Welcome to our blog series CSM from the Trenches, a community for frontline Customer Success Managers (CSMs) that discusses trends, best practices, and advice for the frontline.
Being on the CSM frontline allows us to directly influence the success of our clients. I love that; as our clients are successful, we’re successful. Each day we learn from the trenches what it takes to make clients happy and successful.
Let’s get started with this week’s post!
From: Cole Sanders, Sr Customer Success Manager
Location: Silicon Slopes, Utah
Most CSMs often wear many hats. One of our primary roles is to ensure we’re providing enough value to each account so they have the necessary training and resources needed in order to make our product “sticky”. We often do this by strategically seeking to understand each one of our accounts needs and goals to help them achieve their success criteria or desired outcomes.
Determining where and how to spend our time, even with the best intentions and data, can sometimes be a struggle. By default, most teams become reactive by focusing or prioritizing their efforts on the loudest customers and then working their way through other customers who are in an adoption or growth stage.
While this is certainly not the best strategy, it’s a start. There are, however, much better approaches when it comes to prioritizing our accounts and time.
Reactive vs. Proactive
One strategy that has worked well for me has been taking a step back to look at my entire book of business. When I do this, I focus primarily on return on investment (ROI) whether it be success criteria or desired outcomes.
- “Are my customers actively and consistently achieving some sort of success or outcome?”
- “If a customer’s renewal were tomorrow…would they renew?”
Holistically looking at your book of business with these questions in mind will help you move from a reactive to proactive mindset. The answer for each customer can also be a good indicator of whether or not you’re spending your time effectively.
Proactive Customer Success
If you’ve spent most of your time reactively engaging customers, it will likely take time and dedicated effort to become more proactive in your engagement strategy.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is establish a system to track customer interactions, data, usage trends, health scores, and any other relevant points you need. Working to pull this information together can improve the way you engage with and segment your customers. Start where you can; anything you can do to increase visibility across your book of business is imperative to delivering customer success.
Though it may not be an overnight transition, this sort of visibility can cut out noisy reactive customer success issues. As mentioned earlier, we can and need to do better than simply reacting. We need to be securing renewal dollars and landing expansion opportunities. Proactively seeking to understand your book of business is an imperative step.
Valued Engagement Touchpoints
Once you have a system in place, I’d recommend defining valued engagement touchpoints. Each engagement should bring value to a customer’s relationship with your product or service. Simply checking in and asking if all is well is probably one of the laziest and least valuable conversations we could have with our customers. If we focus on being purposeful in our engagement and bring value to each customer, we’ll actually be managing our customer’s success and can help them achieve their desired outcomes.
For example, a good valued touch might be an email or conversation reviewing how a new feature benefits your customers specifically. Another way to bring value to your customers would be educating customers on existing features by providing the context needed to help them become more successful according to their desired outcomes.
With a system in place to help segment your customers, valued engagement touch points will bring your customer success managing to the next level. Not only will you be able to help at-risk customers succeed, you’ll also be spending your time effectively because you’ll be better aligned with each customer’s success criteria.
While the demands of a CSM can sometimes be overwhelming (especially with enterprise or strategic accounts), having a proactive strategy in place can provide insight into where your time should be spent. Doing so will make you a better customer success professional and set you apart as a trusted advisor who builds relationships that last.
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