Learn How to Build Client Relationships Digitally: 14 Proven Tactics
Knowing how to build client relationships digitally is critical for SaaS businesses. Most interactions with your SaaS customers are digital, making handling these opportunities decisive for customer satisfaction, loyalty, repeat business and referrals.
In this article, we’ll show you how to build client relationships digitally with your SaaS customers. First, we’ll look at how digital client relationships differ from live interactions and what this implies for SaaS customer relationship management. Then, we’ll consider why digital client relationships are so crucial for SaaS businesses and offer 14 tips you can quickly implement to help you build these digital relationships. Finally, we’ll cover how customer success software can help you automate your digital client relationship-building strategy.
How Digital Client Relationships Are Different
Customer relationships are important for any business, but digital client relationships occupy a position of central importance for SaaS companies. The nature of the SaaS industry means that your interactions with your clients are primarily digital, and any live interactions occur within the broader context informed by online engagements.
Digital interactions that inform SaaS client relationships span the range of the customer journey, from pre-purchase marketing engagements to onboarding to subscription renewals, upsells and brand advocacy. Examples include:
- Search engine queries and ads
- Social media posts
- Demonstration videos
- Website visits
- Blog content consumption
- In-app sessions and user experience
- Live chat and chatbot conversations
- Digital billing checkouts
- Tutorial viewing
- FAQ searches
- Forum conversations
- Quarterly business reviews
- Video chat
- Customer satisfaction and feedback surveys
- Subscription renewals
- Upsell purchases
- Online brand advocacy
These digital interactions may involve both SaaS product users and other B2B stakeholders with a role in the buyer decision process. The latter may include managers, procurement officers, CEOs, investors, and others.
The wide variety of channels involved in SaaS customer exchanges and the multi-faceted levels of decision-makers who may be involved make digital client interactions and relationships highly complex. Monitoring and managing all these interactions effectively requires technology tools to collect data from multiple customer contact points, analyze the results, and put the information to practical use. This makes managing digital customer relationships significantly more complex operationally and technologically than traditional customer account management.
Why Digital Client Relationships are Crucially Important for SaaS Businesses
The critical role played by digital interactions has a far-ranging impact on SaaS businesses. The quality of your digital interactions with your clients can affect:
- User experience: For a SaaS business, a client’s digital experience of your product forms the cornerstone of their experience of your brand.
- Customer engagement: SaaS customer engagement is reflected in the quality, frequency, and duration of client digital interactions with your product.
- Customer success outcomes: Successful outcomes are defined digitally for SaaS clients. This is particularly true for B2B clients, who typically measure the results of using your product in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs) that quantify their goals.
- Customer satisfaction: Clients who enjoy satisfying digital user experiences and digital outcomes from using your product are more likely to be happy with your product and brand.
- Stakeholder engagement: The engagement of B2B stakeholders, and more importantly, the decision-maker(s) on their team, is essential to engagement and renewal. If the decision-maker isn’t engaged, the account is at risk.
- Client receptivity: Customer receptiveness to ideas and initiatives proposed by success managers will be influenced by their perception of digital interactions with your product and the value they derive from these interactions.
- Subscription renewals and customer retention: Satisfying digital experiences and outcomes make SaaS clients more likely to renew subscriptions and less likely to churn.
- Escalation of project budgets: Customers satisfied with the digital experiences of your product are more likely to increase budgets for the usage of their current purchase and purchases of additional products and services.
The far-reaching impact of digital interactions on your customer relationships and business makes optimizing digital client relationships essential for SaaS companies.
14 Ways to Improve Client Relationships Digitally
To improve your relationships with SaaS clients, you can systematically apply customer success best practices to critical points where your customers interact with you digitally along each step of their customer journey. Here are 14 top ways to use this principle:
- Deliver a great onboarding experience
- Offer accessible training
- Provide timely and relevant support
- Keep communication consistent
- Reach customers where they are
- Proactively monitor client progress
- Overdeliver value
- Elicit frequent feedback
- Implement loyalty and referral programs
- Build a digital community
- Blog actively to promote engagement
- Showcase client case studies
- Engage clients personally
- Add an individual touch
Below is a description of what each method involves and how to implement it. Review this list, use it to analyze your own clients’ interactions with your brand, and focus on improving the items that would have the most significant impact on your clients’ digital experiences.
