they don’t work together, there will arise a dynamic that can cause all sorts of problems for the customer, which can lead to dissatisfaction and churn.

Most companies can’t afford these issues in an economic downturn. Protecting and growing your existing customer base is the most cost-efficient and expedient path to success for both you and your customers. At a time when customers are slowing down, if not halting, their adoption of new initiatives, helping them achieve more from their existing investments is a winning formula for growth.

Combining the product and customer success functions into a customer experience-focused (dare I say, obsessed) team is the best path forward for SaaS companies looking to nurture happy customers, build better products and generate more revenue from existing customers.

Here’s just one example of how a siloed team approach can go wrong. In some companies, the customer may face a dozen hand-offs between signing the contract and getting to their implementation. At one of my previous companies, there were 14 hand-offs between different functional groups, including sales, onboarding, customer support, professional services and account managers.

Today, customers can cancel at any time, so you must earn your seat at the table with your customer every single day, and there’s no room for any missteps.

That many hand-offs creates a big margin for error in the customer experience — not to mention a lack of ownership when something goes wrong. Most importantly, you miss out on valuable insights into how your products and customer experiences can improve, leaving your customers wondering just how much you are invested in their success when they are thinking critically about their most important vendors.

This example and many other anecdotes from the field show that separate customer success and product teams create misaligned incentives between groups. Here are a few other reasons why and how you should unite forces into a single customer experience team.

The why: Customers really just want to talk about your product

Customers buy your product because they believe in your vision, your point of view on solving problems they have, the capabilities of your technology and the promises you make for the future. Now you have to deliver on these expectations.

For modern SaaS companies, “landing” the customer is just the first step, but it wasn’t always that way. In the past, perpetual license companies captured the lion’s share of their total revenue up front when the contract was signed. Maintenance revenue was nice to have, but it was peanuts compared to the initial contract value. As a result, there wasn’t much risk over the lifetime of the customer. As a result, product teams found themselves largely disconnected from customers and often relied on external research or second-hand information on what customers needed instead of actual customer feedback.