Many customer success organizations still work in a high touch approach. If asked, they will admit that their job is to do anything for the client. This approach is not scalable, time-consuming and what is worst, it hands over the control of the journey to the client instead of leading it.
In this blog post we're going to address how to make the customer success team more proactive. We are also going to focus on specific steps one needs to take to be less reactive and why this would help customer success teams to scale.
Changes: Be proactive around product updates.
Whenever a new product or feature is launched, most customer success managers will attempt to either send out a personal email or schedule a training session with their customers to educate them about how to use the new module.
This is highly time-consuming and if you have more than a handful of customers, the approach is not scalable. In order to build your position as a trusted advisor in a scalable manner, you may want to consider collaboration with your marketing team through offering online workshops, write informational blogs, “how to” webinars, etc.
If you’re using a CS operations system, consider creating an email campaign to send out to all clients who are not using the new feature yet. Sending this email from your CS operations system will allow you to make the email look like it’s sent from you directly (versus a general email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org).
Getting Started: Product Updates
- Record self-paced or live training (YouTube or your training system)
- Announce product update using in-app messages, if possible
- Launch an email campaign:
- Announce the new product update to all relevant clients
- Explain benefits and value
- Make it easy to implement by promoting webinars/workshops to get educated about new features
- Track who open the emails and who clicked through. Define a separate follow-up strategy based on findings.
Usage: Increase adoption using smart scalable methods
This requires you to know how your customers are using your product. In other words, you need to know your customers’ usage patterns well.
Once you have all the data in one place you will be able to easily see how accounts and individual users interact with your product.
You can then use this data to launch automated emails or strategic plays (calls to action) to serve each account with a dose of educational resources that would help them:
- Become aware of features they are not yet using
- Understand the value of features they are not yet using
- Learn how to implement those additional features
This will mean you’ll need to not only create targetted email campaigns but also be ready to offer live workshops, recorded training sessions or how to blogs.
Getting Started: Adoption
- Record self-paced or live training (YouTube or your training system) on an ongoing basis
- Work with existing customers to create “how to” blogs and participate in “how to” webinars (make it part of the customer success team’s goals)
- Track usage data within your customer success operations system
- Build rules to automatically identify when certain features aren't used (focus on sticky and differentiating features first).
- Launch an email campaign to relevant customers (based on usage trends identified above):
- Promote sticky and differentiating features only to relevant clients (aka those who are not using them yet)
- Explain benefits and value
- Quote clients who are similar to them (by size or industry) explaining the difference the feature made to their business
- Make it easy to implement by promoting online resources or (paid professional service packages) to easily implement and use these features
The Value: Expand your definition of customer success
Even if your team does not own onboarding, customer success does start at the implementation phase. Therefore, as a customer success manager you want to take the time to document why each your customer chose your solution and what value they hope to gain from it.
Try to break it down into small measurable business objectives, such as tasks they hope to eliminate, business metrics they wish to achieve, etc. Document each objective in a success plan and track progress so you can easily demonstrate value during your executive business reviews.
Therefore, start thinking of customer success as not only the services you and your team provides, but rather as all services provided to customers with the objective of giving them the most value possible. This way your customer success team will be equipped with enough information to know when to be proactive.
In addition, by focusing on the client in the initial stage of your relationship you start solving their problems early on and thereby building a stronger relationship. The first 30 to 90 days of onboarding tend to be the most crucial ones, so start delivering value as soon as possible.
Getting Started: Onboarding
- Leverage your CRM system to help track your client’s initial goals (make these fields mandatory for your account executive to fill out before they mark a deal as “closed/won” or make it eligible to receive commission)
- Track onboarding milestones (important dates) in your customer success system
- Trigger calls to action when milestones take too long to complete and follow up with clients accordingly
- Trigger calls to action when milestones are completed successfully and reach out to the client via email (automatically) to celebrate
- Track changes in initial goals over time (ideally in your customer success ops system, or an excel/word documents)
- Create a template for a “Success Plan” which you can re-use with multiple clients.
- Calculate the baseline metrics for each client and show progress in each QBR (work with a consultant to ensure you track the right metrics. A good consultant will also offer technical resources to help you automatically load the data from different systems into one centralized place to make this process efficient).
The main goal of being productive is to allow you and your team to have time to be more proactive and strategic with your customers. This would require automating a few things along the way.
To uncover opportunities to promote proactiveness in a scalable way, I recommend you review each customer success process and milestone, write down what is the manual effort related to each, and what could you write down as a repeatable task by task process, document or template.
Think: Is there anything you could have automated if you had the right systems in place. How much time would you save if you could automate these processes? Would an investment in such solution be beneficial?
I would love to hear from you: What specific tools and initiatives have helped your customer success team scale? Please answer in the comments below.
- Build your reputation as a customer success advisor to your clients by offering things like workshops, webinars and blogs
- Know your customer’s usage patterns and leverage a consultant to help you consolidate the data automatically in one database
- Set clear and measurable business goals with your customers already at the onboarding stage and use success plans to keep updating them on an ongoing basis
- Be proactive about product issues and don’t be shy about using automation tools to increase adoption and perceived value
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