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Customer Success and Customer Experience

New Year’s Resolutions for Customer Success Managers

New Year’s Resolutions for Customer Success Managers

I have a challenge for you….first, I’d like you to check our list of resolutions for customer success managers and use it as a source of inspiration to create your own list of resolutions. This work-related list could go hand in hand with your personal list of resolutions.

Second part of the challenge, is making this list a company-wide goal. This means, you should try to involve colleagues in your customer success team in achieving your goals and, in the spirit of fighting silos structures, you should also take other departments in your company along with you on this journey.

Third part of the challenge is reporting on progress. Tell us what successful moves you made to get closer to you goals in real time. Use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to inform us (and our audience) of your successes. Every time you move one step closer to achieving one of the results, post your achievement and mention us in your post. We’ll collect and aggregate the best posts, link back to your company, and create a list of inspiring actions for other customer success managers.

Are you in?

Why should you do that? Well…psychology teaches us that it’s a lot easier to stick to a plan when we make it public. Human beings like to be consistent and don’t like to lose face. Publishing our goals, allows us to create an audience of people who can monitor our results. And since we fear judgment, we tend to follow through. It’s a form of intrinsic motivation.

Additionally, the idea of being openly rewarded for our achievements (like seeing your Tweet featured on our blog, for instance!) represents a good example of extrinsic motivation.

Can I count on you? Keep us in the loop! Can’t wait to see your first achievements!

a man walking and balancing on a rope

And now that we established how you can take part in our challenge, and created a solid plan of action to make sure you won’t break your resolutions, let me share a potential list of great goals you could set for next year. This list was drawn up taking into account some important upcoming trends for 2018.

As mentioned, use this list as inspiration, but try to come up with unique goals which are uniquely connected to your business!

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #1: Make Customer Success a Company-Wide Effort

I swiftly threw in the term ‘silos’ in the previous paragraph. You know better than me that customer success is not a department but a strategy and a company approach.

The number one resolution for this year is already included in step two of our challenge.

The idea is making sure that your customer success goals are aligned with the overall goals of your company when it comes to creating a customer-centric mentality which is supported by structures and processes.

Customer success starts with marketing and content and goes through your product and the UX you create when onboarding trial users. Every department should be involved in making sure that your customers can implement and integrate your product within their ecosystem and that they achieve their goals with great information, support, and a continuous dialogue.

Your goal is becoming the central hub that connects all customer-related operations from marketing, sales, onboarding, UX design, and support.

In order to achieve that, you need to create clear expectations from your colleagues and make sure that there are no gaps in the customer journey! And talking about that…

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #2: Focus on Customer Journey Mapping and Define a Handoff Strategy between Departments

I’m sure you already spent a lot of time mapping your customer journey. Your new year’s resolution for 2018 could be making sure that there are no gaps in the roadmap.

Creating a detailed customer journey map is not an easy task. Customers nowadays follow different paths and come in through different funnels.

Go back to the drawing board for a second. Focus on all your different customer personas, use cases, and customer segments. Define their expectations. Create specific desired outcomes for every customer segment and for each single customer persona in that segment.

Follow their journey from discovery to success to see how the journey can be personalized.

Create specific customer journeys that span across different touch points and departments.

You should be able to meticulously map and clearly document in a matrix customer segments, and desired outcomes, a time-based plan for every stage such as Onboarding, training,  success gaps workflows, QBRs, renewals, and data- or event-based actions such as success vector changes, sponsor changes, upsell or advocacy opportunities…

If you’re already there…your goal should be optimization. Analyze past data and monitor results.

two happy customers talking in an old coffee shop

In order to optimize every journey, introduce a stop, continue, start approach: think what you need to stop doing, continue doing, or start doing in order to improve the overall customer experience.

And once you have a clear picture of what each single journey should look like, make sure that you have a well-documented and robust handoff strategy in place so that customers can swiftly and seamlessly move along the journey from department to department in a single, smooth journey without any interruptions, or information gaps…which again leads me to the next point.

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #3: Centralize Customer Data

Oh…the pain! That’s a tough one.

