Customer Success consulting options can vary from focusing on pure metrics (which are needed) to simply delivering ways to improve retention, cross-sell and upsell within a base.  However, 2021 has really taken a deeper and more focused approached due to the changing landscape post pandemic.  Many organizations have faced a larger increase in employee churn as restrictions lifted, many decided to pursue new options professionally.  This departure in CS has opened the door to innovation, using a few tech tools while leaders scramble to backfill key contributors.  In addition, Customer Success leadership is facing a changing gig-economy across their client base as they struggle with a work balance adaptation (should we go back to the office, stay remote, become hybrid).

 

Customer Success Managers¬†(CSMs) at times can have the most difficult job in an organization for several reasons in this ongoing metamorphosis. ¬†First, at its core if CS is not a mindset and cultural push from the CEO through the entire company, CSMs are looked at as simply ‚Äúfix-it‚ÄĚ teams. ¬†That is certainly an uphill battle compared to companies who believe Customer Success is in their DNA, their culture and it‚Äôs not just a ‚Äúteam‚ÄĚ who supports the journey.

Customer Success Technology Tips

 

Many Chief Customer Officers and their management teams are working on additional investments in 2021 to support their install base, communicate more efficiently and put tools to work for their team. Plus, the threat of constant CSM churn leaving their organization is looming, so how do they respond with ways around these variables.  Five quick Customer Success Tips which can transform the team culture and customer journey immediately.

 

    1. Remote Calling:

    CSMs need an easy-to-use platform to communicate with customers that does not look like just a cell phone.  Many teams prefer their Mobil device as they can Talk & Text pretty easily and we agree with this approach.  However, what happens if the CSM moves on to another role internally or externally?  How are you tracking time logged with customers?  Some options:

    1. UCaaS Calling:  Using a UC platform with VOIP provides a CSM the ability to be anywhere in the world, connected with customers on a moments notice.  Requirements:  Internet, Mobile Device and/computer.  Yes, you read that correct, you can still use your mobile phone by downloading the application which interfaces with the UCaaS platform.  This option turns your cell phone or computer int a soft phone simulating any office phone at the comfort of your traditional mobile device.  Customer Success Managers enjoy using their mobile device and the application does allow SMS/Text, chat etc. to continue advancing the Omni channelCX experience.  How much does it cost for a CSM to use UC on their phone?  Depending on the platform as there are many, you can expect to spend on average $20 per month.  However, this should include unlimited local and long distance, call recording/forwarding, SMS etc.  The bonus is building an inbound/outbound Contact Center as well on these platforms as you scale.  The challenge you will face is trying to figure out the best option to utilize, deploy and manage your CSM and Contact Center Agents. If you prefer, you can still have the calls from the system forward to your Cell phone as well.   options across VOIP are a great way to still use a mobile device &

 

    2. Contact Center:  

    SaaS-based organizations can leverage inbound contact centersto support potential churning customers for example.  If the contract or ability to cancel service requires a verbal conversation, this allows the service provider one last effort to retain a customer.  Agents can engage the Customer Success Manager on the account in real-time through a call transfer or they can bridge them on to solve a real-world subscription issue.  These platforms can equally be established as Virtual Call Centers to support any customer interaction regardless if the CSM is traveling or a remote employee.

    1. Subscription-based businesses such as subscription boxes or SaaS companies may receive calls from customers who want to expand their current plan. In this case, inbound call agents should be trained to either upgrade shoppers’ plans themselves or redirect the call to a sales agent who can process the plan expansion.
    2. Net Promoter Scoreis typically associated with a quick email survey to understand customer loyalty.  Outbound calling to customers especially any detractor scores would allow an organization real-time feedback outside the NPS to understand the root of the problem.  If you think about how a NPS is static, a phone call from an agent or CSM provides the ability to drill into any issues.
    3. Omni Channel support can be achieved with a simple contact center offering the ability of your customer to use tools such as Enterprise Chat vs. actually emailing/calling your CSM.  Quick answers, direct responses all in real-time is another benefit of the onboard options.  CMOs prefer good metrics based on the customer touch as well and so does those leading your business development efforts.  How many sales organizations hire large BDR teams for outbound calling and do not realize 50% of the communication is coming in on Chat or SMS?  That could be a big miss.

 

    3. Audio/Visual (AV):

    Audiovisual technologyis instrumental to the remote customer and their interaction with you especially in this new hybrid world.   Customers have changed their lifestyle as a result of COVID and teams will need to adapt to return to office.  AV environments are more than good lighting and camera. No longer will employees be dedicated to working from an office Monday to Friday 9 to 5.  This means that your company needs to provide communication technology to enable a seamless collaboration experience for your employees when they return to office.  If you don’t have the proper technology in place, where everyone can hear and see each other clearly, then you no longer are meeting the modern workforces’ requirements to an efficient and successful communication technology strategy.

A few items to consider with Customer Success Audio/Visual environments so your clients feel like they are supported by someone who is in a professional environment even if at home.

