December 20, 2023

Navigating post-sale chaos: Strategic Customer Success Q&A

Calming the chaos post-sale is crucial for sustaining long-term customer loyalty. Identifying and addressing loyalty blockers, obstacles that hinder customer allegiance, ensures a smooth transition from acquisition to retention. By proactively managing the post-sale experience, businesses can create a foundation of trust and satisfaction, minimizing the risk of customer churn. In our ChurnZero webinar we shared how businesses can effectively pinpoint loyalty blockers and what strategies can be employed to transform these hurdles into loyalty builders. 

Watch the Recording 

Below are some questions we didn’t get a chance to respond to after the session ended.  Read on for some insights to fortify your customer relationships and enhance overall loyalty post-sale.

Question: You mentioned that you do this exercise a few times a year- how do you select customers for this exercise?

The specific customers you choose are minor, but the segments you target can be significant. In this context, relevant segments might include the premium tier versus the standard offering. Loyalty blockers will likely only remain consistent across tiers if the customer experience delta is not significant. When transforming a blocker into a builder for lower tiers, the approach becomes more tech-touch and feature-focused, as opposed to the higher tiers, which lean towards a service-oriented approach, even if additional payment is required. 

Another factor to weigh is the importance of different segments based on use cases. Understanding what your customers aim to achieve with your product is crucial. If your product comprises multiple modules or components, segmenting based on these feature sets for a loyalty builder/blocker exercise can reveal varying categories of needs. This could shift the focus from work augmentation to a demand for services like content creation, access to a data expert, or bridging skillset gaps.

Customer size, including factors like employee count, revenue, and multinational status, might be effective segments to uncover key Loyalty Blockers. However, I suggest introducing segments only when you have sound reasoning for what you are trying to learn and prioritize.

If your CSMs have been facing more tactical work previously and now you want them to be more strategic. Any tips on how to start?

This exercise serves as a starting point to introduce strategic thinking. We’re asking CSMs to articulate the reasons for a customer’s purchase and identify the steps they need to take to overcome obstacles hindering that purchase decision.

This involves moving away from focusing on tactical details (a narrower view) and encouraging them to consider the broader picture of what needs to happen for the customer to attain value. More importantly, we are also asking them to make choices, a foundational component of strategy, and prioritize what they feel is most important.

Another approach to foster strategic thinking, especially if you’re implementing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), is to address the challenge many teams face in crafting effective key results. Encourage senior resources or emerging leaders to articulate key results aligned with broader business objectives. Have them consider the impact of their objectives on the company, considering factors like cost, risk mitigation, and overall impact.

Encourage thinking beyond the immediate concerns of their role, broadening perspectives to make the immediate more impactful and coordinated across teams, departments, and customers.

Are there guidelines for timing key customer moments (within x amt of days, etc.)

The timing of key customer moments is not always in our control. Still, we can control our preparation, including how we will respond to that key moment and the work we have completed to prepare our customers for these critical moments. 

In each of these moments, we are building trust, which equates to credibility, intimacy, and reliability in the relationship. Whether we do this through personal engagement or tech touch, our goal in each of the eight moments (There could be more) is to deepen the relationship and trust. 

  • Purchase Moment: The genesis of the journey, where expectations are set.
  • First Meeting: Forging the initial rapport, which lays the foundation for long-term trust.
  • Onboarding Decisions: Guiding customers through the early stages effectively.
  • Early Success: Setting the stage for quick value attainment and customer satisfaction.
  • Goal Attainment: Guiding customers toward realizing their objectives.
  • Habit Transformation: Aiding in the transition towards impactful behavioral shifts.
  • Ongoing Alignment: Sustaining alignment through continuous evolution.
  • Renewal and Growth Decision: Shaping the crucial renewal and expansion decisions.

Regarding timing, that is a judgment call you and your team must make—what makes the most sense based on your industry, vertical, and offering. A pitfall many teams have is that they overthink it, and the only outcome they experience is hesitation. We want to draw a line in the sand and track it. What you choose to measure simply needs to be trackable so you can go back and analyze whether or not it is happening in the time frame you want and accomplish the goals you have set. 

