Do you make gift lists this time of year? A friend was just telling me how her in-laws pass out blank Christmas lists on Thanksgiving for every family member to complete. The lists are for specific suggestions of things you might want as “Stocking Stuffers” (free or inexpensive items), “Things Under the Tree” (not big ticket items), and “Big Gifts” (real investments). The completed lists are then made available to anyone who might be interested in knowing what to get for you. It’s sort of like creating your own gift registry. I realize this much detail may be tough for some creative gift buyers, but I like the intention behind it – make gift exchanging as simple as possible for the buyer, and as pleasing as possible for the recipient. Sounds like a Customer Success model, if you ask me.
Customer Wish Lists for CSMs
What if our customers would take the time to make us a list of things they need from us and our platform? Wouldn’t that make our lives much easier?! I realize this isn’t easy. Think about how difficult it can be when we’re asked to make that gift list. Sometimes, we just don’t know what we want, but we certainly know what we don’t want when we open the gift.
To make it easy for our customers, perhaps we can provide them with a list of things they might want from us. Some of those things are “Stocking Stuffers”, and some are bigger investments. I’ll even make this easy for you, and tell you how you can secure these things for your customers.
(Remember, these are free or inexpensive things. They don’t take much effort, or cost very much, but they are often the best gifts.)
- Quick answers to simple questions. This is really a gift for both our customers and us. We are all simply happier when we demonstrate sensitivity to one anothers’ busy schedules. We can do this by being knowledgeable and concise. If an issue requires additional preparation or time to address, then we should simply look for a mutually convenient time to have a more thorough conversation.
- Efficiencies in using the platform. Anytime we can demonstrate a more streamlined way to do something, we should share it with our customers. If our customers are finding work-arounds in our platform, we should offer to demonstrate the most efficient way to accomplish what they need. Again, this saves them time and energy, and that’s always appreciated.
- Templates and Best Practices. Sometimes our customers don’t know what they don’t know. By providing best practices for them in using our platforms to accomplish their goals, we start them on the road to reflecting on their own practices. Templates can also be ways to encourage reflection for how to manage work flow or capacity, and how to get real benefit from our platform.
Things Under the Tree
These items or gestures may take a little more work on our part, but they are always appreciated.
- Productive QBRs that don’t feel like you’re pitching renewals. There are two parts to this gift – the productive agenda, and the proper approach/tone. QBRs (which, by the way, don’t have to be Quarterly, but should be set according to the needs of the customer.) need to have meaningful agendas that seek to gain a clear understanding of how the customer is using the platform, and offer tactical counsel on how to reap greater value from it. Our customers have invested in our platform and us. We need to take these opportunities to demonstrate real value in our product – NOT in trying to convince them to purchase more licenses or renew their contracts. The joy in this gift will look like relief as our customers gain knowledge and don’t feel any pressure.
- Well-planned User Labs for advanced training. When there are new features in our platforms, we should take the time to properly train our customers in how to gain value from them. User Labs are one way to do so with a large group. If it’s conducive to your customer base, consider hosting a virtual User Lab to demo new features and answer questions for the group. Customers benefit from this platform by hearing how questions and practices from other users.
Big Ticket Items
What big investment do our customers want from us?
- Answers to questions before they are asked. What greater gift can we give our customers than to anticipate their needs before they have to ask? If we do our homework by studying metrics and user patterns, we should know our customers’ needs before they have to tell them to us. This isn’t easy, but it’s worth the time. Investing in being proactive for our customers will result in more value to them, and a lower likelihood of their churning. The renewal process will unfold more organically when we have continued to demonstrate value for them without their having to ask.
- Evident Value. After all, isn’t this why our customers purchased our platform to begin with? If we can’t demonstrate value to them, then why would they continue to use our tool? To be able to continually demonstrate real value to our customers, we must know their desired outcomes and their level of delight in using our tool to reach those outcomes. We do this by forming a strong relationship with our customers such that they trust us to tell us what their goals are, and what struggles they are having in reaching them. Getting to this point in the relationship isn’t easy, and requires ongoing effort and unique interpersonal skills on the part of our CSM.
- Assurance Services. Sometimes our customers need more than our platform to reach their goals, and they turn to us for help with those needs. If we are hired as problem-solvers, we should make sure our service offerings remain customer-focused, and help our customer accomplish something of true meaning. This opportunity is brought to us when we have established a relationship of trust. The last thing we should do is take advantage of the opportunity to try to purposefully grow the account. If that happens as a natural outcome from the services, then that’s great. But, it would be ill advised to make such sales a part of our agenda.
What do our customers really want from us this year? We could ask them. Or, we could start with this list and see how they respond.