  1. Outfit the CSM home office by standardizing on a set of cameras since they are most likely out of the support of your IT team.  Having the same brand, make/model allows for team troubleshooting (hopefully not), tips/tricks on lighting and staging for the other CSMs to take advantage of and more.  If you think about a CSM team, all using the same software tools, they should be adjusting to similar hardware tools such as a quality IP camera.
  2. Background for remote CSMs should be outfitted with your company branding and we’re not talking about coffee mugs and stress balls.  Have the marketing team help with a good wall sign/wrap for the home office and if that does not exist, we highly recommend uploading your own with Vistaprint.com.  You might even be able to create a Customer Success Brand with your company logo which could be fun for the team to design.

 

    4. Boomerang App:

    This app plug-in for email both Gmail and Outlook is a great way to stay on-top of follow-ups, especially customer touches.  In their blog they cover some great items on 7 Tips for getting more email Responses.

 

How many times as a CSM have you attempted to notify a customer about a renewal?  Literally telling them they need to contact you because their services is expiring and will be paying a higher MRC/MRR without a response?  Add a workload of hundreds of customers and how does your CX team remember how long ago to follow-up on your first email?

Using a tool like this can identify useful Customer Success Metrics specific to email response/reply.

  • Time/Day for the best reply
  • Which ‚Äúcanned‚ÄĚ email works for Renewal, Cross-Sell & Upsell discussions.
  • How about taking the traditional NPS process going to the CSM level if needed? ¬†If so, a Boomerang email as a reminder can work wonders to provide a big return/response.

 

The team at Boomerang in the blog post above covers some ideas with statistics on interaction engagement across their email app.  They explain four quick tips on email engagement aside which makes sense as most people will not read your long explanation of upside components in your offering or go over the entire renewal contract written out in that message.  Boomerang suggest writing an email as follows:

  • Write with Emotion
  • Write shorter emails
  • Use Short Subject Lines
  • Write like a school aged child

 

        5. Customer Success as a Service (CSaaS):

CSaaS is when a Customer Success organization utilizes fractional Customer Success Managers to support their business.  Leveraging just-in-time headcount

CSaaS Just-in-time Headcount can assist CSMs who are burdened with growth and expansion on key accounts having less time for retention.  Using a fractional support model, companies can use an outsourced and season team to focus on CS interactions to drive renewals.  Let’s face it, calling a customer to ask them about their impending renewal, thoughts on what they will pursue can be less exciting compared to helping them scale.  Plus, if the customer journey has been less than ideal, some CSMs are not big fans of dealing with unruly customers.  This is a great option to use an outsourced CSM temporarily.

If your CSM churn-rate out of the company or into new roles(hopefully) is higher, there is a transition period when the leave. ¬†Not just after their two-week notice but the time it takes someone to ramp once hired. ¬†That timeframe could be 30-60-90+ days and the group who picks up the slack during this new hire period is your existing team. ¬†They are asked to do more work, cover additional accounts all in the same period. ¬†Many CS leaders equally experience an ‚Äúanomaly‚ÄĚ in their metrics pointing to lost CSMs as the culprit which is true. ¬†Losing even a sub-par CSM can impact retention and NPS scores thus driving numbers lower. ¬†While temporary, it‚Äôs still a nuisance to explain. ¬†On the contrary, if the metrics do not slide lower with employee churn, sometimes organizations do lose (usually temporary) the backfill role(s) based on purely the numbers. ¬†We have seen finance organizations take a deeper look at the employee expense to revenue in these models which can be devasting as it does not explain the full picture.

 

Other must haves – CustomerGauge

If you have not spent time diving into CustomerGauge and their deep understanding of perfecting the customer experience, you as a leader or contributor in CX are missing out.

 

This company has spent the last few years compiling data, speaking with leaders across the B2B spectrum and soliciting feedback across their benchmarks to deliver a triangulated set of information which is very useful.  They have several eBooks which are free to download and cover a wide variety of CX topics.  These benchmarks provide a great insight into other organizations customer success model and scaling work, pose challenges and simply areas they have come out on top from.

 

One such eBook anyone in Customer Success (that’s right, the CEO all through your organizations as discussed earlier) should read is the State of B2B Account Experience.

 

The State of the B2B Account Experience eBook covers over 24,000 data points across NPS, retention rates and more on the top brands worldwide.  What’s inside you can take away as useful information?  Straight from their website, the eBook covers the following on Measuring and Acting on Feedback

Measuring Feedback Benchmarks

Metric Adoption Benchmarks

Survey Open Rate Benchmarks

Survey Click Rate Benchmarks

Response Rate Benchmarks

Abandonment Rate Benchmarks

Account Coverage Benchmarks

 

Acting on Feedback

Close Loop Speed Benchmarks

Close Loop Target Benchmarks

Close The Loop + NPS Impact

Close Loop + Retention

Close Loop + Structure

 

Download their eBook here for free

 

Leveraging everything outlined above does take time and some resources to adjust how it will work within your organization.  Luckily, Macronet has helped many companies implement Customer Success based consulting efforts on how to streamline workflow to designing a Remote Calling or Virtual Contact Center based architecture with retention, upsell and cross-sell in mind.  Before you take a leap, feel free to hear more about the various use cases which your team could use first.  We have assisted some of the largest brands globally to the smallest start-ups in their early-stage beginnings.  Contact Us and we would be happy to listen to your needs in 2021 and how the five tips above or perhaps another option might just be the lift you need with a minimal investment.