1. Deliver a Great Onboarding Experience
When a new client starts using your freemium or premium product, their first encounter as a customer is their onboarding experience. Delivering a great onboarding experience can set the tone for a positive relationship, while snags in the onboarding process can start things off on the wrong foot.
Improve the quality of your customer’s onboarding experience by making it as easy as possible for them to complete the process. In-app prompts, email instructions, and tutorial links are effective ways to use automation to improve onboarding efficiency. Totango’s Manage Onboarding Projects SuccessBLOC includes out-of-the-box templates, KPIs, and automated workflows you can use to monitor new customers’ onboarding processes and reach out to help clients who are encountering difficulties.
2. Offer Accessible Training
To complete the onboarding process, use product features and resolve support issues, customers need access to training materials. You can significantly improve the quality of your client’s digital experience by making it easy for them to get up to speed on your product features.
There are several ways you can use technology to make training more accessible. Videos and webinars provide excellent tools for demonstrating product usage through screenshots. FAQ guides and help resources can go into detail on specific training topics. In-app prompts and emails can point customers toward relevant training resources. Your customer success platform can monitor customer accounts and trigger emails to training resources related to recent client activity.
3. Provide Responsive Support
Customer support incidents represent one of the most critical points of digital contact for maintaining client relationships. A single negative support incident can cost you a customer.
The best way to address support issues is by pre-empting them. Providing good self-service resources can enable customers to resolve the bulk of their support issues. This can be delivered through technology tools such as in-app prompts, demonstration videos, tutorials, FAQ guides and support forums. Monitoring customer activity can help you automatically identify support needs and trigger emails with links to appropriate resources.
Another technology strategy for providing more responsive support is monitoring your support ticket activity and performance. Track which support issues arise most frequently so you can create appropriate resources and debug any snags in your app. Use customer service KPIs to set goals for improving your team’s performance.
4. Keep Communication Consistent
Communication lies at the heart of customer relationships. Managing your digital communications better is one of the most effective ways to improve your digital client interactions.
You can improve digital communications by creating standard operating procedures to keep them consistent and relevant to the customer’s needs. For example, if a customer is accessing a feature for the first time, an in-app message with instructions or a tutorial link might be useful.
Communication resources should be easily accessible to customers, but not pushy. For example, customers should be able to find links to support help without having to search excessively. At the same time, communication tools such as in-app messages should be easy to opt-out of without disrupting what the customer is doing.
5. Reach Customers Where They Are
To optimize your digital communications, strive to reach customers where they are. One application of this strategy is using the communication channels your customers prefer. Find out which channels your clients favor and strive to accommodate them to the extent this is feasible.
Another application is tailoring communications to customer activity. For example, in-app messages and live chat are ideally suited to reaching customers using your portal.
6. Proactively Monitor Client Progress
Customer success teams can improve customer relationships by proactively monitoring client progress toward success goals. Automated KPI monitoring can be set up to trigger alerts when accounts fall short of target goals. For example, a low customer health score might trigger an email to a CS team member to investigate and follow up.
Periodic check-ins can be another efficient way to keep on top of client progress. Check-ins can be scheduled, as with quarterly business reviews, or triggered by KPI monitoring to address issues as they emerge.
7. Overdeliver Value
The value customers feel they are getting from your product or service heavily influences their perception of your relationship. Overdelivering on value can be a highly effective strategy for strengthening customer relationships.
One way to ensure that you’re overdelivering value is to measure value with quantifiable KPIs. This provides a basis for demonstrating tangible value to customers through reports and quarterly business reviews. It also helps your customer success team track your performance and adjust to meet target goals.
8. Elicit Frequent Feedback
Customer feedback helps you verify that your customer success strategy is having the desired effect on your client relationships. Frequently eliciting feedback ensures that you are collecting the information you need to stay on top of customer sentiment.
Digital surveys can be delivered on your site, in-app, or via email to collect feedback. You can set up your customer success platform to trigger feedback surveys like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), or Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys. These surveys can be triggered following specific events, such as purchases or support requests.
