It’s a SaaS world and you’re just living in it. No wait, you’re doing business in it. The upside is enormous. The global SaaS market is forecasted to reach $71.2 billion in 2018 according to Crozdesk’s SaaS and Cloud Startup Report 2018.
While SaaS solves challenges for users that boxed software never could, it creates vexing new challenges for those that create and sell it – namely churn, the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions.
The simple reality is that clients that don’t know how to consistently glean value from your software, won’t. They’ll cancel. This logical tenet needs no explanation.
Churn can be the result of something happening to your customer, but it’s usually not. More often than not, churn is the result of a customer not realizing the value of your service, or what customer success guru, Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures, refers to as the “required outcome.” He writes:
“When it comes to required outcome, it’s all about whether or not they can achieve what they need to achieve through your core product or service.”
Murphy presents a list of reasons why customers may not achieve their required outcome:
- Your product is missing critical functionality required to do the thing they need to do
- You have a poor onboarding experience
- The customer had a bad implementation, configuration, and/or setup
- The customer hasn’t adopted your product and isn’t using it
- There are bugs or other issues preventing the customer from doing what they need to do
Today, we’re going to assume your product is solid and was implemented as needed. We’ll assume the customer wants to adopt the product and doesn’t have bug-type issues.
And that leaves us with onboarding, or more broadly, training.
Training is your number one remedy to churn.
Perhaps the sentence above assumes too much. Training can be insufficient and therefore fail. So, the real remedy for churn is highly effective SaaS training, defined as:
- Fast and simple
Customers must be trained quickly to understand your SaaS application and put it to use.
- Effective and interactive
Effective learning is fostered by an interaction between the teacher and student. Hands-on training can be engaging and fun and therefore, more effective.
- Efficient and manageable
Training systems and processes should be easy to put in place, execute and manage.
- Perpetually up-to-date
The ability to quickly change, upgrade and roll-out new versions of training is imperative to keep pace with your evolving application.
Effective training takes place in the cloud
Surely, self-study training programs that rely entirely on recorded courses or video tutorials are important parts of a company’s SaaS training offering, yet they come up short on some of the hallmarks of effective training outlined above. In addition, a simple webinar or self-study course may suffice for teaching basic functions, but training customers or partners to master complex SaaS solutions calls for blended learning.
Live, instructor-led training is highly effective for learning complex SaaS applications. And the cloud-based delivery makes it economically feasible.
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) enables SaaS companies to provide interactive remote training at scale. The effective virtual classroom offers an instructor/student experience much like a physical classroom.
Research demonstrates information acquisition is most effective when enhanced by an interaction between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. This is especially true for advanced learning situations where students need to rapidly assimilate complex information.
With VILT programs, teachers can see what students are doing and assist when appropriate. Teachers answer questions and interact with students in real time. Students can interact with each other.
The live element of the training ensures the current version of the software is being taught.
The added value of interactive hands-on training also brings SaaS providers important monetization opportunities as learners are often willing to pay more for this mode of learning.
The smart approach to cloud-based training
You might think that since your SaaS application already resides on a generic cloud platform, perhaps that infrastructure alone is sufficient for delivering training as well. Yet, this approach is hardly ideal for SaaS providers focused on delivering interactive training effectively and efficiently.
The smarter approach is to work with a turnkey virtual training solution that has expressly created the features and automated workflows to facilitate SaaS onboarding and training. A ready-made solution eliminates the need to enlist your IT team (and secure the resources) to design, build and maintain the desired features.
Features you should look for in a specialized virtual instructor-led training solution include:
1. An exceptionally simple and customized student experience
- One-click browser-based access
- Brandable UI
- The inclusion of supporting documentation, surveys and more
2. The flexibility and capabilities needed to provide training to learners in all types of roles, including:
- End users
- Support and solution engineers
- Installation technicians
3. Powerful class management and control, including:
- Fast setup and teardown
- Ability to invite students in bulk
- Automated sending of student invitations
4. Comprehensive instructor portal, including:
- An over-the-shoulder view of each student
- Ability to barge-in and assist as needed
- Chat with the individual student, the entire class, or between students
5. Readymade dashboards and analytics, enabling:
- Performance monitoring
- ROI tracking
- Valuable insights
Training is critical for high retention rates:
“When most technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies think about growing faster, their first thought is to invest in acquiring more customers. While customer acquisition is a clear part of revenue growth, a less obvious but critically important driver is customer success, as measured by high retention rates.” (Excerpt from, “Grow fast or die slow: Focusing on customer success to drive grow” an article by McKinsey&Company)
Highly effective training can create an “I want you, I need you, I love you,” relationship. You want that. You need that.
As a SaaS vendor, you understand the critical role training plays in the customer success equation. Therefore it’s in your interest to look for the best platform that will enable you to execute with processes you need to create an excellent user experience and optimize your efficiency and return on investment. The right virtual instructor-led training solution will not only help you maximize customer retention but also enable greater revenue streams from your training services.