CSM Confidential – Part 1: Difficult Customer Conversations

CSM Confidential – Part 1: Difficult Customer Conversations 

 

Being a Customer Success Manager is difficult enough. 

Based upon the premise that customer support should be more proactive than reactive, the value of Customer Success cannot be understated. Between responsibilities like onboarding, advocacy, upsells and renewals, Customer Success Managers (CSMs) have cemented themselves as drivers of corporate growth. 

That said, thriving in this relatively new discipline is not always easy. Between difficult customers, a lack of executive buy-in and other challenges, being a CSM isn’t always a walk in the park. Wondering how CSMs really feel about some of the intricacies of working in CS?  

Continue on to read the first installment of CSM Confidential – where real-world Customer Success practitioners give their unfiltered responses to some of the most challenging, frustrating and cringeworthy situations that every CSM experiences. 

 

The Customer is Always Right, Right? 

the customer is always right, right?

As the adage goes, The Customer Is Always Right. But are they actually? According to two CSMs, the majority of the time, the customer is indeed right. While this isn’t always the case, (missed deadlines or a lack of adoption), it’s important to hear out customer concerns. Sometimes you’ll even have put your foot down in order to position your customer for success. 

 

“Nope! [the customer is not always right] Luckily, as a CSM for a software product, I don’t usually have to worry about my customers feeling like they are always right. I tend to work with really tech-savvy people who understand the difference between “technically as designed” and “bug.” They tend to be open to the idea that it could have been designed this way for a reason…. we just maybe don’t know what that reason is! 

One thing to note is how much I’ve learned from my customers. My organization’s product team has made some really big (and lots of really small) changes to our processes (and product, of course) as a result of Customer feedback. So even though they may not always be right, you’d be a total fool to not listen to them. We’re a much smarter company because of it.” 

-CSM for B2B Software Company 

 

Another practitioner added that while there is a lot to learn from customers, sometimes you need to draw a hard line. Reestablishing yourself as the product expert in situations like these are essential: 

 

The customer is always right? Allegedly! I always work hard to let the customer think they are right, but sometimes, as the expert of my software, I know better. As the person who works with the platform day in and day out, I am familiar with what the software needs to be utilized successfully. Sometimes that means gentle persuasion until the customer agrees with my point of view, and sometimes that means forcefully putting my foot down to adjust their perspective.” 

-Implementation Specialist for SaaS Startup 

 

Should You Tell Your Customer That They’re a Poor Fit? 

For most CSMs, one of the most dreaded situations is managing an account that just isn’t a good fit. It can be frustrating to deal with a customer whose prospects aren’t bright from both a professional and personal perspective. Whether the result of an overzealous buyer or an overpromising AE, poor fit customers are never good news. So, should you communicate to your customer that they are a poor fit? Or is it better to just sit back and accept that this account will likely churn? 

 

“You should, but not right away. A customer can be a poor fit and still find a lot of value out of your software. Chances are that you will be able to find some viable workarounds in your platform that will provide value. If there are no workarounds, then you can have the discussion with your internal sales team to see where the miscommunication in the sales process existed. If you decide to tell the customer they are a poor fit, I personally believe there should be a contractual discussion to follow, but each organization handles it differently.” 

-Implementation Specialist for SaaS Startup 

 

Another CSM, however, suggests a softer approach. They suggest digging deep to find the root cause of the poor customer fit: 

 

“Telling a customer that they’re a poor fit is a bad idea. That said, it should absolutely be something that you address, and challenge head-on as opposed to letting it go off the rails. First and foremost, your team should absolutely have an avenue to “rate” the deals that come across from Sales. Are they a good fit for your offering and solution? If they’re not a good fit, how does that impact the person that sold the deal? Sales has a tough job as-is so damning them for selling a deal can be a double edged sword, however, identifying trends with a Sales Rep that consistently sells the wrong deal could have major upside in the long-term for your company as they are less likely churn, more likely to be an advocate as a result of meeting their desired outcomes, and more.  

Tip: Create a field in your CRM that shows whether the customer is a Great Fit, OK Fit, and Poor Fit along with a corresponding notes field. This will allow you to keep tabs on which Accounts are good/bad fits and why.” 

-Customer Success Strategist for a SaaS Company 

 

Handling a Customer Who Ignores Deadlines and Misses Calls and Demos 

For CSMs who are working with strict implementation deadlines, an unresponsive customer can be undo many weeks of preparation. Facing these types of customers can be one of the biggest challenges in delivering an on-time implementation, as the success of many accounts rely upon one or two stakeholders 

One CS professional explained that the best way to deal with a troublesome customer is through communication: 

 

“As a CSM, my priority is to make sure my customer is happy, successful, and finding endless value in my product. When they aren’t invested at the same level as I am, it drags me down. Here, I try to focus on value and I make that clear to the customer. 

I try to schedule a quick phone call, and if that’s not possible, I write out my concerns in an email where I speak very frankly and say something along the lines of “Hi Jane, I’m really concerned about us not meeting your goal timelines on this project. Originally, you expressed that you wanted your team to be live on the first of next month, and at this rate I don’t know if that is possible. I fully recognize that you have a full-time job outside of this project, and I’m extremely grateful for any time you or your team can give me. When is a good time to spend 10 minutes clarifying our open items, next steps, and discussing a new timeline?” – and if that doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to say “My manager is really on my back because she’s not seeing this project move forward at the speed we anticipated and she wants to set up a time to speak with you to see what we can be doing to move this along.” 

-CSM for B2B Software Company 

 

The anonymous Implementation Manager we spoke to is no stranger to customers who miss deadlines. Besides establishing a communication line, they suggested taking a step back and looking at the big picture. When dealing with difficult customers, be sure to consider all factors that could be in play. 

 

“Ain’t nobody got time for missed deadlines! This is one that continues to baffle me whenever I come across this scenario. When an organization chooses to spend a large sum of money on a product, wouldn’t you want to put the manual work into it to make it a success? Now I must take a step back and remind myself: my customers are also human. There could be extra factors, inside or outside of their workplace environment, that can cause them to be this way. It’s key to remember to always be human and offer a second chance or two. I find that when you have a conversation with a customer to reset and inform them that they’re behind on a project, it kicks them into high gear to get back on track. If that doesn’t work, then sometimes you must loop in managers to ensure that you’re being heard, but that is as rare as it gets!” 

-Implementation Specialist for SaaS Startup 

 

Regardless of your Customer Success experience, difficult customer conversations never come easy. Whether dealing with missed deadlines or poor fit customers, always be sure to facilitate effective communication and be conscious of other factors that may be at play.  

While there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to these conversations, take comfort in knowing that CSMs before you (and well into the future!) will experience similar challenges.  

Ready for more unfiltered views on life as a Customer Success Manager? Subscribe to the Fighting Churn Blog and stay tuned for our next installment of CSM Confidential. 


Upcoming Webinar

Why It’s Time to Build a ‘CS Ops’ Role
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Jason Conrad, Associate Partner, Customer Imperative

Much like the evolution within the Sales team and the creation of “Sales Ops”, Customer Success is on a similar trajectory. It is becoming vitally important to drive successful outcomes for your customers (i.e. Customer Success) and it is even more critical to build out “Customer Success Operations”.

In this webinar, Jason will talk about the evolution of Customer Success Operations and how it can impact SaaS businesses. We’ll look to hit on several key topics including:

  • How to define the ‘CS Ops’ role
  • What’s it like to drive transformative change to internal processes
  • What types of metrics should this role be responsible for
  • How can systems and tools empower your customer teams

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post CSM Confidential – Part 1: Difficult Customer Conversations appeared first on ChurnZero.

How to Create a Great User Onboarding Experience That Leads to Product Adoption and Customer Success

How to Create a Great User Onboarding Experience That Leads to Product Adoption and Customer Success

This is a guest blog post by Andy Mura, the Head of Marketing at Userlane.


When you think of the reasons why churn happens, what immediately comes to mind? Perhaps product problems, loss of a key user in the account, a bad use case… 

Sure, these are some reasons why customers may churn, but the reality is that your churn rate is deeply connected to the quality of onboarding journey your users go through. 

And I’m not only talking about desired outcome churn or low trial-to-paid conversion rate that occurs when new users abandon your platform before turning into customers. I’m talking about long-term churn. 

Does this sound surprising to you?

Bear with me for a second while we go through the user adoption journey and you’ll see how customer success is tightly linked to the user onboarding experience and proactive support you offer.

 

The Beginning of the Journey

Your user adoption journey starts long before users actually interact with your product or platform. 

Your promotional activities and the educational content you share with your audience need to raise awareness about a specific issue and then link the solution to that problem with the capabilities of your own solution. 

User adoption involves making sure that every time an individual or an organization needs to tackle a task, they consider your solution as the go-to application. 

Outstanding brands create connections between customer needs and their solution. 

Do you need to improve team communication? Check Slack. Do you want to share large files with external parties? Dropbox. Helpdesk? Freshdesk. Online meetings? Zoom…

The examples are plenty. And in some cases, the same question might spawn two or three different answers. Nevertheless, the consideration pool for specific solutions is usually quite limited. 

