How to Learn from Churn – Quuu and Customer Success

May 04 2016 0comment

Recently I’ve been making a much greater investment in my presence on Social Media, specifically Twitter. So when I learned about a tool that would automatically publish curated content to Twitter on my behalf, I was intrigued.

Quuu works on a very simple premise: select the categories that interest you the most, select how many tweets you want to publish per day, and Quuu will schedule them through your Buffer account. Pricing is ridiculously simple: Quuu can schedule up to 2 posts per day for free (even more if you refer friends), or 10 per day for $10/month.

Why am I taking the time to explain Quuu? Because it provides the perfect backdrop for an examination of why customers churn.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

It’s exciting when someone shows interest in your product. All the blood, sweat, and tears (and more tears) are finally repaid when someone finds value in what you’ve created. But who, exactly, did you create this for? And what, exactly, are they planning to do with it?

Describing your Ideal Customer and acting on what you’ve discovered is by no means easy. Indeed, the concept of the Ideal Customer is a way of making the concept of Product Market Fit (PMF) more personal. We’re not simply designing for the larger market ‘out there.’ Everyone who uses your solution is a unique individual with unique goals… and you hope all their goals include solving a very specific need, the very need you have created this product to address.

What at first seemed like a perfect match between me and Quuu… actually wasn’t meant to be. I enjoy adding my own voice to content I share on Twitter, whether it’s a small piece of commentary, a specific hashtag, or by tagging the company or individual mentioned in the article. Quuu’s scheduled posts include hashtags… but not always the ones I would choose. Quuu often tags individuals… though I usually wanted to go deeper. And there’s no way Quuu could read my mind and insert the perfect comment without my knowledge (though those days will probably be here before we know it).

Key Takeaways: The boundary between your Ideal Customers and those who aren’t is fuzzy and always changing. If your customers find that they’re investing a ton of efforts into making it work the way they want it to work, that tells you one of two things:

  1. You need to examine additional use cases. This is a huge step and should not be undertaken lightly, since it will mean a significant investment of time and energy from everyone in the company. Sometimes this represents an incredible opportunity to capture a new market segment, but more often than not…
  2. That customer is not a good fit

What began as an attempt to leverage a “set-it-and-forget-it” application quickly became something I had to manage, which destroyed my original goal of automation. Yet, as it turns out, “set-it-and-forget-it” was the furthest thing from the founders’ minds when they first launched the service. In my haste to put a large chunk of my Twitter feed on auto-pilot, I totally missed the fact that Quuu’s founders never intended the product to be used in this way. I only realized my error once I shared a first draft of this post with founders Daniel Kempe and Matthew Spurr. I’ll share a few more of their keen insights below, since the mismatch between my goals and their intentions was drawn into sharp focus once I connected with them.

Trying to mold Quuu into what I wanted it to be, vs what Daniel and Matthew created it to be, actually made my Social Media planning more difficult. I’m guessing this would hold true for all cases in which your customer is not your Ideal Customer. I realized that adaptation and creation were two activities I didn’t want to outsource, and once I got to that point I reached out to Quuu to cancel my account.

Tech Touch

‘Tech Touch’ is a term adopted by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy in their book Customer Success to refer to B2C companies who engage with a very large number of relatively small-value accounts. In these types of companies, all interactions – marketing, sales, implementation, training, and customer success – are automated through virtual means as much as possible. Incidentally, though Nick, Dan, and Lincoln comment that it’s virtually impossible for Tech Touch companies to reach out to individual customers on a personal level, Daniel, Matthew, and their team at Quuu have done a phenomenal job interacting with their audience through Twitter, LiveChat, and Email.

Churn is a fact of life for Tech Touch companies, since it’s not worth anyone’s time to schedule regular one-on-one health checks and QBRs with every single small-value customer. By the time I contacted Daniel to cancel my account there was nothing he or his team could do… except LEARN from my experience, which they did masterfully (see below for the transcript of our LiveChat).

