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Customer Success is Transformative—Our Transition to SaaS

Ralph Highnam – CEO – Updated on March 22, 2021

When Volpara Health Technologies first commenced operations, we were a traditional medical device company—we built software products, sold them and then went back to the purchaser when we had something new to sell. This capital sales mode of operating saw us increasing revenues year on year, but it did not generate firm and ongoing relationships with our customers, nor did it allow us to watch and learn from them to develop and innovate.

In July 2016, we transitioned from capital sales to a Software as a Service (SaaS) sales model. Over the last 18 months, that, and the inherent need to ensure all customers succeed, has transformed our business—not least by allowing us to develop and implement processes throughout the Company based around customer success.

Our breast cancer detection software has now been used in sites long enough that over the last few months we’ve begun witnessing firsthand the success this is generating for our customers. Our main commercial focus is the US, where there are mandatory breast density reporting laws in 32 states and FDA-related compliance rules, and customers (breast imaging clinics) generally seek two things:

1. Improved patient care
2. Improved profitability

VolparaEnterprise software is cloud based, which means we can collect vast amounts of data in real time. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive algorithms, we can produce powerful insights into site productivity and machine performance, and enable our customers to provide a more personalised patient experience. We actively monitor sites, see how and when they are using the software and, through our US-based Customer Success team, maintain ongoing contact and support. This team is separate from Sales and is charged with championing the customer, relaying feedback and comments which help to continuously evolve our product offering. They also collect the stories that our marketing team use to attract new customers: increased revenues by improved productivity (Florida), by increasing additional imaging (Florida), by reducing the need to recall women for repeat exams (Canada), with more to come.

The success stories help us build a picture of the ideal customer, which we use to identify sites in the US that can most benefit from our software and then track the key success metrics. The profiles help identify and generate marketing-qualified leads, which become sales-qualified leads based on interest and budget availability, which in turn become customers. We can tell these customers upfront how they should expect to improve patient care and profitability, and we can check back with them at various times to ensure they are meeting these milestones. Of course, all SaaS companies will find customers who are unsuccessful or those that simply churn due to management changes – these are exactly the customers where the customer-success team can learn most and to ensure we fit their needs better in the future, if possible, or we learn to avoid these sites to focus on the most productive ones for our sales team.

A constant focus on customer success runs all the way back through our Engineering team—when you walk into the offices in Wellington you see pictures of customers; at our team meetings we give customer profiles; in the early stages of product design we ask how the work will improve the key customer success metrics. Because of this focus, the Customer Success team at Volpara isn’t a sub-team; it’s run by the CEO and is top of our team chart.

Switching from capital sales to SaaS isn’t just a change of business model, it’s a commitment to ensuring your customers are happy, successful and talk about you to their peers. To get there you need to transform the company’s whole way of thinking.

Volpara has made great strides in this direction over the last 18 months, and it’s encouraging to hear endorsements of our products from customers who are renewing contracts and helping us build even better products.

Says Dr Gary Levine MD, Medical Director of MemorialCare Breast Centers, California: “VolparaEnterprise gives us the ability to monitor the technical quality of every mammogram performed at our breast centers. It is an invaluable tool used to consistently measure image quality and improve technologist performance. Additionally, with objective information rapidly available, we can more accurately assess breast density and identify high-risk patients requiring adjuvant screening.”

Dr Daniel Lee, Radiologist and Clinical Director of Imaging Associates, Australia, has provided a recent customer testimonial video, available to view here.