Building Relationships with Customers w/ CSM Office Hours
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain podcast.
Jeff: Gain Grow Retain, you have Jeff here. Before we dive into the show today, we have some exciting news that we've been holding onto. As of this month, Gain Grow Retain is officially part of the HubSpot podcast network. This becomes a really important milestone for our community and brings more validation to customer success. Something I love about the HubSpot podcast network is all the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn, grow, and scale their businesses. If you love Gain Grow Retain and want to check out other shows like us, I'm a big fan of My First Million, I Digress and the Salesman. Check out all these shows and more at hub.com/ podcastnetwork.
Speaker 3: So, thanks everyone. It sounded like from what little I was jumping in on some of the different rooms as I was getting to hear some great conversation were going on around the topics of building relationships with customers. It sounded like especially some of the conversations around disengaged customers and building relationships in that way. So, really excited to get to hear from all the different groups today. So, quick reminder for everybody before we share, especially if you're jumping in and it's not the person who's the representative for your group sharing to use the hand raise. We'll make sure we call on you and get to you in that order. And then, feel free to put anything in the chat as well as you're going. And so, as we dive in, I wanted to start with, I know each group was supposed to at least in theory, pick a representative. So, as we get ready to start, wanted to jump in and see if the representative from group one had anything with Sharon. So, as the quick reminder group one was Diana, Jessica, McKenzie, Stephanie and JT. So, who was the representative for that group? We can dive right on in with any of the thoughts you have specifically around building relationships with customers.
Stephanie: We actually didn't get around to pick our representative because we are so chatty, but I'll start off because I took some notes. And then, if anyone else in my group wants to add or interrupt me, please feel free to do so. Sorry, Stephanie here from product HQ. Nice to meet everyone. We came up with a couple of themes in terms of building relationships. One of the big themes that came up was around how to actually communicate with your customer. So, a lot that came up was the preferred method of communication, be that slack. In app communication came up a lot and just I think communicating with the customer and the way that they want to receive it, makes it a lot, lot easier. It seemed to have an effect for all of us. Another theme that came up was executive sponsorship. This goes across really good communication, but then also re- engaging disengaged customers. From my side, we've tried to identify an executive sponsor right from the beginning. And then, it does work for those disengaged customers, as well. The big thing for me is JT had asked," Do you kind of go strike for your exec sponsors?" And I said," I think it's really important to have a genuine connection." So, what our exec sponsors try to do is draw on some experience from maybe their previous roles or their personal life to engage in the right way. So, we choose their executive sponsor in a very specific and intentional way. Another item that came up was all around mutual success plans, understanding priorities, and getting that in order right at the beginning to understand how priorities might have shifted for your different departments, for your different customers. That's always really helpful to refer back to. And then, JT was also mentioning right at the beginning with BD or sales aligning with the different departments. So, not just the direct department that you're in contact with, but actually getting out into the different departments to see if their decisions, their stakeholders, and their intentions are going to affect your renewal down the line and ensuring that you're getting out and engaged with those various other departments, as well. So, those were the high level themes that came up. I'm not too sure if anyone else wants to add any thoughts from my group.
Speaker 3: Awesome. Sounds like you did a good summary. One thing I'd love to hear from either anyone else in your group or even the broader group, I think you touched on something really key there, two particular things. Which were the going into other departments, but also as far as relationship building, tailoring your communication channel to the individual. I'd be curious to hear how do people go about approaching, finding what that ideal channel is? So, anybody can feel free to use your hand and love to hear...
Stephanie: Oh, I'll jump in. I like to ask clients what their preferred channel is when you speak to them. And then, they'll say," Yeah, you know what? Let's create a slack channel." Great, I wouldn't have known that. I'm not a mind reader. Maybe they'll say," Oh, I prefer it this way." So, asking transparency.
Speaker 3: Love that. Love that. Love that. Awesome. Thanks for sharing there, Stephanie. And then... Oh, Ashley looks like you have the hand raised there.
