Customer Engagements w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, Customer Engagements w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week our topic is around customer engagement.</p><p><br></p><p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Customer Engagement Issues with SMB Rather Than Large Accounts
01:59 MIN
Advocate For Customers, and Successful Onboarding
02:14 MIN
Building a Communication Plan For Your Customers
01:58 MIN

Speaker 1: All right. It looks like we have enough people to keep going. I want to hear from you. What learnings did you take from your group? Matt's got his cat out. Cats ready to hear all what you've talked about? Let's start group one. Who do we have in group one to speak?

Speaker 2: Jeremy. Jim. Jimmy. Peter. Pierre.

Peter: Yeah. Hey guys. I'll start us off then. I guess some highlights from our conversation about customer engagement, a couple of the themes it seemed like is customer engagement issues or problems more so with SMB or smaller customers, rather than larger customers. It just is with larger customers tends to be more of a need, more of a partnership and they tend to be more responsive to any outreach and to desire to work together, to achieve common goals and common success. I think that that was a theme. And then secondly, with smaller customers, a couple of us, Jeremy and I in particular, we support software that's more episodic, where there's more of a periodic recurring need for it, but it's not day by day, week by week, every single month, sometimes even, which makes it even trickier and more difficult. We just talked about a number of the automated touch points, as well as hopefully live touch points that we tried to engineer. But also mentioned, one of the more comments was that certainly we feel this at my company with our smaller customer segments, some of the CSMs feel more like BDRs, where they're actually just trying to get customers to interact more, engage more, so that we can verify they're healthy and they're on track for renewals, on track for growth if there's growth potential. We're sending emails, we're making calls. We're trying to be compelling, but again, it looks more like a DDR role in some cases where we're asking or pleading for people, our customers just to get back in contact. It's not very fun, frankly, to do that when you think you're a qualified CSM, in our case, with some specific industry expertise usually, and instead you're just trying to get customers re- engaged. Again, that's on the smaller side. With bigger ones, it's not much of an issue. But those were some of the themes that we talked about.

Speaker 1: Peter, was there anything that came up as an example that worked well for SMB when there's a lot of noise, customers have a lot of different priorities that as an engagement tactic was working?

Peter: Yeah. One of the things that we talked about was basically communicating... if we can't get a customer on a call live, which at least periodically we always want to do to get back in touch, to make sure that decision makers verify they're getting valued, they're achieving their goals, they're on track for renewals. If we can't get that, then try to encapsulate that in an email and particularly with ROI types of metrics that hopefully will be the most impactful and be the most compelling for them to learn. If you can package up some of the material that you might have covered in a call, if you simply are not getting responses, if you can package that up in a compelling way, deliver that by email rather than in a live conversation, that can be a really good tool. Although, one of the other points was just sheer email deliverability sometimes is questionable too depending on industry and depending on who the contacts are. But that was one thing that I know we're doing, Jeremy and some other groups are doing as well.

Speaker 4: Peter. Added to Peter's thing, Jimmy from our group was talking about personalization. He was running into issues of no responses, dismal response rates to stuff, and then started trying very personalized approach. He's in real estate software, so very personalized based on region, based on real estate markets for where those people live. He didn't have an exact percentage, but he saw a significant increase as he focused, narrowed his list of who we was reaching out to, but also got really specific on exactly what it is that he was sending to those people. We all understand personalization, but also scalability, but I think he has living proof that personalization does work if you're trying to drive engagement, especially with partners and the smaller customers. Peter, great job on our recap.

Josh: Real quick. I want to add a concept to that. In my work, I've used a lot of automation, even in high touch engagements. And one of the things that I talk about is meaningful ambiguity. I'm saying things to people even at scale, and of course you do need to create your groups, your cohorts of people, but being able to say things that they might say," Ah, this seems like a very human outreach to me and I'll go and respond to that." Rather than the antiquated formalized email with pretty borders and really typed out well. Sometimes even, making a mistake. It's a very human thing to make a simple typing mistake and those types of things have actually driven response rates up.

Speaker 1: I love that, Josh. One of my favorite things actually is when I go to reply, as if I'm talking to a person, I realize I'm replying not to a person. I'm like, ah, they got me, they've done such a good job making me feel like this is a personal relationship. I don't mind it because that means they're doing things at scale. Yes. Go ahead.

