Success Plans with a Customer w/ CSM Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Success Plans with a Customer w/ CSM Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week we are discussing success and account plans for customers.</p><p><br></p><p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CSM Office Hours</p><p>Every Tuesday. 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>
How to Utilize Health Scores
00:44 MIN
Using Your Adoption Score to Open Conversations Around Goals
01:18 MIN
Success Plan Segmentation
01:18 MIN
Take a Selling Approach in the Beginning
01:25 MIN
An Adoption Assessment
01:06 MIN

Audio: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain podcast.

Allie: We took a bit of a turn and went into health scores and defining success, working with success plans and health scores and how those two aren't always aligned. And you can have a success plan that's completely met, health score that is in the danger zone and how that happens, and that's where our conversation went. So we did not stay on topic, full disclosure.

Speaker 3: That's okay. I think maybe next week we should have a follow- up on health scores and how CSMs are using that. So I do think they do tie hand- in- hand. I guess, Allie, real quick on that since, as you think about success plans with a customer and account plans, internally, with your leadership team, how do you tie in data, like health scores, into making that more robust?

Allie: It's a good question. We're still starting this whole journey of using a lot of tools to manage our CS team. We've been very much just spreadsheet based, and we've just launched with Gainsight. So we're starting this whole journey of actually having health scores and proper tracking and it's very exciting for us. So success plans, we're more tied to just the conversation with the client, not necessarily metrics or anything formal. Whatever they bought the software for, we would try and make sure that that was their 90- day success plan, and then meet after that. And then try and establish the next series on goals based on their journey stage and what we felt they should be consuming of the software, based on where they were in their journey. And account plans are something, somewhat new with us that we're working on sales with, because they've done a switch from the sales team was always handling upsells and renewals, and now our CS team is going to be handling those within our team, and really getting a better understanding of growth opportunities and parent- child relationships within different clients that we have, and knowing where to focus our efforts on growing our client base from the internal side.

Speaker 3: Very good. Anybody want to add to the discussion around thinking about success plans and health scores before I call in the next group? If you don't-

JT: inaudible maybe from within the group, but I don't know if we covered it as a team. But health scores over the years, we had one, started to use health scores to track things that were going bad in customers so that we could try to get ahead of it, but that was really facilitating the whole reactive mode that we were trying so desperately to get out of. And so today, we're really looking at health scores that are based on what happens in healthy accounts, really green, really successful accounts. And then, we're trying to go and amplify those to see how they work. If we can do that but a little bit better. Is it making healthy accounts even healthier? So that we can extend that into the rest of our segment. It also helps with the customer advocacy so that we can get that customer to talk to the other customer that's not. So we're leveraging in two ways.

Speaker 3: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Yeah, absolutely. So thinking about success plans and health scores, does anybody use things like health scores to drive conversation around objectives and outcomes with customers? Meaning, if you think about the customer journey and trying to drive, basically, we, as CSMs, are trying to drive successful outcomes for our customers, and we have to understand that. Does anybody on the call share that information to drive a conversation, with a customer, about what would make them successful with their products? Jenny, I see you come up with-

Jenny: I can unmute. I think maybe others would agree, but the components of the health score that are around sentiment, if you're doing C- SATs and things like that, and then product usage, I use that information to have the conversation, but never of scoring system, right? So if you're talking about benchmarking in their sector or vertical, and then just, has our product been embedded into their processes and are they primed, maybe? I use that information from the health score based on what feeds into our health score.

Speaker 3: Yeah. No, that makes sense. Courtney, was there something you were going to add to that?

Courtney: Yeah. So rather than us focusing the scoring on the health of the account and their likeliness to renew, we focus it on, we call it the maturity score, and we focus it more on the maturity of the program that we're helping develop for them. So it's much more customer based than inward- looking base. " So your maturity scores at that this, but if you implement this, this and this, and sometimes that involves additional licenses, additional product sets, you'll be able to jump to this maturity score, and is that of interest to you?" We really focus the conversation about them and the health of their... I'm in data risk management and DLP- managed services, so it's around them and their needs, and then we're able to talk about upselling and cross- selling within that conversation. But again, it doesn't necessarily make the conversation feel we're trying to focus on renewals, but instead just enhancing their program.

Speaker 3: That's neat. And Katya, I see your hand raised. I'm going to get to you in just a second. So Courtney, as we think about successful outcomes for customers, I really like the idea of a maturity model. Could you maybe expound a little bit on your process of sharing that with a customer? Meaning, do you provide a recommendation based on what you know, or do you have the customer go through self- assessment? What's that look like, and inaudible basically benchmark where are on that model?

