“Holy $h#t ! It’s not even 9:00am and I have 20+ customer emails sitting there in my inbox that I need to respond to. My day is already screwed.”
This happens to customer success managers all the time. It can happen on a daily basis or the odd day but it happens. Your inbox and voice mail can rule your day and drive you into the ground. It’s very easy to only tackle the customers that are screaming the loudest. Customer success managers need to move beyond this.
This post will cover some of the strategies and tactics that you can employ to get the most out of your day and focus on your main goal: retain and grow your customers and achieve the highest customer satisfaction possible.
5 Tips to Help Customer Success Managers Plan Their Day
Some of these tips may sound obvious but because customer success managers (CSMs) are bombarded with so many daily tasks, these may be forgotten in the “fog of war” on churn. These are geared to companies that have a subscription model.
- Know who is coming up for renewal. All CSMs should know off the top of their head which of their customers are up for renewal. Managers should create reports and dashboards in the CRM so this is easily available. Be sure that you’re connecting with all customers by the 90 day mark before the renewal. I am not saying that this should be your main focus but at the very least, get in a regular cadence of reviewing this data. You should be establishing renewal plans for all of your accounts which can include a value summary for the customer decision maker and champion.
- Know which customer you’ve communicated with and which you haven’t. If you’re tracking which customers are taking up the most of your time and which are being neglected, you can map out a plan of attack on who you should be focusing on. I recommend creating a process for tracking calls and emails in your CRM. Not everything needs to be tracked but you should be recording the main points of interaction so you have a record of this. I also recommend creating reports and dashboards for each CSM that summarizes this so they can accurately see how much or how little they have been in touch with their clients.
This will help the CSM prioritize what they need to focus on – it should not be a tool to micromanage the CSM. Be sure to look at the renewal date as well as the ACV/MRR. These factors will help decide which clients should be higher on the prioritization ladder. Ask yourself: Are their customers with high ACV/MRR that I haven’t reached out to yet this quarter? For customers that I’ve contacted more than 10X in two weeks, do I need to reset expectations or do I need to get some help to get this under control? Perhaps they need some services or some love from an executive.
- Know which customers are under-performing and which are pushing the limits. In a SaaS product, you should have adoption reports/dashboards that indicate customers that have low usage in your product. If you don’t have this luxury, be sure to be connecting with your customers regularly to get this data. You should have a pulse on the health of each client that you own. You should also be aware of potential upsell opportunities. If your client purchased 10 user licenses and they’ve used nine, someone should be alerted to give that customer a quick call and see if they plan to add new users. There are some great software packages out there designed to help CSMs in this area.
- Setup customer checkpoints with the different customer stakeholders. Set the expectations early on with the customer that you will have certain checkpoints (meetings) at the 90, 180 and 90 day before renewal mark from the start of their agreement. Get these on the calendar of your clients – even if you end up moving these meetings. Having them in the calendar will serve as a reminder for you and your customers.
- Plan your week in advance. Based on the data points mentioned above, create a task list that includes which clients you will reach out to that week, what you want to accomplish, and when you want to accomplish it by. I use a simple tool called Todoist as it’s right in my Chrome browser and it reminds me that I have a few tasks for the day that are outstanding. It also emails me a summary in the morning me reminding me what I need to do (or what I didn’t get to) and it synchs up across my mobile and laptop devices. There are many different apps that you can use. Schedule some recurring time on your calendar either Friday afternoon, Sunday night for you go getters or Monday morning to plan out your week. This is a must.
As a bonus tip, I recommend working together as a team to focus on certain topics that you want to educate your customers on for a specific period. This could include a topic that many of your customers struggle with or a cool new feature that isn’t being well adopted but provides a tonne of value. This approach gives direction to CSMs so they have something of value that they can provide to the customer when they reach out to them. Don’t be a lazy CSM and send an email that says “Hi Jenny! I hope all is well!! 🙂 Let’s meet up this week to see how things are going.” If you want to get a quick “delete” from your customer, keep doing that. Always show value with each interaction and remind customers why customer success managers are their trusted advisor – the ones that are here to help them get to the next level.
Stop wasting your time on immediately responding to every customer email that drops into your inbox. You obviously want to respond in a timely manner but don’t lose sight of your weekly plan. I like to send a quick response to acknowledge customer emails and let them know I will get back to them by a certain time. Emergencies are of course triaged right away.
Bottom line – you need to plan your day so it doesn’t get planned for you. That is the difference from being a proactive and a reactive customer success manager. Following these tips will make you more valuable to your customers and your company and improve your overall outlook on your position. Now, how are you going to spend your day?