All clients provide value, but there are some, the 'super client' who change the way we do business for the better. Finding those super clients isn't as straightforward as it might seem, they might be the ones quietly and consistently using your product, and other times, they’re the ones pushing your support team to the limits with custom requests. For an early stage start-up, identifying high-value clients can mean the difference between boom or bust.
We want this article to serve as a resource for other B2B entrepreneurs who may be potentially overlooking clients that, with a little TLC, could positively transform business.
At uConnect, we’ve built a platform to make engaging with the college career center fun and easy for students, alumni and employers. We work with more than 30 instituions on a daily basis but our experience with the Marriott School of Business at BYU is one worth highlighting for the entrepreneurial tech community.
For an early stage company with a B2B SaaS product, BYU has been a dream partner. In the short time we've been working togehter, they've helped shape the trajectory of a few key parts of our business.
- They’ve helped us conceptualize some important new features and supported the expansion of our product breadth to better serve our entire client base
- They’ve increased their own investment by adding features and modules as they evolve how they use our platform
- They’ve made client referrals, on campus to their colleagues in other career centers, and off campus to colleagues in the industry
- They're even proactively sending us statistics about performance metrics. Who wouldn’t want to see screenshots of a 100% jump in enaggement in an email at 11pm on a Tuesday!?! (We now send all our partner schools weekly engagement emails)
You might be saying, ‘this is all great but, where’s the rub?’ The reality is that this kind of partnership doesn’t just happen. It is, at least in part, created by strategically supporting clients and guiding them to be a resource for your team.
In their first year as a client, BYU submitted more support tickets and requested more one-on-one meetings than any other client. While we’re always high-touch on any bug fix or best practice question, we often turned down requests that didn’t stand to materially benefit our network of clients. Ultimatiely, it was how we engaged with their team that made a big difference.
- If we had to turn down a request, we did with a thoughtful explanation about why we couldn’t make an update or why it wouldn’t be accretive. The extra effort helped them understand our rational and also reassure them that we cared A LOT about their feedback.
- On more strategic topics, we took advantage of their experience and thoughtfulness by discussing in-the-weeds topics like our taxonomy structure and how it impacted student alert notifications.
- After a year, they had built up such a strong knowledge foundation in their office that we brought some of the BYU intel in house by hiring one of their student workers to come join us for the summer in Boston (Hi Braden!)
Having said all that, if every client engaged with our team at that level, scaling would be a nightmare. So, how do you identify those clients that are poised to make a real difference for your company?
A couple of questions you should ask yourself when serving a high-maintenance but potentially hugely valuable client:
- Are they smart and thoughtful about your product: Are they asking intelligent questions that cause your team to think, or just submitting custom requests. Are they prompting you to think about new features and functions that you never considered?
- Are they sensitive to your company’s goals and restrictions For SaaS companies, most product requests can’t be implemented. It’s just not scalable. Does your client understand that you’re not creating a custom product for them and that updates to the platform should prove to be valuable for the entire network of clients? Do they understand, and more importantly acknowledge, there is a process for prioritizing updates?
- Do they have skin in the game? It’s easy to make suggestions, but how do you know they are not on a trial for an industry competitor or wanting to build it themselves? If you’re going to take advice from clients, make sure they’re institutionally committed to your product.
- Are they on the leading edge? Is the client a pioneer, pushing innovation in your industry, or are they struggling to keep up with trends and being inquisitive because they’re resistant to change. What other vendors are they using? Are they presenting at industry conferences? Who does their leadership engage with on Twitter? Does the press talk about them?
The old adage states, 'the customer is always right,' but perhaps true opportunity is realized when the response is more than a nod and smile.
Learn more about how uConnect gives all career centers the tools to be super
Steps leading to BYU’s Marriott School of Business, Fall 2016.