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The S.P.L.A.I.T.E. Framework to 10x Customer Success Renewals

Rachell Lee headshot
Rachell Lee
February 16, 2024
The SPLAITE Framework to 10x Customer Success Renewals blog header image
“Part of scale is having successful customers. If you don’t have people winning with your product or service, then you’re never going to grow your company. One successful customer should get your 1, or 2, or 3 more customers. One unsatisfied customer could cost you like 10…Achieving scale is repeating a successful customer over and over again.”

-Jarrod Glandt, President at Cardone Enterprises in an interview with Seamless.AI CEO Brandon Bornancin

How do you repeat a “successful customer” over and over again? 

You’ve probably heard of “the 3 C’s of customer success”, or the “3 R’s of customer loyalty”, but let’s focus on the white whale of customer success teams: getting customers to the “R” stage in the customer success lifecycle. In other words, how can B2B customer success teams get customers to reach the renewal stage one, five, or even ten times? 

In order for your B2B business to thrive in a subscription-based economy, retaining your customers plays a huge part in maximizing Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) and Net Revenue Retention (NRR).

But with so many decision makers, budget holders, users, and influencers to keep track of at each account, it can be a challenge to reach the “R” stage of a customer success lifecycle. In this article, we dive into the intersection of customer success strategies and how CSM teams can drive customers to reach the renewal stage over and over again.

Whether you believe that customer success teams should completely own customer renewal strategies or not, shattering the churn rate should be prioritized as much as (or even more) acquiring new customers.

That’s where the S.P.L.A.I.T.E. framework comes in. We’ve developed this simple, 7-step framework to help customer success teams retain more customers, crush customer success metrics, and keep customers happy.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The importance of customer success renewal strategies
  • Customer success metrics that contribute to renewals
  • How to get customers for life with the S.S.L.I.T.E. framework
  • Actionable tips to reduce churn and retain customers 
  • Improving customer satisfaction through customer success renewals
  • Real B2B customer success stories about SaaS subscription renewals

The importance of customer success renewals

According to Forrester Research, acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one. 

That means that retention should always be top-of-mind. Customer renewals, or SaaS subscription renewals, are the key to generating revenue retention. 

“Renewals are always tied to retention, for example when was their last log in, their last export... all stuff that helps you get an idea if they are engaging with the product." 

-Chris Fago, Enterprise Account Executive at Palo Alto Networks

Customer success renewals happen when an existing customer decides to renew their subscription plan they have with your product or service. These returning customers are some of your most valuable customers because their decision to renew with you is a testament to their success using your product or service.

B2B SaaS renewals are as powerful as direct customer testimonials or case studies. The fact that a customer decided to renew with you shows other prospects or existing customers who haven’t renewed yet that other companies are finding enough success with your solution to stick with you.

Renewals give other customers an incentive to stay and find as much value (or more) as other companies who have renewed.

In the B2B world, SaaS subscription renewals are like the golden ticket to keep your business afloat. 

While customer success teams aren’t the only ones responsible for owning customer renewals, they play a huge role in securing them. In the words of Bobby Lawson, the Technology Editor at EarthWeb.

“We’re seeing SaaS renewals shifting from a sales-driven approach to a more customer-centric preference, meaning that customer success teams are becoming strong roles for managing renewals moving forward…This puts them in positions of value as they become a voice to advocate for the customer and address concerns proactively. When a team member can anticipate challenges throughout a client's lifecycle and not just during renewal, their relationship strengths and they're in turn better able to identify upselling opportunities.”

It all comes down to who can “proactively address concerns” for customers in real-time: CSMs and customer success leaders. Customer success talks to current customers all day, everyday. They build much more rapport and trust with customers through these daily interactions.

Crushing your customer renewal rates and shattering your customer churn should be goals that are shared cross-functionally, but customer success teams have the opportunity to have a big influence on them. 

Customer success metrics that matter for customer success renewals

There are so many factors and metrics that contribute to a successful customer renewal rate. We won't go into too much detail for each metric, but it’s important to know which ones to keep in mind while creating a customer renewal retention strategy.

Here are a few customer success metrics that you should focus on for your renewal strategy:

The S.P.L.A.I.T.E. framework for CSM teams to 10x customer renewals

How do you scale the customer renewal process effectively?

The S.P.L.A.I.T.E. framework for customer success renewals stands for: shorten (time to value), personalize, listen, automate, identify, test, and evangelize. 

