Achieving customer retention, especially during a pandemic, is riddled with speed bumps. As a customer success manager, there are hurdles to jump through and one must be on the lookout to pump the brakes or maneuver carefully to keep the cargo intact.
I work at a software company serving customers in industries across the globe, from retail to financial services, sports and media, hospitality and travel and more. Last year, we learned about resilience, took notes from our past and quickly pivoted in unexpected situations. Every customer is critical to us, and we achieved excellent customer retention because we approached each client and industry uniquely.
Some industries were impacted more than others, so we were flexible and extended payment terms, or provided relief by offering deferred payments and assuring our customers that we were on their side by proactively reaching out and offering additional support and guidance. During this process, we steered clear of hurdles that are common indicators of churn.
Don’t Underestimate Your ROI
The power of ROI should never be undervalued. Ask yourself and your customer the specifics of what they plan to achieve. Understanding these critical goals will drive adoption, give customers the confidence of value and, simply put, give them their money’s worth. Any easy way to measure ROI is productivity gained from using your tool. Perhaps a task that used to take three engineers a couple weeks to complete will now only take a few days.
Mishandling Expectations And Accounts
Mismanagement of an account is an instant churn risk. It can happen from the beginning with a bait-and-switch approach, where the sales team mismanages expectations and dumps the responsibility on the account team. Work with the sales team during the proposal process and help them understand the reality of what the team and solution should accomplish.
For an enterprise software tool like ours, we take a consultative approach and provide customers a try-before-you-buy option. Hold a kickoff meeting where you can confidently walk away knowing everyone’s expectations. At our organization, we have a crucial point of contact from the business and technical side, set onboarding training and host guided technical sessions to ensure our tools meet their configurations.
A new change of guard can be a tough one, but it’s feasible to convince new blood to stay with you. In some instances, they’ll fall back on the contact they worked with in the past or start sending out an RFP to switch things up — don’t give up. We’ve been able to earn the trust of a new contact and make sure that goals can be achieved by staying on course.
We handle this by getting in front of the key decision maker (whether we know they are a detractor or not) and arrange a meeting with an executive on our side that aligns with their role. We’ve turned detractors into fans by sharing our vision and involving them in the decision-making of our partnership.
Time is of the essence. Pitch your achievements, how much you’ve moved the needle for them or, like we discussed earlier, your trusty ROI.
Risk From Competition
Competitors can be a threat and sometimes it happens when you least expect it. A mention of what a competitor is doing should be a red flag. This is a great opportunity to join forces and unify your team with the sales team because they speak the industry lingo, keep a close eye on what competitors are doing and can shut down perceptions about what you “should” be doing and what the reality of the situation is.
Winning the account is one thing (congratulate those sales folks!), but ensuring a smooth execution of the software is imperative. Keep your attention on high alert as the customer deploys your tool. I’ve heard of customers who had trouble deploying other tools, which delayed the rollout and forced them to painstakingly watch as they missed their own deadlines. Your customer’s failure to deploy your tool is also your own.
Work with your customers to understand why they need more capacity and if that feature request is a blocker. It’s important to understand the business impact and work with your customers to see if there is an alternative solution to their challenge that may not require the feature to be developed while achieving the same end goal. Invest the time to understand the use case and get buy-in from the organization that these changes are needed to resolve any product limitations.
Missing Customer Success Criteria
This is a subjective issue, but there are many ways to make this process as objective as possible. Measuring the customer health index often and starting early will lead to a consistently happy customer. If you’re lacking engagement data, a good way to start measuring is by starting with a CSM pulse rating. Have your CSM’s rate the accounts, which can be as simple as labeling the accounts healthy, concerning or at-risk. Adding a risk reason will also help with your playbook on how to get your customer from a concerning or at-risk stage back to healthy. Other common measurements are NPS, number of support tickets and product usage engagement. Understand what your customers’ success criteria is and make sure they are achieving those goals.
Greg Luciano is the Global Head of Customer Success at Contentstack. Greg leads overall customer relations for Contentstack’s award-winning digital content management platform which, year after year, earns best-in-class scores for customer satisfaction. Greg is responsible for turning customers into fans by delivering white glove customer service and an amazing customer experience from the very first day of on-boarding. Greg nurtures and grows Contentstack’s most critical accounts by establishing deep rooted trust through his integrity, dedication and empathy – and by always putting the customer first. Greg previously created Contentstack’s exclusive partner program, securing key alliances among industry leading innovators and prestigious solution providers and turning the partner ecosystem into a highly successful channel. Greg is a recognized industry subject matter expert for modern content management solutions and content-driven digital experiences.
This story premiered on our sister site, DemandGen Report.