The concept of customer success never ends. It’s a journey that requires a constant pursuit to drive value to your customers. There will be ups and downs, challenges, and opportunities throughout the entire customer journey. In this blog, I’ll cover six red flags or risks every customer success manager needs to watch for to ensure customer success and decrease the chance of customer churn.
6 Risks or Flags to Watch as a Customer Success Manager
1. Decline in Product Usage
This is one of the most important indicators of customer value. If a customer is not using your product to the fullest ability – or not using it at all – then there is no reason for them to keep paying for your services. Usage patterns and understanding how your customers are interacting with your product or service is key when seeking a proactive approach to counteract churn.
Instead of realizing too late that your customers have actually stopped using your product, you can track their usage patterns to keep tabs of how they are succeeding with your product. When you see a dip in usage you can work directly with customers to build internal adoption and perhaps discover quickly ways to help them succeed with your product.
2. Decline in the Number of Conversations
CSMs should be tuned in with customers to the point they can have open and honest conversations built on mutual trust. This way, if customer has a problem or needs assistance they look to you (the CSM) for guidance or help. A huge red flag is if these conversations begin declining. Maybe a customer is weary of your relationship and doesn’t trust you to make mutually beneficial decisions. If there is a lack of trust or communication between a customer and a CSM, this makes it easier for the customer to slip through the cracks to the point of leaving. Make sure you are checking in regularly with customers and providing unparalleled service that will make them comfortable and trust you again.
3. Missed Deadlines (on Both Sides)
One side of this red flag is a no brainer – never miss customer deadlines, no matter how small. This is an immediate tick against you and your credibility as a professional. On the other side, however, be weary of when customers begin to miss calls or deadlines. If a customer is supposed to provide you with data or information to integrate into your solution and is missing in action, reach out immediately to see if wires got crossed. If they start continuously rescheduling meetings, this could be another sign that something is wrong. Do some digging to see if there is a good excuse, or if you need to be involved in something bigger.
4. You Start Hearing Product Comparisons
This is a tricky one. If a customer starts comparing your product to ‘something they used at a previous company’ or ‘a system one of their friends told them about’ then definitely be on high alert. This means that they are seeing obvious flaws in your solution – or your service – that are leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Plus, the more they weigh your solution against a competitor the more they associate your company with ‘old and bad’ and the competitor with ‘new and good’. Try talking with your customer about the issues they are seeing in your product, and come up with achievable action plans to help overcome this bump in the road.
5. Sharp Increase (or Decrease) in Feedback
This can cause even the most veteran customer success manager to be on high alert. If a normally vocal customer suddenly goes silent, reach out and see what is wrong. If they aren’t providing feedback like they used to, it could be a sign that they are no longer looking to drive value from your solution. This also goes the other way – if a normally complacent customers begins to fire out an alarmingly high amount of feedback there is definitely an issue afoot. Make sure you are still communicating regularly and try to work through whatever the issue is.
6. You Sense Something is Wrong From Your Gut —Your Instinct
While it may seem a little rudimentary, CSMs often develop such strong relationships with their customers that they just know when something is wrong or when a customer is avoiding a difficult conversation. If you are comfortable with your company and your role, reading customers can become second nature. Relying on your gut may not be scientific, but it is certainly a trusted source that can send off a warning to dig deeper and ask questions both internally and of the customer account.
There you have it. 6 red flags to watch for as a customer success manager.
Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can identify at-risk accounts:
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