Courtney: Yeah. We provide the assessment. The customers who get this maturity score, they are DLP- managed services customers. So we're managing their DLP environment, their data loss protection, prevention environment for them. And so the analyst who's doing that day in and day out, they have a framework that they can apply, they can use to assign the score. And then, at the end of every term, which is an annual term, we present to them their score, and then we show them last year's scores. We show them year- over- year, and then we're able to say from that point, " Okay, here's where you're at this year. You've improved so much so from last year. Now, here are the recommendations we make to get you even higher next year."

Speaker 3: That's awesome, that's great. Real quick from Stacy. I don't know if you want to come off mute and ask Courtney your question real quick, and then we'll inaudible.

Stacy: Sure. Courtney, do you also then have a health score? If not, how do you communicate that an account is at risk?

Courtney: So we have a small number of customers and a small number of large customers. So every CSM only has about 10 to 12 customers, max 15. We just do the stoplight, so it's either green, yellow, or red. And we just constantly check in on a monthly basis with the team to talk about that.

Stacy: Thanks.

Courtney: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Speaker 3: Awesome. Thanks for sharing, Courtney. Katya, over to you.

Katya: Yeah. So I was going to mention that during EBRs, I go through, I don't necessarily say health score, but I just say customer score, or adoption score, to the EBR audience, and I compare it to a competitor, and I say this is their current customer score. And the reason that they are rated higher than you at the moment is because we have been able to onboard X amount of teams versus you." Or, " The reason you're doing well compared to your competitors, because you have released X amount of op patients versus your competitor in the last six months, as an example. So internally, I use the same number in metrics, but internally, we call it customer health score. But if I'm speaking externally to the customer, then I call it the adoption score.

Speaker 3: And then, in that conversation, in the EBR, because I think EBR is another critical area of being able to talk to the success plan, as well, in that conversation, too. How do you use something like your adoption score to open conversations around their goals, their objectives, and being able to build out that roadmap for success?

Katya: Yeah. So at least in the EBR, it's the type of conversations that I have. As an example, is instead of just throwing up how many users they have, it's comparing that to how many users they've licensed. We bill per users, by the way. So let's say they have purchased a bucket of 500 users for that contracted year, and that they're at 450, then we start having those conversations in the EBR. Don't just throw it up there, just say, " You are now at 450, but it's very close to 500. Has budget been allocated to expand? Do you expect that to lower during that year?" So EBRs, we don't really talk about the very general goals, because I feel that should live in the adoption plan to begin with. I feel that should have already been circulated well- known to the EBR audience. We talk about more tactical things like, " Okay, it's been a year you have purchased this amount. This is your score, this is how much you've invested, this is the ROI. Can we have conversations about budget for next year?" That sort of thing. But the business outcomes and goals, I feel should be identified prior to the EBR, in general, and that should live in the adoption plan.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I see some heads shaking out there. Anybody have any additional commentary on success plans in the conversation with your executive buyer?

Tyson: One of the important things I think about the communication of health scores, maturity scores, or when communicating to the client, I think what you're dialing in on here is, is that ahead- of- time piece. If the score is only understood to you internally, and then you're talking to the client about a score, it's really not impactful to them. It's like saying, " Oh hey, I made up this scoring mechanism and you're a seven." And it's like, " Well, seven out of what? Seven out of 100?" So when you tie that plan into real concrete values within the client, then the conversation becomes a little bit more powerful. When you say that you're at 70% of this, and the client understands that, " Okay, well, when we did a yearly review last time, there was either a dollar amount or there was a value that was realized as part of that," so that they have something tangible to sink their teeth into, and they understand where they're going. I think that that's also an impactful piece. And I think that that's what you're talking about there, where it's good to have that ahead of time to know that when you're communicating a health score or maturity score, that... A lot of times, I have the tendency to think internally. So I see our internal sheet, and I see that little bar at 70%, but that's really our internal language. And to the client, they need to see maybe something else. They want to see it as an ROI in money value, or they want to see some type of a productivity increase, something like that.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So, Tyson, I think you hit on something, even if you weren't intending that to be the intent of what you're saying. But also, the question has to be asked, too, of, as you think about building out success plans for customers, who do you involve and how do you involve them in building out that that success roadmap? Anybody from the discussion talk about the who's who in the zoo, as it relates to building out success plans? Haley, I see you shaking your head. I don't want to call you out, but it looks like you might have something to add here.

