Welcome to another week of Burn the Churn! This week, we’re continuing to work on the core by investigating how you can leverage data and tools to improve customer conversations, avoid unexpected churn and false customer health scores. Let's go! 💪 (Not signed up for the challenge yet? Join here.)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that having meaningful customer conversations is the catalyst to moving prospects further down the sales pipeline and keeping your existing customers happy. But how do you measure the impact of every conversation? And how do you do that with hundreds of customers? Determining how successful these interactions are at scale, is when it becomes a little more challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be.
Here are a few secrets from customer success experts on how you can understand customer conversations better when to evaluate customer success tools and a look at a few software options in the market.
Measuring impact from customer conversations
When trying to get a true sense of how impactful your customer conversations are, counting the times you’ve had check-ins with them isn’t the best way to go about it - quality over quantity. But what are some key performance indicators in successful conversations?
Steve Sanchez, VP of Customer Success at Gong, looks for the domino effect of conversations that lead to action. “...although conversations are hard to measure and quantify and get an understanding of the level of quality within them, what you can measure is the action that you need them to lead to and that should be tied to value,” says Sanchez. “Measuring those actions, and then tying them to the conversations or milestones that you had just before them will give you a much better understanding of the quality within them.” An example of some of those actions could be increased product usage, or testing out a new feature that was discussed on the call.
Oftentimes, getting something set in motion also requires having the right people in the room. Adam Joseph, Head of Customer Success at Gainsight, encourages building a cadence for communication with everyone from C-level executives to end-users ensuring there is stakeholder alignment across the board.
“[...] I've done presentations on this before called watermelon customers, where things look green on the outside, ie, you've got that regular cadence of communications with customers but because you're single-threaded and maybe that one individual you talk to is relatively low down in the approval chain for whether they're going to keep on having business with you,” says Joseph. “So we have to try and phrase things, not as things are important to us, but what's important to them, what's going to help them achieve their targets and make sure we coach our discussions in those ways.”
However, there comes a point when building personas and conversations for each stakeholder and having action-oriented conversations still aren’t enough.
When to bring in customer success tools
As much as we’d like to be able to know the details down to our customer’s family vacations or weekend plans, it’s not realistic when we have 200+ customers for every CSM. When you start losing intimacy with your customers, is the first sign of when customer success tooling might come in handy for your organization. Here are a few other indicators that it might be time to invest in customer success tools or software.
- Unexpected churn
Churn is never ideal, but the worst type of churn is when you didn’t see it coming and it was avoidable. Was there some way to intervene and make the customer happy prior to this? Was this because we didn’t have a finger on the pulse? If the answer is yes, that is a failure on the part of the CSM organization. Notice, I’m not saying it’s a failure on the individual CSM, but the whole team. Like I mentioned earlier, when individual CSMs continue to increase their customer volume, the intimacy and deep understanding of these customers will inevitably decline. When unexpected churn starts to happen, it’s time to evaluate what can be done to fix it.
- CSMs are researching and not communicating
The core function of a CSM is to provide support for customers and answer any questions they might have to make a transition more seamless. If your CSMs are dealing with customer volumes that make them spend their days researching who their customers are, when they renewed, or seeing what part of the life cycle they are at - how do they fit in actually having one-on-one conversations with those customers? The answer is...they aren’t.
“You want to make sure the majority of your CSM teams are spent actioning and not researching,” says Joseph.
CSMs need to be prepared and have the right amount of background on each customer, but they also need to be able to focus on being proactive with each customer and reaching out to solve a problem before the customer comes to them.
- False sense of Customer Health
Customer health scores are critical for understanding your customer base. It will let you know if you have a customer at risk of churn, or better, which ones are poised for growth.
There’s a variety of metrics used to determine the score of each customer including adoption data, product usage, customer feedback, marketing engagement, website activity, customer support cases, and renewals. For companies without tools to assist, it is a manual process and will take some time to define and create a scoring system.
In addition to setting up your customer health scoring system properly, you’ll want to be able to maintain and monitor these scores so you know the exact moment to pick up the phone or fire off the next email to your customer.
“You can’t just rely on lagging indicators. You need to get those early warning signals to know when to connect with your customer,” says Joseph.
Whether your company is experiencing one or all of the aforementioned challenges, it’s a good time to discuss with upper management the short-term (hiring another CSM) or longer-term (investing in CS tools) solution. If your company is looking to scale its business, building a budget for CS technology will be able to provide all of your customers the same type of service and eliminate any inefficiencies.
Tools to assist with customer interactions
Once your team and organization are aligned that technology is the way to go, you’ll need to identify what the biggest pain point is and have a sense of what marketing technology and software exist.
If your team is looking to better manage processes, Gainsight’s centralized view of tasks and action items designed for CSMs is just one of its features that helps improve productivity. In addition to these dashboards, CSMs can take advantage of workflow playbooks to keep it consistent and email templates to remove the manual process.
If your team is looking to get more insights on customer conversations, Gong’s Revenue Intelligence platform captures customer interactions across phone, web conferencing, and email, to deliver real-time insights to teams. No more silo-ed interactions between individuals. Gong helps provide visibility into your pipeline and customer accounts.
If your team is looking for a community of customer success experts, inSided puts its users at the forefront of each other’s questions and fosters a sense of community. In addition to guides, tutorials, and user-generated content, you can beta test and get feedback from this group of individuals.
Human interaction and communication will always be essential in Customer Success teams, but in order to provide the same level of service to every customer, tooling is the glue to keep your team’s communication top-notch, regardless of how many customers you have. The right tech stack will help you better understand engagement, customer health, and ultimately – reduce churn,
Want to hear more from Adam Joseph and Steve Sanchez? Listen to the inSide Scoop on Customer Success.
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By Becky May
Becky May is a Senior Content Strategist at inSided. She has eight years of experience building digital, video, social, and influencer activations for B2B companies in the beauty, tech, and automotive space. Connect on Linkedin