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.

Top 10 Customer Success Takeaways from Technology & Services World 2019

Technology & Services World - Customer Success Recap

Top 10 Customer Success Takeaways from TSW 2019

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to attend and sponsor the TSIA Technology & Services World (TSW) conference in sunny San Diego. This event brought together thousands of technology leaders from Customer Success, Services, Sales, Product and Marketing. Attendees got the chance to gather for three days to learn the latest industry trends and discover new products and services that can help them streamline their operations. 

What was particularly great to see was the amount of Customer Success content that was structured into the programming. There were multiple sessions a day that were dedicated to the topic. Even more so, according to TSIA, a few of their CS breakouts were among their highest attended sessions, which is a great indicator that Customer Success business challenges are top of mind in the industry.

For those who didn’t get to attend, or for those that attended and want a recap, we compiled a list of our top ten Customer Success takeaways from TSW 2019. 

Enjoy!

1.) It’s Time to Rethink Your Customer Success Strategy

2.) Customer Success Should Own Renewals and Upsells 

3.) Top 10 Business Challenges Affecting Customer Success

4.) Customers Want Companies to Know the Value They are Expecting to Drive and Track that Value with Measurable Outcomes

5.) The Company Needs to Align Around the Customer

6.) You Should Aim to Deliver Personalized Outcome-Based Customer Journeys

7.) Utilize CS and Customer Marketing to Make Sure Your Customers Know About New Features

8.) Your Customer Experience Should be a Mix of Both Human and Tech Touches

9.) Enterprise Companies Are Bought in on Customer Success

10.) Effective Product Offer Design is Becoming a Competitive Advantage for Technology Providers

To learn more, pop over to the TSW San Diego 2019 website to relive your favorite conference moments by downloading session presentations and browsing their photo gallery. 

Hope to see you all at the TSW Las Vegas conference in the Fall!


Upcoming Webinar

The Case for Billable Customer Success
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Mikael Blaisdell, Founder and Executive Director, The Customer Success Association

The Customer Success AssocaitionThe 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. 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. Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director of The Customer Success Association, will talk about why companies should offer Customer Success as a billable service — and how to go about designing the product.

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 Top 10 Customer Success Takeaways from Technology & Services World 2019 appeared first on ChurnZero.

6 Customer Retention Strategies That Keep Customers Coming Back

The following is a guest blog post by Sam Makad

If you want your business to be successful in the long run, it pays to give priority to customer retention. Landing a customer who will pay for life is like hitting the jackpot. After all, it takes five times more effort to land a new customer than to retain an old one.

But loyal customers don’t just appear out of thin air. It takes a lot of time and effort to do so. So, let’s take a look at the best strategies that can help you hold on to your most-prized assets.

1. Keep an Eye on the Churn Rate

Churn rate refers to the number of customers that leave your company over a given period. But that does not mean that it happens out of the blue. If you pay close attention, it is very much possible to detect churn in advance. You will then be able to take preventive measures against it. To be able to do so, keep an eye out for the following customer variables:

  • Purchase patterns of customers over a certain period.
  • Relevant metrics related to product usage.
  • History of customer service inquiries of the products.

Some common signals of churn include:

  • Customers asking for or expecting features/services that you cannot provide.
  • There is an evident lack of trust between the customer and your company.
  • Their purchase or engagement pattern depicts a constant drop.

2. Boost Your Value Proposition

Every company has a predefined value proposition that they provide to their customers. But that does not mean that it is always constant. You can always boost the value you provide by pairing your products/services with offers and discounts that your customers love.

But the worst thing that you can do here is to create offers based on a hunch and not leveraging the customer data you have. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • If you have not been using CRM software, implement it immediately.
  • Once you have enough data to fall back on, start digging through customer history.
  • Unearth crucial pointers about customer buying patterns, possibly personalized data about every individual.
  • Leverage the data in your communication and marketing strategies to struck all the right chords

3. Segregate VIPs and Reward Them

Not knowing who your most valuable customers are is like shooting yourself in the foot. You need to be constantly aware of the largest accounts and have a separate pool of customers who pay the most.

