Firefighters are heroes. There is no argument there. 343 of them made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11 and many have died in the years since. The bravery to run INTO a burning building when everyone else is running out is unimaginable and has saved thousands of lives.
Fire Marshalls, while less recognized, are heroes too. Their actions have saved as many lives or more. It’s less glamorous to ensure that smoke alarms are working, sprinklers are in place and there are sufficient exits. Prevention doesn’t make the headlines, but it saves lives.
This is analogous to Customer Success. In our businesses we make heroes of the customer service and account management teams that save customers. Going forward we need to recognize the customer success leaders who help make sure we sign the right accounts, on-board them effectively, and show value back to the buyers. In the best organizations, 80% of a customer success manager’s time is spent on proactive tasks that drive utilization, engagement, and ultimately value. Things will still break, and a support team is needed to “rescue” these customers.
The best customer success leaders are analogous to Fire Chiefs. They manage both the fire prevention and firefighting teams. They work to prevent as many fires as possible, but when it comes time to deploy firefighters in the highest impact manner.
Selling time is eroded in the field when customer fires are not prevented. A Customer Success approach increases retention and lifetime value, while keeping your reps focused on the right things. What are some key preventative Customer Success activities?
- During late sales stages, partner with the sales team on a success plan, that the buying decision team will use to define success. Validate that these criteria can be delivered, and prepare customer success and operations teams to deliver against these goals.
- A proactive outreach to users, welcoming them, and addressing any questions they might have. Many times, these individuals were not involved in the sales cycle, and this is an opportunity to communicate the success criteria agreed to by the buying decision team.
- During this proactive outreach, make sure users know where to find training content, and recommend the courses that have the highest impact.
- Actively monitor usage. If key users are not logging into the system, they will not generate value. Don’t be surprised at the Quarterly Business Review, reach out to these users, and see how you can engage their workflow to drive utilization
- Utilize the Quarterly Business Review to Proactively report back on the success plan. Leverage these interactions to discuss any challenges openly, and collaborate on solutions
- Influence the product management team to follow a regularly scheduled cadence of product releases, so customers can plan changes to their workflow with minimal disruption. Listen to how Tom Banta, SVP of Product Management at VXchnge addresses this challenge at the 14:30 minute mark of this podcast
Even with this, support calls will still come in, bills may be wrong, but the frequency and severity of issues will be significantly reduced. Your organizational systems should reward and recognize the ones preventing fires, as well as the people who put them out. Both are valuable to the organization.
If you are at the point of evaluating a Customer Success investment, then review this article: Should You Invest in Customer Success?
If you would like help with developing a Customer Success strategy, come see the SBI leadership team in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio typically results in getting 3 months of work done in 3 days. The immersive sessions accelerate everything, dramatically reducing the time it takes to develop a customer success solution, and create an implementation plan.