For the things that happen in the messy middle, we foster an iterative approach going through the following moments: Goal Attainment, Habit transformation, and ongoing alignment, as many times as it takes to achieve the outcome. 

Do you use the terms “loyalty blockers” and “loyalty builders” with any of your customers? If not, what terminology do you use instead? Blockers / Builders?

These are intended to be internal terms mainly used to facilitate this exercise. However, we do use them in our customer interview script, but they aren’t the first terms that come out of our mouths but rather come at the very end. We use customer interviews to validate or invalidate the initiative we are putting into place and/or the outcome that comes after and if it had the expected consequence. We follow You, We, Me, and the ‘Me’ specifically ask what builds and blocks loyalty. 

I don’t see why you can’t use them with your customer. They aren’t words that would taint the relationship in any way, but I believe that laying the proper foundation before the words are spoken is crucial rather than just throwing them into the mix of conversation.

If your customer has more than one need, how do you decide which to prioritize first or do you address them at the same time?

So, meeting customer needs is like a never-ending cycle. Sometimes, you don’t get it right the first time, but that’s okay because you go back, reassess, and try again. It’s like constantly refining and improving things.

Like how product teams plan out new features, we should have a roadmap for improving our customers’ experiences. But here’s the catch: we can only do some things. We must balance solving problems, keeping customers happy for the long term, and handling the everyday tasks of customer service.
So, it’s all about finding a balance, knowing we can’t be perfect, and realizing that the journey to better customer experiences is ongoing. It’s not about reaching a finish line; it’s about always getting better and evolving with our customers’ needs. 

What’s the best way to know or measure if you’ve implemented an effective builder?

When I’m launching something new, making sure our team is on board is key. One phrase from mentors that’s stuck with me is “inspect what you expect.” So, the only way for us to know the impact is by a concerted effort to execute and support the builder. Then, and only then, will you have enough instances to make a call on whether it is impactful or not.

But sometimes, the best way to see if it’s working is to check in directly with a customer with that specific need. And then, when we dive into customer segmentation and health scoring, things like loyalty programs and how our clients are adopting our services become essential measures. We aim to gather objective data that gives us insights into patterns and trends across all our accounts. It’s all about creating a clear picture, so you have confidence in what works and what does not. 

What’s the best way to know or measure if you’ve implemented an effective builder?

When I’m launching something new, making sure our team is on board is key. One phrase from mentors that’s stuck with me is “inspect what you expect.” So, the only way for us to know the impact is by a concerted effort to execute and support the builder. Then, and only then, will you have enough instances to make a call on whether it is impactful or not.

But sometimes, the best way to see if it’s working is to check in directly with a customer with that specific need. And then, when we dive into customer segmentation and health scoring, things like loyalty programs and how our clients are adopting our services become essential measures. We aim to gather objective data that gives us insights into patterns and trends across all our accounts. It’s all about creating a clear picture, so you have confidence in what works and what does not. 

How often are you reassessing the needs of the customer or their “why” for purchase vs. their “why” for continuing partnership as time goes on?

We should consistently review our customers’ reasons for purchase. We should be able to articulate what it was when they started. We should present goals achieved, not achieved, and what went into each’s effort. We should be able to identify the points and times when this shifted or changed completely. For business relationships to succeed, we need a north star that guides us. Without it, how will you determine success?

Is there a proven strategy for engagement and continual alignment? Email over video calls? Quarterly business reviews?

We start relationships by deeply understanding customer goals and continue to build on that understanding iteratively. This iterative approach includes identifying goals with customers, monitoring our customer’s progress, providing support, ensuring accountability, and sharing insights effectively to inspire action so these goals can be realized. We’ve revamped traditional business reviews into “alignment meetings” to emphasize reviewing goals and insights aligning to those initial conversations. This continuous engagement offers relevant assistance, acknowledges achievements, and fosters relationship growth.