A Customer’s First Five Minutes Can Make or Break You

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“If you’re selling a SaaS product, you really need to think about what you’re actually selling,” says Asaf Yigal. “You have to remember that you’re not only selling software, you’re selling a service.”

It seems like an obvious truth (after all, they are called software-as-a-service products), but many SaaS companies lose sight of the service side of things. “A lot of SaaS companies strive toward the goal of a no-touch sales organization,” Yigal explains. “They want the product to stand on its own and be self-sufficient so they don’t need to talk to customers. But, at the end of the day you’re selling a service, so your goal needs to be making your customers and end users successful.”

Success Hinges on the First Five Minutes

As the co-founder and VP of Product for Logz.io, Yigal puts a lot of focus not only on creating customer success in general, but on creating it right away. “The first five minutes someone spends on your product is critical,” Yigal says.

“I can’t tell you how much time and energy we’re focusing right now into making sure that those first five minutes deliver the best experience we can create.”

While Yigal acknowledges that some customers are happy to do things on their own, he’s found that many of them appreciate the helping hand — especially in the beginning. “Thinking about customer success starts with onboarding,” he says, “and making sure that the initial experience is amazing. You want people to feel like they’re getting real value. That’s what you need to focus on when you’re building a SaaS platform.”

Yigal and his team are looking at every aspect and detail of a user’s first interaction with the product to be sure that they are optimizing the experience from every angle. Over the course of this process, he has identified three steps that have been instrumental in their success thus far:

Hire a Customer Success Lead

“We didn’t hire our customer success lead early enough,” Yigal admits. “And the first customer we lost was lost because he wasn’t using the service. He bought the product, but didn’t know how to use it and didn’t reach out to ask questions. Eventually, he left.”

Even though Yigal had to learn the lesson the hard way, the end result was positive. “We knew all along that we needed to recruit someone who would own customer success – someone who would make sure that onboarding is great and be in touch with customers,” Yigal says. Today, the customer success lead works to improve every aspect of those first five minutes, from the speed of the system to the interface screens to the copy on the page. “Having this customer success point person has helped us maintain a lot of focus in engineering on the first five minutes of a new customer logging in,” Yigal says.

Go Ahead and Ask Questions

Another key element of Yigal’s success is asking questions. “A lot of companies are afraid to ask people questions,” he says. “But, it’s very important to know your customer, and we’ve found that asking a few direct questions is very beneficial.”

Though Yigal and his team can learn a lot about a customer based on product usage, organizational role, and use case, they take the conversation a step further. “In our onboarding process, we ask the customer about their experiences with different products and for specifics about use cases,” Yigal explains. “This conversation serves two purposes. First, we’re learning directly from the customer what it is they’re trying to do (which helps us to help them); and, second, we’re educating them about what’s possible with the product, exposing them to features that they might not have thought about.”

The ultimate goal of this process is to help a new user understand the potential. “The process of onboarding isn’t only about getting someone into the product quickly,” Yigal says. “It’s about getting them to a point where they’re as educated as possible about what they’re going to see on the other end, and you’re as educated as possible about what they’re trying to do on the other end.”

Measure, Measure, Measure

“You’re not doing yourself justice if you’re not measuring everything. One of the benefits of being a SaaS product is that you can collect a lot of metrics because you have all the data. So, measure the things you care about. That’s how you improve.”

For Logz.io, the things Yigal’s team cares about most during those first five minutes include how long it takes a new user to access the system and how long it takes for a new user to start shipping logs once they have signed up for the product. “A lot of customer success is about speed,” Yigal says. “When we first started out, we had to set up a new environment and index for each customer. Everything was built in a shared environment, but the process required some back-end work that took approximately five to ten seconds. One of the first things we did to help improve the first five minutes was change over to using an already-made environment so that the moment someone clicks to enter the system, they are in the system – no waiting.”

Once someone is in, Yigal looks at tasks performed to help measure customer success. “We measure the percentage of users who are sending logs,” he says. “Whether or not the customer starts shipping logs provides valuable feedback on system usability, so we set goals for ourselves and then work to improve our performance against those goals by providing wizards, demos, videos, and guidance to make sure we’re helping users successfully complete their tasks.”

The combination of these steps – hiring a customer success lead, asking questions, and measuring everything – ultimately gives Yigal and his team more insight into customer needs and goals. “Looking at all the data has brought us to a point where we better understand each customer. We can help them through the process more effectively,” he says. “We also know by the data that we collect throughout the onboarding process which trial customers are more likely to convert into paying customers. We can even anticipate the velocity of the deal.”

But, despite the wealth of data available to his team, Yigal’s attention never strays from the ultimate goal. “Our goal as a company is to have customers who are happy, who are using the product, and seeing the value it delivers,” he says. “That’s a never-ending task, which is why we’re always measuring and always improving.”