When I give talks or hold seminars, I often ask people to connect a specific need to an application. The answers are normally quite homogenous in B2C (e.g. Music on the go: Spotify. Movies and shows: Netflix. Messaging: Messenger – or Whatsapp, especially in Europe – …and so on). 

When it comes to B2B solutions, answers may vary depending on the audience (for example, their growth stage, market they tackle, company size…), but the answers always point to two or three specific providers. 

User adoption and activation starts with making sure your solution is the first one that pops to mind when your users need to perform a specific task. 

This is the very initial stage in the onboarding journey that happens outside of your premises before prospects even engage with your assets (such as content, ads, website). 

 

Provide Value

The second most important element of user and product adoption is value. 

The subscription-based business model is rooted in the value your solution offers. 

One of the main differences between the old and the new economy is the fact that companies are required to design for value, not for profit or efficiency. 

The market for online applications is open and relatively easy to enter. Customers are very well informed about who the players are and what they can offer. 

Successful applications can easily prove the value they provide (from the onboarding phase on), keep reminding users of what they’ve achieved and how their situation has improved while accessing a particular service, and lead customers to success by effectively impacting metrics and KPIs. 

Value leads to success and, in turn, to advocacy. The key characteristic of successful companies is the fact that after reaching an ARR of approximately $1m to 1.5m, they witness logo growth without additional acquisition costs or activities. 

The success of your customers is the main driver of growth. Companies that focus their growth on customer acquisition will have a hard time balancing out their CAC over time and will ultimately fail. 

Proving value is linked to success. Success is linked to renewals, upselling opportunities, account expansion, and advocacy. These four channels MUST outperform other sources of MRR. And this only happens if customers see (and most importantly understand) the value they’ve been given. They have to realize that your solution is making a true impact on their operations. 

 

Feature Adoption

Another main trigger of user adoption is feature adoption. 

I’m creating this article in Google Docs. And I can imagine many of you also work with Google applications instead of using the most popular Office package. 

Why is that? 

Both solutions are cloud-based. Both solutions cost pretty much the same (if you only consider price per user for apps). Using Google apps is not perceived ‘startup-y’ anymore. Many large organizations work with Google instead of Microsoft too. 

In my case, I’m fully aware that Microsoft Word has tons of useful features that Docs maybe doesn’t. But I don’t know exactly which ones are useful, and I don’t know how they can actually positively impact my workflow. 

I’m sure that if I had a Microsoft Word expert next to me, they’d be able to wow me with some unique tricks. And maybe I’d get to the point of thinking, “How did I even work before knowing about this feature?!”

Right now, though, I don’t feel any urge to explore other solutions to find features I’m not even aware of. 

And that’s the key. 

YOU have to make users aware of a particular process that will improve their workflow. 

Before using Calendly (with existing contacts) or Drift (with prospects), it was perfectly normal for me to send out emails with four to five options to schedule a phone call. I didn’t think things could be different. But now, I would never want to go back to that “primitive” stage anymore! 🙂 

User adoption happens when users see the true potential of your solution and perceive its value. And this process is triggered by leading customers to adopting key features in your application or platform that differentiate your service from existing alternative processes or your direct competitors. 

Another example? I love Google flights because you can see charts that allow you to pick the best option when you’re flexible with your dates. They don’t just offer you the opportunity to shift your travel dates by two or three days. You have the full overview of the entire year. 

If I hadn’t known about that I wouldn’t have seen any advantage in using flights versus other platforms! 

 

Habit Formation

User adoption occurs when you foster user activation and engagement. 

Proving value once is not enough. Users must feel compelled to access your application over time. 

This is linked to a) the kind of solution you offer, b) your product roadmap, c) your customer success program, and d) your user experience.

Some applications are highly engaging and users access them on a daily basis for a long period of time (their customer lifetime cycle). Such apps create addiction.

Think of Instagram or Spotify, your email account, Slack, or Process Street…

Other applications are very useful but not strictly engaging. Think of utilities such as Google Analytics or your CRM solution.

Applications in this category can be more or less “disposable” based on how often you need to access them. Services that provide constant insights, tips, and solutions for optimization generate a routine that leads to high usage. 

Even though, honestly speaking, my Autopilot or LeadBoxer accounts are not nearly as exciting as the front page of Reddit, I access my account on a daily basis (sometimes even more than once) to read insights, monitor activity, come up with ideas…

Applications with low utility are more disposable. But this doesn’t mean that they’re useless! 

I couldn’t live without DocuSign or Short CM. But I only access such services when required. 

For some applications, it’s hard to impact the daily routine of their users. 

Your roadmap can partially influence that. Two important components in gamification are surprise and delight. 

Constant upgrades and new exciting features promote engagement and create a routine (provided that you have a great feature announcement process in place that leads to adoption). 

If you show your users that you care and shape your roadmap around their needs and requests, they’ll be more likely to engage with your solution more often. 

Your customer success program is key in this case too. It’s up to you to suggest new experiments, try out different solutions, and implement your application at an even deeper level. 

Engagement derives from know-how. Your educational content, your in-app support, and your check-ins should provide triggers that lead to activation.

Action derives from: 

1) Motivation  

2) Capability 

3) A specific trigger

Your in-app experience, together with your mail or phone communication, should provide these three elements and lead users to try out different ideas without uncertainty. 

Your in-product user experience will determine the likelihood of users wanting to explore and engage with your solution. 

Intelligent applications provide additional value with insights. Autopilot recently introduced journey insights, which allow you to spot problematic areas in your nurturing funnels without being forced to access and assess data and reports. 

Solutions like Autopilot, LeadBoxer, or Oribi force you to go back to your dashboard thanks to mail communication, intelligent insights that actually lead to action, and the introduction of new features that improve your customer journey. 

 

The Role of Onboarding

Finally, let’s see the role of your in-app onboarding experience on user adoption and success. 

Exactly as your promotional material might be the first point of contact with your brand, your onboarding process is the first point of contact with your product. 

Think of it as a job interview, an America’s Got Talent audition, or first date.

It takes effort to convince a company to invest time in you and invite you to a job interview (or to get invited to the live show at AGT :D). And it’s hard to convince someone to go out on a date with you. 

At the same time, it’s really hard for marketing to get users to your product and convince them to try it out. 

It’s a crowded market out there. It’s hard to cut through the noise, catch the attention of your prospects, and lead them to action. Every trial user is a huge (and often expensive) success! 

BTW always keep this in mind and show some love to your marketers, their job can often be frustrating! Can we have a “hug-a-marketer” day, please?

Anyway…

Now that users are in your product, it’s your time to shine, prove value, show how you can make their lives better, push exploration and feature adoption, lead users to quick wins, provide all the information they need to understand your product and integrate it in their business infrastructure, and set the stage for engagement, activation, and adoption. 

And you only have a few minutes. 

The first impression counts a lot. 

Again, go back to the example with a job interview or first date. Everything you do in the first minutes can negatively impact the perception of the person who’s ultimately judging you. 

And it’s tremendously hard to recover from a bad first impression. Think of a candidate who immediately seems confrontational and defensive or a date who makes loud noises when they eat and just keeps talking about themselves. When we get in touch with someone or something for the first time, our senses are heightened and we tend to notice every little misfit. We immediately become extremely sensitive to minor issues. 

In psychology, this phenomenon is called ‘thin slicing’. We make sense of the world around us through quick judgment because this process has helped us survive since the very beginning of the human race when separating enemies from foes or food from poison was vital. 

Some psychologists underline the fact that it might take up to seven positive traits to compensate for a bad first impression. 

Imagine starting your job interview already with a minus seven on the trust scale! The recovering process becomes a tall order. 

The same happens with your users when they test your software for the first time. 

A terrible user experience in the first initial phases might lead to them immediately dropping out of your application without giving it a chance. 

Say they’re stuck and don’t know how to perform a particular action. Or they don’t even understand how you can support them. Or they try something out and it doesn’t work. Or it could simply be the fact that it takes forever with the onboarding process before they even get to test things out…

Such a bad experience obviously leads to users abandoning your platform right away. 

But at the beginning of this article, we mentioned that the UX during the onboarding stage is connected to long-term churn as well. 

Think of it this way: You go on vacation and book a room in a hotel. The room is perfect. The service is excellent. You get in and you have everything you need. The staff is friendly and they cater to all your needs. The view is amazing, and everything matches perfectly with what you had read in the online description of the place. 

A couple of days later, the shower stops working. A friendly staff member comes in immediately and repairs it. Your overall experience and opinion hasn’t been affected by the incident at all. You’re still a very happy customer.

Contrast this with another situation in which you get into your room and nothing is as expected. Nobody helps you, it takes one hour to check in. You don’t know how to access your Netflix account, it takes ages to find the password for your Wi-Fi, the view is miserable at best, and the swimming pool you were promised is still being built. 

A couple of days later the shower doesn’t work. What would you do? 