This point is very similar to some of the most common new year’s resolution we all personally add to our list such as going to the gym more often, or eating more healthy stuff. Those kinds of resolutions that simply move on from one year’s list to the next without any actual results!

We all know how important it is to a. centralize b. enrich c. update customer information in our CRM. Ideally, we’d like to have a complete picture of the entire customer journey.

We’d need to know how we acquired our customers, how they landed on our platform, what initial steps they moved, what they expected when testing our solution, what sales achieved in terms of subscription model, and have access to a log which contains all the interactions they had with our company.

It would be great to be in the know regarding what content they consumed (articles, case studies…), what kind of problems they experienced, how support addressed each single issue, and everything that came up in check in calls or any previous communication step with your company (from issues to feature requests and so on…).

Such a scenario is what would allow different agents in different departments to resume the conversation with the customer at any point in time as if they were having a continuous dialogue with a single person.

Basically, the essence of a great customer experience that puts the client at the center of all operations and makes them feel special.

But you also know how difficult it is to integrate data you get through different solutions and convince other people in other departments to keep their reports up to date. Yes…I’m also thinking about sales people right now! 😀 Just kidding! (sort of…).

Make sure that your team members block a time in their calendar to keep their reports up to date. If it’s not in their calendars it’s not going to happen! We always have something else to do. There are always more urgent matters that require our attention. And in the spirit of your new year’s resolution number one…fight to make this a company-wide policy!

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #4: Monitor Customer Behavior at different Stages 

Talking about data, your new year’s resolution could be introducing new ways to monitor customer behavior.

Surveys and check-in calls are great tools to monitor your customer health score, and their level of satisfaction. But there are so many engagement and customer experience metrics you need to collect in order to have a complete picture of the status of your customers!

Customer success team at a restaurant

Make sure you have access to a complete dashboard of data regarding your customers and their behavior. You need to follow them step-by-step to find out what you can do to improve their level of satisfaction.

A few solutions you might want to check in order to collect detailed data include great software solutions like FullStory, ClientSuccess, Gainsight, Totango, Amity, Akita, Natero, ChurnZero, Wootric….

I’m sure you already work with great software. But take some time to see what data you might need to collect to create a truly complete picture. And don’t forget to introduce tools to proactively prevent a bad CX.

In this case, you might also want to check our onboarding solution and the behavioral analytics you can gather in our dashboard.

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #5: Monitor VOC also outside of your Product

This point is strictly related to the previous resolution.

It’s important to collect data beyond surveys and direct feedback that create a complete picture of your customer health within your software.

On top of that, though, if you’re not already doing this, you might want to introduce VOC programs that also implement tools to monitor the sentiment of your customers and the reputation of your business outside of your platform.

And again, make sure everybody has access to all the data that marketing, sales, or you collect through social listening or specific reputation management, sentiment analysis, and review tools such as NiceJob, Mention, BrandWatch, CyberAlert, Keyhole, UserIQMedallia, ResponseTek, or Clarabridge.

In 2018, try to follow each account individually, while also maintaining and documenting reports on the collective sentiment of your customers.

Customer success team in a meeting

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #6: Rethink CS and CX Metrics to drive Change

One of your resolutions could be experimenting a bit. We talked about optimization. In general, don’t rely on commonly used metrics if they don’t provide enough insights. 

Customer success is a fast developing field. There are a series of common practices we’re all aware of. Nonetheless, simply because everybody is working with a particular set of metrics, it doesn’t mean that you need to follow suit.

Try to understand what works for you. If standard survey models and metrics haven’t proven to be accurate in predicting your customer behavior or if you can’t get enough information from common feedback loop activities…just try out something new! There’s enough literature out there that presents new and innovative ways to gather sensible CX and CS data. Time to try something new?

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #7: Optimize your QBRs

Following the principle of optimization, a key point you might want to tackle is trying to optimize your QBRs.

QBRs or EBRs are, for many, key components of a thorough customer success plan. First of all, also in this case, you might want to ask yourself if that’s the case for you as well. Are you really just working with high-touch customers? Is there an actual ROI for you to follow customers that closely? Does that actually add value to the customer journey?

If you’re absolutely sure that following a standard path in this case is mandatory you might want to look into ways to make QBRs (or EBRs) more efficient.