How can this be done? We are back to square one; through a CRM software or Customer Success platform. Analyze the purchase patterns of your existing customers and figure out who the VIPs are. Once you know your most valuable assets, you are aware of how to allocate your resources in the most optimum manner. By the way, your customers are most likely to follow the Pareto Principle which states that about 80% of your revenues come from 20% of your customers.

An obvious benefit of this knowledge? A lot of upselling and cross-selling opportunities!

4. Invest in Customer Service

Customer service is the backbone of your any customer retention strategy. It is even being dubbed as the new marketing. And it makes perfect sense. Your customers are bound to encounter a hiccup or two in their buying journey. What matters is how quickly and smoothly are they able to get past them with minimal intervention from your end.

And when they need intervention from your end, do you have all the right tools to address them? New-age customer service concepts such as co-browsing and AI-powered live chat that companies like Acquire are actively pioneering in go a long way to assert your expertise. They tell your customers that you care about their woes as much as they do and that you are willing to walk the extra mile to save the day!

5. Create a Consistent Customer Experience

An immediate benefit of consistency is that customers can always pick out your brand from the platter of digital information that is handed over to them every day. With that being said, consistency is also key to developing a mutually trusting relationship with your customers. Here’s how:

  • Being consistent in your content and offerings breeds expectations.
  • When customers expect and you deliver, they are delighted.
  • Consistency converts delighted customers into a loyal one.
  • And loyalty results in a trusting co-dependent relationship.

So, which channels do you need to synchronise? These include website assets, social media channels, customer service operations, and the like. Basically, anything and everything that makes it possible for your customer to reach out to you for consistent support quality.

6. Use the Element of Reciprocity

It goes without saying that acts of kindness can boost loyalty amongst your customers. They tend to create a certain level of obligation in the person who tries, almost instinctively, to return the favor. There are two basic ways in which you can leverage the element of surprise:

  • Surprise Reciprocity: A surprise gift or a gesture that is meaningful and provides value. For instance, this can be free merchandise or tickets to an event.
  • Trumpeted Reciprocity: Doing or delivering something that may not be deemed extraordinary, but also revealing the significant efforts taken to do so. An example of this can be early bird access to a product or feature that is not yet launched.

What are your go-to strategies for improving your customer retention rate?


Upcoming Webinar

The Case for Billable Customer Success
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Mikael Blaisdell, Founder and Executive Director, The Customer Success Association

The Customer Success AssocaitionThe 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. 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.. Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director of The Customer Success Association, will talk about why companies should offer Customer Success as a billable service — and how to go about designing the product.

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 6 Customer Retention Strategies That Keep Customers Coming Back appeared first on ChurnZero.

ChurnZero Named SIIA CODiE Award Finalist

ChurnZero Named SIIA Business Technology Product CODiE Award Finalist for 2019 Best Customer Success Management Solution

 

ChurnZero earns prestigious industry recognition. 

 

Best Customer Success Management SolutionWe are proud to announced that ChurnZero was named a 2019 SIIA CODiE Awards finalist in the Best Customer Success Management Solution category. Finalists represent the best products, technologies, and services in software, information and business technology.

ChurnZero is a real-time Customer Success platform that helps subscription businesses fight churn, expand current accounts, increase product adoption, and optimize the overall customer experience.

The SIIA CODiE Awards are the premier awards for the software and information industries and have been recognizing product excellence for over 30 years. The awards offer 76 categories that are organized by industry focus of education technology and business technology. ChurnZero was honored as one of 137 finalists across the 44 business technology categories.

“The 2019 CODiE Award finalists are some of the most innovative, high-impact products in the market. We are thrilled to place a spotlight on these innovations and the power they have to transform the future of how we do business.” said Jeff Joseph, President of SIIA.

“We are proud to be named a CODiE finalist in the Best Customer Success Management Solution category for a second year, after winning the award last year” said You Mon Tsang, CEO & Founder of ChurnZero. “We continue to commit heavily in ChurnZero product development and innovation, so getting recognition is a strong testament to this investment.”