You would go to the reception, ask for a refund, leave a terrible review, and drive away before even calling somebody to repair the shower.

Mistakes and problems happen. But we’re all more forgiving and understanding when the first impression was good. 

An issue that occurs in your platform seldom leads to churn unless that’s the last straw that really drives your user mad. 

A great onboarding experience leaves a permanent positive mark on the customer journey that will enduringly bind your users to your brand and product despite hiccups. 

 

Creating a Fantastic Onboarding Experience

You see now how mission-critical your user onbording experience is. 

It’s now your turn to create a fantastic onboarding journey.

 

Cross-Functional Effort

First of all, in order to create a remarkable onboarding journey, you need to understand your role in the process. 

Trial users are extremely valuable. Not taking care of them is like burning cash in a bonfire. 

Since onboarding is the key to successful growth (in terms of both trial-to-paid conversion and long-term retention), the first important principle is understanding that every department needs to contribute to the experience. 

Marketing, customer success, sales, product management, product marketing, business development, and UX design people need to cooperate, visualize all the steps involved in the journey (log in, in-app messages and support, mails, action flow…), and remove any form of friction for the user at each stage. 

Success depends on speed-to-value, UX flow, information, and communication strategy. 

Every department has bits and bites of information connected to the user persona, their expectations, and needs. 

A great onboarding journey can only be created through the combined effort of multiple units.

 

Set Objectives and Target Metrics

Every step in the journey should lead users to engagement, activation, exploration, adoption, and value. 

Set specific objectives and key metrics that define success. A/B test different journeys and don’t forget to create customized discovery journeys for different user segments to make sure you attend to their specific needs. 

Map the whole journey, the key metrics and targets, and the emotional state of your different user personas on your wall. Monitor and optimize every stage. 

Leads users step-by-step to success.

 

Don’t Delay Interaction

Quick wins are the key to engagement. As mentioned, action is connected to motivation.

The shorter the time-to-value, the sooner users will feel motivated to invest time in discovering more about your solution. 

Typical issues that delay interaction with your platform are connected to:

  • a long sign-in phase,
  • useless processes that can be covered at a later stage, 
  • overloading users with tooltips that only present elements in the UI, and
  • redirecting users to your knowledge base, a video tutorial, or product documentation. 

You want users to interact with your product as soon as possible, achieve their goals in no time, reach that famous “aha moment”, and fall in love with your application. 

You need to send users on specific quests and support them step-by-step with checklists and contextual help that guides them through processes in real time and directly on-screen. 

You need to present your solution while users actually complete tasks. Remember the adage: Show, don’t tell!

That’s the reason why successful applications implement user onboarding automation and performance support to segment users and create ad hoc discovery journeys that lead to key feature adoption and value without any frustration, delays, or uncertainty. 

In-app guidance is the key to reducing time-to-value and providing proactive support based on what the users try to achieve and their behavior. 

Your customer support might be excellent, but if your users reach out to ask for help, it’s  already too late. 

At this stage, they need to immediately feel autonomous and realize how your product story fits with their company objectives and personal KPIs.

 

Intervene

Dormant users require immediate attention!

Inactivity during the onboarding phase is linked to immediate churn. Users are only willing to invest more time and integrate your software in their business infrastructure if they can accomplish all the tasks you mapped in your onboarding journey within the first 24 hours. 

It’s important that you monitor behavior, set specific rules that trigger automation, and, in specific cases, try to manually intervene by setting up calls with tier one customers that seem to have a huge potential.

Not monitoring your customer health and their activity while you onboard them means wasting opportunities and limiting your growth potential.

 

Multi-Channel Communication

Use proactive support with in-app guidance together with in-app communication tools and emails. 

Don’t overwhelm users, but remind them of what they’ve achieved and suggest new ideas on how they can profit from your service. Always point them in the right direction based on what they’ve achieved so far and what they intend to achieve in the near future. 

Remove uncertainty by showing users that you’re always there for them and that you really care about their success.

 

Create Multiple Champions

The key to product adoption is company adoption. 

Don’t punish companies for adding seats to your platform. I know that some services’ pricing models are based on number of seats. 

Howevers, the more users in a specific account profit from your solution, the more internal champions you’ll have. And this leads to company adoption. 

The person who introduced your software might be promoted or moved to another department. Or they might resign their position. The more people rely on your solution to accomplish their tasks, the more advocates you’ll create.

Make this an important goal of the onboarding journey. And again, if you want this to happen, you need to guide users in their onboarding checklist, provide incentives for adding new team members, and show them how to do it (motivation, capability, trigger!). 

 

Provide Feedback and Reward Users

Your onboarding journey is based on actions. Reinforce positive behavior and provide feedback. 

Sometimes a smiley face when a user accomplishes a key task is enough (think of the famous ape’s high five in mailchimp). Sometimes you need to trigger automation, such as emails, in which you congratulate users and invite them to attempt other key tasks. 

The more personalized and customized your communication is, the better results you’ll achieve. 

 

Show Outcomes 

People don’t buy software. They buy outcomes. 

Provide users with clear reports and show them how their lives have improved simply by starting to use your service. 

Don’t brag about features. Explain what users managed to do with key events. Celebrate success with your customers!

I can’t say this enough: 

Design your product and the entire user experience around the success of your customers!

 

Your User Adoption Journey

The user adoption journey starts in the pre-trial phase with education and brand communication. 

The most essential phase is when users get in touch with your product for the first time. You need to deliver on your promises and drive engagement, activation, feature adoption, habit formation, integration, and set the stage for retention. 

Over time, if you keep delivering on your promises while constantly improving your service (involving customers) and supporting your users, their customer cycle will align with the renewal cycle. 

Your users will wonder how they managed to work before using your software and they’ll turn into loyal customers and advocates. 

As simple as 1,2,3, right?. Well, more or less 😉 

 


Upcoming Webinar

A Day in the Life of a CSM Using ChurnZero
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Bora Lee, Customer Success Manager, ChurnZero

Moving away from Customer Support and into Customer Success often brings up a number of different questions. How is Customer Support different than Customer Success? How do your Customer Success Manager’s prioritize their day? How can you most effectively manage the day-to-day without getting off track? This webinar will focus on helping you to guide your Customer Success team to more easily lead, prioritize, and manage their book of business in a standardized, scalable manner.

You’ll also see a brief demonstration of how ChurnZero’s Customer Success platform allows you to gain real-time visibility of your team and customers. ChurnZero is one tool that allows you to effectively manage your customer journey through onboarding, renewal and expansion.

Key Takeaways:
• Learn how to prioritize your day to maximize account coverage: high risk or low engagement customers
• Learn how to prep for internal and customer meetings quickly
• Identify key internal and external dashboards and metrics to share with various stakeholders

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post How to Create a Great User Onboarding Experience That Leads to Product Adoption and Customer Success appeared first on ChurnZero.

Summer is Here – Bring on the Customer Success Interns!

Summer is Here – Bring on the Customer Success Interns!

Summer is officially here, and many college students are searching for an internship. As you see these ambitious young people in other departments in your organization, like sales or marketing, you might be asking yourself if it would be a good idea to bring on an intern to help with your Customer Success efforts, and we think it is.

As you most likely won’t want to have an entry-level intern take over a portfolio of customers to manage, like the rest of your CSMs, there are still tasks that could be appropriate for an intern to lend an extra set of hands to at little to no cost.

Here’s four ideas for projects that a Customer Success intern could help manage for you over the summer.

 

1.) Write Thank Yous

Handwritten thank you notes are such a rare throwback to old-school customer service, because hardly anyone does it anymore as it’s hard to find the time, but they are always a pleasant surprise. That’s why it’s the perfect task for a college student (who also probably has had a lot of practice recently with graduation thank you notes).

Create a report of accounts that are up for renewal during the summer months, and as they close have the intern get a handwritten thank you note out to the main point of contact. If you have any branded swag that can be sent out in a package, even better, as people would be more likely to take pictures and post on social media, which would be an added bonus.

 

2. ) Create an FAQ

Any customer facing team has had the feeling of being a broken record, when it comes to informing their clients of certain information. But with the help of an intern they could take these commonly asked questions and turn them into a useful FAQ page.

FAQ pages are important because they save time for both customers and employees. Customers don’t have to go through the trouble of contacting a CS team to get answers to simple questions. Employees don’t have to waste time offering guidance for questions that are frequently asked and could be easily answered with a standardized response.

Have your CS intern look through support tickets and look for trending questions as well as have them conduct a few interviews with CSMs to get an idea of the content that would be valuable to include.

Creating this new deliverable will be a huge benefit for everyone.

 

3.) Conduct a Customer Survey

Hopefully your Customer Success team is already running regular (and automated) Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, but outside of that you might find that you haven’t surveyed your customers recently to get a more detailed gauge on their satisfaction and feedback.

You could use this opportunity to have your intern built out a customer survey and manage the process and data analysis.

This data could be used to help determine product or service performance, collect product feedback, identify opportunities for new products, measure customer loyalty, and find ways to improve the customer experience.