Try to optimize the way you prepare for your QBRs, define a list of indispensable metrics, design plans of action in advance to tackle pipeline issues and goal setting strategies.

Customer success team in a brainstorming session

Create a protocol you can follow to quickly move through the process from preparation to reporting. Define a proper workflow that covers all the bases while reducing the time you spend looking for specific answers. That will also give you more time to be friendly and human and show your customer that you really care!

Implement notifications and reminders for your customer, ask them in advance to prepare, pre-alert any stakeholders if you need support, define the entire communication flow before, during, and after your discussion.

And now some more personal goals you can also try to pass on to your colleagues…

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #8: Attend an Event Tailored to Customer Success Managers

Events and conferences are great opportunities to learn. But most importantly, such gatherings can bring you closer to other experts in your sector.

Networking is the best way to learn from other people, exchange tips and best practices, learn more about other companies and foster mutually beneficial relationships.

You can set the stage for future cooperation and additional exchanges while also being involved in other events and build your own personal brand.

In 2018, try to attend at least one event. And bring your team members with you if you can!

Personal growth means new ideas and skills that can be brought in into the team. And the whole company will benefit from that.

if you need inspiration regarding what event you should attend, check our list of Customer Success and Customer Experience Events for 2018. We listed over 60 great conferences and meetups for you!

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #9: Attend a Design Thinking Class/Seminar 

If you haven’t done so already, look for a design thinking course.

This will help you focus attention on critical topics such as empathy and customer emotions when designing your customer journey.

a mug and candies as a gift for happy SaaS customers

It doesn’t matter if you attend an online class or MOOC, a seminar, or a webinar….in the customer-centric era learning how to use simple design thinking tools and activities will help you create awesome customer journeys by pinpointing and communicating all steps that create friction or are not directly linked to value-adding activities.

And also in this case, make sure you involve your team members by either inviting them to take part in the same course or by teaching them the most salient concepts you learned.

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #10: Learn how to deal with Big Data

Since we’re talking about personal development, one of the key aspects which will be preponderantly important in every job position is the ability to manage and make sense of big data. 

As stated above, there are several tools we can implement to collect behavioral and predictive data and metrics to adjust our CX and proactively address potential issues.

There will always be more solutions out there that will generate even more precious information. But simply collecting information doesn’t help if you can’t make sense of it and can’t convert such datapoints into actionable plans.

Learn how to visualize and analyze big data. Companies will rely more and more of people who can collect and interpret analytics. By attending specific classes you can grow as an expert in your field while also helping your team and your company prepare for the future.

No matter how big or small your company is. You’ll eventually reach a point where the information you have will need to be cross-referenced across the board to understand how your brand is developing. Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning tools are precious allies but, ultimately, you should be able to digest and interpret the data you gather.

Resolution for Customer Success Managers #11: Make sure your company clearly articulates your customer promise in the core values it promotes

I left the most important resolution for the end. This point is strictly connected to the second step of the challenge and with the very first resolution in this list.

If you want your company to be truly customer-centric and point all its activities and operations towards customer success you must support all the stakeholders through the process of change management.

The approach starts with a change in mentality which must be institutionalized and clearly articulated within your company values.

As soon as a strategy becomes a principle and a core value, it is easier for all other members of the management to make customer success a company-wide goal.

a girl on the top of a mountain celebrating success

Time to Wrap it Up

That’s our challenge. Come up with a list of work-related resolutions. Involve other people and keep us up to date, step-by-step regarding your progress via social media. We’ll help you promote your achievements!

I hope this list was a good starting point to find inspiration for your own list of customer success related resolutions. Pick two to three priorities and stick to your plan! Set realistic goals.

No matter how far along the customer success journey you are…remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that unrealistic goals lead to frustration!

Look forward to witnessing your progress! 😀

While preparing your plan of action, if you need additional ideas and inspiration on best practices, check out the Ultimate Customer Success Book that seven of the top customer experience and customer success experts put together for us!

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About the author:
The Userlane team brings you digital adoption insights, product updates, and plenty of onboarding and engagement advice for user-centric businesses.