The trifecta of inflation, the Great Resignation and the prevailing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a complicated and stressful situation for companies looking to retain customers.
As companies review their tech stack to figure out where they can save money, keeping key customer stakeholders informed and happy is more important than ever. Yet customer success teams are themselves dealing with hiring freezes or layoffs or budget cuts, making it difficult for them to serve their customers and help their companies grow organically.
The key to minimizing churn during these times requires an agile team that uses data and insights to best serve its customers.
This approach starts with the customer success strategy and continues all the way to the content deployed by customer success managers (CSMs). It’s an approach that not only informs how to help customers get the most out of a company’s product or service, but also helps CSMs build a relationship with customers based on data-driven trust.
Customer success teams must do more with less. Here are five ways customer success teams can survive these trying times:
Understand and empathize with your customer’s objectives and challenges. Companies can no longer build solutions in a vacuum and mass-market to a receptive audience. Customer success teams must understand their customers’ biggest challenges and work directly with them to unearth ways your solution can help solve them. By knowing your direct clients’ KPIs or OKRs, you can also connect the dots for them on how your solution is helping them achieve their goals.
Prioritize multi-threading. Multi-threading, or building relationships with multiple people in the buying committee, is the greatest insurance policy for retaining customers, especially during the Great Resignation. By ensuring you have champions at all levels of the buying committee, you can protect your relationship if a key stakeholder leaves. As a bonus, you can also help the sales team identify new prospects when that key resource joins a new company.
Use data to drive adoption and value. CSMs need deep intelligence on their biggest customers to inform their strategy, and also contextualize how your solution is impacting a customer’s bottom line. Individualized customer reports on product usage can help them strategize how to best serve their customers by identifying opportunities to upsell, and tracking customer health over time. By understanding the health of their customers’ businesses, CSMs can have more top-level conversations about how to improve. Data can also help CSMs communicate the product’s value: rather than just telling customers that the product is bringing value, show them through data. Data can tell a story that customers can understand, take back to their executives, and use to demonstrate the efficacy of your solutions. While usage data can help illustrate the immediate need for the product, quantifying the ROI in the context of your customer’s business objectives makes it irrefutable.
Schedule a steady cadence of data-driven reports. Data-driven storytelling doesn’t need to be limited to infrequent meetings. It can be incorporated into one-pagers shared monthly, or even briefly in the body of an email. While the creativity behind how the information is delivered can make you stand out, it is still important to make sure it is rooted in data and leads to concrete next steps for improvements.
Automate manual data work. The unfortunate reality is that the CS team is likely understaffed, while the work proliferates. Perhaps the person responsible for analyzing the data to inform strategy and then turning the data into presentations for customers is no longer there. Or they have ten more pressing responsibilities. Technology exists that can automate what previously took hours of work so they can focus on the more strategic aspects of the work. Usually, data-driven storytelling is reserved for the biggest accounts due to the amount of effort to create a compelling narrative. But if the team has automated the manual aspects of querying databases and apps, and turning the data into visualizations for the content, then there’s no reason it can’t be brought to all accounts. Imagine if all those non-tier A accounts expanded – it all adds up.
Customer success leaders may feel like they’re treading water during this challenging period, but they can use the above best practices to maximize success with minimal resources.
Even when hiring freezes thaw and customer budgets swell again, companies should still use a data-driven and customer-centric approach to keep customers happy and grow accounts.