 

4.) Ask for Customer Reviews

Over the last decade, customer reviews have become a vital part of the software purchasing process, however the step of proactively asking for reviews from customers can easily fall by the wayside.

Use this time to have your summer intern pull a report of all of your Promoters (customers that gave you a 9 or 10 on their NPS survey) and have them send out an ask for a customer review on a review site that covers your industry (look at G2 Crowd, Capterra, and TrustRadius).

This is a small task of writing an email with the ask, but it will have major payoffs for your company when it comes to your marketing and customer acquisition efforts.

 

Hopefully you found these ideas to be helpful ways to engage your interns for maximum growth and effectiveness and most importantly, how you can help them learn about Customer Success first-hand.


Upcoming Webinar

A Day in the Life of a CSM Using ChurnZero
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Bora Lee, Customer Success Manager, ChurnZero

Moving away from Customer Support and into Customer Success often brings up a number of different questions. How is Customer Support different than Customer Success? How do your Customer Success Manager’s prioritize their day? How can you most effectively manage the day-to-day without getting off track? This webinar will focus on helping you to guide your Customer Success team to more easily lead, prioritize, and manage their book of business in a standardized, scalable manner.

You’ll also see a brief demonstration of how ChurnZero’s Customer Success platform allows you to gain real-time visibility of your team and customers. ChurnZero is one tool that allows you to effectively manage your customer journey through onboarding, renewal and expansion.

Key Takeaways:
• Learn how to prioritize your day to maximize account coverage: high risk or low engagement customers
• Learn how to prep for internal and customer meetings quickly
• Identify key internal and external dashboards and metrics to share with various stakeholders

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post Summer is Here – Bring on the Customer Success Interns! appeared first on ChurnZero.

4 Customer Success Lessons That You Can Learn From Playing Tetris

4 Customer Success Lessons That You Can Learn From Playing Tetris

I’ve never considered myself a gamer. While Guitar Hero was a part of my life growing up – though I never really nailed those solos – my video game consoles have mostly gone unused. Our time has never been more valuable, and between all of our personal and professional engagements, it can be hard to partake in leisurely activities like gaming.

Fortunately for us, gaming is no longer confined to consoles. With powerful phones in our pockets and an increased use of personal tablets, mobile gaming is just as popular and even more accessible. These days, we’re never far away from a quick game. After years of being an idle gamer, I’ve discovered my new go-to mobile game. I’m not talking about Farmville or Candy Crush, but rather the classic game of Tetris. Tetris, the tile-matching game that emerged from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, is considered to be one of the most iconic games of all time. But what could it possibly have to do with Customer Success? Surprisingly, quite a bit!

Continue reading to discover the four lessons that Customer Success practitioners can learn from this well-aged classic game.

 

1.) Think Ahead

As any Tetris aficionado will tell you, thinking ahead is of the utmost importance. For those new to the game, Tetris features puzzle pieces that fall vertically into place with increasing speed. Your goal as a player is to prevent horizontal lines of blocks from stacking until they reach the top. You can rotate the shapes, make adjustments, increase the speed that the pieces fall and strategically position them to destroy the lines and prevent you from ‘topping out’ and losing the game.

A similar lesson can be applied to Customer Success. In essence, a successful CS team is proactive – they think ahead. In fact, this is one of the major differences between Customer Support and Customer Success. If you are a Tetris player or a Customer Success Manager (CSM), you know that small actions can have huge impacts and yield unexpected results. As a Customer Success professional, you should always be thinking one step ahead. Whether it pertains to upcoming customer milestones or perhaps a potential upsell opportunity, great CSMs can identify small actions that can drive business outcomes. Just like adjusting blocks in the game, CSMs adjust and influence their customer trajectory in order to drive their customers’ success.

Unlike the game, however, there are tools and resources available that can help CS professionals decide their next steps. Consider a playbook or a customer health tool that can help you think ahead, recognize opportunities, be aware of gaps, and know when it’s time to pivot. Properly applying these types of tools are just one way to score a win for both your customer and your team.

 

2.) Mistakes Can Pile Up (Quickly!)

One small oversight can have a major impact on long-term customer success. Anyone involved in implementations can attest to this. No matter the depth of your client relationship, or your Tetris skill level, mistakes can result in immediate and profound consequences.

The same can be said when it comes to the complex nature of many B2B SaaS products. Customer retention is becoming a top-of-mind KPI in boardrooms around the world, and even the smallest errors can have profound impact on your bottom line.

When reeling from a mistake, remember to step back and look at the whole picture. Work to identify how the mistake happened, why it happened, and what is needed to rectify the issue. While the situation may have been out of your control, proper analysis and viewing the situation at a 10,000-foot level will allow you to identify and close any service gaps. But like a game of Tetris, time is of the essence when recovering from a misstep. Most importantly, should a crisis occur, don’t forget to communicate with both internal and external partners. During moments when you’re being inundated with calls and emails, it may be tempting to lay low and wait for things to blow over – this is one of the worst things to do. Communication is key to any customer relationship and a lack of proper communication can unseat any well-established relationship. By ensuring consistent communication through both thick and thin, you can manage your customer’s expectations even when the customer experience changes.

 

3.) Take Calculated Risks

In addition to preventing your Tetris blocks from stacking and reaching the top, another objective is to score the most points. Points are scored by clearing lines of blocks, with different scores depending on the number of blocks destroyed. It’s easy to clear one or two lines of blocks at a time, but you’ll get a higher score if you take a calculated risk and stack them higher. Customer Success also relies on a willingness to take risks. As you work to drive a forward in their journey, it’s tempting to do the bare minimum – with a variety of tools that exist to automate processes and send alerts, keeping a customer on the right path is easier than ever. Despite this, remember that a large part of the power a CS practitioner comes from their intuition. The intimate relationships that CSMs establish with their customers can enable your organization to take calculated risks that can drive even more success for your customers.

Like Tetris, some of the best results in Customer Success arise when you take risks. Acting as a trusted advisor, a CSM is well positioned to identify the calculated risks that can lead to immense payoffs. Whether sharing a potential product application or an alternative feature use with a customer, not all of your feedback will be considered a slam dunk by your customers. But for the feedback that does stick, your account will consider you their customer champion.

 

4.) (Customer) Fit is Key

In both Customer Success and Tetris, ‘fit’ is a key predictor of success. These key factors can have a profound impact on your success potential. In fact, customer fit can make or break your company.

For your Customer Success organization, the impact of a bad fit is more profound than any game of Tetris.

  • Poor Fit Customers Lead to Churn: The impact of churn on revenue cannot be understated. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to close the revenue gap created by churn (or a bad fit) by adding new clients – this is a losing battle. Just like in Tetris, poor fit is difficult to solve after the fact.
  • Poor Fit Customers Aren’t Easily Upsold: This ties in closely with the idea of trying to minimize the negative impact of churn through other revenue streams. A customer who lacks a product fit is less likely to be upsold or renewed.
  • Poor Fit Customers Aren’t Advocates: As with B2C consumers, B2B buyers are more likely to share an unsatisfied experience versus a positive interaction. In today’s hyper-competitive world, customer advocacy is more essential than ever. One poor fit customer has the power to undo years of labor.

Ultimately, customer fit is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Consider asking yourself what ‘fit’ really means for your organization. By establishing the types of fit that predict success when using your product, both your team and other stakeholders will know how to drive success. The question of fit should go beyond Customer Success. Proper communication with Sales can ensure that your ideal customer profile is being considered through-out the entire customer (and buyer) journey.

 

Feeling nostalgic? Test your Tetris skills by playing the game on Tetris.com. Looking for more entertaining Customer Success content? Subscribe to the Fighting Churn newsletter. 


Blog Author: Alex Weihmann


Upcoming Webinar

A Day in the Life of a CSM Using ChurnZero
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Bora Lee, Customer Success Manager, ChurnZero

Moving away from Customer Support and into Customer Success often brings up a number of different questions. How is Customer Support different than Customer Success? How do your Customer Success Manager’s prioritize their day? How can you most effectively manage the day-to-day without getting off track? This webinar will focus on helping you to guide your Customer Success team to more easily lead, prioritize, and manage their book of business in a standardized, scalable manner.

You’ll also see a brief demonstration of how ChurnZero’s Customer Success platform allows you to gain real-time visibility of your team and customers. ChurnZero is one tool that allows you to effectively manage your customer journey through onboarding, renewal and expansion.

Key Takeaways:
• Learn how to prioritize your day to maximize account coverage: high risk or low engagement customers
• Learn how to prep for internal and customer meetings quickly
• Identify key internal and external dashboards and metrics to share with various stakeholders

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post 4 Customer Success Lessons That You Can Learn From Playing Tetris appeared first on ChurnZero.

[Q&A] How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn

[Q&A] How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn

 

Companies work hard to attract and win their customers. They spend countless hours establishing key performance metrics and enforcing the appropriate disciplines so their marketing and sales teams can bring in leads and close deals to drive revenue and growth. Yet the amount of focus that leadership places on new business revenue is disproportionate to the amount of focus placed on existing customer revenue. After the dotted line has been signed, all of sales’ and marketing’s effort is for naught if the revenue is going out the door just as quickly as it came in.

