TechBUZZ Win, the Start of Q2 & Customer Success Learning Cultures
This week ChurnZero proudly presented our unique approach to customer success as one of the sixteen start-ups showcased at the Spring installment of MAVA’s year-long TechBUZZ program for 2016. Our CEO, You Mon Tsang, took the stage for a fast-paced, four-minute introduction to our vision, product and team – and the feedback was amazing! Each demo was judged on the strength of the presentation, the viability of the solution to a significant problem and the strength of the team leading the company – and ChurnZero was picked by the investor’s panel for all three categories!
Helloooo Q2! Is your CSM Team ready for the new quarter?
Whether your customer success team is in its infancy or more established, it’s important to have a strategy in place to ensure your team’s success as they approach a new quarter. Though the start of Q2 may have snuck up on some of us, here are three techniques you can use now – and as future quarters approach! – to make sure your team is prepped and ready to deliver success:
- Review your customers’ goals and performance indicators: Helping your customer be successful starts with really understanding what their goals are, particularly for the next few months. Take the time to discuss key business objectives and performance indicators with your customers, digging in on potential impactful changes, important goals and how your products/services will play into these two things. Asking these questions will help you develop a strong sense of what success will mean in the coming months for each customer you serve.
- Ensure your customer is prepared: Preparing your customer for the following quarter is about understanding where they are in the customer success journey and having a keen understanding of what they need to do in order to be successful. Many of your customers may have recently completed quarterly planning exercises and have outlined their plans to drive success in the following quarter. Make sure you are aligned with their plans.
- Plan (way) ahead of the renewal or upsell: As a customer, there’s nothing worse than having limited interaction with a customer success representative, only to get an “urgent renewal” notification at quarter’s end. Or worse, a pushy upsell for a product or service that had never before been introduced, with a generic sales message. This communication strategy is frustrating for the customer because they feel like they are only valued for their money, versus feeling valued as a true partner. As a CSM, it’s important to understand exactly where each customer is in the buying or renewal process, and to map out an engagement plan that starts weeks – if not months – before the actual line-in-the-sand renewal date.
Churn is an equal opportunity problem
And there are quite a few Fortune 500 companies that demonstrate that even successful companies are not immune to churn if they don’t proactively combat it.
The good news for the rest of us, however, is that we can learn important lessons from their mistakes:
- Microsoft v. Mac – Microsoft lost this battle because they failed to listen to their clientele, recognize their flaws and fix them. In short, Microsoft got too comfortable with having no strong competitors, allowing them to be overtaken by Mac, who successfully took advantage of issues Microsoft users have been dealing with for years.
- Blockbuster v. Netflix – By the time Blockbuster accepted that they would have to radically adjust their business model to move into the era of the internet, Netflix had taken control of the video rental industry and Blockbusters everywhere began to close. Blockbuster developed its own online video service – but far too late. The lesson? Adapt with the times – and quickly. Take new competitors seriously.
- Myspace v. Facebook – Myspace is a great example of a company that once dominated its sector and then completely fell off the map due to dramatic customer churn. The site was a pioneer in social media but it stayed relatively stagnant and did not address problems like security concerns and irritating pop-ups. Facebook, on the other hand, continuously adapted and updated and listened to its users.
Cultivating a Customer Success Learning Culture
Usually when “education” and “customer success” appear in the same sentence, it’s referring to the education of customers and ensuring that they’re up to speed on your products and services.
But cultivating a “customer success learning culture” is more than that. Creating a customer success learning culture implies that your company, no matter the department, places an importance on continually learning from customers and improving the way your company does business based on the two-way dialogue.
How can your company build a customer success learning culture? It starts with these four company focuses:
- Learning begins at the top: Like anything important that a company wants its employees to adopt, customer success learning must start at the top and be driven by the example of leaders across the company. This means that executives regularly spend time with customers, whether face-to-face with customers in their city, on the phone with customers and their respective CSM, while traveling to events or speaking engagements, or with CSMs or other customer success leaders at customer offices.
- Learning is a two-way street between customers and internal leaders: One one of the best ways you can show your customers you care is by asking them for feedback, really listening to what they have to say, responding to their thoughts and suggestions, and adapting accordingly. Entrepreneur magazine recently broken down what this really means in a great article about actively showing your customers you care.
- Learning is meant to be shared: When valuable customer information is gathered, the worst thing that can happen is nothing at all. If the information is never shared, no growth can happen from it. Customer success learning feedback loops do more than just connect customers, the CSM, and a few decision makers in management. They keep the customer front and center across the entire organization by broadly sharing disseminating the information that matters.
- Learning should result in action, change or improvement: If your company asks customers for their feedback but doesn’t act on the data or insights gathered, you are sending the message that it isn’t important – and that they have wasted their time. If that’s the case, they won’t waste any time taking their business elsewhere. It’s vitally important that customer success learning result in action, change, or improvement, whether big or small.
Word to the Wise
This week’s wisdom comes in visual form from Ted Goff, a cartoonist who specializes in business cartoons, and perfectly captures why so many businesses struggle with churn.
Every business works hard to support new prospects – they have cadences for proactive reach-outs, extensive tools to identify net new targets, marketing strategies and dollars devoted to net new. But many of these same businesses lack rigor when it comes to the account management function. Obviously, we need to bring new clients into the fold or we have no business, but what if we put as much thought and planning into keeping our existing customers as we do into acquiring new customers? Food for thought for the coming weekend…