November 21, 2017

5 Ways to Re-Engage When a Customer Goes Dark

5 Ways to Re-Engage When a Customer Goes Dark

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We’ve all been there: A customer relationship is going well and there are no obvious problems or red flags in sight, yet when it comes time for a ‘serious talk,’ such as a renewal conversation or upsell demo, there is suddenly radio silence on the customer’s end. It can be tempting to sit there wondering what happened, or how the relationship dynamic changed so quickly.

Multiple Ways a CSM Can Bring a Customer Back

There are multiple ways a customer success team can bring a customer back from the darkness, but there must be a carefully thought out plan and strategy in place. Without clear outlines and goals, a customer could walk away feeling as though their relationship with a vendor is impersonal and trite.

It’s important to remember, however, that a customer in an upsell position, no matter how mutually beneficial or respectful the relationship, is still in the middle of a sales cycle. As any sales professional can attest to, this can often lead to long periods of silence on a customer’s end. If that’s not all that’s going on, however, Customer Success Managers (CSMs) can take steps to re-engage and re-focus a customer relationship. This doesn’t have to just happen when it’s time for a renewal, either. Customers go dark all the time, and CSMs can proactively reach out to ensure no long-term consequences.

Here are 5 ways to re-engage when a customer goes dark:

1. Schedule an executive onsite or meeting

When a customer goes dark and it becomes difficult to engage, it might be time to call in the cavalry. Planning an executive onsite meeting or scheduling a standing sync up for around the time of renewal negotiations is a good way to get all key decision makers in the same room at the same time. It also involves executives on both sides, which will definitely move the needle one-way or the other. Sometimes project managers or administrators can get bogged down in day-to-day business, which makes it hard for them to engage with vendors in a timely manner. Executive involvement can expedite this process and ensure engagement on both sides.

2. Check in with end users, not just decision makers

When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction and health, it’s sometimes first instinct to reach out to decision makers or project managers to get their input on where the brand relationship stands. Engaging during important conversations or renewal discussions can also take this path, and CSMs should try to branch out to other departments or roles for maximum feedback and input.

3. Do your research

Sometimes, a customer going dark is bigger than a vendor relationship or engagement metrics. As a CSM, you should strive to be aware of any customer issues or big-picture problems. Is something going on internally at a customer organization? Is a certain industry experiencing a shake-up? Was there a recent announcement regarding a customer executive team or board? These are all questions to ask while planning a re-engagement strategy.

4. Take a deeper look at the metrics

At the end of the day, the best option for re-engaging with customers who have gone silent is to take a deeper look at the metrics your team is measuring. While the typical metrics like product usage, logins, and engagement are a good start, if those critical numbers aren’t changing, then there may be something more at work. CSMs in this position should try to dig a little deeper into the numbers. There could be an unknown product issue, and internal communication error, or even a personnel change taking place.

5. Develop a strategy for ongoing engagement

As a last resort, it is sometimes necessary to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate how a customer success team communicates and engages with customers. Maybe it’s an organization’s internal processes that are causing the roadblock. If there are multiple customers stuck in the dark, or if conversations are constantly petering out before the renewal stage, it might be time to rethink how the team is handling these types of workflows.

How Does Your Organization Re-Engage Dark Customers?

No matter how a CSM addresses silent customers, they must truly rely on their gut instinct when strategizing and executing on any communication. Customers usually go silent during stressful or intense conversations, and it’s the CSM’s duty to make them feel comfortable and respected. How does your team engage silent customers? What are some other tricks to engaging customers who have gone dark?

Check out some of our other resources below for more customer success best practices and insights on how your organization can approach customer success with the customer at the center:


Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Ultimate Guide to SaaS Customer Success Metrics

Blog Posts:

CSM From The Trenches: Why Product Usage Isn’t Always King & 3 Lessons Worth Learning Early

3 Keys to Restoring Customer Confidence

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.

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