A widespread obsession with customer acquisition leaves companies blind to the pool of revenue opportunity within customer retention. Simply, it’s much easier to turn a customer into a bigger customer than it is to turn a lead into a new customer.

To explore this topic, we hosted a well-attended webinar with Kia Puhm from the DesiredPath Inc. In the webcast we discussed how to measure and monitor revenue across the entire customer lifecycle.

Kia explained how a customer-centric model is predicated on an understanding of what the customer needs to be successful, when and how. Once this “desired path” has been codified, businesses can then develop an Intelligent Framework that supports every step of the customer journey with the requisite actions and skill sets, measures the progress of customers through the journey and observes how the framework is serving or hindering customer progress.

Customer Success ConsultantDuring the webinar we also had an excellent Q&A session with Kia that we wanted to share with you here.

Presenter: Kia Puhm, Founder & CEO, DesiredPath Inc

 

Q&A Recap 


Q: Regarding the formula you shared, is Customer Service costs simply a measurement of time x salary of humans involved in Customer Success/Customer Support interactions? Or is more involved?

A: That’s a great question. So first, start simple. What I would do, is urge companies to do a cost basis accounting of – what is the effort that they outline in their playbooks that aligns to their customer’s desired path. Now, you’ve got what the effort should be to get customers across the desired path. Then you can start to measure whether the effort to get the customers to their desired path on average, needs more effort than that, less effort that, or is on par. This is where you start to truly see whether the plays you’ve identified and the effort that you’ve aligned to the desired path, if it is enough or too much. You can then start to adjust accordingly depending on what you find.

 

Q: How does payback period play into this? Does reaching profitability on a particular customer acquisition change the approach at all?

A: What I find is that we are not measuring post-sales customer progress at all. And so right now it’s about instituting the model that allows you to measure and see how aligned your efforts are to that desired path. You certainly want to have other KPIs, as this is not in isolation or a replacement of those. You want to measure time to adoption, and you want to see time to value. Those are all key metrics that should be used in conjunction in your analysis.

So, if you start to measure effort and let’s say you need to do more work or less work to get customers to their desired path, but you might find that you are slowing adoption, you might want to start to analyze that. Maybe by slowing down adoption at the beginning it might ultimately result in better revenue expansion later on. Maybe you’re slowing down to what they need to get to their maturity up to allow them to adopt the usage properly and maybe you were going too fast before. So, maybe increasing that adoption time was actually a good thing.

Here’s where you have to start to look at everything in a holistic manner and on a bigger scale.

 

Q: How would you recommend setting those metrics to be the best representation of the situation of the customer along their journey for the first time and how do you iterate and improve on those?

A: The answer there would be to literally map out what the customer’s desired path is from your customer’s perspective. What does the journey look like to them? Not just to learn how they use your product, like what buttons they click etc. but really know what does it take for them to understand how to leverage it within their environment so that they’re getting business value. Understand what that journey looks like, understand what those activities look like to support that process.

And then what the beauty of an intelligent framework is that you can now start to validate it. You can do that by going to some customers and asking if that journey resonates with them, is that truly their journey? But then you can also start to use it in operations and begin to validate it because you’ve got this feedback and you are measuring customers going through the journey and you’re measuring your work effort. You can then start to see where there are discrepancies based on the model, and then that is the feedback that then helps you continue to look at areas within the journey that you might have had misconceptions about. It allows you to validate things, but it also allows you to change things that you might have been wrong about previously.

 

Q: What can a business that doesn’t really understand its customers (i.e. a startup that doesn’t have a lot of data or customers yet) do to get started?  Is the framework still valid?

A: Absolutely. It’s still valid and just to my last point it’s an intelligent framework. It’s holistic, it’s intelligent, and its results driven. What that means is, if you are a startup and you might be still in the product fit phase, I would encourage you to define what you believe the hypothesis is for your customer journey. You obviously started out the company and developed a product to fit a market need and presumably you’ve got some sort of expertise within that market need, so you might be very familiar with it. You might have been in that situation yourself. And so, map out that journey of what you think it is. Map out the playbook that you think should support that journey and then start to work with your beta customers to do some market research to validate it.  Because now you have something on paper that you can actually validate vs. having nothing at all and then trying to figure out, okay, how do I support customers?

So, the model works at all sizes and it probably will advance your Customer Success faster by putting that learning muscle to work for your organization and becoming customer-centric by continually observing from your customers.

 

Q: What are some common mistakes that companies make in trying to keep their customer revenue?

A: I talk about random acts of Customer Success often. I find that we with all the best intentions go out there and look for all the best practices. So now that Customer Success continues to mature as a disciple and becomes a little but more repeatable, we’re borrowing all of these notions of a quarterly business review or a success review or a value review or a renewal plan or we’re doing Customer Success plans,  but if we’re just taking all these things and then inserting them into our organization and then doing them at the customer without understanding their desired path in the context of how and what their journey is like, we’re doing Customer Success at them and not for them. And they don’t become best practices when we do them without the context of the customer in mind.

So, I think that some of the biggest mistakes I see is when companies truly don’t understand their customers and why they purchased the products to leverage what they want to do to achieve their own business outcomes. So, what are those desired outcomes? And what’s the value they’re looking for? How do those customers internalize the change that your products or services could potentially be bringing into their organization? How do all of these things drive successful adoption and usage and expansion? So, understanding the customer and not just taking “best practices” in isolation and doing these random acts of Customer Success at your customer, but tying them up holistically by understanding that desired path then aligning them allows you to start doing things for customers and that makes a huge difference in revenue.

 

Thanks to Kia for the excellent presentation on how to better understand our customers’ desired path. If you would like to view the webinar on-demand you can do so here. 

We hope you will be able to join us for our next webinar!


Upcoming Webinar

A Day in the Life of a CSM Using ChurnZero
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Bora Lee, Customer Success Manager, ChurnZero

Moving away from Customer Support and into Customer Success often brings up a number of different questions. How is Customer Support different than Customer Success? How do your Customer Success Manager’s prioritize their day? How can you most effectively manage the day-to-day without getting off track? This webinar will focus on helping you to guide your Customer Success team to more easily lead, prioritize, and manage their book of business in a standardized, scalable manner.

You’ll also see a brief demonstration of how ChurnZero’s Customer Success platform allows you to gain real-time visibility of your team and customers. ChurnZero is one tool that allows you to effectively manage your customer journey through onboarding, renewal and expansion.

Key Takeaways:
• Learn how to prioritize your day to maximize account coverage: high risk or low engagement customers
• Learn how to prep for internal and customer meetings quickly
• Identify key internal and external dashboards and metrics to share with various stakeholders

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post [Q&A] How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn appeared first on ChurnZero.

12 Steps to Conducting a Productive Customer Success Brainstorming Session

12 Steps to Conducting a Productive Customer Success Brainstorming Session

Automation is a game-changer for almost any department, but surprisingly Customer Success teams are a bit behind some of their counterparts (i.e. Marketing and Sales) when it comes to adopting technology to allow for automated workflows. This is especially surprising given the long customer lifecycles, Customer Success Managers are on tap to nurture and grow; from onboarding, to adoption, to renewal to advocacy.

So why is it that not all Customer Success teams have become pros when it comes to CS automation?

Maybe it’s because the idea of sitting down to think through opportunities to implement automation, and what that process might look like, seems a bit daunting?

Well, we are here to tell you, it’s doable and is so worth the effort! In fact, our own Customer Success team recently had a working session to look for more automation opportunities in our own day-to-day activities (yes, we drink our own champagne 🥂). And we wanted to share with you what that looked like so you can get inspired to do the same with your team.

Automated Plays Working Session

Let’s set the stage: You are in the midst of ChurnZero Admin Training Bootcamp. You recently learned about Segments and Alerts in Session #1, and already built out a few of each. It was easier than you thought – yeah!

Now it’s time for Admin Training Session #2: Plays. You learn about all the possibilities and your gears are turning with glee at all the processes your CS team will be able to automate with Plays. But where to start? How to begin?

Our recommendation: A CS team working session!

Remember, the ChurnZero CSMs are ChurnZero users just like you. We are you: busy CSMs who value efficiency and utilize ChurnZero on a daily basis to manage our books of business. To do this efficiently, we take the time to discuss our goals for using ChurnZero, plan out our configurations, and then execute them as a team.

Here are our tips we want to share with you.