The SIIA CODiE Awards are the industry’s only peer-recognized awards program. Business technology leaders including senior executives, analysts, media, consultants and investors evaluate assigned products during the first-round review which determines the finalists. SIIA members then vote on the finalist products and the scores from both rounds are tabulated to select the winners. Winners will be announced during the Business Technology & Company CODiE Award Winner Announcement Party immediately following TechConText, June 12 in San Francisco.

Details about each finalist are listed at https://www.siia.net/codie/2019-Finalists.

 

About the SIIA CODiE™ Awards

The SIIA CODiE Awards is the only peer-reviewed program to showcase business and education technology’s finest products and services. Since 1986, thousands of products, services and solutions have been recognized for achieving excellence.  For more information, visit siia.net/CODiE.

                                                                                      

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 SIIA CODiE Award Finalist appeared first on ChurnZero.

3 Tips to Onboard Your CSM and Speed Up Their Time to Value

Onboarding Customer Success Manager

Your new Customer Success Manager only gets to experience their first day on the job once. The difference between an effective and ineffective employee onboarding experience determines the long-term success of a new Customer Success Manager (CSM). When done right, proper onboarding can be a secret weapon for scaling your Customer Success function.

So how do you properly onboard a new CSM and minimize their time-to-value? Read on to discover how thinking like a Human Resources Manager, introducing your product early, and leveraging a coaching or shadowing program can turbocharge your onboarding experience.

 

Tip 1: Think Like a Human Resources Manager

Like Customer Success, an effortless experience is one most telling traits of an organization that excels in their Human Resources. For HR this involves the ‘moments that matter’ within the employee lifecycle. Whether dealing with onboarding or recruitment, every HR department hopes for a smooth and well-defined employee experience.

A successful HR manager leverages metrics to forecast, track and report on new employee onboarding. As a Customer Success leader, metrics are nothing new – they dictate the long-term goals and performance of your team.

While CS metrics are what lead to a smooth customer onboarding experience, don’t forget to identify what metrics can lead to a smooth CSM onboarding. Even if you lack an HR team, consider what metrics can be applied to a newly onboarded employee. Look beyond the typical CS metrics (such as renewals or upsells) and be ready to answer questions around ramp-up times and training delivery methods. Just remember that there is no one-size-fit-all approach. Ramp-up times and training methods differ greatly depending on your product’s complexity and your department’s maturity.

Only by understanding the end goals (a satisfied and productive team member) can you develop the roadmap to get there. By thinking like an HR manager, you can identify which steps can be taken to achieve the type of ‘employee success’ that parlays itself into a powerful customer experience.

 

Tip 2: Introduce Your Product Early (Demo, Demo, Demo!)

There is little argument that the best way to learn a new product is by using it. While this doesn’t apply to every business, successful CSMs should be product experts. When applicable, encourage your new CSM to become a ‘power user.’ While there may not always be a business reason for them to use the product, consider ways to encourage use. Projects or simulations are just two methods that encourage product mastery.

Likewise, consider having your new CSM sit in on demos. Not only will this allow them to master the product’s value proposition, but it will introduce them to some of your product’s lingo. Sitting in on demos by Sales or Customer Success will expose your CSM to common objections and questions that they may encounter. It will also serve to introduce your new employees to the processes and responsibilities of other departments.

Taking these steps will allow your new CSM to understand your product at a high level (demos) and at a user level (projects and simulations.) By ensuring your new employee is introduced to the product early on, their likelihood of product mastery increases. Even more important, CSMs who are product users will be better equipped to resonate with their customers.

 

Tip 3: Consider a Shadowing or a Coaching Program

Enablement training is one of the most productive methods to ensure your Customer Success Manager is trained quickly. Shadowing and peer coaching are two of the most popular methods used to help your employee gain knowledge of day-to-day responsibilities and apply what they learn to a daily work routine.

Shadowing allows a CSM to get a quick pulse on the types of challenges they may face. Even more importantly, that they can learn the tips and tricks that are only acquired through hands-on experience.  By providing a far richer experience then a job description, a shadowing CSM can observe how an employee does their job and the metrics by which they will be measured.

Likewise, consider a simple coaching program that pairs new CSMs with high-performing veterans. A coach can serve as a cheerleader and mentor throughout the onboarding process. It also provides a visible signal that you are investing in the long-term success of your team. Unlike formal training programs, coaching programs result in personalized conversations and feedback that goes much deeper than traditional methods.

