How should CSMs respond to the intricacies brought about by this pandemic? Is serving customers the only thing they should do, or should they take advantage of this situation to improve their personal goals or commitment to their customers? 

I spoke with Ronni Gaun, Top 100 CS Strategist in 2020, to talk about the lessons she learned during this time and what she thinks helps serve customers effectively. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the ideas expressed in this article! 

How is the CS role evolved amid this pandemic? 

The pandemic creates many business challenges. One of these is the lack of new logo acquisitions. This requires businesses to focus more attention on their retention strategy. 

Customer Success has been instrumental not only in growing business relationships; but also in offsetting potential losses for the business. As it becomes more challenging to get a new business, the CS team is committed to growing relationships and ensuring that customers are well supported.

That means they need to go beyond the existing upsell/cross-sell playbook. It is also necessary to consider asking customers what their immediate concerns are, how they are being affected (personally and professionally), and how a win-win outcome can be achieved. 

In terms of engagement, what have you adapted or used that benefited your team/organization? 

I have always been very empathetic, but I think we have to take that to a new level. We have to be more patient, considerate, forthright, and transparent. 

Megan Bowen from RefineLab said we should “aim to respond, not to react.” In other words, we should listen to understand and make space for conflict, if it exists. 

CSMs do not know what will happen next. Now more than ever – it is imperative to be available to the customer – to address and overcome challenges proactively in partnership with the customer. 

With this in mind, to be an effective partner, you need to be agile, open-minded and make a concerted effort to stay close to the customer. A few ideas to continue your efforts as a facilitator of success include:

  1. Level up your product knowledge to deliver insights beyond the generic ROI calculation. 
  2. Proactively introduce shared experiences that represent best practices from similar customers. 
  3. Focus on features and functions that directly address their use case(s), leveraging the power of ‘why’ and going beyond the ‘how.’
  4. Nurture the partnership through the use of both technology and data. 
  5. Solicit information from the customer on their internal challenges and how they affect their day-to-day operations. 
  6. Be honest and transparent. The pandemic reminds us that being human is ultimately at the forefront of business success. The events of the past year have touched all aspects of customers’ lives. This should be top of mind during every customer interaction.

Do you have to make difficult choices during this time? How did you go with these choices?  

Having been furloughed and seeking a new role, it was an opportunity for me to understand what was truly important. 

Many customers are pondering similar questions. Helping them get clear on what is important to them, in business, in life, and how they can thrive is one way to deliver value.

In many cases, continuous improvement is required. How we think, how we communicate, how we behave, and how we work are all hot topics. Many of us are seeking ways to better support and drive value for customers.

One area that is ripe for improvement is to eliminate convoluted customer experiences and iterate the journey. Customers now require their existing providers to partner with them in an uncomplicated and straightforward way as they make many changes and shift priorities with higher frequency.

What is your ambition, or something you want to pursue? 

People working in customer success (CS) serve as connective tissue within an organization. They provide meaningful and critical information to the rest of the team and ensure that everyone is aware and invested in delivering the best experience.

It is a privilege and an opportunity to be a part of this team or community (CS). I feel like there is a revolution going on in the CS community. I want to continue what I am doing as a CS ambassador or advocate. It is rewarding to learn from other perspectives, open doors for growing relationships, and offer support (to each other). 

This article was originally published here

Vincent Manlapaz, is a Customer Success Advocate at Strikedeck. He is passionate about Customer Success and is always willing to learn more! Vincent Manlapaz

Customer Success, Strikedeck, a Medallia company