A Dozen Do’s for a Successful Customer Success Team Working Session

  1. Make the time. It can be difficult to get your entire team together. We get it. All you need is a one-hour block of time. Choose a date and time in the coming weeks and stick to it.
  2. Get together. Some teams are all in one location and other teams are remote. It’s 2019 – this is normal. If it is possible to all physically get together for this session, do it! If not, then consider a video session. Order lunch for the group and make it a team bonding event.
  3. Hold hands. Just kidding. But wouldn’t this be cute?
  4. Plan ahead. Let’s make this session count! A week before the meeting, gather ideas from the team and narrow in on two or three Play ideas to work on during the session.  
  5. Positivity. In our recent team session, we focused on positive reinforcement and using Plays to high five our customers who are using our system well. Sometimes as CSMs we are focused on looking for customers who are underutilizing the system. But what about congratulating the people who are consistently using your system to do great things?
  6. Tailor the message. If the goal of the Play is to communicate with your customer, you have some options. Think about which format will be most effective: an email or an in-app message? Which contacts should receive the message, and when?
  7. Stay focused. This is one hour of focused time. It’s easy to get sidetracked by emails, chats, and other colleagues. Turn off notifications for this hour (gasp!) so the team can tune out distractions.
  8. Talk it out. Have you ever created a Contact Segment and then thought, is this really right? Talk out loud as a team to determine the best Segment criteria to power your Play. And preview the results to make sure it’s reflective of the audience you seek.
  9. Draw it out. So many of us are visual learners. Grab a whiteboard (physical or virtual) and draw out your plan. This is especially helpful if you are planning multiple Plays that will work concurrently or sequentially.
  10. Allow for review. Your Play might not be perfect from the get-go. This is normal. If the Play is meant to automate an email or in-app message to your customer, set it up to require review from the CSM so your team can evaluate the people entering the Play, and the Play message, for the first two weeks the Play is live.
  11. Debrief. So, how did it go? Was this a productive team working session? Chat as a team about what went well and what could be improved upon, so your next team session is even better.
  12. Refine after two weeks. Circle back as a team (virtually, by email) to discuss any tweaks needed. Use the ChurnZero Play Report to see which contacts have run through the Play so far, if they have viewed the message, and/or clicked within it. Modify as needed.   

So, what does a Customer Success team working session actually look like? Buckle up, because here is the ChurnZero CS team in our recent Plays working session.

Blog Author: Naomi Aiken, Customer Success Manager, ChurnZero

Naomi Aiken, Customer Success ManagerNaomi Aiken is a Customer Success Manager at ChurnZero. She joined ChurnZero in 2018 after a decade’s worth of experience in SaaS software implementation and consulting for higher education. When she’s not busy helping clients become rockstar CSMs she’s spending time with her husband, two beautiful kids and their rescue puggle, Ernie.


Upcoming Webinar

How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Customer Success ConsultantSpeaker: Kia Puhm, Founder & CEO, DesiredPath Inc.

Companies work hard to attract and win their customers. They spend countless hours establishing key performance metrics and enforcing the appropriate disciplines so their marketing and sales teams can bring in leads and close deals to drive revenue and growth. Yet the amount of focus that leadership places on new business revenue is disproportionate to the amount of focus placed on existing customer revenue. After the dotted line has been signed, all of sales’ and marketing’s effort is for naught if the revenue is going out the door just as quickly as it came in.

A widespread obsession with customer acquisition leaves companies blind to the pool of revenue opportunity within customer retention. Simply, it’s much easier to turn a customer into a bigger customer than it is to turn a lead into a new customer. And yet …

This session will define “the customer funnel” and help attendees, for the first time, measure and monitor revenue across the entire customer lifecycle in order to keep the revenue they worked so hard to earn.

Attendees of this webinar will learn how to:

  • Use the customer journey as the desired path to success
  • Build an intelligent framework that aligns your business to your customer’s
  • Use industry-first metrics to measure how effectively your company is managing customer journeys

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post 12 Steps to Conducting a Productive Customer Success Brainstorming Session appeared first on ChurnZero.

Churn Monster: Championless

Churn Monster #12: Championless

It’s now been a full year since we first launched the churn monster blog series, can you believe it? Over the course of the past year we have featured a new churn monster each month and taken a look at a life-like scenario involving that churn monster (i.e. customer churn risk) and how that churn monster might be successfully defeated.

customer churn monster championlessWe hope you have found the advice to be useful in overcoming common obstacles in your customer retention efforts.

Today, we are going to talk about a championless churn monster. This is when a customer who used to be your advocate or main point of contact at an account has left their role at the company, leaving you championless, making the likelihood of a renewal uncertain.

Let’s take a look at a scenario involving a championless churn monster and see what you can do as a Customer Success Manager in this situation.

The Scenario

You come back to your computer after lunch one day at work to see that you have received an automated alert from your Customer Success management platform notifying you that, Cayleigh, a main point of contact at one of your customer accounts, hasn’t signed into your product in the last 15 days. Since she is a power user and typically logs in a few times a week, you immediately find this strange.

It’s been a little bit of time since your last check-in with Cayleigh and you wonder if she is just on an extended vacation? You decide to shoot Cayleigh a note to make sure everything is okay, and you automatically get a bounce back email saying that Cayleigh is no longer with the company.

This is definitely not what you wanted to hear. You are worried with your champion gone a lot of things about the account become rather unclear. What do you do?

Plan of Action

First, you decide to look Cayleigh up on LinkedIn, and send her a private message. After chatting with her, you come to find out that there was a bit of a re-org and she was unexpectedly let go from the company. You really enjoyed working together with Cayleigh, so you are sorry to hear this news.

You let her know you will keep an ear out with your other accounts that are in her area, to see if they have any job openings that she might be a good fit for. You also ask for more details about the re-org and get her advice on who might be the best person for you to reach out to in her absence.

As it turns out, Cayleigh’s direct report is still with the organization, and she feels she would be the best person to reach out to. You thank Cayleigh for the information, wish her luck in her search and let her know you will be in touch with any job opportunities you become aware of.

You then send an email to the person that Cayleigh suggested, saying you would like to set up a call to chat about the recent business changes and offer your assistance during this time of transition. During this call you recommend getting the remaining team members up to speed on the platform and to fill them in on projects that Cayleigh had on deck.

You schedule a training session with Cayleigh’s direct report and one other team member. Both of them are really blown away with the capabilities of the platform and seem excited about taking over the projects.

After two months you have gotten things fully back up to speed to where they used to be prior to Cayleigh’s departure, and you have two new champions, leaving you less vulnerable like you were before with only one power user.

Even better you were able to send a job lead over to Cayleigh and she has since started a new role at one of your existing customer accounts, which is a win-win – that you were able to help out a customer and you now have an instant champion at that company.

Cayleigh’s old company has also since come up for renewal, and with your two new champions in place and the progress they were both able to make in the last few months, getting that approved was a piece of cake.

Awesome job at defeating that customer churn monster and winding up on top!

Follow the links below to check out the other churn monsters we’ve covered over the past year.

customer success software churn monster playbook
To learn more about the churn monsters that might be in your closet, download our churn monster playbook, which can be your definitive guide in fighting customer churn.

Download Now


Upcoming Webinar

How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Customer Success ConsultantSpeaker: Kia Puhm, Founder & CEO, DesiredPath Inc.

Companies work hard to attract and win their customers. They spend countless hours establishing key performance metrics and enforcing the appropriate disciplines so their marketing and sales teams can bring in leads and close deals to drive revenue and growth. Yet the amount of focus that leadership places on new business revenue is disproportionate to the amount of focus placed on existing customer revenue. After the dotted line has been signed, all of sales’ and marketing’s effort is for naught if the revenue is going out the door just as quickly as it came in.

A widespread obsession with customer acquisition leaves companies blind to the pool of revenue opportunity within customer retention. Simply, it’s much easier to turn a customer into a bigger customer than it is to turn a lead into a new customer. And yet …

This session will define “the customer funnel” and help attendees, for the first time, measure and monitor revenue across the entire customer lifecycle in order to keep the revenue they worked so hard to earn.

Attendees of this webinar will learn how to:

  • Use the customer journey as the desired path to success
  • Build an intelligent framework that aligns your business to your customer’s
  • Use industry-first metrics to measure how effectively your company is managing customer journeys

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post Churn Monster: Championless appeared first on ChurnZero.

5 Tips For Dealing with An Angry Customer (The Right Way!)

5 Tips for Dealing with An Angry Customer (The Right Way!)


I
t’s any customer-facing team’s worst nightmare – an angry customer. No matter the business, a frustrated customer creates a difficult situation for your team. Are you wondering how to transform a shaky customer encounter into positive resolution? Read on to learn 5 tips that will help you manage an angry customer and recover from difficult interactions. 

Tip 1: Stay Calm and Carry On 

There’s little doubt that word choice and tone can influence your customer interactions. In fact, a 1967 study by Albert Mehrabian developed the “7% – 38% – 55% Rule.” The rule determined that communication is made up of three parts: 

  1.       Your Words Used 7%
  2.       Your Tone of Voice 38%
  3.       Your Body Language 55%


When dealing with a difficult customer, remember that your initial reaction is just as important as your solution. An anxious or uncertain tone can rile up a customer. Likewise, improper word choice can create communication gaps that add to a customer’s frustration. It’s not just about what you say, but rather how you say it. 

By remaining calm and collected, you will be better equipped to provide the stability your customer seeks. By not taking your customer’s frustration personally, you can focus on keeping your communication concise and effective. 

