Are you a CSM responsible for remaining close to your customers during onboarding, implementation, and throughout the customer journey? Do you task yourself with routinely checking in on them? If so, you may want to take caution in how you conduct your check-in phone calls. Without an agenda and a plan, check-in phone calls can cause your customers to check out.
Consider the following phone call scenarios
Scenario 1: an unscheduled Check-In call during Implementation
Customer Success Manager: “Hi, Customer. It’s CSM. Just calling to check in and see how things are going in the platform.”
Customer: “OK, I guess. I haven’t had much time to fully familiarize myself with it.”
Customer Success Manager: “I understand. Would you like me to spend a few minutes walking you through some essential features?”
Customer: “I don’t really have the time right now. But maybe you can just help me with resetting my password.”
Customer Success Manager: “Of course. I can do that. Can we schedule another time to connect to identify the most useful features for you?”
Customer: “Sure. Send me some proposed times by e-mail.”
Customer Success Manager: “Will do.”
Scenario 2: a Follow-Through call during Implementation
Customer Success Manager: “Hi, Customer. It’s CSM. Thanks for setting aside the time to walk through how you’re using “Feature a” of our platform so far.”
Customer: “Hi. Yes, I’m definitely having some challenges with using “feature a” to complete “task 1”. I’ve been looking forward to this call.
Customer Success Manager: “Great. Let’s take a look. I recall that you said you wanted to be able complete “task 1” for the purpose of _________________ (fill in the blank). How are you currently approaching this task?
Customer: Explains approach.
Customer Success Manager: Instructs proper approach to completing task. Then says, “You also identified ____________________ as another goal for yourself in using our platform. Have you been able to make progress toward this goal?”
Customer: “Not yet. I just haven’t had the time. And, honestly, things are changing around here, and I have another list of priorities now.”
Customer Success Manager: “I get it. What’s top on your list of priorities right now? Can we set another call to work through that? I know exactly how you can be using our solution for that purpose.”
Note the difference between checking-in and following-through.
Scenario 1: “Checking In” is a passive, reactive approach to Customer Success Management. It forces the customer into a leadership role, when their priority is not figuring out how to use your platform. It’s getting their job done. Check-ins are distractions, rather than productive and focused sessions that move adoption forward.
Scenario 2: “Follow-through” is a planned, agenda-ed, call that is goal-oriented. The CSM takes the lead in facilitating a specific effort that has been previously identified, and then defines the parameter for the next time they will convene. When the next goal has already morphed from the original list of priorities, that’s ok. The CSM is agile in being able to reset (scrum with the customer) to plan for moving forward.
If routine phone meetings where your goal is to increase your customer’s adoption of your solution are common, you may want to consider some of these suggestions:
- Have an objective for the call. Don’t be vague, forcing the customer to waste his/her time thinking about your platform instead of his/her work. Make sure the objective is aligned with the customer’s goals, even if those goals have shifted. Shifts are opportunities to demonstrate your agility.
- Almost all of the time the calls should be scheduled and have an agenda. Nobody wants their time wasted just to chat. Occasionally you will have opportunities for brief calls
- Keep a continuous log of all touchpoints with your customer so that you can fully contextualize every call in alignment with their desired outcomes. When those outcomes change, document how your suggestions shifted to accommodate their new goals.
- Be encouraging, complimentary and positive. Your tone is your handshake. Customers want to remain engaged with people they like. Be likeable.
- Listen for opportunities to use training modules or templates to augment your meeting. Always be thinking of ways to establish more independence for your customer.
- Confirm next steps before ending the call. Identify any changes in priorities or needs. And suggest objectives and timeframes for next meetings.
- Follow-up immediately to keep things moving forward.
Customer Success Management is fundamentally about creating, sustaining and standardizing positive customer experiences. The phone call is a corner stone of this relationship, and should not be conducted in an ad hoc, unprepared way. Taking the time to plan for the call and imagine a next step will reap the rewards of an appreciative customer, and minimize the risk of their checking out.