1. Certification Boosts Customer Health
The subscription-software model demands that vendors pay attention to customer health because it’s a predictor of customer behavior. Good customer health equates to a high chance of renewal, according to Dan Steinman with Gainsight.
Certification boosts customer health because it empowers and enables the client with advanced users of the software. This translates into greater efficiencies, faster troubleshooting, fewer support tickets and greater product adoption.
2. Certification Builds a Connection Between Vendor and Customer
Businesses scale when their customers scale. As business author Bernie Kassar points out, most software companies can’t scale with low-value customers that aren’t growing. In aggregate, they’re valuable for the constant revenue they provide, but individually, none merit white-glove treatment.
That creates a thorny business challenge. How do you maintain a connection with many small clients who aren’t growing while allocating scarce resources to those who are? How do you deliver value to some clients without much one-on-one interaction?
Kassar advises segmenting customers based on the value they provide and allocating resources accordingly. Bigger clients get more attention. Smaller clients less. You have to determine the coverage model that informs the engagement model.
Certification is a value strategy that works for customers big and small. It’s a one-to-many approach that delivers value to every customer segment in the form of increased competence with the software and increased product adoption.
3. Certification Creates Early Wins
With every decision to purchase enterprise software, someone’s reputation is on the line.
That’s certainly true of the software vendor who wants the customer to be so successful that contract renewal is likely.
The individuals at the customer company who recommended the software purchase also have much at stake. If the software doesn’t meet expectations, they get the blame.
Diane Gordon, in her contribution to the book Customer Success, explains the concept of “time to value” as getting through the customer onboarding and implementation phases quickly so that the customer has more selling days before contract renewal.
An early win with the software, long before contract renewal, changes everything. It makes all stakeholders look like heroes.
Certification is an early win that creates value—often arrives much sooner than other milestone achievements—because demonstrated competency with the software is an important key performance indicator (KPI) for the customer.
4. Certification Encourages Customer Retention
An expanding customer base is necessary for growth, and nothing slows growth more than churn. Retention is key for maintaining the health of the customer base and the vendor’s revenue base.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t invest enough company resources for retaining customers on whom they’ve already spent a significant amount to acquire.
Certification is a smart strategy for engaging and retaining customers, partners and resellers. Certificants are converted, committed and anything but impartial about the value of the software. They have a vested interest in retention.
5. Certification Drives Community Among Clients
Once earning a certification, certificants want to stay apprised of new software developments and have access to software reps and power users. They want to continuing receiving benefits from their own personal investment in certification.
Engaged users of the software, like certificants, will find each other, either formally by establishing local user groups or informally by convening virtual meet-ups.
For vendors, these communities are perfect places for finding influencers, fans and subject-matter experts. That last group can be very useful when updating a certification exam and/or for developing new ones.
6. Certification Fuels Product Adoption
Product adoption is the percentage (or number) of active licenses being used by customers. If the vendor’s software becomes integral to the growth of the customer’s business, the customer typically responds by activating more licenses. This is a revenue-boosting strategy in any SaaS customer-success program.
Certification creates product ambassadors who promote the vendor’s software and encourage its use throughout the company. Their visibility, enthusiasm and testimonials often drive greater product adoption.
Find out more about developing your own certification program here: