91% of Customer Success Organizations work in a completely remote or partially remote team, according to TSIA Benchmark data.
We have pivoted to being at home during this pandemic and continuing our work. There has been a quick shift to web meetings and online tools. Where many companies and organizations once had a firm belief that work was done in the office, that has changed to accommodate the worldwide “shelter in place” orders and the needs of their employees at home caring for loved ones.
This mode of working, like distance learning in education, is going to become more accepted even after we are through this pandemic. The belief that people can be productive at home or wherever you are, will remain.
Looking at this through the lens of customer success, we need to prepare for a new engagement model with customers that will both meet their needs and align with outcomes over their lifecycle with your technology and services.
Now is the time to map out the ideal match of digital and human engagement that delivers the best experience in the most empathetic manner while achieving the business outcome. There are three key improvements to consider in digital engagement: is it timely, is it relevant, it is meaningful.
Timely Digital Engagement
Working from home causes the lines to blur from work to home responsibilities. As such, it is important that your messages are reaching our customers at the right time. Operationalizing the customer journey has allowed for meaningful, scripted set of time, event, and value-based milestones as customers achieve outcomes. In today’s uncertain business climate, your customers will need that information as soon as possible.
The number of decisions being made and their importance has increased quickly. Data and information will be key in making those decisions, but relying on regular meetings to share that information or waiting until it’s requested is no longer acceptable. The expectation for data is immediate. TSIA’s Customer Success Benchmark data tells us that after the initial introduction, 45% of CSMs engage with monthly regular calls and 38% do weekly regular calls. This is the time to flip those two and raise digital engagement.
It will be up to you as the technology provider to find the right cadence for the delivery. Too much information can be hard to digest and offering it too frequently can become annoying. Neither of those scenarios are helpful to your customers.
Take this time to evaluate your customer journey and see how you can best deliver through digital channels and consider providing information on-demand, so customers can grab what they need, when they need it. Have a look at the recent research report, Building the Infrastructure for Virtual Customer Experiences, as a resource for virtual interactions and available tools.
This is a time when customers are looking for help, which gives you an opportunity to better understand their desired outcomes and tune your messaging to that. All too often, we express the desire to help, but it ends up looking like a sales opportunity. Engagement with customers at this time needs to be pertinent to their needs.
Make sure that your communications are offering to help and as you do that, reinforce the message with an understanding of their desired outcomes and how you can help them achieve those outcomes. Understanding your customers’ needs by practicing empathy, personalization, and constancy can help reinforce that commitment. .
Narrowing the digital gap between you and your customer will go a long way. 64% of emails sent to customers are generated and sent by the CSMs. While this is helpful in creating trust, it also does not scale well and can become problematic as CSMs get overwhelmed both at work and at home. Look to automation for help with getting that message to your customers.
Not only will it help your CSMs, but it will provide a consistent message that can be measured on its effectiveness. The Customer Success Technology Stack report is always a great place to find the right tools and capabilities to get to the next level of engagement.
Operationalizing the Customer Journey for Meaningful Engagement
This practice combines three customer success capabilities, journey mapping, success plans, and playbooks.In order to orchestrate a meaningful set of milestones as customers achieve outcomes over their lifecycle with technology and services.
More advanced Customer Success organizations take this to the next level by documenting and sharing a plan or playbook that aligns the organization’s resources. Connecting people, process, data, and technology at the right point in the customer’s journey helps to facilitate value realization and overall customer success. This can provide the meaningful engagement model that will provide the right content at the right time.
TSIA finds that the companies that start with customer journey mapping and then take steps to operationalize it have higher retention and expansion rates in comparison to those that do not. Unfortunately, less than 30% of customer success organizations are taking advantage of these critical capabilities.
This is a critical time and customers are depending on technology providers to get it right. To do so, you’ll need to put yourself in their position and figure out how to best meet their needs. As you do this, remember to be looking forward. Use conversations and data to continue the engagement, asking what’s next and moving the customer to the next level. Recognize that Customer Success organizations have the opportunity to lead in this situation.
You should be giving customers confidence and reassuring your team that there is a plan and that you will be engaged. Ensure you have the right model in terms of timely, relevant, and meaningful communications that will help now and into the future.
TSIA recommends a Dynamic Engagement Model that puts customers at the center of human and digital engagement. With this model, it’s important to identify their business outcome, desired experience, your ROI, and then wrap that together to create the ideal plan for meaningful engagement.
A Dynamic Engagement Model in the Customer's Journey
Read more about the Dynamic Engagement Model in the “TSIA State of Customer Success 2020” report.
TSIA is Here for You
We understand that our member companies, the technology industry, and the world at large have been impacted by COVID-19. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to get through these challenging times. TSIA is committed to providing visibility as quickly as possible into the changing industry trends and practices that come as a result of COVID-19. Visit our Rapid Research Response Initiative resource page for more information.
We’ve recently published a number of fantastic supporting resources under our Rapid Research Response Initiative to help guide you through crisis management and reassess your capabilities going forward. I’d counsel you to focus especially on these resources, which can help start you down the path:
With over a million individual data points, 130+ B2B customer success members, and over two decades as customer success practitioners, our TSIA customer success research team can provide a steady hand in uncertain times. If you have any questions related to how COVID-19 is impacting your organization, we’re here to help.