Through this framework, you’ll learn actionable tips for:

  • B2B customer retention tactics
  • Customer churn reduction techniques
  • Scaling the customer renewal process effectively
  • Renewal rate optimization
  • Maximizing customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Subscription renewal best practices

1. Shorten your customers’ time to value (TTV).

Time to value, or TTV, is the amount of time it takes for a customer to get value from your product. Customers expect value right away, and not only for the first time when they first start using your product, but continuously throughout their entire experience with your product.

To meet this demand, TTV should be as short and quick as possible. Shortening TTV for your customers means providing value for them as quickly as possible.

💡 The best way you can bring the most value to your customers quickly is to schedule more intentional and longer conversations with them on a regular basis beyond the short, daily interactions CSMs might have with them. 

Regularly scheduled conversations give your customers a dedicated time and space where they can bring up their greatest concerns or comments about their customer experience with you. This also gives CSMs a chance to gauge customers and dig deeper into their unique needs beyond a simple customer success ticket.

According to Gong, customer success managers should meet with customers at least once every three months for a quarterly business review. Every three months is a healthy dose of staying in the loop, but this frequency is up to you. 

In the case of Christopher Fago’s customer success team at Palo Alto Networks, one key way they incorporated more structured meetings with customers was through weekly user webinars or refresh training sessions. 

How often your CSM team decides to meet with customers depends on your team’s capacity and what your customer feels most comfortable with.

Our suggestion? Combine daily customer and CS interactions with longer, more in-depth scheduled conversations (QBRs) to keep a continuous pulse on your customers’ evolving needs.

The more often you can hear your customers out, the quicker you can come up with an offer or a solution that will delight them, or even better, exceed their expectations. And the quicker customer success can maximize customers’ time to value, the more likely those customers would lean towards renewing their contract or committing to  more premium offerings.

2. Personalize.

Your dream customers aren’t all the same. Each of your customers all have individual needs and pain points. Therefore, you should approach each customer accordingly to entice them with tailored offers that will push them to renew. 

Personalization for customer success renewals should always be top-of-mind. There are endless ways to personalize an offer when it comes time to renew a SaaS subscription, but here are a few things you can focus on to get started. 

💡 The first steps to personalizing customer renewals are to figure out:

  • Where your customer is in terms of their annual recurring revenue (ARR)
  • The maturity of their organization
  • Who your customers are serving as their end users.

For example, enterprise organizations are probably buying software tools that serve their enterprise-grade needs and provide “white-glove” services. As a customer success representative for enterprise customers, you need to specialize in understanding their needs at scale and how to engage those high-ticket customers to come back to your solution time and time again.

On the contrary, you might also serve smaller clients, like small businesses or start-ups. They probably aren’t looking for the same things as an enterprise customer. An offer to upgrade an SMB’s current monthly or annual subscription to a more pricey package of premium features might not be their priority. Their focus instead might be on other things, like getting more access to better customer support, help with tool onboarding, or simple feature add-ons.

There are different skill sets you can bring into those conversations with different ideal customer profiles (ICP).

How to personalize when customers change jobs

In a perfect world, you would ideally maintain a relationship with the same customers over and over again.

Realistically, job changes happen all the time and can be a blocker to your customer success renewal strategy.

That's why it's important to keep track of job changes within a customer's organization to prevent customer churn.

When a customer changes jobs within their organization, it can impact their relationship with your company. 

How? The customer may have been your main point of contact and had a deep understanding of your products and services, but the new person in their role might not be as familiar with your company.

This leads to confusion and potential customer churn. 

Keeping a pulse on job changes within a customer's organization helps you proactively reach out to the new point of contact and ensure a smooth transition. This shows the customer that you value their business and are committed to their success.

It also allows you to provide the necessary support and education to the new point of contact, so they can continue to get the most value out of your products and services.

Here's how you can turn job changes into opportunities:

If you notice that several customers within a specific industry are experiencing job changes, it could be a sign that there is a shift happening in that market. 

Use these signals to tailor your approach and offer relevant solutions to potential and current customers.

You can also use job changes to identify potential upsell and cross-sell opportunities. If a customer's organization is growing and experiencing job changes, it could be a sign that they may be in need of additional products or services.

By tracking these changes, you can reach out at the right time and offer relevant solutions that can help the customer's business grow.