Tip 2. Validate Your Customer Concerns 

If the customer wasn’t angry, they probably wouldn’t care. And a customer that doesn’t care is a customer that is likely to churn. 

Remember that as a Customer Success professional your goals are aligned – both you and your customer want to drive value out of your product. Communicate an understanding of why your customer is upset – when possible identify with what they are going through. Just remember – you’re not necessarily accepting blame or apologizing. You are rather validating their concerns and displaying empathy. A high functioning Customer Success team not only proves itself by solving difficult issues, but by validating the reasons why the customer chose to do business with them in the first place.   

Tip 3. Map Out Your Customer Journey (and Account for Detours!) 

A Customer’s Journey often takes unexpected detours throughout their lifecycle. When encountering a situation that has the potential to change the customer’s path, be sure to share updates and manage expectations. 

For a frustrated customer, one of the most difficult obstacles is dealing with the unknown. When it comes to an implementation schedule or other important deadlines, a lack of forward-facing visibility can be scary. By continuously mapping out your customer journey and accounting for last minute changes, your CS team will better manage their customer relationships. Your customer should always know their path to success and next steps – regardless of any bumps in the road. 

 

Tip 4. Emphasize Active Listening 

Active listening is key to building trust, especially when dealing with an upset customer. Close those open browser tabs and put away your phone! When you’re fully present in the moment, a customer will notice your engaged presence in the conversation. Similarly, customers who raise concerns sometimes feel that they lack a voice. By listening to your customer and paraphrasing their important key points, your customer will be assured that they are indeed being heard out. 

Besides its ability to de-escalate interactions, active listening enables you to better pickup on subtle cues. What seemed like a minor issue could rather signal a larger challenge. Keep an eye out for any hints, comments or language that may indicate your customer’s health is slipping. 


Tip 5. Encourage Selfcare
 

Selfcare is often an afterthought when it comes to dealing with angry customers. As someone that serves on the front lines of customer interactions, some days are more difficult than others. While often overlooked, self-care pays dividends both in and out of the workplace. A happy, clear headed and productive employee is an employee that is equipped to deliver an exceptional customer experience. 

Don’t be afraid to take a walk between calls or catch a breath of fresh air. An overworked and exhausted team will have difficulties exceeding customer expectations. Encouraging vacation breaks, setting boundaries and practicing mindfulness are just a few ways to build a team that is sustainable for the long term.  

By promoting self-care your team is doing something that is not only good for your employees, but also for your business. After all, you must take care of yourself if you plan to take care of others. 

Looking for more tips on how energize your Customer Success Function? Subscribe to our Fighting Churn Newsletter for more ideas and inspiration on retaining your customers. 

Blog Author: Alex Weihmann


Upcoming Webinar

How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Customer Success ConsultantSpeaker: Kia Puhm, Founder & CEO, DesiredPath Inc.

Companies work hard to attract and win their customers. They spend countless hours establishing key performance metrics and enforcing the appropriate disciplines so their marketing and sales teams can bring in leads and close deals to drive revenue and growth. Yet the amount of focus that leadership places on new business revenue is disproportionate to the amount of focus placed on existing customer revenue. After the dotted line has been signed, all of sales’ and marketing’s effort is for naught if the revenue is going out the door just as quickly as it came in.

A widespread obsession with customer acquisition leaves companies blind to the pool of revenue opportunity within customer retention. Simply, it’s much easier to turn a customer into a bigger customer than it is to turn a lead into a new customer. And yet …

This session will define “the customer funnel” and help attendees, for the first time, measure and monitor revenue across the entire customer lifecycle in order to keep the revenue they worked so hard to earn.

Attendees of this webinar will learn how to:

  • Use the customer journey as the desired path to success
  • Build an intelligent framework that aligns your business to your customer’s
  • Use industry-first metrics to measure how effectively your company is managing customer journeys

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post 5 Tips For Dealing with An Angry Customer (The Right Way!) appeared first on ChurnZero.

ChurnZero Named 2019 Moxie Award Finalist

ChurnZero Named a Moxie Award Finalist in the Software Category

ChurnZero is pleased to have been named a finalist in the 2019 Moxie Awards for the Software category. 

“I want to congratulate our team for enabling us to be recognized among the boldest and most innovative organizations in the D.C. metro community,” You Mon Tsang, CEO & Founder at ChurnZero said. 

Finalists were recently announced by Sarah Cody, the 2019 Moxie Award executive chairwoman.

“We received an unprecedented number of entries,” Cody said. “We look forward to revealing the winners at the 2019 Moxie Award celebration on November 5, 2019, at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner.” 

A complete list of finalists can be found at moxieaward.com

 

About the Moxie Awards       

The Moxie Award program is a night full of celebration and connections, honoring the accomplishments and achievements of growing businesses, nonprofits and associations in the DC metro community. 

Organizations are recognized for having demonstrated boldness and innovation as an integral part of their growth strategy. These outstanding organization not only help make the DC metro area a great place to do business, but also an incredible place to live, thrive and play.                                                                              

About ChurnZero

ChurnZero helps subscription businesses fight customer churn. Its software solutions allow businesses to understand how their customers use their product, asses their health and their likelihood to renew, and give businesses the means to personalize the customer experience through timely and relevant touchpoints. ChurnZero is headquartered in Arlington, VA and is backed by leading angles and venture capital firms such as Baird Capital, Grotech Ventures and Middleland Capital. For more information, visit churnzero.net.

The post ChurnZero Named 2019 Moxie Award Finalist appeared first on ChurnZero.

Q&A: The Case for Billable Customer Success

Q&A: The Case for Billable Customer Success

The most commonly quoted challenge facing Customer Success leaders worldwide over the past ten years or more has been confusion over the role and definition of Customer Success. The question “What do Customer Success people do?” has been expressed by senior management and members of other groups within SaaS organizations. While responses have been given as to the many vital activities that fall under the heading of Customer Success in well-organized groups, the questions persist. It’s past time for a different, and more effective, answer.

Regardless of whether or not you ever actually offer Customer Success as a billable option to your customers, it’s vital that you be able to prove the real, measurable increase in profitability that you bring to them and to your company as well.

Research has shown that the trend towards connecting Customer Success to revenue is growing ever stronger, but there is still much to be done.

To delve more into this idea, earlier this week we partnered with the Customer Success Association to bring you a webinar on the topic of – The Case for Billable Customer Success. During the webinar, Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director of the Customer Success Association, talked about why companies should offer Customer Success as a billable service — and how to go about designing the product.

We got a lot of positive feedback on the Q&A portion of the webcast, and we wanted to recap that here to share with you.

So, let’s take a look at some of the questions the audience had and the expert advice that Mikael had to share.

Q&A Recap

Presenter:
Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director, The Customer Success Association

Q: What type of activities do you categorize as Customer Success? And where is the line between Customer Success, Support, and Sales?

A: Excellent question. The mission of Customer Success is to increase sustainable, proven value for both the customer and the company. Looking at the customer it means you identify the opportunities for increasing their profits, their productivity and you work with them directly to attain those goals.

The difference between Support is – break/fix. I come out of twenty-five years of background in Customer Support Operations Strategy and Technology. The essence of it has been break/fix. Meaning, something breaks, you fix it.

Customer Success is – let’s look at the customer, where they are, lay out a Customer Success plan to take them to where they want to be and make suggestions to them as to what’s possible, and work with them to get there.  

The difference between Customer Success and Sales is quite easy. Salespeople are hunters. With every Sales rep I’ve ever met, the thing that they want to do the most is be in front of a prospect making a new sale. They’re the fighter pilots of the business world.

I find that Customer Success people can work very effectively with them if you do a controller for a fighter operation. You say – okay – there’s a target, this is what the target looks like, these are the question they will ask, the benefits they want to receive, their timetable, this is what a tier one customer in the making looks like for us, here’s how you recognize them, here’s how you talk to them. So, the salespeople go out and they close and at this point the Customer Success team needs to say thank you very much, we’ll take it from here.

Now about this new prospect over here, so I know a lot of Customer Success groups are getting involved earlier and earlier in the process. They’re serving as Sales Engineers and there’s a particularly good advantage to that because, one of our challenges as a community and profession is getting access to the information and Sales doesn’t always document all the players and all the things that happen during the sales cycle well. If you were there as a Sales Engineer, you don’t need their documentation because you were there to see it and you’ve already been keeping your own records. So, it’s a matter of focus. Sales makes the sale. Customer Success takes over after that and runs everything from there.

Q: What is your advice to companies who haven’t ever billed for Customer Success to start introducing the concept to existing customer? How are you able to get clients excited about paying for something they’re used to getting for “free”?

A: I would advise to start with a small group of your customers and really dig into and analyze what they want. The classic thing we used to do in the old Support days is send them what we call the “zero invoice”. You invoice them for the services that they had received, you zero out the invoice. They’re not actually paying anything for it, but it still documents what you did and the value of it and the expected return.

Similar thing would work well here with a small group of customers to define the plans, to define the values, to test the market, and then once you’ve got the buy-in from them, then what you do at that point is broaden the game.

