Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Tara-Nicholle Nelson, author of The Transformational Consumer, declares that customer disengagement is rampant. On Helping Sells Radio, Tara-Nicholle shares, "Most companies are very focused on getting new companies into their funnel. It’s a foolhardy thing, and it’s unsustainable as a business model to spend so much money generating new disengaged customers. Until you master keeping customer engaged, it’s like pouring champagne down the bathtub without a stopper.”
Rather than bringing on more disengaged customers who leave through the back door, engage your customers in a meaningful way. The more engaged your customers are, the more you increase net retention and accelerate your company’s growth.
What does disengagement look like? I often see companies declare they are customer-centric, yet the majority of their customers are engaged during the last 90 days of their license. Reaching out to customers at the end of the subscription may result in customers angrily declaring their frustrations and issues with your products and services. You now have 90 days or less to fix the obstacles and turn the account around. This, of course, forces your team into reactive mode to save the account; for every day a customer is in red it can take five days of heroics to get them back. I have seen organizations spend two to three times the value of the annual subscription in the last month or two of a subscription to try to save accounts; not always with successful results. Lack of engagement takes its toll on both customers and employees.
Start engaging customers now. Rather than pouring champagne down the bathtub, implement a systematic way to engage most if not all customers. It doesn’t matter if it’s high touch, low touch, or tech touch, start engaging. Three scalable ways to start engaging your customers are to analyze green accounts, provide orchestrated onboarding journeys, and implement a voice of the customer program
Analyze green accounts. Customer Success leaders are often heads down in the churn numbers, trying to understand patterns, symptoms, and warning signals of red accounts. Instead of investing time and resources on churn analysis, explore what’s working in your green accounts. Uncover the patterns across successful accounts. Listen to your customers to learn what they do to be successful with your product. What roles do they have on their teams for implementing, administering, and using your products? What processes make a difference? How does training impact their success? Examine what your best customers achieve, and then codify those into best practices to share with all your customers. Replicate what works well, rather than focus only on the problems.
Orchestrated onboarding journey. Once you uncover the best practices from your green accounts, the next step is to create a prescription for success. Too often, companies have a detailed sales and marketing funnel, and then use hope as a strategy for onboarding, engaging, and enabling customers. Create an orchestrated onboarding journey to guide customers through the critical first 90 days. This doesn’t have to be a high touch Customer Success Manager job. Instead create self-paced content, learning pathways, and milestones to move customers to successful implementations and high adoption of your product. Engaging early in the journey means customers meet their business objectives, are more likely to renew, and are more likely to recommend your products.
From Sales Funnel to Orchestrated Onboarding Journey
Voice of the Customer. Next, take the pulse of your customers. A Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a critical tool to listen to customers at key points along their journey. Milestones may be at the end of implementations, at the six-month period, and at renewal time. The key is to not simply ask customers for their feedback; the most important part of the VoC program is committing to doing what they tell you. Since surveys are rampant these days, users shut down when they don’t see the changes they ask for, so follow through. Let customers know what you change and implement as a result of their feedback.
VoC Process, Courtesy of Karvida
"Relationships are the crux of B2B retentions", says Steve Bernstein from the Waypoint Group. Collaborate with customers to learn their best practices. Work together for a successful and timely onboarding. Listen and take action on their feedback. By engaging customers you won’t just bring new companies into the funnel, you create a sustainable business with loyal and successful customers.