Key Takeaways: If you’re running an early-stage Tech Touch company like Quuu, you may be able to glean important information from individual customers about their use cases and goals. This type of data can be extremely valuable since these individuals are typically innovators or early adopters: they understand that your product is still a work in progress and they want to help you achieve PMF.

But if you’re not working in the unique context of an early-stage Tech Touch company, then the need for a comprehensive organization-wide approach to Customer Success becomes glaringly obvious. How else will you help your existing customers achieve their business goals? What else will force you to be rigorous when it comes to comparing potential new accounts against your Ideal Customer? How else will you aggregate and share feedback with your Product team early in the relationship with your customer, so that not only do they not churn, but you get closer to understanding what “success” looks like to them as quickly as possible?

Asking ‘Why’ Five Times: What Are Your Deeper Business Goals?

This is something that all of us in Customer Success need to ask our customers, both as a tool for greater connection and as a means of encouraging them to ask it of themselves. As an early-stage Tech Touch company, Quuu has limited options. They can design an awesome website (which they have), and be responsive and engaging in Social Media and Email (which they are). Beyond that… the responsibility for this kind of soul-searching falls squarely on the customer. In this case, me.

Why was I interested in Quuu? It would allow me to publish more content to Twitter with less effort.

Why was I interested in publishing more content to Twitter? It would help me grow my audience for articles and insights I share related to Customer Success.

Why was I interested in growing my audience? Because I want to learn as much as I can about Customer Success and SaaS from as many leaders in the space as possible.

In this case it only took me asking ‘Why’ three times to get to the root of a hard problem: the best way to engage with thought leaders in this space is not simply to publish more content, but to publish more original, insightful content. Though I would welcome the opportunity to write all day long – and I’m getting closer to this ideal every day – I’m not there just yet. So I’ve had to find the optimal balance between sharing awesome content created by people smarter than me, and punctuating my Twitter stream with articles like this one. At its most basic level, Quuu in its current form* proved to be an obstacle to achieving this goal, not a bridge.

I’m sure that Live Chatting with Daniel and sharing a first draft of this post helped them understand my specific goals, but that’s just the beginning. What’s even more important is that our conversation helps them focus on their PMF. In Matt’s words, “For us, we’ve always said that Quuu should never be used as a ‘Set it and forget it’ type tool, although we know a lot of people like to use it that way. We market it very clearly as ‘Content Suggestions’ for that very reason, because it’s intended to reduce the time you spend searching for content, and we provide them as mere suggestions to then be edited or deleted as the users themselves see fit.” (Matt’s emphasis).

Key Takeaways: Expecting your customer to do all the soul-searching, both before and after they purchase is, to put it mildly, unwise. As we move up the value chain from Tech Touch to Low Touch to High Touch, the personal nature of Customer Success becomes more and more vital. Especially in complex partnerships at the High Touch level, in which many members of both companies will be involved in sales, onboarding, and Customer Success, we need to do all we can to draw out their business goals and guide them to realizing the maximum value of our solution. This is how Customer Success teams can become trusted advisors across a company’s entire business, and not merely the part that’s directly impacted by the product at stake.

And that’s the best way to make it impossible for them to churn.

Complete Transcript of My LiveChat with Daniel Kempe, March 30, 2016

*Bonus: Once I shared a first draft of this article with the founders, Matt gave me an amazing sneak preview of great things to come: “We’re also working on the release of Quuu 2.0 which will remedy many of the common grumbles that people have expressed and this will be released in 2 months time, so very excited to announce that (!)”

Your relationship with your customers – past, present, and future – is always evolving. Someone who may not have been an Ideal Customer before might come a lot closer as their business grows and your company scales. Excellent Customer Success depends upon strengthening these relationships before, during, and after the sale, and especially after the customer churns. Knowing that a company values your input, even though it didn’t *quite* work out the first time, is priceless.

Written By:

Andrew Rhodes

Andrew draws upon years of strategic business consulting experience and is extremely passionate about Customer Success. Andrew is redefining the goal of Customer Success – it is not a matter of stopping churn, but of creating the business conditions in which churn becomes impossible.