3. Listen. 

Shut up and listen to your customers during conversations or any touchpoints. The power of active listening isn’t just a proven strategy for sales professionals, it’s also key for customer success teams looking to shatter churn rates

The key is to listen to provide value, not to just respond. In customer success, your role in maximizing customer retention is based on building relationships and trust with customers. 

Listen to how a customer talks about your product, how they react to your proposed solutions or offerings, and how they feel about any touch point.

Kayden Roberts, the CMO of CamgGo, emphasizes how important active listening to your customers is: 

“To capture more customer renewals, fostering an ongoing dialogue with subscribers, anticipating their needs, and consistently delivering value beyond their expectations is crucial. Implementing a feedback loop that informs product development ensures that the service evolves in alignment with customer needs, thereby increasing the likelihood of renewal.”

This type of qualitative data will help you craft an offer that customers can’t refuse. Quantitative metrics for CSMs are great, but qualitative data is where you get the golden nuggets of feedback.

Let’s take Google for example. Google has a heavily feedback-oriented culture. They run a C-SAT survey for their CSMs and ask their key customers to send in feedback about working with their CSM. This feedback is then analyzed and then incorporated into how that CSM can improve. Everytime Google sends out this survey, they get new qualitative bits of insights to create actionable steps for the CSM to take.

According to Gorkem Cetin, CEO of Retable, simply scheduling dedicated time to really listen to their customers close to the renewal stage has helped them reach a 98% customer renewal rate:

“At Retable, our annual renewals are monitored on 8th and 10th months. Those are the critical moments to understand the required business insights. Our touch base with them makes sure they are well taken care of, and we have an understanding of their pain points using the product. Also, we sometimes (case by case basis) bring our product manager to have a ‘reboarding session’ since most of the time the person we have been in contact with may have been replaced, or take other responsibilities. Our renewals rate is more than 98% when we follow this path.”

4. Automate customer renewal workflows.

When it comes to maximizing customer retention rates at scale, things can get hectic. With so many different customers at different touch points of the customer experience in different ICPs, where do you start?

The key to scale the customer renewal process effectively and accurately across different customer profiles is through automated renewal workflows.

Automating and streamlining renewal processes are a win for both you and your customer. Once the customer agrees to renew their contract or subscription, the last thing you want as a blocker is slow execution.

Slow execution isn’t an option when it comes to customer renewals.

Here are some specific touchpoints in the renewal process that can be automated:

  • Renewal notifications and communication to customers
  • Standardized contract templates
  • Electronic documents and signatures
  • Approvals for renewal
  • Payment 
  • Contract expiration date notifications
  • Notifications for customer overages
  • Tracking customers’ health

Our suggestion? Invest in a customer success renewal automation tool that can help you streamline each part of the renewal process.

5. Identify renewal-inclined customer behaviors.

One key tip while you listen to your customers is to actively identify opportunities to address your customers’ individual needs or pain points, and anticipate some challenges they may run into without them explicitly telling you.

You’re not just looking for a chance to make the customer spend more money. You should be looking for opportunities to identify:

  • Current customer pain points and challenges
  • Customers’ bottomline business goals and individual goals
  • Intrinsic and external motivators for the customer

In a nutshell, you’re looking for opportunities to hyper-personalize their experience–so much so that they want to keep coming back to your product. The best way CSMs can think about this is:

“What are the customer touch points that can trigger this customer to be more inclined to renew, and how can I leverage the information I gathered from our conversations to set up these triggers?”

As Bobby Lawson, Technology Editor at EarthWeb, says about identifying opportunities to personalize for renewal-inclined customers:

“The most important tip that you'll get for a CS team to secure a renewal is to always personalize the experience. Don't fall back on the routine script or expectation, let yourself organically connect with customers from a perspective that implies an ongoing value for the both of you. Regularly engage with them, update them on any challenges and how you're committed to their success, and celebrate those successes with them!”

Behavioral mapping to identify customer renewal touch points

💡 Use behavioral mapping to identify trigger points for customer renewals. 

While customer journey maps are a crowd-favorite in the B2B SaaS world, behavioral maps are one way to help identify specific trigger points for renewal-inclined customers at scale. 

According to Brian LaFaille, former Global Lead of Google’s SaaS Customer Success Programs, CSMs should consider trading in their old customer journey maps for behavioral mapping exercises instead.

