What is time to value (TTV) — and how do you measure it?

You’ve promised customers that your product or service offers specific ways to help them save time and improve efficiency for their team. They understand the benefits you’re promising and have purchased your offering. 

Now that they’ve taken the leap, how can you ensure customers actually see value in your product in a short amount of time? You’ll need to keep an eye on a key metric — your time to value — and use it to optimize your customer onboarding process. Effective onboarding provides customers with the information and support they need to quickly see the benefits you’ve promised the product can deliver.

What is time to value?

Time to value (TTV) is an important customer onboarding and retention metric that refers to how much time it takes your customers to see real value from your product after they make the purchase. 

Ideally, you should aim for as low a TTV as possible, which means your users see the benefits right away. If your TTV is high, customers will likely drop off because they haven’t seen the value that you promised them quickly enough.

Why is TTV important in the customer onboarding process?

Customer onboarding is the process of educating your customers about how to use a product effectively. In their marketing efforts, lead generation strategies, and sales materials, businesses primarily focus on the benefits that customers will gain from a product. However, if a customer doesn’t fully understand how to use the product, they’ll never be able to experience the promised benefits.

Measuring TTV helps you understand whether your onboarding process is effective and meets the needs of customers. When you have a high TTV, you should analyze your onboarding process and carefully dissect which aspects need improvement to help your customers see value more quickly.

How can you measure time to value?

To measure time to value, you first have to clearly define what value actually means for your customers. What specific results have you promised them? What specific benefits do they want to achieve? Value for customers can come in many forms, including

  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced expenses
  • An improved experience for their clients
  • Streamlined internal processes
  • A high-quality product

Keep in mind that different customer segments may have different ideas about what value means to them. For example, a small business account may want to see cost savings, while a large enterprise account may be looking for smoother workflows among teams.

Once you’ve identified the specific value for each customer segment, you can determine the optimal time in which they should achieve it. For example, customers of many SaaS products can see value right away in the time they save with the software. However, some software products, such as schedule optimization programs, won’t show their real value until the end of the month or the quarter.

Kevin Miller, cofounder and CEO of GR0, a digital marketing agency, points out that you‘ll need feedback from your customers to ensure they’re realizing value in the time you expect. Your customer success and customer support teams can use surveys and short check-in calls with customers to determine the average TTV metric for your business.

What strategies can you use to improve your TTV metric?

If your product has a high TTV, here are a few strategies to improve the metric by focusing on elements of your customer onboarding process:

  • Don’t dilute the message. If your onboarding process covers too many features in too little time, it’s possible your customers will get overwhelmed and confused. Pick the features that offer the most value to your customers and prioritize them in your onboarding.
  • Use A/B testing. Get fast feedback from your customers by testing different onboarding materials on different groups and comparing the results. You may get some surprising insights.
  • Remember that different people learn differently. Often, customer onboarding requires you to provide users with different ways to receive the same message. Some may prefer tutorials via video, while others may want information in a step-by-step blog post.
  • Think ahead. Katie McFarlan, CEO of Dakota Design Company, recommends giving customers the answers to their questions up front in a welcome guide. This helps customers recognize that the company is supporting them by providing answers to questions they might not even know they have.
  • Show before-and-after comparisons. Offer case studies during your onboarding so customers can compare themselves to others like them who’ve seen results.

Miller notes that organizations can reduce the time to value by always anticipating their customers’ needs. If you know what your customers want, you can give it to them before they even have to ask.

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