Q: What were the signs you missed before you lost a major customer?

I remember the first time I lost a six-figure customer. It was a surprise:

  • They used the product every day, and constantly.
  • They had done a case study for us. In fact, they were on our homepage.
  • They renewed the contract and added additional seats.

They looked like the perfect bigger customer.

And then one day, we got a call. Our competitor had been there, on-site. And convinced them they had a better solution for a few critical 10x features. (More on that here: The 10x Feature is Real. At Least, for a While. What’s Yours? | SaaStr).

We lost a top logo customer with no quantitative flags. Nothing you could have seen.  Unless … unless you were there.  Unless you were really looking.

What should we have done? We should have:

  • Visited the customer. At least twice a year. We never did. It was all done over the phone.  Zoom is great.  It’s just not the same.  You don’t learn the same things you do when you show up.  This always works.   More here.
  • Mapped out and met all the stakeholders. The SVP of Sales that did the testimonial was just one stakeholder. If he was all that mattered, we would not have lost the account.
  • Done real, true quarterly QBRs with all the top customers. These would have highlighted any unknown feature gaps. Do these with all your top customers — not just the 10%-20% that want them per se. Start by doing the real work, and send out detailed quarterly reports to all customers at least at $20k+ ACV sharing all the metrics around usage, features used, value-added, ROI, etc. Everything you can measure. And you’ll get a bonus: they’ll send it around to promote themselves as heroes. And promote you internally.
  • Done monthly (at least) NPS surveys. This could have highlighted any hidden issues so we could have jumped on them earlier.
  • Truly asked what was — and wasn’t working.  And fixed what wasn’t.  This customer also needed a critical feature we were thinking on, but hadn’t rolled out yet.  We could have committed to building it.  We never asked.

Instead, we just looked at our “Health Meter” which showed a high level of consistent usage.

That was necessary. But not sufficient.  Hopefully, this post is obvious.  Hopefully, you are doing all of these things, at least with your larger customers.

But most of you aren’t.

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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