What is ‘time-to-value’ and why is it important for customer success? Customer by BRIANNA BLANEY June 22, 2021 Modern consumers are looking for value and solutions. If you don’t clearly present how your product or service solves specific customer needs, then marketing and selling your products will be a real challenge. When it comes to technology solutions, or how to invest in technology, businesses often choose providers based on trust in the brand. But they are also looking for a fast time to value (TTV), i.e. how fast will a product or service solve their issue and help them gain a positive return on the investment. The faster a business solves an issue, the stronger the customer relationship becomes. What is time to value? Time to value is a measurement of the time it takes from when your customer purchases a product/service, to when they start deriving value. The faster a solution solves a problem, the better the customer experience and the more money a brand makes. It’s as simple as that. Over time, you want to work toward decreasing TTV for your customers. A healthy TTV metric is an indicator of business growth and efficient operational performance. What does time to value mean for the customer experience? When it comes to technology, customers are looking for a quick return on investment. Every company has its own goals to drive the growth and success of the enterprise. Quick ROI is critical for successfully planning and evaluating infrastructure. Expedient TTV also helps your customers retain more of their own customers, which makes everyone happy. A brand’s ability to help a business achieve its outcomes depends on the suitability of your product/service to meet those goals. It also depends on maximizing the speed and degree of success during the customer experience. Therefore, TTV is both a goal and a key performance indicator. It requires an enterprise-wide contribution to delivering value quickly. It also entails consistently measuring how long it takes to deliver that value. A faster TTV is indicative you have a team that has made a commitment to continuously improve products and services; and gather, share, and act on customer data as soon as possible. Why is time to value important for customer success? The value created by a product or service is proof that it works. Fast TTV fulfills the promises made in your sales pitch. When you deliver value time and again, you build trust with your customers, making them more likely to become your brand advocates. Driving value forms the basis of a customer relationship, where consistent delivery increases satisfaction and cements retention. This continued nurturing of the customer experience leads to more long-term relationships and a lower rate of churn. Different examples of time to value TTV can change depending on the customer, industry, and services offered. It’s not about when a client becomes valuable to you but, rather, the other way around. It’s important to keep track of customer priorities throughout the entire sales process. Since TTV varies so much, it’s possible you may need to track several TTV metrics at once, including: Time to basic value This is the shortest TTV metric to measure. It’s the time it takes for the customer to realize they made the right choice. They are starting to see the most basic value from the product/service, but have yet to fully utilize it. In some cases, time to basic value can happen even before the customer purchases something. For example, a free trial or sample product may lead to a prospect already experiencing basic value. Time to exceed value Just like it sounds, this metric represents the time it takes for a product/service to exceed a customer’s expectations and convince them to keep doing business. This may come when a basic plan no longer meets their needs and they upgrade to more features. The more a brand focuses on time to exceed value, the more it increases customer lifetime value. When you keep exceeding people’s expectations, they won’t be checking out your competition. Long time to value Some products and services may take time for people to realize the value. In cases for software-as-service solutions (SaaS), it can sometimes take weeks or months to fully integrate systems and data across different parts of a business. If what you offer has a longer TTV, it’s important to continue to demonstrate value to the customer every step of the way. Short time to value Short time to value is easier to measure. Businesses have a need, they reach out, and that immediate need is met. However, the downside of having a product or service with a short time to value is that customers have less patience and loyalty. If a brand can do the same job faster, people often switch. Immediate time to value Some services provide what is known as immediate time to value. In this case, the reward is instant for a customer’s action. Any type of online platform where you paste a link and receive something in return is considered immediate TTV. Examples include picture resizing, SEO, filters, or link shortening. Best practices for meeting time to value goals The first opportunity to bring value to a customer is during the onboarding process. From product awareness to mastery, it’s all about progressing them through as quickly and efficiently as possible. Remember, a customer will always remain in the onboarding phase until they can independently integrate your product/service in their daily workflows. Until then, they will require guided assistance for a fast TTV. The sooner they can use what you sell by themselves, the faster they achieve value. It’s important to show the link between the problem your solution solves, and how that aligns with a customer’s business goals. Milestones should be set based on these outcomes and customer progress measured along the way. A brand must continuously engage to ensure buyers are on the right track and are completing the onboarding process in an intended time frame. Otherwise, there might be a problem you need to address. Want to know a few strategies to employ along the customer journey? Effective engagements Make sure you have set up engagements that are proactive and relevant. Use customer data to better understand their business and tech setup. Set milestones Base these on your customer’s goals. Understand how the consumer defines value and set internal goals to reflect these outcomes. Early warning Data will quickly reveal when a customer is struggling. Setup early triggers to alert your team when people need extra attention or help. Follow up immediately, whether it’s reaching out or scheduling a meeting. Anticipate needs Use previous customer experiences to keep improving and anticipate future needs. Be aware of potential bottlenecks during onboarding and have solutions on hand. Additional best practices for time to value An agile software solution Detailed onboarding guides Customer success managers Product usability tests When someone is looking to buy a product or service, they have specific goals in mind. They will consider your brand only because they believe it helps them solve these challenges. Providing value as quickly as possible is your way of saying “thank you” for the trust. Fast TTV also helps to retain customers, improve their experience, and expand your business through word-of-mouth (and other authentic marketing strategies). It simply gives people more reason to work with you. Taking results-oriented, goal-based action is your way of assuring people they have permanently found the rug. Customer Experience | Customer Relationships | Customer Success | Startups BRIANNA BLANEY Brianna Blaney began her career in Boston as a fintech writer for a major corporation. She later progressed to digital media marketing with various finance platforms in San Francisco. She prides herself on reverse-engineering the logistics of successful content management strategies and implementing techniques that are centered around people (not campaigns). In her spare time, she’s a self-proclaimed chef and lives in Dallas with a squirrel.