When we interviewed several Customer Success leaders about their top strategies for onboarding new customers, nearly all of them mentioned one thing — delivering value.
According to UserEvidence VP of Customer Success Myles Bradwell, the easiest way to deliver value for your customers is to "focus on identifying quick wins to get your customers engaged and bought in within the first 30 days."
Delivering value soon after a customer purchases your product or service is crucial, and brands often measure the time it takes for customers to realize the value or benefit of their purchase. This metric is called time-to-value, or TTV, and it’s one of the leading benchmarks for Customer Success.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of TTV in Customer Success by analyzing it from several perspectives. We’ll also help you calculate TTV, despite the fact that “value” may look different for one organization to another.
Why a Shorter Time-to-Value Is So Important Today
When customers invest in a product or service, they have certain expectations about the value they’ll receive.
A shorter TTV means that customers can quickly see the benefits of their investment, leading to increased satisfaction and trust in their vendor. In fact, a survey of businesses that report shorter TTVs said they’ve increased customer satisfaction by 20%.
The longer it takes for value to be realized, the more skeptical customers may be of their purchases. (Have you ever heard of buyer’s remorse?)
Satisfying your customers’ expectations is just one reason why TTV is so important to measure. Here are some others:
1. It Improves Your Customer Retention
Customers who experience a quick time-to-value may be more likely to continue using the product or service, barring their budgets don’t drastically change. This could also lead to word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews.
“The first 30-90 days of a customer’s experience fully dictates the lifecycle of their account,” said Liam Feldstein, a Senior Customer Success leader. “Stumbles and hiccups happen, but it’s how you solve those issues and maintain progress that determines whether a customer will stick around for another year, let alone add more to their existing account.”
2. It Reduces Your Churn Rate
A prolonged TTV paired with subpar customer support can lead to intense frustration, increasing the likelihood of churn. If customers don’t see value in a reasonable timeframe, what’s stopping them from abandoning your product in search of alternatives that promise faster results?
To nip this frustration in the bud, you’ll want to:
- Focus on quick and easy wins. Help customers with basic tasks first, then introduce advanced techniques later.
- Provide step-by-step instructions. Make it easy for customers to follow along and get results quickly.
- Offer personalized support. Be available to answer questions and help customers troubleshoot problems.
3. It Gives You a Competitive Advantage
Let’s be honest, vendors nowadays offer mostly the same product features. Sure, there are products that look and perform better than others, but it’s the value customers receive that keep them retained and upgrading their contracts.
For example, if a customer didn’t receive proper onboarding and is now running into several issues when setting up their automations, it won’t matter how sleek your product UI looks or how many advanced features you have.
Help your customers get up and running as soon as possible, and if necessary, offer them white glove service in the early stages to accelerate their TTV.
4. It Creates Upselling & Cross-Selling Opportunities
When your customers see value in the first 30-60-90 days after their initial purchase, they may be open to exploring additional features or plan upgrades. This makes life a little bit easier for your Account Managers. The more expansion opportunities your Customer Success team creates, the more revenue growth potential.
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5. It Accelerates Your Feedback Loop
A quicker TTV means that businesses can receive feedback from customers sooner rather than later. This feedback can:
- Be an invaluable asset for your product team, sales team, and marketers.
- Help refine Customer Success strategies. For example, using feedback to identify kinks in your onboarding process.
- Address potential issues before they escalate, or customers take to third-party review sites to leave negative reviews.
How to Calculate Time-to-Value
While the concept of TTV is straightforward, the specific calculation can vary based on the nature of the product, service, and the definition of “value” in a given context. Below is a four-step method for calculating your time-to-value accurately.
- Define what “value” means: Before you can measure TTV, you need to define what “value” means in the context of your product or service. For SaaS, it may be the time it takes for a user to complete a specific task successfully. When selling a physical product, it may be the time until the customer first uses the product.
- Determine the start point: Decide when the clock starts ticking. This could be the moment of purchase, the start of onboarding, the first email sent, etc. You may need to look at your internal benchmarks to determine the best starting point that your successful customers share.
- Determine the end point: Decide when the customer has realized the value. This could be when they achieve a specific outcome, reach a particular milestone, or derive a certain benefit.
- Measure the duration: Calculate the time between the start and end points. This duration is your TTV.
TTV = Time at which value is realized - Start time
Example of TTV
Let’s say you’re a VoIP service provider and you define “value” as the moment someone places their first online call. You just signed a contract for a business still using outdated landline hardware, and they’re looking to shift to internet phones.
- Start point: The moment your customer’s business phone lines are being migrated from hardware to VoIP.
- End point: The moment your customer places their first online call — realizing their monthly phone bill savings and added features they were missing out on.
- Calculating TTV: Migrating from hardware to VoIP takes two weeks, product onboarding takes one week, and an online call is made immediately after that. The time-to-value in this case would be three weeks.
How to Improve Your Customer Success Time-to-Value
Invest Heavily in Your Customer Onboarding
There’s always a level of excitement and expectation when a customer finalizes their purchase. This signals the beginning of a new relationship with your team, and if everything goes as planned, their investment in your product will pay off. The best way to capitalize on this excitement and satisfy expectations is through flawless onboarding, but doing so is easier said than done.
“The big challenge to onboarding is understanding all of the customer questions that could exist and consolidating how much information you provide to customers upfront,” said Emily Woodward, Community & Support Specialist at Teal.
“Information overload, especially related to tech tools, is so real. We have to be intentional about the guidance we provide, where that guidance points to, and resources that can be leveraged if questions still exist post-onboarding.”
Throwing the kitchen sink at your customers during the onboarding stage not only extends the process, but it can confuse customers when they attempt to use the tool themselves for the first few times.
However, limiting the amount of information you give customers during the onboarding stage in an attempt to shorten TTV can also lead to confusion and frustration. You’ll need to find the right balance that works for your customers, and this takes some refining over a period of time.
You can start by identifying quick wins, conduct guided walkthroughs with your customers, and schedule time to review intermediate and advanced techniques. This is one way to instill confidence early on.
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Understand Your Customers’ Goals & Objectives
Despite a flawless onboarding and product experience, what keeps your customers renewing their contracts (and even upgrading) is when your product helps them achieve their goals. This is why it’s crucial to understand your customer objectives early on in the relationship. If your Customer Success team is struggling to align with customer objectives, here are some tips:
- Identify Core Customer Goals: Engage in active listening during sales and onboarding conversations. Ask open-ended questions to uncover pain points, challenges, and desired outcomes.
- Maintain Documentation and Communication: Use a Customer Success Platform (CSP) to record and track customer goals. Regularly review and update these goals during check-ins or review meetings.
- Align Your Success Plans: Collaborate with the customer to develop a success plan. This plan should include milestones, resources (like training or support), and KPIs necessary for tracking progress.
Shortening TTV Using Your CSP
By centralizing all your important customer data, CSPs offer a complete view of the customer experience, highlighting potential bottlenecks or challenges before they become a greater issue.
Automated onboarding workflows in your CSP can expedite the initial learning curve, while health scoring systems monitor customer engagement, allowing for proactive Customer Success when you notice someone struggling.
Additionally, CSPs allow you to tailor customer experiences through segmentation and personalization. You can also integrate communication tools with your CSP to facilitate timely support and guidance anywhere in the customer journey.
Accomplish all of this and more within Vitally, and help your customers realize the value of your product as quickly as possible. Schedule a demo with a Vitally expert so we can show you exactly where our CSP can shave time off your TTV.