Haley: Yeah. This is something that we've been trying to work through internally of who's required for what types of conversations, either through onboarding, through implementation. Because we ran into a issue of setting the right goals with the right people. Maybe you were talking to the wrong people during onboarding, and so you set the wrong goals. And then, you finally come up on renewal and realize you were working towards the wrong goals through your entire subscription or the journey of your life cycle. So we've been trying to attack that right now and understanding, really, at an organizational level, where everyone lies and who we need to have required in those conversations. So, first and foremost, who's actually paying for this? Out of whose budget is this coming from? Who makes the decisions and who's impacting, or has a say in those decisions? So who's going up and saying, " This is driving a lot of value for my teams." So we need to ensure that at least that sponsor is involved in the goal- setting conversation. And if they're not, we need to, at least, send some communication where they have insight to know these were the goals that were set, based on who you assigned to this project for implementation.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Haley, you hit on a really good point is, it's all well and good if you have a goal, but if you don't have a timeframe, what are the milestones for success? And the owner, right? If you don't know who owns that and what timeframe it needs to be completed in, then a goal is no more than a task. I've got a yellow notepad here next to my computer that I put stuff on, but if I don't put a date by it, it might sit there for two months before I get back to working on it. So I think that's really important to be able to map that out. Haley, just to maybe a follow- up question, who do you find is most eager to participate in those types of conversations when it comes to not only building, but revising things like a joint success plan?

Haley: It depends. And I guess we're in a specific industry, so it's those people managers that I can usually get involved. But they also wear so many hats, so I have to be very mindful of their time and really come to the table prepared for those revisions and asking the right questions, since they have very limited time to give me those updates and make those revisions.

Speaker 3: Understood. So last question I have for you, and then we can move on to another topic and discussion. I think it was Katya shared about the leveraging competitor information to your advantage. If you're having trouble really getting to the root of what are you being measured against? What are your goals for this time period? Do you ever use a competitive company and what their goals are? Do you open the conversation up to say, " Hey, I know ABC Company's doing for..." I work in cybersecurity, so wanting to remediate vulnerabilities within 30 days. Are you tracking against something like that? Have you ever leveraged something like that in a conversation around success?

Haley: I think once actually, I've used that. And it was specifically because the client asked me for insights, but it's not something that we share externally. Because everyone has a different definition of success. So we can't really measure that across the table and share that out with the client, because they're going to see that. And in someone's mind, they might've said, " This is driving so much value for me." But then they see it compared to someone else, and they're like, " Oh, I'm actually doing horrible." And it puts them down, even though you're just trying to motivate them to push the value add that they could, because there's just so much potential that they could be reaching. So we don't typically share out that across competitors. We use that information internally, just understanding what is leading to that renewal, what those benchmarks look like. I would love to see something that we could share so that they have a level set of understanding if they're really being successful or not, but based on our experience, everyone just has a different definition of success, and looking at those metrics is a challenge to share out, since not everyone is going to be the same.

Speaker 3: No, that's fair. Well, Haley, thank you for all the wonderful feedback and letting me pepper you with some questions around that. So thank you. Nathan, what would you like to add to the conversation?

Nathan: I was just going to add, actually, off of what Haley saying, is that some of that comes down to segmenting your customers into journeys that make sense for them. And I think one of the things we have is, we have of data, we've got large customer base, but it's understanding that data, to what Haley just said. If I say you're in the 80th percentile against all of our customers, I'm talking about small customers, large customers, enterprise type customers, that doesn't actually maybe make as much sense. Whereas, if you segment those customers, then you create a smaller scale. So you say, " Of the customers that use the same things or had the same focus or the same success goals, this is where you stack up." That's something that we're trying to work through right now, ourselves, to try to get maybe just better data points for us to have conversations with our customers. It's easy to say, " You're not using X, Y, Z features that other customers are finding beneficial, but maybe that doesn't matter to you at all." So how do we help actually say, " Hey, based on all the data that we have, we know that you fall into this segment of people that are using these features that they're finding value from. Let's talk more specifically about why those people are finding that value, and why we should maybe consider looking at that as a tool, because it matters. It's going to matter to you." That's something I think that Haley nailed on the head. We're working through that as well right now.

Speaker 3: That's awesome. Yeah. Success plan segmentation to you, I think is huge. You wouldn't want a success plan as deep and wide as you would with an enterprise account, as you might do with a single- user, single- asset customer. You got to make it scalable. So that's awesome. JT, I saw your hand up. I'll go to you next.

JT: Sure. I mean, mine's probably is just a comment, but I think it goes along with what Nathan and Katya said earlier around the engagement. One of the things that our software is, it's a new software for people in the industry. So there's a level of getting used to something new for a group of individuals that's already saying that they're really busy. And one of the things that we're trying to follow- up with now and use as a benchmark that goes against that whole segment comment is how the surveys that come out, after each different adoption journey that they go through, is feeding back into that statistic. So that when they start the platform, we're saying that if they do these prescribed activities, these milestones along their onboarding, and then into their adoption, that the happy customers have a higher engagement index, have a happier use of the product than if they did it a different way. And so we're trying to use that as an engagement metric to try to drive better adoption. So we are bringing the segment data back into those conversations, but it's pre- success outcome. It's really just saying that, " You bought this software for a reason. We're helping you to achieve those and understand what they are together and prove them out. But here's some metrics around what other happy customers have done. And if you have a different approach, this is a recommendation that we can share to help drive better user engagement, so that happier outcome metric of the customer success formula.