9. Implement Loyalty and Referral Programs
Letting customers know you value them promotes better relationships. Two ways to do this are through loyalty and referral programs. Loyalty programs show customers you appreciate their business, while referral programs let them know you value their support.
Technology tools can help you optimize your loyalty and referral programs. Use customer satisfaction KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) to help you identify customers who would make suitable candidates for loyalty or referral offers. You then can segment your email list to reach out to these customers. You can make it easier for customers to give you referrals by providing them with digital referral kits, such as links and email templates.
10. Build a Digital Community
A digital community provides a matrix for nurturing digital relationships and enables users to help each other 24/7, 365 days a year. You can build a digital community using on-site resources like forums and off-site tools like social media profiles.
11. Blog Actively to Promote Engagement
Blogging provides another vital tool for promoting digital relationships. A blog allows you to create content that informs customers and addresses their needs, promoting engagement. Your blog content can be promoted on your social media profiles and email list, encouraging engagement from customers through these mediums. Blogs also can give customers a way to comment and interact with you, helping support your efforts to build a digital community.
12. Showcase Client Case Studies
A great way to strengthen relationships with your clients is by highlighting case studies of your best client experiences. This gives special attention to your top clients, letting them know how much you appreciate them. It also serves to engage your customer base by demonstrating how your product delivers results that they, too, can enjoy.
13. Engage Clients Personally
Fundamentally, relationships are personal, and approaching digital relationships personally can strengthen your bonds with your clients. You can sprinkle personal touches throughout your interactions with clients. For example, interacting with followers on your social media profiles, addressing clients by name in emails, and hosting question-and-answer sessions on webinars are simple ways to personalize digital client interactions. In addition, quarterly business reviews provide an ongoing opportunity to engage clients personally and on a regular basis.
14. Add an Individual Touch
Part of being personal with clients is dealing with them as individuals. While you obviously can’t give the same level of individual attention to every client at scale, you can use technology to help you make interactions with clients more individualized. For example, you can use your CRM tool to add notes about personal client information, such as birthdays, anniversaries, family members, and hobbies. Something as simple as congratulating your client when their favorite sports team wins a game can make your relationship more meaningful.
Use Customer Success Software to Build Stronger Digital Client Relationships
The strategies recommended above work best when paired with the right technology. One of the essential technology tools for building digital customer relationships is your customer success platform.
A customer success platform can be used in conjunction with a customer journey map to optimize your interactions with clients throughout their interactions with you. A customer journey map serves to identify what components constitute an excellent customer experience at each stage of their relationship with you, what can go wrong at each point and what can be done to get things back on track. You can then use KPI monitoring to ensure that customers are experiencing desired outcomes and trigger automated workflows that keep customers on track toward satisfying experiences.
Totango’s customer success platform is ideally suited to promote strong client relationships throughout your customer journey. Out-of-the-box modules called SuccessBLOCs provide tools designed for optimizing customer experiences at each stage of their journey, including KPIs and automated and manual workflows that KPI readings can trigger. This lets you harness your customer data to initiate data-driven actions guiding your client experiences toward satisfying outcomes that build strong relationships.
For example, let’s say a new client hasn’t finished onboarding after two weeks. This can signify that they’ve encountered some snag in the onboarding process, putting them at risk of becoming inactive users and churning. You can set up an automated email reminder triggered when onboarding isn’t completed within a set time frame to reduce churn risk. The email can contain tips for completing onboarding with a tutorial link. Alternately, a customer success representative can be alerted to reach out to the client.
Build Strong Digital Relationships to Forge SaaS Success
Digital interactions such as in-app usage, live chat, and emails form the foundation of your relationships with SaaS customers. Managing and optimizing your digital interactions with customers is critical for client engagement, satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. You can strengthen your digital client relationships by using the techniques suggested above to improve the quality of digital interactions throughout the customer lifecycle – from onboarding to renewal and beyond. A customer success platform that lets you automate the monitoring and management of client experiences can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts to improve digital relationships with clients.
Totango’s customer success platform is designed to help you build solid digital relationships by using KPI monitoring and optimized workflows to automate the process of delivering clients successful, satisfying digital outcomes. Start for free today to start reaping the benefits of better client digital experiences that lay a foundation for long-term customer loyalty.