Speaker 2: One thought I keep thinking about as you were talking earlier, Peter, and what you mentioned Jeremy, is I'm trying to steal, at least in my role right now, I'm trying to steal something from our marketing friends, just about how they think about creating like an engagement score. When you're in the pipeline, you're engaging with content, you're increasing your score, you're kind of building up this adoption or engagement score that's happening that they then kind of put you in a certain bucket and then they give you more content or not. We're trying to adopt something. So the thing I keep thinking about a lot is we're building out a structure here at Higher Logic, where we're trying to understand the types of interactions we're having with customers. We're putting them in specific buckets and then we're trying to measure a contact's engagement. If we have five buckets or five different types of engagements that we're trying to review, we're now looking at, okay, where are they engaging and where are they not? And then we're trying to double down on where they're engaging, so if they're really popular and they love to go to the community, but they're not responding to a CSM to have an in person call, that might be fine. That might be a red flag, but how do we get them into the community more? How do we get them easier access? How do we get them more information? That's one way that we're just trying to think about this conundrum too, is like, how do you make sure and look at how they're engaging and where they're engaging as a mechanism to drive future engagement?

Speaker 1: Great. Let's keep it going. Group two. That was Matt. Matt jumped off. Madeline, are you able to jump in here?

Madeline: Sure. Yeah. One of the things we talked about was aligning on a tech stack and a process across departments as early as possible. Matt had a great point, and Josh as well, that oftentimes you see the playbook and the customer journey is different on a sales team than the support team, than the success team. Aligning on a cohesive playbook across teams and investing in a tech stack as early as possible, understanding how those systems interact is really critical to creating a cohesive customer experience, but also setting your teams up for success.

Speaker 1: I really like the discussion around success planning and the account planning and how you really need to be aligning that. And that's very obvious, but I was sharing how I joined this new company, 8, 000 customers. There's 50 people plus a loan in CS. How do you make sure behaviors? And one of the key things is that top down alignment, making sure then documentations going and shared across teams. That's something that can be very gnarly depending on how complex your product is and how large your company. I felt there were a lot of good ideas from this team there. All right. Group three.

Speaker 7: Yeah, sure. I can take that. We were discussing all of our different scenarios that we have and Emily brought up a really good point in our group to be on a team of teams and to understand that throughout all the different teams, that there's different horizontals within those and the squads within those horizontals that can go about and really drive that approach to customers, but always taking all the different perspectives from each of the teams and saying," Hi, I'm a representative from all that." To go out and advocate for customers. But also, really we'd also discussed a typical just making sure that a bespoke onboarding process is taken about to understand that, okay, we've onboarded, we've got a complete onboarding, we've entered training, we've entered implementation. Then we have a successful handoff to CS. And then once it goes to CS to have those checkpoints one, to understand that the customer knows what they're doing with the product, they know how to engage with the product, and they know how to take the value that they brought to their sales teams or that they spoke about what their sales teams that they're able to go about and achieving that and having different cadences set up for being able to achieve that. Also another great, great point. I think that everybody should jump on and try and steal this from Paul, is having Zoom social mixers to get out with your customers, have a Zoom session, get in person where you can, but for scalability, go out have a Zoom session, send the bottle of wine, send their favorite drinks and their favorite snack. Just get together and just have a ball, have a blast, just get to know them. Look at all of our different backgrounds here today. Be it fake, be it not, and just learn something about the person here today. Do the same thing for your customers. They'll love the snack, they'll love the human that's been presented before them. Usually when people are drinking or when people are enjoying themselves, they let things go that they may not normally do. An awesome idea that I think that we should all steal. This would not be anything if we didn't cap it off with what Pam said, that we all need to go ahead and change our title. We must all be customer success coaches.

Speaker 8: Just on the drink idea, Madeline's husband has a really great thing. Madeline, you got to pipe up and tell them about what your husband leads, or has led, through your company.

Madeline: Thanks, Jen. My husband's a career bartender and was unemployed, of course, during all of COVID and so he was leading" make a cocktail from the ingredients of your fridge" classes with our crosstalk and they loved it. And it was great because it kept him busy too. But we have a global customer base, so we were doing it at all hours of the day. We did one at like 7: 00 AM for us. It was...

