Auctor purus, aliquet risus tincidunt erat nulla sed quam blandit mattis id gravida elementum, amet id libero nibh urna nisi sit sed. Velit enim at purus arcu sed ac. Viverra maecenas id netus euismod phasellus et tempus rutrum tellus nisi, amet porttitor facilisis aenean faucibus eu nec pellentesque id. Volutpat, pellentesque cursus sit at ut a imperdiet duis turpis duis ultrices gravida at aenean amet mattis sed aliquam augue nisl cras suscipit.
At elit elementum consectetur interdum venenatis et id vestibulum id imperdiet elit urna sed vulputate bibendum aliquam. Tristique lectus tellus amet, mauris lorem venenatis vulputate morbi condimentum felis et lobortis urna amet odio leo tincidunt semper sed bibendum metus, malesuada scelerisque laoreet risus duis.
Ullamcorper pellentesque a ultrices maecenas fermentum neque eget. Habitant cum esat ornare sed. Tristique semper est diam mattis elit. Viverra adipiscing vulputate nibh neque at. Adipiscing tempus id sed arcu accumsan ullamcorper dignissim pulvinar ullamcorper urna, habitasse. Lectus scelerisque euismod risus tristique nullam elementum diam libero sit sed diam rhoncus, accumsan proin amet eu nunc vel turpis eu orci sit fames.
“Sit enim porttitor vehicula consequat urna, eleifend tincidunt vulputate turpis, dignissim pulvinar ullamcorper”
Nisi in sem ipsum fermentum massa quisque cursus risus sociis sit massa suspendisse. Neque vulputate sed purus, dui sit diam praesent ullamcorper at in non dignissim iaculis velit nibh eu vitae. Bibendum euismod ipsum euismod urna vestibulum ut ligula. In faucibus egestas dui integer tempor feugiat lorem venenatis sollicitudin quis ultrices cras feugiat iaculis eget.
Id ac imperdiet est eget justo viverra nunc faucibus tempus tempus porttitor commodo sodales sed tellus eu donec enim. Lectus eu viverra ullamcorper ultricies et lacinia nisl ut at aliquet lacus blandit dui arcu at in id amet orci egestas commodo sagittis in. Vel risus magna nibh elementum pellentesque feugiat netus sit donec tellus nunc gravida feugiat nullam dignissim rutrum lacus felis morbi nisi interdum tincidunt. Vestibulum pellentesque cursus magna pulvinar est at quis nisi nam et sed in hac quis vulputate vitae in et sit. Interdum etiam nulla lorem lorem feugiat cursus etiam massa facilisi ut.
As a customer success manager (CSM), you have a lot on your plate. Each day, you’re tasked with growing customer accounts, introducing new products and services to your contacts, building relationships, solving problems, and connecting dots across an organization. It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now and lose sight of the bigger picture. When problems arise - and they do often - it can be difficult to step away and discover the core problem. Here is a simple process you can follow to arrive at the core problem and quickly devise a strong. We call it the 5 “W’s”.
When you were in elementary school, you learned about the 5 “W” questions, including: Who, What, When, Where, Why? These simple one question words could be used to dig deeper into any situation, allowing you to evaluate the problem from all sides.
In fact as a child, you likely recall being asked these questions when a problem arose by teachers, your parents, or other supervisors. At the time, it probably felt like you were being interrogated. “Who were you with?” “Why did that happen?” “Where did you go?”
Even though you probably disliked being asked those questions as a child, the 5 “W’s” can teach us a lot about evaluating situations - whether positive or negative - from all sides to really dig into the root of the negative situation.
As a CSM, asking questions is an imperative skill to learn. And not just questions of your customer, but questions about the situation in general. Below are the 5 “W”, reframed as questions to ask to break from the surface problem to the core:
Why did the situation escalate into a problem in the first place? While the question may seem elementary, it’s important to start here - at the beginning. From your vantage point as a CSM, you have good insight into the people, the processes, and the surroundings of what may have led to the situation.
Is there anything that happened that may have triggered it, such as a product failure, an incorrect invoice, an unfulfilled commitment, or an argument? If anyone else internally was involved in the situation, be sure to ask for their perspective as well. Sometimes piecing an accurate puzzle together takes several different viewpoints.
Similar to asking why the situation happened in the first place, it’s important to ask what happened. What exactly is the situation you are digging in to? What were the key events that took place in order to escalate the situation? Equally important to ask is whether or not this is the first time the problem has occurred.
Perhaps your organization is going through a tough spot with a product or a service and several other similar situations have occurred with other customers or even within the same account. If so, compare the situations and determine if the problems are identical or if there are key differences. If the problem continues to arise across other customers or the same customer repeatedly, be sure that a manager or executive is aware of the problems, and offer a suggested solution.
Using the analogy of sports, who were the players on the field? Who was involved internally and who was involved from the customer side? Often times, situations become problems when too many are involved - each with their own points of view. We’ve all heard the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen”. This applies to customer success, too. When too many are involved - no matter how good their intentions - it’s easy to step on toes and confuse others who are supposed to be involved. Were there individuals involved in the situation who should not have been? On the contrary, was someone missing from the equation? If a main contact is out on personal leave or if a key stakeholder wasn’t part of an important meeting, problems can also occur.
Do you notice anything particular about when the problem occurred? Was it after a long weekend, or late in the evening? Did it happen over a weekend, or while a main contact was out of town? Timing is everything, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to this question. Be sure to evaluate the time of the problem - even if it’s ongoing - to determine if perhaps “bad timing” was part of the problem. You can imagine that if a customer’s overseas vacation was interrupted by a problem back in the office, they probably weren’t too happy. Be sure to also look for specific patterns. For example: Do you often run into similar problems Monday afternoons? Are there product maintenance updates or scheduled downtimes during that particular window? Getting a clear view of the timing and corresponding patterns is critical for digging deep into the core of a problem.
While this may seem unimportant, the communication channel used can mean all the difference in how a problem erupted. Some individuals are better communicators in person, while others communicate best via email. Did the problem unravel through a specific channel? If so, was it a new channel, or a channel that isn’t used as often with that customer? If you and your customer are used to speaking on the phone once a week, but you communicated about a challenging situation via email, it may be an uncomfortable form of communication. Be sure to evaluate the communication channels involved in the situation and look for red flags for how the situation may have escalated, or may have become worse simply because of the channel used.
It’s inevitable that as a CSM, you will run into challenging situations with customers. Unfortunately it’s not a question of if, but rather when. In fact, some situations may escalate quickly for no apparent reason. How are you and your teammates prepared to tackle challenging situations and get to the core of the problem?
Asking questions is an important part of uncovering the core and resolving the issue - and perhaps even tackling future problems before they happen. What are some questions your team asks when the going gets tough?
Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can approach customer success with the customer at the center:
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.