3 Strategies to Help Customer Success Teams in Uncertain Times

uncertain times
This is a guest blog post by Anita Toth,Chief Churn Crusher.


Customer Success teams are under enormous pressure right now trying to cope with all the fast changes brought on by the pandemic. Not only at work but in their personal lives. And they are also trying their best to serve customers who are experiencing upheaval too.

Your team and your customers are feeling immense mental and emotional pressures, which means new ways of thinking and operating are needed to cope with those pressures.

More than ever, Customer Success teams need to be led with care in these uncertain times so that they can do what they do best—supporting customers and helping them succeed.

The more your team feels supported and they understand their unique role in helping the business succeed during this time, the better they can serve your customers.  

Here’s 3 strategies to help your Customer Success team feel supported and led in these trying times so they can continue to give excellent support to your customers.

 

  1.   Support for Customer Support

It’s been a challenge trying to figure out where the world is headed as this pandemic progresses. Everyone is struggling with changing personal lives, and many have major changes in their work lives that only compound the change.

We all crave stability and knowing what is coming next. Unfortunately, this is currently not the case. In times of instability, the more a team can embrace the discomfort of the instability and shifting priorities, the better they can weather the storm.

Strong and frequent (daily and even hourly) team communications will help your team understand the changes that are happening so quickly. The more they understand, the better they can assimilate the information and gather a sense of control in this turbulent time. It will leave them feeling calmer and more focused

A team that is well informed and emotionally calm will be able to better listen to the concerns of your customers and respond with appropriate solutions that will help the customer through their own upheaval, while also offering a sense of reassurance that your company understands and supports them.

More than ever, a calm and focused team that offers the right solutions will have a greater impact on the customer experience and their perception of your brand. When emotions are heightened, as they currently are during this crisis, people will remember more clearly what they felt.

If they feel good about their interactions with your company early on during this crisis, that positive feeling will carry on into the post-pandemic period.

 

How to execute this strategy:

A) Communications – more than ever, strong communications between management and employees is necessary. Inform your team about changes in strategy and direction as soon as possible (daily for certain, hourly if needed).

Your team is also struggling with anxiety and heightened emotions caused by this crisis. The more they know about decisions and discussions at the executive level, the less additional anxiety will be created by speculation and rumors. Help reduce their anxiety by keeping them in loop.

 

B) Encouragement – Everyone is feeling more pressure than ever right now. We all know that having a laugh now and then can make a big difference in diffusing anxiety and giving a break from the pressure.

If you can, have daily team gatherings—whether online or in person—where the focus isn’t on work but it’s connecting and taking a break from the pressures everyone is facing.

This is the time—as much as you can—to be creative. Pick a background theme, like a beach setting, for your online breaks and have everyone choose that background for that gathering. Ask your team what they would like or appreciate. Every team always has a few people who are creative and would love to show that creativity.  Now is the time to let those creative folks shine so you can all benefit.

 

  1.   Lower expectations

KPIs are necessary for figuring out which direction a company is headed in stable times. In turbulent times, however, KPIs put unnecessary pressure on your team. With so many changes happening so quickly, measuring KPIs becomes secondary to getting the team supported and functioning as well as possible with all the changes.

Now is the time to inspire your team to do their best but with the full realization that they can’t operate as they would when times are stable. Relax or even pause measuring KPIs during this initial crisis period, such as NPS, CES and CSAT. Relaxing the measuring of these KPIs will not only help your team focus more on what’s needed—coping with the change and helping the customers as much as possible—your customers will also appreciate not having to answer such questions when they’re mental capacity is likely taxed trying to deal with the upheaval.

Once things have settled and it seems like a new working order has been established, gradually add in those KPIs when it appears to make sense. The data collected from these measurement tools during a crisis won’t be very useful in present or in future to make strong and strategic decisions because it’s wildly inaccurate. Best to just pause them and wait until things settle a bit.

 

  1.   Spend more time

Wait times to speak to customer support are longer than ever. People are conditioned to wait in this lockdown period. Ironically, now is the time to spend more time listening to customers. Your customers may not know exactly what they need right now, let alone in the next few weeks or months. They may not even be able to fully articulate what they’re looking for when they reach out to support to get assistance. They want to be heard. They want to be listened to. They want to be understood.

CS teams that take more time to listen to customers will be better able to understand what customers need, both as individuals and as a collective. In listening with greater intent, your team might hear new things that can lead to new features or products that might be needed post-crisis. Now is the time to note if there’s themes that seem to be emerging in terms of what customers might want post-crisis. Suggest your team make note of these new themes they might be hearing.

Spending more time with your customers will also have very positive long-term effects in terms of brand perception and overall customer experience. Humans keep the most powerful memories when emotions are heightened, as they currently are in this crisis. Your customers will remember how they felt when they reached out to support to ask for help. If they felt valued and helped by the interaction, they will carry a positive feeling of your business into the future. However, if they felt undervalued or didn’t feel they mattered, they will leave with a negative brand perception and they may even churn.

Post-crisis, companies that take the time to really support their customers by investing more time to listen to what their customers need and being able to provide solutions that help them right now will have more loyal customers now and in the future. And those loyal customers will speak about the positive experiences they had with brands during the crisis. Make sure your customers share about how they felt valued and were helped by your CS team when they needed it most. Taking a few extra minutes to listen to and understand your customers needs now will certainly pay off now and in the future.

 

Conclusion

More than ever, traits like empathy and understanding will go far in helping both your CS team and your customers. Businesses that put a focus on helping, serving and understanding—for employees and customers–will do better in surviving this turbulent time and will set themselves up well for the post-crisis period. 


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Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.

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