Speaker 7: That is amazing. Props to your husband Madeline. crosstalk

Speaker 1: Madeline, drop contacts for our website in, so people can hit up the company.

Madeline: Will do.

Andrew: It's always happy hour somewhere.

Speaker 1: Andrew, your bar's gone.

Andrew: My bar is just moved. That's all. It's not next to me anymore.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Let's keep going. If you've seen Andrew before, he had a bar next to him in his crosstalk.

Andrew: My man cave.

Speaker 1: Man cave. That's it. All right. Let's keep going. Jim thanks for the call. Jim is my former colleague, so we'll see you. Thank you for being a part of this. Let's keep going. Group five. Or four. I miss the counting. Group Four.

Carl: I think that was... Yeah, I think that was us. I'll go ahead and kind of step up. It turns out we actually had a large coffee connection. There was a good group of us who really liked coffee and that really led into our icebreaker stories. We found that, kind of a consensus, that we would go the extra mile, whether it be literally or figuratively to a coffee shop that really gave great customer engagement for that. So on a retail level, that was really impactful. Some kind of items that really in particular that drew us to that, when people remember our names or make an effort to remember our names on repeat visits, just being extra, extra supportive when we ordered rather than just doing with like a sour face and all. Actually, one was at a restaurant, not a coffee place, but having something like a big party, seeing some big party come in, big table, just knowing it's going to be a real burden for the server, when the server is just delightful throughout the whole experience. I think one of the servers even asked the birthday boy for their autograph, kind of treat them like a little celebrity there, and it just really made the experience all that much better. While it's probably different from an enterprise type of customer engagement experience, it's still very relative. You want to make the customer feel like you're very welcome, kind of get them out personal, find out what they like in that. We even have a, if I can give it up a little bit for Mike. Mike actually had opened up a coffee roasting place himself and founded one, worked there for about three and a half years. We had a coffee maker who actually was telling us a little bit about it as we were going and he says that, if I can speak for him for a sec, that they put a very much of a emphasis on treating the customer that way to help you bring back customers. I don't remember exactly what the right quote was, Mike. I was trying to write it down fast, but it was really very, very customer centric. He had a nice anecdote about a shoe company experience when they engage with him on something simple like a return. That was really good. We talked also about the theme about coordinating customer engagement activities. On the enterprise level, people really like the QBRs for the most part. They were pretty good about that. Although there occasionally might be one that wants one every single month, but those are probably more the exception than the rule. Manoj had a really good idea for what they do. I'm going to give it up for him. Are you still on there, Manoj?

Manoj: Yeah. I'm still here. You can go ahead and give it up.

Carl: Oh. Okay. They had a really fun thing, which I want to try it when I get the opportunity, but they had onboarding parties for their customers. If they completed the 30, 60, and 90 day milestones within that time, they threw an onboarding party for their customer. Sent them a lot of swag, just had a real social thing for them. It's like a real nice, kind of great part of the part of the onboarding experience I thought it was really good.

Speaker 1: This is a great example, Carl, thank you so much for sharing these. I definitely think social inaudible is key. I think everyone is starved for social opportunity., come on in.

Speaker 12: I was going to say, I couldn't share them in the team thing when we were having the breakout session, is one of the things that we do in the organization, we got an AI solution. We actually have chat bots. We celebrate the chat bot's birthday and the customers actually celebrate their birthday and it's a big deal. That's a fun way to get people engaged and be part of the brand and feel like they're part of it. And the bots obviously have names. They get to design personalities around it. It's pretty fun.

Madeline: It's the chat bots birthday?

Speaker 12: Yep. Yep.

Madeline: Does the chat bot have like a personality and a name?

Speaker 12: Yes. It has a personality. They have names, they have characteristics too do the chat bots. The customer is actually are in the process. They help define the character and the experience that the end users want to have. And once they actually go live, that's the day that it's there birthday. And then we celebrate it every year when it comes out, saying," Hey, it's Janet's birthday. It's Mike's birthday."

Speaker 1: If anyone posts a summary, you're going to have to share your chat bot name. If you were a chat bot, what your name be?

