givefirst nadya collins
Sonciary Perez

Sonciary Perez

4 Ways to Drive Customer Success with the #givefirst Method


In our #givefirst series, we’re showing how the philosophy of “giving before getting” in four different key roles—Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and Customer Success—can help your SaaS company connect with customers, improve employee happiness, and make more sales.

Customer Success leaders are in a perfect position to apply the #givefirst mentality. We spoke with Nadya Collins, Chief Customer Officer at the donor engagement and stewardship platform ThankView, and also researched the philosophy of giving in business, to show how your team can benefit.

Why Give First in Customer Success?

Giving creates gratitude all around—in yourself, your teams, and your customers. “When you have a company that’s centered around gratitude, it tends to attract very empathetic, humble people,” says Collins.

When people feel grateful, according to Harvard Business Review, they’re more willing to help others, to be loyal even at their own expense, and to split profits equally with partners. And grateful workers are more efficient, productive, and responsible, too.

Isn’t that what you want for your SaaS company?

We thought so. Here’s how to do it.

Give Meaningful Gifts

When we think of giving to our customers, our minds often go right to gifts. And you start to wonder: What if we send all our customers an Amazon gift card? Should we get our logo printed on keychains and shot glasses to hand out on holidays?

But when you give for giving’s sake, customers see this as an implied exchange—that you’re only giving to get something back. “It’s great to give, but if you don’t know what people want, then a gift could come across as a bit of an empty gesture,” says Collins. “When you receive an unsolicited gift that you don’t attach any value to, it can seem insincere or inappropriate.”

That’s why Collins recommends surveying customers about their needs and taking note of their interests during conversations. If you have a community around your SaaS brand, this can also be a good opportunity to listen for clues as to what would make a great gift. Does a particular customer volunteer at a dog shelter after hours? Has another customer mentioned their knitting hobby? These insights can lead you to the most meaningful gifts.

Speaking of which, a gift doesn’t have to be a “thing.” A personalized video thank-you or handwritten note to a customer can be as impactful as a physical gift. (Or even more so.) For your Customer Success employees, it might be the gift of employee happiness instead of a branded hat. “Make sure that your employees are happy and feeling heard, and that they feel like they can do the job that they want to be doing,” says Collins. “When you empower your employees, it empowers them to help clients better, too.”

nadya collins quote on giving

Give with Purpose

Right now, organizations in many sectors are suffering, from foodservice to travel. Even businesses in less-affected industries are facing budget cuts and layoffs. And then there are the mission-driven non-profits—organizations that can always use an extra boost.

Why not give to your customers by offering them the type of extra help that only you can offer?

“Reach out to populations that are affected,” suggests Collins. Ask how their day-to-day has changed now that they have fewer resources, how they’re using your product differently as a result, and what kind of help they need. Then offer extra assistance and resources that match their new needs. Some ways to do this:

  • Create new toolkits just for these customers.
  • Develop guides to help them with their most pressing problems.
  • Offer special webinars or workshops.
  • Do personalized video outreach to customers in need.
  • Leverage your community. Are there any experts there who would be willing to act as a mentor?

You can give even bigger by creating a full grant or scholarship for customers who need help. For example, ThankView is developing a grant program for university athletic departments.

“They have been hit hard with the pandemic,” Collins says. “They need to revamp the way they’re using their communication tools and strategies to keep all of their communities engaged since the legacy way of connecting has become limited—or is no longer even an option.” The Athletic Relief Program will offer university athletic departments free access to the ThankView platform, a special toolkit for athletics, and extra consulting time.

But just throwing a bunch of freebies at customers is not the way to go. Collins learned from a previous grant program that you need to set expectations from the start, because the sad truth is that a lot of people don’t value products and services when they’re free and unlimited. Putting a time limit on the offering, helping the customer plan how they will use it, and laying out your expectations for the customer can help create more value around the grant.

Measure Your Giving

To get the most out of your #givefirst philosophy, try setting corporate giving goals for your Customer Success team. “I like having targets and metrics around giving,” says Collins. “It makes giving back not just a one-time project, but a part of your identity and your culture.” This might be:

  • Spending X hours on charitable projects each quarter. (This can help employees stay engaged; businesses with engaged employees outperform other companies by up to 202%.)
  • Giving away X grants.
  • Donating $X per year.
  • Spending $X on meaningful customer gifts each quarter. (Remember, though, it’s quality over quantity!)

Collins suggests not only setting targets for your giving, but also measuring the impact of your initiatives afterward. “You want to give something away, but you also want to make sure that the impact is something that’s tangible for the customer or their business,” she says.

Become a #givefirst Culture

Taking the time to give meaningful gifts, measuring the impact, and letting your Customer Success team take part in the giving will create a #givefirst culture in SaaS company.

Trading impersonal, misleading numbers-based Customer Success metrics for human-first initiatives counts as giving, too! We’d love to share how Quala helps you do just that. Schedule a time to chat with us.


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