Client Success and the Bottom Line

"Can Exceptional Customer Service
Lead to Higher Conversions?"

That was the Tweet I stopped to read this morning. And while yes, I'm intensely interested in client success/service/support and all sorts of minutiae related to that topic, the Tweet caught my eye because of the "higher conversions" part.

Why? Well, because it directly related client success to revenue.

Sales reps and SDRs. ... Okay, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration here, but you get the point. Photo | Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images 

Sales reps and SDRs. ... Okay, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration here, but you get the point. Photo | Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images 

Let's be honest here. The rock stars in most tech companies, especially SaaS companies, are the sales reps and the SDRs. They're incredibly visible because they're setting up and knocking down big deals. It's easy to track back their efforts to a direct impact on the bottom line, and that makes them popular people. 

Client success, on the other hand ... well, you often only hear about us when things are going wrong. With a few exceptions here and there, most people don't go online to rave about the support agent who told them how to reset their password properly. But people hit social media to talk about things like ridiculously long phone calls to cancel their cable account. I love what I do and I know it makes a difference for our clients, but it's a bit quieter than other roles.

So when unbounce ran this article by Len Markidan, the head of marketing at Groove, that purported to link solid client success to conversion rates, I was in.

The article discusses the results and potential implications from Groove's 2013 SaaS Small Business Conversion Survey. When Groove, a helpdesk software company, asked 1,500 SaaS companies which channels they put the most focus on, they found that those who cited an emphasis on customer service also reported approximately 11% higher overall conversion rates on their websites.

Since I'm a research-loving kind of girl, my favorite part of this article is the next paragraph, from Len:

"An interesting data point, but is it enough to conclude that focusing on support equals higher conversions? Probably not on its own. Let’s look at some more data…"

(Is it weird that my enthusiastic reaction to this was, "YES, LET'S LOOK AT SOME MORE DATA!!" ... never mind, don't answer that.)

So what Len did next was look at data from Proposify, a proposal software company. CEO Kyle Racki had put a lot of time and effort into their customer service, part of which was reducing customer effort by scattering help widgets throughout their site. He tracked the results with KISSmetrics and found something surprising:

"Over a period of two months, the company’s overall average trial-to-paid conversion rate was 9.85%. However, users that clicked on one of Proposify’s help widgets converted at 25.23%!  That’s a 156% increase in conversions, simply from making customer support easily accessible."

Len goes on to say that the Groove team had had similar results, learning that trial users who reached out to support were nine times more likely to convert to paying users. And then Groove cleverly used this to create an alert system to reach out to users who were stuck on certain steps, which resulted in conversion rates of more than 350% higher than their average free trial users.

Pretty compelling data, wouldn't you say? Sure, it's a little on the anecdotal side, and it's certainly centered around SaaS companies, but I think that the basic concept is sound here. 

People want help. And when they get it (especially before they even realize they need it!) it reduces frustration and increases the inclination to commit.

I don't think this is especially surprising -- when was the last time you wanted to give your money to a service that annoyed, stymied and defeated you? I'm guessing never. But for excellent experiences (think about a restaurant you really like, for example), people will pay a little more, tip a little higher, and return to that company. All good client success does is take that concept from the brick-and-mortar side and apply it to the SaaS world.

So maybe client success isn't the loudest voice in the room. But it may be one of the most persuasive. And that, to me, sounds a lot like the bottom line.