Speaker 2: I love that example, Ruple. We feel like a really big moment of value for our customers is after they launch a community, they spend so much time during that launch. Once you get that first organic person to actually post in your community is when you feel like, oh my gosh, I've made it. Somebody has actually come to my community and posted. We celebrate that as like a really big, oh my gosh, you have your first organic posts. Somebody came in and is engaging with you and then we try and do that every single year. We try and then celebrate it for the community builder. We just recently, somebody had their first year community anniversary and we figured out he really likes beer. We sent him a six pack of beer and it was just like a little nice, happy moment. But I love that example.

Speaker 1: These are great. All right. We've got two groups. Let's speed round it. Who's group five?

Speaker 13: I guess I'll take that one. A lot of the stuff we were talking about has already been covered. A lot of it is to make sure that the customer feels like the communication is all customized for them, but also everyone is going in and communicating with the customers is, I think like Jeff put it, it's all in one place so everyone can know whether it's a leadership reach out or whether it's marketing or whether it's sales or whether it's CS. We have all of that communication in the same place. That really takes a lot of planning beforehand, putting those playbooks together and an agreement from the team both first and formally, and then more formally, just making sure that everyone knows who's the main point of contact, who's going through it. We spent a little bit of time talking about that and making sure that there's some technology in place where everything can be put in one place. And then just building that communication plan. Again, customer inaudible communication plan that goes across. And basically the customer should feel like it's a personalized experience, whether it is, or it's not. One thing that I think Ruple said was that key moments of truth shouldn't be automated. We discussed that a little bit and ways to make even more of a big deal about it. But even at scale models, I think we were using Gainsight at one point to send out congratulations when they hit key milestones. Just making sure that they know we're paying attention, we're watching them, but that's kind of where we got to.

Speaker 1: That's great. One of my favorite is key milestones, and I'm sure you've heard me before if you've been on a call, Grammarly has some great names they call you when you hit different writing milestones and their metrics are awesome. Just if you need an example of where a template goes really well and talks about your individual experience, I feel like they've customized in a really strong way. All right. Group six. Let's close it out.

Chandler: We have too many groups. Go ahead, Seth. Yeah, I'm not sure. I have no idea. Go ahead.

Seth: All good. I got nominated from my group, whatever number it was. They're two things I want to call out. One was we got to talking about in a like mid to low touch world, but not digital touch where the CSM is only like 60 customers or something, you have to be really selective about how you spend your magic hour with them that they get once a year or once a quarter or whatever it is. And so being really thoughtful about the things where you can have the biggest difference and are the lowest hanging fruit for one hour conversation that are going to turn into multiple other hour long conversations. That was one thing we talked about. Another thing we talked about was, especially for, continue on the thread of in a lower touch world, how do you give people access to the kind of thought leadership and particularly one- on- one type thought leadership, whether that is from a... what I mean is whether that's from a published resource or from networking with people, talking with people. That ability to access some sort of thing that in some way feels like community can be really powerful, especially for those SMB customers. I took that moment in a small group, and I'll take it here to plug the Gain Grow Retain podcast. I've been devouring episode after episode, from interviews with people who lead communities. If you're more interested in that, there's lots of good content there too. So those are summaries from my group.

Speaker 1: Thanks, Seth. Yes. Go to the Gain Grow Retain podcast community, all of that. Let's make sure to plug in and get some insights there. Chandler, two sentences.

Chandler: I would say one thing is crosstalk.

Speaker 1: A tweet.

Chandler: Yes. Look internally at how you align processes and how you incent buy- in across the organizations and the operations teams that need to support your customer success efforts. How do you ingrain specific incentives into their own responsibilities that drive your goals? That's it.

Speaker 1: Thank you so much. Everyone, you have been amazing. Really quick. Jeff has posted in the chat an opportunity for you to share ideas for other topics. Please jump in here. We want the content to be fresh. We want this to be meaningful and good use of your time. So share your ideas. I know that they're always looking for hosts, so if you want to be someone just like me, please raise your hand. We need more people and delightful to spend time with you. Thank you for your time this morning. Have an awesome day. Good luck with your customers. Good luck with your team.

Speaker 17: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


This week our topic is around customer engagement.

A weekly segment:

CS Leadership Office Hours

Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.


If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:

This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

Jay Nathan:

Jeff Breunsbach: