Updated: Jan 29, 2019
In my previous article, Eight Customer Success Bad Practices to Stop Now, I shared eight bad practices, that while they often seem like a good idea, actually hold you back. In this article, we transform each bad practice into a Customer Success best practice you can do now to have greater impact with your customers and with your company’s bottom line.
Eight Customer Success best practices to start now.
Engage Prospects transforms to Engage Customers: Your sales team is probably awesome at building relationships with prospects. So, continue the trust built during the sales cycle by immediately engaging new customers. Handoffs are a best practice to start the relationship on the right foot. Before the deal even closes, meet with the sales team to understand the nuances of the relationship, not just what was sold. Then hold a formal handoff meeting with customer facing teams and the customer teams to set expectations for how you will work together.
Killer App transforms to Killer Relationships: Since software is becoming more of a commodity, your features, functions, and pricing no longer set you apart. In order to create a competitive advantage, the emphasis is the experience you provide your customers. When you realize your product is more than your software you value the post-sales customer journey as much as software development. So, invest in and build a killer relationship, then market and sell the value of CS programs and services to differentiate yourself.
CS = CSM transforms to CS > CSM: Customer Success (CS) is greater than the Customer Success Manager (CSM) role. When I attended my first Pulse conference in 2015, I was dismayed. With over 2,000 customer success colleagues in attendance, the focus was purely the CSM role. As a leader in the customer enablement space long before CS existed, I was surprised by the lack of recognition for the teams already engaging and supporting customers. CS is everyone’s job, and a customer success culture needs to reach further than a CSM team. Breaking down silos and working across teams to build a seamless customer journey with the right touch at the right time means higher net retention for you.
Reactive CSMs transforms to Strategic Advisors: Do you want happy customers? Teams that aim for happy customers are often stuck in reactive mode, busy taking orders from customers rather than strategically advising them. You don’t want happy Customers. Instead, find ways to engage customers with your products and services. Loyal customers use your product, attend Webinars, and share what they learn with other customers. So, put your strategic hat on, be proactive, and guide customers along their journey.
Ad Hoc Onboarding transforms to Orchestrated Onboarding: McKinsey says that onboarding is the most important part of the customer journey, yet poor onboarding is the biggest cause of churn. It’s your job to break down internal silos and build a prescriptive and seamless onboarding journey for your customers. Orchestrate your internal teams to capture and document best practices, then guide customers to quick wins. When you carefully monitor and engage customers throughout rollout, you are on the path to a lucrative customer relationship.
Churn Analysis transforms to Green Account Analysis: When I attend CS meetups and conferences, there is so much emphasis on churn analysis. Sure, it’s good to understand where the holes are so you can plug them up. However, a more effective approach is to learn from your best customers. Find out what works for them and why, and then incorporate their best practices into playbooks and quick wins for all customers. This means you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Plus, customers love to learn from each other.
Last 90 Days transforms to First 90 Days: Despite a huge pivot to Customer Success, companies are used to thriving on heroics. They parachute CSMs into burning accounts in the last 90 days of the subscription to save the account. With ad hoc or non-existent onboarding, you face an uphill battle all the way to the renewal. However, when you achieve the right outcome during onboarding, then you improve your impact on every other customer success initiative.
Designing at the Whiteboard transforms to Listening to Innovate: Customer facing teams don’t listen to customers enough. Customer Success starts with empathy, not at the whiteboard. So, pick up the phone and listen to a customer today. Find out what they want and need and then build programs for them. Customer Success must be about engaging customers in the way customers want and need to be engaged. Then, keep the conversation going to find out how your programs work for them.
Which of these Customer Success Best Practices are you doing today? Start transforming your bad practices into Best Practices by engaging customers with handoffs, orchestrating onboarding, and front-loading the relationship. What’s the one thing you can you do today to get started?