Let’s speak facts:
A customer’s priority is not to achieve the maximum value possible from your products(read ’till the end), it is to achieve the optimal value in the shortest time possible.
It is unlikely that a customer will spend hours using your product which offers 2 times the value your competitor offers; if your competitor offers it in minutes…
So you should focus on keeping the process of getting value from your product as short as possible.
That’s where TTV comes into play:
What does TTV mean?
Time To Value (TTV) refers to how much time it takes a new customer to realize and extract value from your product or service.
A strategic business goal should be to lower your TTV as much as possible so that your customers can find and enjoy value from your offerings more quickly.
Irrespective of who your client is or how big they are – and regardless of whether they paid for your product or simply invested time or effort into trying it out – they will want value from what you are offering. A failure to repay a buying customer or someone who spends the time to try your offering with value as quickly as possible can make you lose that customer for life.
Different products, services, and industries have different times to value, depending on the nature of the product or service in question. Some products and services, as we discuss below, provide immediate value, and for others, it takes longer to deliver value.
Understanding where on the TTV spectrum you need to fall – and how to get there using data-backed metrics – is what you need to focus on.
Types of TTV
Here are the types of time to value that illustrate how varied different measures of TTV can be:
Time to Basic Value
Time to basic value is the time it takes the customer to enjoy any amount of value from your product or service.
The customer may not have tried all of your features yet or just used the basic, beginner package, but as soon as they extract some value from what you provided them with, that is the measure of time to basic value.
For example, if you start a trial of a SaaS solution and are given a few free templates or other benefits of a similar nature, the amount of time between signing up and receiving those basic benefits is time to basic value. Lower the time to basic value so that customers enjoy that initial teaser and are encouraged to see what else, how else, and where else you can provide them with value.
Time to Exceeded Value
This measures the amount of time it takes for your user to enjoy enough value that exceeds their expectations and makes up their mind to sign up for a paid version of your service.
This often happens after a trial.
Long Time to Value
This is common with solutions that can take a few months to completely onboard new users.
Custom integrations may be needed, or based on the client’s business or their product lifecycle, they may only experience value in a cyclical pattern and it may take weeks or months for that value or its outcomes to show up in their data.
Short or Immediate Time to Value
Some services have a short or immediate time to value.
Think of food at a restaurant, cleaning services, a haircut, or a public ride. For all of these examples, you very quickly – and very obviously – experience the value being offered, and it doesn’t take a lot to demonstrate the value being delivered.
The issue here, however, is that your competitors may be able to provide a shorter time to value or may provide value at a lower cost, so you must be ready to compete if you are delivering products, services, or solutions that have short or immediate times to value.
In all cases, you want to lower and minimize the time to value so that you can bring the customer to making the payment decision more quickly. Doing that involves wowing them with your product, getting them onboard quickly and seamlessly, and demonstrating your value as quickly as possible.
Why is TTV so important?
A hard truth especially about working in the SaaS space is that losing customers is easy, and customer loss – or churn – is very common in the early stages of onboarding.
As soon as you convince someone to buy your product or sign up for a free trial, the clock starts ticking and you need to quickly demonstrate value.
If someone spends time, money or effort setting up a solution or learning about it, they don’t want to spend a lot more time waiting to see what you can do for them.
In the past, it was common practice for customers to purchase perpetual licenses, so time to value was not as critical a part of business success as it is today. Customers were willing to stick with their purchase – especially because it was a sunk cost – and they would wait through purchase, deployment, and use until they could reap the benefits of the solution.
SaaS has made customers much less tolerant of such delays, and minor frustrations can lead to churn much more quickly. Shortening your time to value means your customers get a return on the time, money, or effort that they invested much more quickly so they will more likely stick with you than move elsewhere.
SaaS companies are all too familiar with the problem of having people or companies sign up for a service but not really use it. You may spend weeks or months closing a deal, tailoring your service to the needs of a client, or meticulously designing your features and the product rollout only to be frustrated with a lack of user engagement.
This is common when customers learn about a product, are interested enough to sign up or purchase it, or register for a trial, but are left on their own to figure things out themselves. All too often, SaaS products are rich in features, have poor onboarding, and suffer from poor integration or user-friendliness.
One thing that can help here is an automated on-boarding process to remove obstacles in the way of customers enjoying the value or utility that your product or service offers, the very value or utility that they signed up for, to begin with.
This discussion teaches us an important business fact: your priority should not just be to build software that works but to make it easy for the user to enjoy your working software and reducing (or, ideally, eliminating) the time it takes them to get the value they are looking for.
Quick tips for a faster TTV
Here are some foundational and quick-to-apply tips to reduce your TTV:
IMPORTANT: These are just the quick tips to reduce your TTV, I’ve listed a few thorough strategies you can adopt right after this section!
- Employ customer success managers who can personalize the customer’s journey.
- Design seamless product usability that is intuitive and straightforward. Base your design and process paths on user testing and usage statistics.
- It is better to have complete and useful features than to simply be feature-rich. A good product is not defined by the number of features it has but by how important the features on offer are to the needs of the target users in question. One feature you offer may be needed for one client niche and may be unneeded by another, so the challenge is to develop a balance between product fit and market fit.
- In general, it is better to narrow your focus. Just do one thing very, very well. Tackle an important but widespread problem, become the bottleneck remover for your users, and then expand your offerings to other customer workflows from that entry point. You must deliver value right from the beginning, but extra features can be added and improved over time.
- Improve onboarding. A beautiful, well-designed, and functional product is useless if no one uses it. If, after expending significant amounts of time, money, and effort courting users you lose them because they could not get the value they were looking for, low switching costs will have them quickly move elsewhere to find what they need. Don’t let that happen to you.
