If you’ve been in Customer Success or Account Management for even a few months – you know this scenario all too well. Your customer is an advocate for your brand, is the ideal fit for your solution, and you may even have a close connection due to the success you’ve found together during your partnership. Now they won’t answer the phone, return voicemail, or reply to your emails – what’s going on?
They’re either on an incredible vacation cruising the world and visiting beautiful tropical beaches, you’ve been calling to just check in too much, or your point of contact at the organization abruptly left and you didn’t get a heads up. The good news is that there are things that we can do today to get ahead of this issue while your champion is still there and I’ll give you a few tips for engaging the organization once they’ve left in case it’s a bit too late already.
Ideas for Getting Ahead
Establish the Hierarchy During Onboarding
The focus during onboarding should absolutely be on getting things kicked off right and making the path to the customer’s desired outcome. During that conversation, it’s appropriate to ask who their division reports into so that you can better understand how their organization is structured. (Note: Do your due diligence and ask sales during the handoff – folks often like to see that internal communication occurred and don’t want to repeat themselves.)
By obtaining this information we can position them to be more successful internally by understanding the goals and metrics they need to meet and it gives us someone to go to if your point of contact goes dark on you.
Get Alerted Early
Just like a blinker on a car can let you know someone is about to cut you off in traffic; there are indicators that your point of contact may be looking to exit an organization or that they’ve already left. Assume that your contact logs in daily or at least a few times a week. If their usage within your solution drops by a certain percentage or completely falls off – then we know that we might have a problem on our hands.
You can hopefully get this information from your product team or your Customer Success Software. Use this data to get pinged immediately and begin reaching out to other stakeholders to establish next steps and what it means for their continued success with your solution instead of getting blindsided a few months down the line when someone already came in and put their preferred vendor in place.
Create more Advocates
This may not be applicable for all but if your organization has multiple points of contact that utilize your solution then it is your duty to reach out to them and figure out their personal goals with the solution.
By establishing yourself as a partner that shares in their success – this will help you gain a reliable second point of contact to reach to if your champion and potentially the decision maker leaves the organization.
When You’re Too Late
Check your Records
Sales normally must do a good job of digging into the organization initially. If they’ve done a good job documenting the key players in your CRM then it should give you at least some indicator of who would it be best to reach out to.
If they haven’t made this immediately identifiable on the contact level then look at the actual communications and meeting invites that have been sent. Usually, you can track down at least one stakeholder to try and engage.
One of the most powerful free tools you have at your disposal is LinkedIn. Not only should you be connecting with customers to keep up with their company news, initiatives, and to glean where shifts in focus might occur between meetings – it will also alert you when they’ve changed roles.
Beyond that you can search within the organization itself for their successor, other key points of contact that may be indirect benefactors of the solution itself, or folks that the customer may have been reporting into.
Follow the Dollars
Someone must sign off on the budget dollars and no one likes to waste an investment. If all else fails and you can’t find the appropriate point of contact – reach to the one that signed the agreement or oversees investments.
Alert them that they have an existing investment with your organization and you want to make sure it does not go to waste now that your point of contact is gone. While they likely won’t be using your solution – they can more than likely point you in the right direction of a new point of contact or at least a temporary one.
Use your product info or Customer Success Software segmentation to easily identify power users within the organization. You may have only a few contacts at their organization or you may have hundreds.
Segment based on usage to find power users within their organization. Then, reach out to them letting them know the situation and that you know they’re a heavy user of the solution – along with the risk of it not being overseen that you’re worried about. While they also may not likely be the right person to take ownership – they have a bit of stake in the game and can also point you in the right direction.
With these tips, you should be able to locate someone that can help you find a new point of contact and continue helping the organization meet their goals. Make sure communications are always focused on the customer, what results they’ve seen, how you’re helping them today, and the importance of using their existing investment.
Do you want to learn how to get insights quickly so you can quit being reactive and start being proactive? Let’s talk about how we can help you stop fighting fires and start adding value for your customers.
Customer Success Around the Web
- Dealing with Difficult Customers and Providing Great Customer Service: The fact of the matter is, unlike 20 years ago, an irate customer can turn thousands of people sour to your brand. In seconds, a virtual group of thousands (millions even) can assemble to ban your company, kill your sponsorships, and take you down. What’s scarier, it only takes one bad move by any employee at your company to give your customers tweet-worthy fodder that could damage your brand permanently. Michael Mehlberg explores what a customer-centric organization looks like on the Modern da Vinci blog.
- 11 Important Questions to Ask Customer Success Candidates: Hiring for customer-facing roles can be a challenge (especially the first one). There’s always the risk that your new hire will damage your relationship with your customer, potentially affecting your churn and revenue. This problem doesn’t exist to the same degree for internal jobs. If an employee who doesn’t work with customers turns toxic, you can remove them from the equation and fix the problem, but there’s little effect on the company’s income. This means that hiring a new customer success manager (CSM) is a delicate process. Nils Vinje details the 11 questions on the Glide Consulting blog here.
- How to Engage with Customers without Annoying Them: Are you annoying your customers? Probably so. Inundating your audience with multiple messages at inconvenient times isn’t helpful. Therefore, it’s important to know when and how to engage with consumers. Kissmeterics explores five strategies to stop your annoying behavior.
Word to the Wise
Sean Hawkins, Customer Service Leader & Speaker (Twitter), recently interviewed with Thematic to discuss organizational success, customer focus, and more.
“If you don’t support the customer directly, you support those who do. Every department and every employee must understand how they impact customer experience. A customer centric approach is critical to company growth and their bottom line. Taken a step further, those companies who recognize their customers are partners, will be able to use this relationship to make better decisions and better products and services.”