As I wrote this, Kryterion was exhibiting at the biggest event in the world dedicated to the fast-growing, customer-success movement: the Pulse Conference.
For decades, the purchase of a product signaled the end of the customer relationship, with a warranty surviving as the sole post-sale link to the customer. When the warranty expired, the customer relationship often expired with it.
Today, many products and services are sold and purchased on a monthly subscription basis—think Netflix, Verizon, Pandora, business software, health-club memberships and more—where the purchase is just the beginning of the relationship.
In a subscription model, the business never stops working to win its customers. It must earn its keep every month. A customer-centric focus is essential for creating products that become essential to the customer rather than just nice to have.
Customer success is ultimately about loyalty.
Loyalty in the subscription world is measured by renewals. In fact, most SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses need to have at least two annual renewals just to recapture the upfront marketing and sales expense of finding, converting, closing and onboarding a customer.
Implementing a customer-success program, one with the goal of building customer loyalty and securing renewals, is expensive. But it’s far less expensive than the cost of landing brand new customers to replace the ones that don’t renew. Ultimately, SaaS and other subscription-based companies need both new customers and renewals to grow their installed user base.
Certification: The Renewal Secret
Here are 10 COMPELLING REASONS to use certification to amplify customer success, build loyalty, secure renewals and boost ROI :
- Certificants have skin in the game. They’ve invested time and money preparing for and taking your exam. Certification creates a bond with and commitment to your program as much for the exclusivity that it confers as for the deep personal benefits (e.g., pride, enhanced self-esteem, raises, and perks) it delivers.
- Certification rockets product adoption. People seek competency. Certification is evidence of that. The desire to be seen and respected as highly skilled is practically part of our DNA. A certification program gives prospects a clear path to mastery, recognition, promotions and more. Certification fuels the widespread adoption of the sponsor’s product/service.
- Certification communicates authority and leadership. Your prominence becomes a powerful positioning feature for your certification. It distinguishes your product from that of your competitors. Prospective customers can see how you’re different than—better than—your competition.
- Certification reduces support costs. As the product/software owner, you’ll get fewer calls and support tickets because your certificants, with their advanced knowledge and experience, are qualified to solve their own problems and those of their co-workers, customers, etc.
- Certificants are brand ambassadors. As mentioned in number 1 above, certificants are invested in your product. More than a few will ascend to raving-fan and/or evangelist status and freely share their enthusiasm for your product with the world, well, their world at least. When certificants move to positions at new companies, they’re likely to recommend/endorse your product to their new managers.
- Certification increases loyalty and, therefore, renewals. This has a powerful impact on ROI. For SaaS companies, in particular, renewals are essential for growing revenue and avoiding churn.
- Certification identifies job candidates, qualified admins and end users. Certificants stand out in a crowded field. They’re visible. Their decision to invest in their careers speaks to higher motivation than that of their non-certified peers.
- Certification is essential for succession planning. Employees get promoted, reassigned, leave or retire. Transitioning replacement personnel into vacated positions becomes easier when certification has equipped them with the knowledge and skills to be up and running quickly.
- Certification reveals your best resellers and partners. Resellers and sales partners who encourage or pay for their employees to become certified also have skin in the game. They’re invested in your success and their success. Certification reveals motivation and commitment.
- Certification builds vibrant communities. Certificants share a common bond that synergizes as much as it unifies. When like-minded individuals with advanced skills and common purpose come together, the resulting community is energized. This dynamism adds to the prestige of the certification and contributes to the authority and leadership of the sponsor.
Certification can be an overlooked component of customer success. That’s surprising because certification involves personal investment and risk. For the successful exam candidate, certification often results in an emotional bond with the sponsor’s product/service.
Certification can be a powerful customer-retention strategy for businesses, especially SaaS companies, focused on customer success. If customer success is ultimately about loyalty, certification is ultimately about empowerment and connection to the sponsor’s product/service. A symbiotic relationship emerges that favors loyalty, renewal and growing ROI.