Programs like shadowing or coaching are great ways to expose new hires to your team’s workflows and processes. These methods can not only engage your new employees but can also re-engage members of your team that are in the middle of their career.

 

If you are interested in other CS leader topics similar to onboarding new team members, check out our RYG Customer Success Leadership Hours coming to a town near you. 

Blog Author: Alex Weihmann


Upcoming Webinar

The Case for Billable Customer Success
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT


Speaker: Mikael Blaisdell, Founder and Executive Director, The Customer Success Association

The Customer Success AssocaitionThe 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. 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.. Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director of The Customer Success Association, will talk about why companies should offer Customer Success as a billable service — and how to go about designing the product.

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 3 Tips to Onboard Your CSM and Speed Up Their Time to Value appeared first on ChurnZero.

ChurnZero Raises $7M in Series A Funding Round

ChurnZero Raises $7M in Series A Funding Round to Build the Customer Success System of Record

 

ChurnZero has raised $7 Million in a Series A funding round led by Baird Capital and joined by existing investors.

 

ChurnZero, a real-time Customer Success platform, has announced that it secured $7 million in Series A funding led by Baird Capital. Returning investors in the round include Grotech Ventures, Middleland Capital, Charlottesville Angel Network and Center for Innovative Technology. The latest investment round will be used to support all of ChurnZero’s efforts. The team will invest in growing the Customer Success ecosystem, accelerate and deepen product development in the award-winning ChurnZero platform, and support customer facing teams in delivering the best Customer Success and Support among their peers.

The ChurnZero solution helps subscription businesses fight customer churn, expand their current accounts, increase product adoption and optimize the overall customer experience.

VP-of-Customer-Success-Untappd“At Untappd, we pride ourselves in delivering great Service and Customer Success brewery, restaurant and retail customers and we have been blown away with ChurnZero’s level of Customer Success as well as the care and thought they put into their product,” said Jeremy Jeffers, VP of Customer Success, Untappd. “We have seen a large improvement on the level of customer touchpoints our Customer Success Managers are able to do today versus before and we have seen a massive increase in retention for our small and medium-sized accounts.”

customer success software predictions tsang“Building a Customer Success platform that integrates data and customer touchpoints from a myriad of sources, generates insights and analytics, and kicks off workflows and communications is a tough technical project and is a proud achievement for our team,” said You Mon Tsang, Co-founder and CEO of ChurnZero. “But our real achievement is creating a happy and successful customer base. Our growth has been testament to our efforts so far and I am thrilled to have Baird Capital as partners to invest further in the company and in the ecosystem.”

Principle - Techonology and Services, Baird CapitalIn connection with the investment, Joanna Arras of Baird Capital has joined ChurnZero’s board of directors. “Customer Success is a persistent issue for companies in a variety of industries, and we are beginning to see the emergence of best practices to professionalize and scale Customer Success teams,” said Arras. “The market for Customer Success software is relatively nascent; as such we are excited to partner with ChurnZero to create the enterprise’s next great system of record.”

This investment brings the total funding that ChurnZero has raised to date to $10 million.

Since its founding in 2015, ChurnZero has modernized and empowered Customer Success, Account Management, and Customer Marketing teams to proactively engage with customers in an on-going and automated way to work towards their business outcomes. ChurnZero is dedicated to helping their ever-growing customer base fight churn.

                                                                                      

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.
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About Baird Capital 
Baird Capital makes venture capital, growth equity and private equity investments in strategically targeted sectors around the world. Having invested in more than 300 companies over its history, Baird Capital partners with entrepreneurs and, leveraging its executive networks, strives to build exceptional companies. Baird Capital provides operational support to its portfolio companies through teams on the ground in the United States, Europe and Asia, a proactive portfolio operations team and a deep network of relationships, which together strive to deliver enhanced shareholder value. Baird Capital is the direct private investment arm of Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. For more information, please visit BairdCapital.com.

The post ChurnZero Raises $7M in Series A Funding Round appeared first on ChurnZero.