The goal of customer success is to ensure that your clients receive measurable value in an appropriate time frame. Being proactive better enables you to deliver value and success throughout your engagements.
“Being proactive shows that you’re curious. It speaks to your transparency and openness as a partner,” says New Breed’s Client Success Team Lead, Dylan Berno. “If you’re proactively flagging misses when adjustments or pivots are necessary, you’re showing that you care. Being proactive shows that you recognize the exigency of agility, of consideration and of transparency. It shows that you really do appreciate your customers and that their success matters to you.”
Unfortunately, being proactive is easier said than done. To effectively send proactive outreach, you need to understand your customers’ needs and be able to anticipate their challenges and desires before they vocalize them.
These challenges typically impede upon organization’s ability to stay proactive:
- Time: Customer-facing employees often have more work on their plate than they can actually accomplish in a given day or week. It can be difficult to carve out time for proactive optimizations and meaningful touchpoints when there’s a large quantity of reactive work that needs to be done too.
- Goal Alignment: One of the greatest challenges in business is successfully aligning organizational goals with the needs of customers. If these elements aren’t in sync, it can lead to a focus on initiatives that aren’t impactful for customers and increase the reactive efforts needed to manage expectations.
- Technology: To effectively act proactively you need data about your customers’ needs, experiences and preferences. If that information isn’t recorded and stored in an accessible location or is spread out across disparate systems, it can be difficult to identify which proactive actions would be the most meaningful.
5 Ways to Stay Proactive in Your Customer Outreach
Luckily, those challenges aren’t insurmountable. These five tactics can help you ensure your customer outreach is proactive:
1. Leverage automation and intelligence tools
The right tech stack can help you overcome challenges related to data and time, improving your ability to be proactive.
“Investing in your operational foundation is a necessity nowadays,” Dylan says. “Formalizing a framework that leverages workflows to automate is key for your business. Not only does it support greater business objectives like decreasing acquisition costs, but it also gives your team more time and freedom to be proactive.”
Automation can eliminate the time your team spends on menial tasks, freeing up capacity for your CSMs. Additionally, intelligence tools and reporting platforms can make all of the information they need easily accessible, so they can quickly analyze relevant reports and respond to what’s occurring.
For example, you can create dashboards about product usage, customer health, customer support and more, so that data is all available at a glance. Then you can automate triggers based on those reports, so if there are any indicators that an action might be needed, the relevant team member can reach out immediately.
2. Understand your product usage
How your customers engage with your product or service can be a major indicator of how much value they’re gaining from it and where you have opportunities to increase that value.
“With metrics that promote adoption and share in the customer’s success, triggering actions based on usage is critical — it can enhance retention and allow revenue to compound through organic expansion,” Dylan says.
For SaaS products, it’s common to have pricing tiers based around usage triggers, so being familiar with what those are can help you proactively reach out about upsells or cross-sells when it’s most applicable for a customer.
3. Structure your time
Don’t just hope that you’ll get a chance to do proactive outreach; carve out time in your week that you can devote to these efforts.
“It’s as simple as booking 15-to-30 minutes reviews on your calendar across the week,” Dylan says.
You can use that time to follow up on the results of previous communications, check in with priority accounts and reach out about any recommendations you’ve identified from your data analysis.
If you have pre-built reports monitoring customer health, customer engagement and product usage, you can also set up automation to deliver those to your inbox in conjunction with your blocked off time. That way, if you’re not sure how to best spend your blocked off time, you can look over the data on your customer base and identify opportunities where you can add value.
4. Ask your clients about their wants and needs
Effective proactive outreach will mean something different to each customer. To actually provide them with value, you need to understand what they want from your company.
How frequently do they want to communicate? Do they want regular, recurring check-ins or just outreach when something significant happens? Do they want recommendations on how they can better leverage your product or service or would they rather you only keep them up to date on changes?
“If you’re interested and listen to understand, then you’ll know what proactive looks like to each individual,” Dylan says. “Customer feedback can trigger a dynamic shift or reset for your team. It can also help you further understand your partner’s needs.”
5. Transparency between teams
Multiple teams across your company influence customer experience. Your product team, your service team and your support team all have different views of how each engagement is going. You need all those perspectives to get a holistic understanding of your customers’ needs.
“Each team can and will share valuable insights from their unique perspectives,” Dylan says. “Cross-functional collaboration really does reduce friction in the customer journey and in your business.”
Additionally, cross-team awareness can give you ideas for proactive outreach, such as knowing what support tickets a customer has submitted in the past and what product updates are upcoming.
For example, if you know there’s a beta test in progress that solves a problem a customer has submitted a ticket about in the past, you can reach out and ask if they want to join that beta.
Red flags like outstanding invoices, decreased engagement and performance challenges occur when your outreach is only reactive. Being proactive helps you progress clients through the customer journey toward viewing your engagement as a partnership.
“Being proactive shows that you’re sitting on the same side of the table as your customer. That’s incredibly important to having a strong collaborative partnership,” Dylan says.
When customers know that you’re there to support them and have their best interests in mind, they’ll also start to proactively communicate with you. That, in turn, can reduce sentiment decrease because you’ll be able to address friction points before they arise.
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.