- Your automated onboarding process should highlight your value proposition and it should provide frictionless setup and easy deployment.
- Improve your documentation. Documentation may seem like a burdensome overhead to the high-performance engineer, but great documentation can set you apart from the crowd. Document well from the beginning and keep that part of your culture as your team and your product offerings and market footprint expand.
- Content is still king. Content is how you connect with your users and it is more than blog posts. It includes tutorials, whitepapers, workshops, and more.
- Finally, always quantify what you do. Set goals for time to value and benchmark your performance. Incrementally get time to value down to zero via well-planned, iterative steps.
5 Ways to Reduce TTV Today
Nowadays more and more companies opt for SaaS simply because it is a better way of doing business. It’s risk-free, easy to deploy anywhere in the world, and usually more profitable in the long run.
And as it happens, the TTV is a constant headline for SaaS companies.
You see cloud computing was supposed to be as simple as signing up, logging in, and getting to work, but it is never so easy, and everything depends on the solution or application at hand, the user’s personal or business needs and goals, and the process you designed for the user to use your solution and extract benefit from it.
Furthermore, when it comes to enterprise-grade SaaS, you have additional tasks such as gathering business requirements, customizations, various process integrations such as workflow and tool integrations, and user training.
Despite all of these additional requirements that can make time to value longer, proper planning can help you deliver business benefits much more quickly. These 5 methods can help you guarantee a shorter TTV:
1- Simplifying Your Initial Scope
Onboarding a new solution can be an exciting time for the customer.
And the customer will often look beyond the base use case for which he or she is turning to your solution, especially if the customer is ready to move on from using old, legacy systems, or they worked for a long time toward an upgrade and are eager to deploy it.
If you have the actual user looking beyond your basic features or services and then have other stakeholders expanding the scope of your project, this can jeopardize the deployment altogether if the ultimate decisionmaker does not agree with the increase in deployment time, cost, or effort the new changes in scope will understandably take.
Avoid such issues by striving for small, well-defined, and attainable goals for phase one of deployment.
The goals should deliver some value and should demonstrate other services or benefits you may be able to offer. With this momentum and demonstrable benefits, you can clear the way for growing the project scope at a later point in time. Sealing the deal, for now, is priority number 1.
2- Completing All Prerequisites Beforehand
Imagine booking a ticket and going to the airport only to find that you cannot board the plane because you do not have a valid visa.
Also known as a “hurry up and wait” situation, such scenarios can be very costly to both you and the client.
Make sure that all requirements are met, all needs are satisfied, all background tasks are completed, and everything is ready to go before Day 1, hell even Minute 1.
In the SaaS world, business approvals, authorizations, security credentials, and device installations are something we deal with every day, so make sure to take care of these and related tasks beforehand to minimize the time to deployment and any distractions from other issues when you are gearing up to demonstrate what you can do for the client.
3- Defining Stakeholder Roles
You know everything there is to know about your product, but you may not know everything you need to know about the client.
The client’s needs, the client’s work environment, or the industry in which the client operates to successfully deploy your solution for them.
It is very important that your expectations for what you will do, what you need from the customer, what kinds of access or devices or security credentials you need, and how your workflows or processes will be implemented or executed within the workflows or processes of the client.
Just plan everything out beforehand.
4- Achieving the Ultimate Coordination
To avoid issues during deployment, the customer should know that they must identify stakeholders or decision-makers and have them available for meetings that require their input or go-ahead.
Without these approvals and at least some basic level of facetime between your team and the client, there can be major misunderstandings and costly delays if you run into obstacles, unforeseen circumstances, or situations or needs that the client is unable or unwilling to approve.
5- Creating a Seamless User Training
Now this is the biggest tip in this article and YES, I’ve kept it for last.
Just think of your customer as a child who is just learning how to ride a bike which is your product.
Helmet is on, kneepads are in place, training wheels(which are automated onboarding elements) are up and running, and you are actually the parent figure that holds them during their first run(and this refers to you going into demos and doing 1on1 onboarding meetings).
They feel safe, you’re holding them by their shoulders and the training wheels are managing the whole balance stuff for them.
They will become more comfortable in time, no longer requiring you to hold them(end of 1on1 meetings), and after a while getting rid of the training wheels(end of automated onboarding).
What I believe is only after you take the training wheels out, you can truly understand what it really feels like to ride a bike. And only after your users have achieved the value on their own after their onboarding they get the complete value from it.
So even though it is great that you’re assisting them through their first steps, baby birds have to take a leap of faith to fly!
Where am I going with this?
If you teach them well during their onboarding/training, they can get to the real value on their own in the least amount of time.
Now if you have analyzed users’ pain points well, it won’t take much effort to perfect your 1on1 time with users.
Also, you won’t have to guess the questions in their heads since they’ll actually ask you.
It’s the automated onboarding part that concerns me.
For the perfect automated user onboarding, you have to play a guessing game if you don’t have behavioral data from your users’ sessions(start using Hotjar!)
But since you’re a great product leader, you already do. All that remains is to create the user onboarding experience so
go ahead and put in a request to your developer to start using UserGuiding for easily creating it yourself!
UserGuiding is a 3rd-party user onboarding solution that is perfect for companies that want to create the best training wheels out there.
Help your users through their initial experience with automated product tours, in-app messages, user onboarding checklists, and help centers; WITHOUT ANY CODING!
But don’t take my word for it, give it a try yourself and start for FREE:
Pinpointing when your users experience value can help you identify bottlenecks, improve onboarding, lower churn, lower acquisition costs, improve customer lifetime value, and track how well you are doing in marketing, outreach, design, and even process flow.
Helping your customers succeed with your product is the first step in succeeding as a company, and always design things from the perspective of the customer to minimize times to value and improve ease of use so that you become as indispensable to the user as you hope to be.