In Brian’s case, he used behavioral mapping to scale their customer renewal strategy when Google acquired Looker. This new acquisition required the Looker customer success team to pivot for this new wave of customers and growth. 

According to Brian, behavioral mapping allows customer success teams to identify the actual user behaviors that a customer needs to exhibit in order to be successful in order for them to renew.

In his words, behavioral mapping gives you a more in-depth view of customer behaviors compared to customer journey mapping through two things:

  1. Time-bound customer behaviors: Expecting X, Y, and Z customer behaviors in the first or second month.
  2. Quantifiable customer behaviors: Being able to count the frequency or measure the customers’ behaviors.
“That allows us to scale that allows us to look at these customer behaviors over time and see, Hey, these customers have not connected their database in the first week, or they have not started [XYZ] for instance, in the first month. And those are early indicators of a customer that's going off the rails very early. And that entire motion allowed us to say now that we have a line in the sand as to what a good customer looks like and what the behavior map looks like over time, we can develop digital channels to influence those behaviors.”

Customer journey maps might suffice for a smaller customer success team with a smaller customer base, but scaling customer renewals effectively requires more in-depth insights like the ones you can get from behavior maps.

6. Test.

Test everything–your biases, assumptions about customer behavior, hypotheses, engagement with certain triggers, and more.

Testing what works for your customer success renewals is the natural next step after gathering feedback and information from conversations and research on your customers.

It’s also important to test your biases, assumptions, or hypotheses about what you think you should offer for your customers. Your gut instinct or anticipation about what your customer would want might be 100% right, but you won’t know until you test it. 

Testing your ideas or strategies for customer success renewals can start with scheduling simple conversations with your customers. If you think your customers would benefit from a specific feature they haven’t used yet, try mentioning it to your customer in a check-in touch point to gauge how hot or cold they are to it. 

When in doubt, test it.

7. Evangelize (and gamify) your customers’ success stories.

Gamification is a huge way to make people addicted not just to your product, but also your overall brand and pride in being affiliated with you. 

We’re not just talking about gamifying your in-product experience; we’re talking about gamifying your customers’ wins with rewards. You can create a reward system with awards, badges, special certificates, titles–you name it. Make your customers addicted to a little dopamine hit from reaching important milestones using your solution.

Once you have successful and happy customers, don’t stop there. People love to talk about their work and success. Help sing their praises and evangelize their wins with your product to keep them coming back.

At Seamless.AI, we do this through our President’s Club. It’s our system of rewarding our customers who earn $100k or $1 million in sales using Seamless.AI. We celebrate our customers’ success in sales using our sales solution with a shiny, personalized award to commemorate hitting important milestones. These customer success stories are also shared with hundreds of thousands of other salespeople, marketers, and entrepreneurs on our case studies page. 

Seamless.AI President's Club Award for customer success renewals

It’s the same concept as getting a YouTube bronze or platinum play button plaque for hitting milestone-worthy subscriber counts. Creating simple incentives like this plays a huge role in customers who keep coming back to use your platform time and time again.

Improving customer satisfaction through SaaS subscription renewals

Customer longevity isn’t just about reaching that first renewal cycle. It’s about continuing to create lasting delightful and valuable touch points for your customers so they can stick with your solution through three, five, and even 10 renewal cycles.

The one thing you should focus on for SaaS subscription renewals whether you’re a CSM or a CS leader is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction should be the guiding north star of any customer success conversation.

Seamless.AI for Customer Success

Seamless.AI is the ultimate tool for Customer Success professionals looking to take their careers to the next level. With this powerful platform, you'll have everything you need to stay in contact with every single key player at an account.

One of the best features of Seamless.AI is its ability to alert you of any new people joining the team. This means you'll be able to quickly and easily reach out to these new individuals and establish a strong relationship with them. Plus, Seamless.AI provides you with their contact information instantly, so you can get in touch right away.

But Seamless.AI doesn't just help you stay in touch with the people you already know. It also keeps you informed of job changes within an account, so you can win new customers by reaching out to old customers at their new companies. And when anyone at an account switches jobs to a new company, Seamless.AI provides you with their updated contact information.

By staying informed of changes within an account, you'll be in the perfect position to renew the account or add on new services. And with Seamless.AI, it's easy to do just that.

But the benefits of Seamless.AI don't stop there. It's also an excellent tool for finding new customers. By following job changes and staying informed of new people joining a team, you'll be able to identify potential new accounts and reach out to them at just the right time.

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