Speaker 3: Absolutely.

JT: I like the comments that were coming in.

Speaker 3: Yeah, making the data work for you rather than against you. Yeah, that's awesome. Thanks for sharing, JT. Nikita.

Nikita: I actually had a question around making the data work for you and storytelling. Because something that has come up in our EBRs, I think it's internally as a company probably. We're not able to solve for it is, what are customers in our segment doing that, or what's the adoption like for customers in our segment? Because let's say we give them recommendations on, " Hey, you could be using this part of the platform more than the rest of the platform. It's considerably low." The immediate follow- up question is, so what's the metric and what are customers in our industry doing? And because we work with SMB to large enterprises, we really haven't been able to get to an accurate data point where we can tell a customer that, " Hey, you're a tech company with more than 10, 000 employees, this is what your adoption looks like." Hey, you're a hundred- person company, this is what your adoption look should look like." So I was wondering if there are people who have been able to solve for this.

Speaker 3: It's a great question. JT, I don't know if there was anything you wanted to add from what you shared on that, or if there's anybody else?

JT: I would just say that, and this company that I just started working for has a completely different appreciation of user adoption. It could be that one person logs into it once a quarter, and that's the outcome that they need to drive some things that are happening in the wider ecosystem. Whereas in my former life, that would have been death, if a user's only logging in once a quarter. I mean, we're trying to identify the different personas that would interact quarterly versus monthly versus weekly, and then, try to be proactive at trying to share that if it's T- minus three weeks before whatever that quarterly event is, and they haven't done some things up until then, we're trying to reach out and share what those things are, so that when they have that meeting, when they have that one login, their experience is as best as it could be.

Speaker 3: Awesome. Thanks, JT. Any other comments for Nikita here? If not, I'm going to pass it over to Katya for our closing comment here, and then we'll wrap.

Katya: Yeah, I-

Tyson: I would just say... Oh, sorry. I'm so sorry.

Katya: Oh, no. Go ahead. I was just going to do a speed round real quick, so go ahead.

Tyson: Oh. I'm so sorry. I would say there's probably one thing that customer success can take from sales here. From a selling standpoint, if you go into a selling conversation and you haven't identified a compelling reason to act, then you're doing this method where, one of the sayings that I've always liked is throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It's that little kid in the crib with this spaghetti bowl on his helmet, or on his head, and he's just throwing it at the wall to see what funny pictures it makes. I would say identifying a compelling reason ahead of time makes that a lot easier to identify, rather than trying to have a cookie- cutter framework that you would say, " Oh, for an enterprise of 10, 000 people, here is what it would look like." Because even two enterprises that are both 10,000 people, one may be in sanitation and one may be in software development, and those two different enterprises are going to have way, way different experiences, different internal cultures, they're going to have all kinds of different things. So maybe a little more of a selling approach in the beginning there, to be focused on uncovering the compelling reason first, and then try to apply the solution afterwards would be my recommendation.

Speaker 3: Awesome. Thanks, Tyson. All right, Jenny, you got a minute here, and then we're going to inaudible.

Jenny: Yeah. I shared with my group, and I think I might have even shared with Jessica, if she's still on the call. It's something that I call an adoption assessment, and it's an internal account plan that I use to communicate with the entire org. It doesn't matter if it's marketing, sales, leadership, VP, support. It has risks and challenges, growth opportunities, stakeholder analysis, as well as usage and health score metrics. It's basically my go- to document to communicate with my entire internal company, to get them up to speed on where the count sits, where the opportunities are, risks are, that sort of thing. You get salespeople asking you, " What do CSMs do?" I send that deck. This is what I do. I'm basically your intelligence into the account. I help connect you with the right people, and I help you understand where you can upsell and expand, as well as risks and challenges. It's helped communicate to the wider org what the CSM function is for and how we can service them. So at some point, I would like to share that with the team.

Speaker 3: Yeah. That's awesome. I'm glad you touched on that. So as we wrap here, one of the action items that I see a theme in here is, I think a show- and- tell session. I don't know if it will be on an upcoming Office Hours, or if we'll do it as a one- off. I've got a couple things that I use personally, around account plans and success plans, that I would love to share as well, so I'm going to tap on you. If anybody else on the call wants to help lead and do a show- and- tell along with two of us, send me a GGR message or a LinkedIn message, we'll get that on the books. But thank you for all the wonderful feedback today. Look forward to catching up with you all next week. I think probably next week, we'll touch on, continue the health score discussion, and maybe get a little more granular on that. But y'all have a great rest of your Tuesday, and we'll talk soon.

Audio: 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 we are discussing success and account plans for customers.

A weekly segment:

CSM Office Hours

Every Tuesday. 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...

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