Ashley: Yeah. We talked about that, just wanted to add to it. Something that as far as channels go and what's culturally acceptable. So, kind of thinking about that, we were talking about... If it's okay to like text your customer or not.? Some people in our group text them often and had deals closed over text message. And so, I think it goes to two points where one, you have to build a relationship to get to a point where you can. But just, I never really thought about texting some of my customers before, but maybe now I will. You have to build a relationship to get there. So, kind of thinking what are some ways to build a relationship where it is personal, like a text message tends to be more personal than a slack message or an email. So, I think another point that our group touched on that's related to the channel is putting yourself in the position to build that relationship. So, scheduling customer calls in the mornings and maybe your internal calls in the afternoons this way you get customers when they're fresh and they're more focused and they're not counting down the hours until they can go get their kids, go have dinner or do whatever they do after work. And I know, like I said, I specifically don't schedule any trainings on Friday afternoons. So, just kind of thinking about when you're in front of your customer, making sure it's the most, giving yourself the best chance to have a small talk and build that relationship.
Speaker 3: Awesome. Love that. Especially the idea there of using small talk and, and baking that in and allowing that'll be part of the meeting and anybody who's known me for any length of time, there's a broken record about the idea that small talk is not wasted time on that call when used with intentionality. So, thanks for sharing that Ashley. Love that. So, would love to hear similarly from group two. So, in case you didn't catch, what room you were, that's the room with Ally, Amy, Rob, Natalie, and Hailey. So, if you had a representative or if not, even just an impromptu representative. Feel free to jump in. I'd love to hear a little bit of what your room talked about as far as the relationship building.
Hailey: Yeah. So, I think that'll be me as the representative. When we discussed the topic today, we did talk about, when do you ask that? So, a lot of times asking what's the preferred method of communication during onboarding. That first contact or interaction that you have with the contact and also setting up the cadence. So, what are those preferred methods? Whether it's email, slack, texting, teams meeting, and then the cadence and being mindful of their time. So, I definitely agree Mondays and Fridays is not always the greatest times to have meetings. So, just making sure that they have their input. We also talked about just from the pandemic, people like a lot more of that human first contact. So, a lot less emails. People don't really want to respond as much to emails. So, more calling that you're seeing done. So, sometimes if you're making the call, how do you make sure that you get a call back if they don't answer? So, we're asking to leave a voicemail or not to leave a voicemail? I think the general consensus was leave a voicemail. That was, I think, what we decided on. But, some people said that they don't leave voicemails or they might not know how to check a voicemail. So, they definitely consider some of those things. I actually have clients, myself who call me. And so, they always leave me a voicemail and follow up with an email, as well. I think that has been established based on what's been done through the sales process. So, I've seen trends based on if your sales rep was more email communication or called them more often, that kind of carried through with me. So, setting boundaries around. Are they calling me too much because sometimes you can start to create your favorite accounts, even though you should not be spending that much time with that account. But, they get to be account that gets more attention because they're the ones reaching out. So, making sure that you're mindful of setting those boundaries. You can always email back and say we have a meeting next week. Let's bring this to the table at that point in time. I think I would also say building good relationships is starting off with that human first contact. So, when you are having a touchpoint with them, just asking them about themselves, they're dealing with a lot right now with the pandemic. Just making sure it's that people first and human first interaction before jumping into business. We also talked about sharing a good meeting agenda ahead time, just making sure that clients know that if you are meeting and having some type of engagement, it's going to be valuable for them to attend. There were a couple different ways that we discussed sharing meeting agendas. There is definitely sharing the agenda within the meeting itself so that they have insight into what is going to be discussed during that actual meeting. Natalie actually took it a step further and she shares a shared document, like a Google document with the client so that they can also add in their agenda topics to the conversation. She's basically been able to help train and create healthy habits of ahead of the meeting time. You're both going into that document so that you're with having insight into the specific meeting agenda for that interaction together. So, really good examples from the team today or the group around this topic.
