4 Powerful Tools for meaningful Customer Relationships

Hi, Markus here. Welcome to a free edition of the Customer-Value-Led-Growth Newsletter.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Vitally.

How do Customer Success Managers really feel about money, stress, work, and their bosses?

Vitally surveyed 650+ CSMs to hear their candid opinions on the topics that are usually only discussed behind closed doors.

Read Vitally's latest report "The Secret Lives of CSMs" and learn what's keeping your CSMs up at night.

Have you been looking for advice on how to improve customer relationships? If you did, you’ve certainly come across useless recommendations like

  • treat them like humans

  • personalize communication

  • ask for feedback

  • exceed expectations

If you are not treating customers like humans before you read about it, you have the wrong profession. And if you are not a CSM yet, you should abort your transition.

The same is true for personalizing your communication and asking for feedback. Exceeding expectations sounds like great advice but what does it even mean?

In today’s episode, I’ll talk about 4 effective tools to build and nurture relationships across the whole customer lifecycle.

1. The kick-off meeting

As you know, there’s no 2nd chance for a first impression. Your customers’ first experience sets their expectations for what’s yet to come.

It ranges from disillusioned to delighted. Rather than throwing a generic automated onboarding sequence at your customers, engage in a good old-fashioned conversation. 

Conducting a kick-off meeting puts you in control of setting the tone. It’s as proactive as it can be.

1.1 Building trust from the beginning

You can educate your customers on what to expect and how you intend to take them to the promised land. How you would like to communicate and how they can give feedback.

Research shows that most customers don’t reach out in case there’s a problem. They try to solve it on their own and disappear if it does not work.

It’s one way to tell your customers that they can reach out to you any time in an Email. It’s a completely different story when they get to know you and can see that you really care about them.

1.2 Leading with Transparency

Customers have the opportunity to have their questions answered before the start. Questions they would otherwise never ask but are important to them.

Transparency is a powerful tool to build the trust that makes great relationships. At the same time, it allows you to ask open questions and follow up on them.

Discovering your customers’ very needs instead of guessing and assuming. Clarifying potential misunderstandings and identifying possible roadblocks preemptively.

Having these non-scalable 1:1 conversations can easily save you 10x the time you would otherwise spend on putting out fires and resolving escalations.

2. Customer Success Plans

A Customer Success Plan is a roadmap that outlines the steps customers have to take to solve their problems and achieve their desired outcomes.

It’s also a project plan between you and your customers. How could your customers stick to the plan if they have never seen it?

A Customer Success Plan is not an internal document. Something that is done in secrecy and then collecting (virtual) dust in an archive.

Share them with your customers and walk them through. Again, transparency is an indispensable ingredient for building trust.

Ask for your customer’s feedback to make them feel that they have a say in it and are not force-fed. Sharing the plans upfront also helps you to refine them based on clarifications or potentially missed information.

But be careful - seeking your customers’ buy-in does not mean you should build up your plans together from scratch. Your customers are not the experts on your product and services - you are.

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3. Follow-ups

If you have met your customers in a kick-off meeting and shared your CS plans you are already far ahead of many other CSMs. But that does not mean you should lie back and relax.

Despite a top-notch discovery, a tailored success plan, and high-quality content and services customer success is not guaranteed.

Follow up with your customers regularly e.g. after they have participated in your webinar to ensure they can successfully implement their learnings.

A follow-up is not the same as checking in. Here’s how they are different:

Going the extra mile and following up frequently shows your customers that you really care about their success.

4. Quarterly Business Reviews

One of the most misunderstood tools in Customer Success Management is all kinds of business reviews. Quarterly, annually, with or without executive involvement.

They are not a time-intensive chore, an item to check off your list as quickly as possible. They are an asset for effective success controlling. And they are a great opportunity to deepen customer relationships.

Your customers are using dozens of applications. They get invited to a lot of business reviews. Especially the buyers (managers) and sponsors (CFOs).

It’s only logical that they don’t have the time to join all of them. So they are prioritizing those who are worth their time.

Unfortunately, how most CSMs conduct their QBRs/EBRs wastes their customers’ time. If they would ever put themselves in their customers’s shoes, they would easily see it.

Your customers don’t care about your company and the metrics you care about. What they care about is the value they already have and how they can get more.

This is the purpose of running your business reviews. If you make it all about your customers, you will get all get their undivided attention.

Whenever you are ready, here’s how I can help you to unlock your full potential:

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