3 Techniques to Ensure Customer Success as You Start a Quarter




  • by Burke Alder March 5, 2016
    March 5, 2016

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    Whether your customer success team is in its infancy or more established, it’s important to have a strategy in place to ensure your team’s success as they approach a new quarter. With about a month to go until quarter’s end, it’s a great time to reset the dials, take a step back, and ensure you (and your customers) are prepared for the upcoming quarter. It important to start now, so the last couple weeks of the quarter (that valuable time reserved for closing deals and renewing contracts) doesn’t disrupt your preparedness.


    Develop Your Game Plan Early


    Unfortunately, many organizations put new quarter preparation at the end of their to-dos and it certainly does feel that way for CSMs. It’s crucial to have a game plan in place to set both you and your customers up for success.


    The health of a SaaS business and its customer success department are directly tied to its ability to retain its customers and prevent churn. To do this, you have to ensure that your customers are happy. That means making sure they get the promised business benefits and value of your software.


    Here are 3 techniques you can adopt to prepare for each quarter:


    Customer Success Techniques to Prepare for a New Quarter


    1. Review Customer Goals & KPIs for the Next Year


    Similar to ensuring your customer is prepared for the next quarter in terms of product usage, it’s just as important to understand their goals and KPIs.


    Here are a few questions to ask your customers:



    • What changes do you envision happening at your company next quarter? (ie – new product release, surge in hiring, new locations, etc)
    • What impact do you think those changes will have on your business?
    • What are your personal KPIs for next quarter?
    • How will our product or service play a part in meeting those goals?
    • What will success mean as it relates to our product/service?
    • What major milestones do you see as it relates to our product/service next quarter? For your company in general?

    Discuss KBOs (key business objectives) and KPIs with your customers and, if possible, try to understand how your key stakeholders are measured and comp’ed. Knowing and documenting those important measurements will ensure clear alignment in the coming quarter.


    Asking these questions and having a keen sense of what success means in the following quarter and then striving to hit those KPIs with your customer is incredibly important. Going blindly into a new quarter (or new year, if you’re approaching Q4) without having that all important conversation will set you behind before the quarter even begins.


    2. Ensure Your Customer Is Prepared


    Preparing your customer for the following quarter is about understanding where they are in the customer success journey (cycle) and having a keen understanding of what they need to do in order to be successful. Many of your customers may have recently completed quarterly planning exercises and have outlined their plans to drive success in the following quarter. Make sure you are aligned with their plans.


    Reviewing those now will ensure you’re helping your customer hit the ground running in achieving those goals. Often times, this means reviewing how they are currently using your product or service, asking questions about what could be better or why members of the team are not more engaged. Dig deep into use cases and help them identify new and innovative ways to use your product or service to see the most value and return so they are sure to renew when the time comes.


    In addition, understand your customer’s industries. Are they in retail? If so, Q4 is likely one of the most crucial times of the year for them, and it’s important for you to understand how your product fits into their stack. What do they need from you in order to be exceptionally successful? What can you do to help ease the burden or give them more information on how to thrive during these busy months? No matter their industry, take it upon yourself to understand what success means in Q4 and even in Q1, and how you can ensure they meet those goals.


    3. Plan (Way) Ahead of the Renewal or Upsell


    As a customer, there’s nothing worse than having limited interaction with a customer success representative, only to get an “urgent renewal” notification at quarter’s end. Or worse, a pushy upsell for a product or service that had never before been introduced, with a generic sales message. This communication strategy is frustrating for the customer because they feel like they are only valued for their money, versus feeling valued as a true partner. And for a CSM, it creates that awful end-of-quarter stress that can keep you up at night, and following up with customers last minute to push upsells or renewals over the line. This scenario is less than ideal for both parties.


    As a CSM, it’s important to understand exactly where each customer is in the buying or renewal process, and to map out an engagement plan that starts weeks – if not months – before the actual line-in-the-sand renewal date. This engagement plan should consist of an internal evaluation of the products and services the customer currently uses, a recommended path forward directly aligned to customer goals, KPIs and KBOs as discussed above, and a plan of when and how you will engage with the customer to present them with your plan.


    Start the education process early, listen to their questions, and respond thoughtfully. The technique of working in advance for renewals and upsells will help both parties win – and will certainly make the end of the quarter much less threatening. In addition, you’ll have visibility into the health of the customer weeks or months in advance, giving you a chance to be proactive in the process.


    How Does Your Customer Success Department Prepare For EOQ?


    Preparing effectively for the EOQ (end of the quarter) is just as important for the CSM as it is the customer. While the above 3 techniques are important, there are certainly many more ways that CSMs have found to be successful.


    How does your customer success team prepare for the end of the quarter?

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