Q: What challenges should we anticipate with trying to transition from non-billable to a billable model of Customer Success.

A: Oh, there’s going to be a lot of them. First and foremost is, that Customer Success in many ways just sort of grew up. It usually starts as ad-hoc churn fighting groups, so you’ve got all of these expectations and people who think they know what it is, and it surprises them when they are told, well no actually, we’re doing more than that. The key is having data when you want to work with other groups.

For example, to stop sales that should not have been done, you know problem customers, the earlier you manage to know and get rid of those or to avoid ever making them a customer, the better. But you can’t just sit down with the Vice President of Sales and go, I don’t like that prospect, we’re not going to sell to them, because it’s just not going to happen that way. What you need to be able to do is, talk to them about this particular prospect, and explain why this prospect doesn’t really fit our model. And show, here’s the data from past scenarios where it’s cost us money to have done a sale.

I first learned of this from Katherine Blackmore, way back when she was Vice President of Customer Success at Badgeville. She did this weekly, but she said you have to have the data. You’ve got to walk in there knowing what you’re talking about and be able to show it in dollars and cents terms or otherwise you won’t have the credibility.

Q: What are your thoughts on breaking out certain pieces of the Customer Success function and only charging for maybe certain aspects for example, implementation or technical training?

A: Absolutely. I’ve seen a lot of organizations starting to move Professional Services into the Customer Success organization. And to charge for them is nothing new. Back in the old traditional perpetual license on-premise days, when I was advising Customer Support clients about purchases of case management systems, knowledgebases, phone switches and all of that, I would tell them you have to realize something upfront. Which is, you can expect to pay somewhere in between two times to ten times the license fees in your implementation costs. Companies are betting that it’s going to be more so if you don’t make up your mind of what you want first and you make a lot of changes, you’re going to be towards the ten times amount. This has an enormous profit potential to it and companies aren’t slow to pick up on that.

Initially when SaaS came out, they said yea that’s not the purpose of SaaS. It needs to be quick and dirty. We’ll just flip a few buttons and get into it and get running. Well, yes but to fully implement it, to roll it out throughout your organization takes some guidance and that guidance has a lot of value to it. So, yes, I would think it’s a great idea to break off pieces of implementation and to offer specialized training.

A perfect example are your power users, the ones who really know how to use a product and make it do all kinds of things. Customer Success need to have a community of power users and to have training programs to create more. That way you can go to a customer and you can say, look this is what you’re using right now, these are the benefits, this is the ROI you’re getting right now from what you’re using, we would suggest that you consider using these other functions that may be a little more complex and we have a training program that will train your people to do those. That’s another source of revenue but again it’s selling value to the customer and I think that’s the key to it.

Q: Would you say that the required CSM skills change at all if you’re explicitly charging for Customer Success?

A: Yes, because domain expertise becomes absolutely vital. You have to be able to speak to the customer with a voice of authority. You can train people in your product. You’ve got technical training groups that do exactly that with your customers. You train people in soft skills in how to manage a relationship with the customer. Those are trainable things and they don’t take very long to instill. But acquiring that voice of authority does take a long time.

For example, I can walk into a Customer Support department and ask a few questions and know what’s going on. I know what’s going on in that department because I did it for so many years. Same thing is true of a Customer Success group. Of course, you don’t acquire that in two months or six months. Frankly you don’t acquire it in a year. It’s going to take longer to get that domain experience and that’s why it’s so expensive to have it. But to be able to speak to the customer so that they hear you, you know you’re going to have to pay for that and justify it.  

Q: What are some suggestions on recovering clients who do not have data to support ROI?

A: Take their CFO to lunch. ROI is a challenging thing for a lot of people. I was told years ago by an enterprise sales guy in the CRM field that the most terrifying moment in the entire sales process is the headquarters visit when you’re sitting down with their senior management team including their CFO and you present your ROI figures and you’ve got your fingers crossed and you’re praying nobody will say, but that’s not how we do business, those figures are invalid. He said because, if you get past that moment, they’re never going to talk about ROI again. So, you’re home free.

Well, we don’t that that luxury, we have to be able to talk ROI to customers because we’re selling value. It’s not all about the technology. Technology is the table stakes to get into the game. It’s the value, the continuing sustainable proven value that matters. If we can’t describe that to our customers so they get it, we’re going to lose.

I mean after all, what you really want, is a customer that will say to a prospect- working with XYZ our profits are up 30% in the last six months. You can’t buy that; you have to earn it and the way you earn it is all the discomfort of working with a customer to identify exactly how your product makes their life easier and put a dollar and cents value on that.

Q: Who should sell Customer Success if it is billable? Would that be the Customer Success Managers (CSMs) themselves or would Sales step in?

A: This is one of our long-standing problems. Salespeople want to sell to new customers, and they want big license deals. That’s what their commission plan is based on, so to encourage them to do add-on stuff of services, typically that’s not their forte and you run into situations where they actually want to give away the cost of services in order to get the license sale, because of course that’s what they get commissioned on. The commissions on the add-on services aren’t quite as big and therefor they’re not interested in them as much.

So, my recommendation is to use your sales team as hunters. It’s what they want to do and what they’re best at. Get them to get the new customers in and then you as the CSM develop that relationship with the customer. Now does that mean they Customer Success Managers themselves do the selling, probably not. I mean some of them can, but you have to be careful.

You could have a team in the CS group that works on expansion sales and sales of additional products. I would recommend that route because these are the people with the domain expertise that will be able to talk to the customer and say for example- you know I noticed that you’re not using this area of the product feature set and I have other customers that are and they’re getting a lot of value from it so help me understand why this doesn’t seem workable for you or of interest for you. And in that kind of context they can work with the customer to introduce them to what’s going on and to bring them up to speed to get it implemented and in use across their organization.

The consulting fees to do that make sense when you can show the value of its functionality and when you can say- well okay it’s going to cost this much to get you up to speed and your return is going to be X that. This typically takes somebody that’s closer to the customer on an on-going basis than the salesperson who you know worked with them intensively when they were making the sale and then went away to work intensively with other prospects, so to bring them back in when they’ve been out of the picture for awhile doesn’t make much sense. I’ve seen it work for some companies, but in general I wouldn’t recommend it.

Q: Can you comment on how to structure a billable Customer Success model for lower revenue self-service clients versus high revenue, high-touch clients?

A: First you need to establish your basic cost structure of what your utilization of your Customer Success Managers is, in other words what the billing rate is. So, if you devote X number of hours to a particular project you know the cost of that project and then you figure out who’s going to pay for it. Is this something that a lower value customer who’s not as far up the adoption chain, is going to find an interest in, maybe not? So, you selling it to them is probably not something you want to do. These are things that you can use to set your strategies of which things do I do through technology and which things do I do human to human.

Where is the return on it, where is the return for the company, where is the return for the customer? Again, start with a small group. Figure out okay let’s analyze some of our tier one customers and see if there something else we could be providing them that they would find of enough value that they’d be willing to pay for it. So you start working that way and you gather data of what works, what doesn’t work, what’s the return, how long does it take, all that kind of fun stuff, and then once you have that beginning of data then you ask yourself the question – is this something we can roll out to our lower value customers? Is this something that they will buy? Can we condense it and automate it, so it’s available to them but it doesn’t cost us as much? It’s a one-to-many approach. It’s not a one-on-one thing. Can we do it on a cost-effective basis? These are things you are going to have to learn over time as you play around and experiment and as you gather data on it.

Special thanks to Mikael for providing answers to these questions surrounding making Customer Success a billable service. No worries if you missed the full webinar, or would like to view it again, you can do so on-demand here. And we hope to see you at our next webinar!

View On-Demand


Upcoming Webinar

How to Keep the Revenue Your Company Worked So Hard to Earn
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Customer Success ConsultantSpeaker: Kia Puhm, Founder & CEO, DesiredPath Inc.

Companies work hard to attract and win their customers. They spend countless hours establishing key performance metrics and enforcing the appropriate disciplines so their marketing and sales teams can bring in leads and close deals to drive revenue and growth. Yet the amount of focus that leadership places on new business revenue is disproportionate to the amount of focus placed on existing customer revenue. After the dotted line has been signed, all of sales’ and marketing’s effort is for naught if the revenue is going out the door just as quickly as it came in.

A widespread obsession with customer acquisition leaves companies blind to the pool of revenue opportunity within customer retention. Simply, it’s much easier to turn a customer into a bigger customer than it is to turn a lead into a new customer. And yet …

This session will define “the customer funnel” and help attendees, for the first time, measure and monitor revenue across the entire customer lifecycle in order to keep the revenue they worked so hard to earn.

Attendees of this webinar will learn how to:

  • Use the customer journey as the desired path to success
  • Build an intelligent framework that aligns your business to your customer’s
  • Use industry-first metrics to measure how effectively your company is managing customer journeys

Register Now


Customer Success Around the Web

Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

The post Q&A: The Case for Billable Customer Success appeared first on ChurnZero.