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Speaker 3: Thanks for sharing that and summarizing what sounds like a fantastic conversation there. Love the idea of the... I'd never thought of so great idea from Natalie on the sharing a Google drive to have the agenda. I've shared it before, but never done it in a way where they could input like that. One thing that you said there, Hailey, I'd love to ask kind of the broader group around. You gave a really great tactical example of what it looks like to set up a boundary in our relationships with customers. You used the example of emailing when there's already a standing meeting. I think that touches key on something that can be helpful in building our relationship. So, I'd love to hear from anyone else in the broader group, as well. What are some tactics that you've all used to establish boundaries and customer relationships to stop from doing like what Haley said of creating those favorite customers that are getting more time than they actually should? I see, feel free to... Love to hear, yeah?
Amy: Yeah. We have one customer who I adore him, but he's one of those who will sort of take on the big, favorite role because he's always reaching out. And so, what we've actually done internally is... Well, what he'll do is he'll leave the same message for three or four different people in the organization. And then, if everybody responds to him, then we're spending a lot of time. And so, what we do now is whenever you get a message from this particular guy, who's adorable, but we all slack each other internally and say," Okay, hey you know what, Terry, this looks like sounds to the message like it's in your field. Can you handle that call?" And then, the rest of us, he'll get a response. He just likes to try to reach out to multiple people.
Speaker 3: Love that kind of a united front, internally. That's helpful. So, it looks like, did you just come off on mute there, Hailey? Wasn't sure if you were going to add something or just... Yeah, I was going to say, I could tell.
Hailey: Something that just came up for me when you mentioned that Amy was just remembering to stay in your lane. So, if you have specialized your customer success team, remember what your focus is. You are coaching and consulting and your strategizing with clients, if you're in customer success. Whereas, customer support is more of that'how to'. So, making sure that if they are reaching out to you of more of a support question, just filtering that into the right avenues for them to create healthy habits for those future instances. So, they're not reaching out to you for everything. There's other teams that they have access to and resources that they have access to. So, they're not just always reaching out to you as that point of contact. So, stay in your lane.
Speaker 3: Love that. Ally, I see the hand raise there?
Ally: Hi. Yes, my hand was raised this time. Sorry about the first time. It's a good point about staying in your lane. Was just wondering if anyone else on the call was in a situation where maybe those lanes weren't so defined at your company. So, sometimes you have challenges. I'm only one person I'm not going to define the entire at my company, but your clients don't always understand that. So, if anyone had that challenge and how they maybe overcame it. Would be happy to hear because what you were talking about before Hailey is like how it should be and it makes sense. But, that's not always how it works.
Speaker 3: Absolutely. Did anybody have any specific thoughts on how they've tackled that challenge?
Stephanie: Ally, I think addressing that right at the beginning. So, maybe during the onboarding call, the introduction to CS is going to be the most helpful thing. I know that's not really helpful when it's gone too far. But, we do try to actually present that onto a deck and say," This is going to be the communication cadence. Are we all in agreement?" Just having those documents that you can reference back to again. That is kind of this mutual agreement between ourselves and the customer has been helpful to me and the cost.
Speaker 3: Love that.
Speaker 3: Stacy, I see that...
Ally: I like the idea at the beginning. No, I was saying, I like the idea of setting the expectations from the beginning. It will definitely given me something to think about. Thank you.
Stacy: One of the things that I'm actually in the process of doing right now is defining those roles and responsibilities for my team because I noticed there was a lot of... When I first came in, there was a lot of overlap. And then, if there's overlap, I assumed that there were probably gaps. So, we've really taken the time to identify what are all the jobs to be done? Who should be doing them? So that, we're much more clear internally on those lanes. And then, can communicate that back to the customers because if we're not clear, customers are definitely not going to be clear.
Speaker 3: Absolutely. Love that. The internal clarity needed first and it looks different at different maturity stages for CS orgs and companies where the lines are blurred in earlier phase. So, comes with the territory in some cases, but great conversation there. Would love to hear, I know we're coming up on about the last five or so minutes. We'd love to hear from the representative on group three, anything that it came out from the conversation and that's Amarachi, Eric, Jeannae, Katya, and Kathleen.
Speaker 10: We didn't really pick a representative and since nobody spoke up, I know Katya had to drop off the call. But, we had a big chat also around something that Hailey meant, which was the human first approach. We started to talk about pandemic setting in, and the effects that had on our business. Counselor was a word that we utilized. None of our teams have specialized training in that field per se, but we all sort of got crashed forces as we became whatever our customers needed. Still are obviously, but I think folks have adapted and settled in a little bit more so than when things on the onset with lockdowns and various closures and things like that, that were going on. So, we just had a lot of talk about relationship development and in the stages of the pandemic where it wasn't really about the business relationship. It was just about a personal or necessary relationship and allowing the discussions to sort of go wherever the customers wanted them to go. You've got to meet them where they are and be what they need you to be. So, I'm not sure if anybody else from the group wants to chime in, but there was a lot of that. A lot of small and medium size business discussion about whether they were going to survive through the pandemic and that just takes the discussion in a completely different direction in a lot of different cases of survival mode versus growing a business.
Eric: Yeah. If you don't mind me adding this is their... Group three. Well, a pattern that I saw here is that you want to have the conversations that you have, whether it's with customers or internal stakeholders is, there always needs to be an intention right? So, that's something that we also spoke about too, is when you're speaking to customers, what are some of those intentions? Why are you reaching out to them? Likewise, when you're speaking with internal stakeholders, what's the intention of speaking to them? And so, just want to share this pattern that I noticed that with each conversation. I believe it was mentioned earlier that there needs to be an intention when you're speaking to someone. It's like earlier, don't remember who said it, but with the small talk example, you're not necessarily wasting time with small talk. In fact, small talk is a really valuable to build that relationship and even to maintain it. So, that's something that I want to add to the conversation.
Speaker 3: Love it. I think there was a lot of really valuable pieces in there, especially those pieces there about... Excuse me. About how to use the opportunities that we have, which at the beginning of the pandemic and everything like that. Regita actually, I think was going to ask a question there. You pinged me there. To Jennae about... Oh, I'll let you ask it, Regita?
Regita: I think Eric actually already answered it because it's this delicate balance, right? Between wanting to be there for the client and wanting to make sure that we're not putting business over the personal. Which a lot of us had to encounter over the course of the pandemic while also still getting to our business objectives and making sure that to Eric's point, we're putting intention into our conversations. So, really interesting points both to Eric and Jennae on that. I think that anchoring our conversations while still making them sensitive to the client is super important.
Speaker 3: Yeah, great point there. Love it. We are coming right up on time here. So really quick, anybody have any final thoughts on the topic from anything that came in their group? Well, maybe one last person want to, before we wrap up? I saw your hand up at the very beginning, Josh earlier when we first came back into the group, I'm not sure if that was about the recording right before I did it or not. Got it. Okay. See the head shake there. Appreciate that. Awesome. Well, really appreciate everybody. Thanks for hopping on the line today for today's conversations. Some fantastic insights, especially around the ideas of setting boundaries, finding those preferred channels, leading with a human first intentionality and really just bringing intention into all of your interactions with customers as you branch out. A lot of really great insights from everybody will post a recap later and the recording will also be available. So, make sure you also join next week with Jeff Krishmerik for the topics on onboarding and implementation. So, if you have questions about that or insights on that we would love to hear from you. So, make sure... Same time next week and really look forward to everybody joining. Thanks everyone.
Eric: Awesome. Thanks for that.
Regita: Thank you everyone.
Eric: Thank you.
Regita: Nice to meet you.
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This week the topic for discussion is around building relationships with your customers.
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