To do their job effectively, customer success managers (CSMs) basically have to be part business analyst, part RevOps specialist and part communication expert. They’re responsible for a wide variety of tactics across numerous disciplines and platforms in order to best service each account they work with.
Given the size of their portfolios and the number of tools in their tech stack, their workload can seem like a Herculean task — but it’s essential they succeed.
If CSMs can’t do their jobs effectively, it results in an increase in tickets, forcing your customer-facing teams to act increasingly more reactively as opposed to proactively. That in turn will lead to lower NPS scores, a decrease in sentiment and, ultimately, a drop in retention.
To effectively conduct proactive customer outreach, there are three steps CSMs need to take:
1. Analyze Accounts in Their Portfolio
As soon as a CSM gets the opportunity to do some proactive customer outreach, the first thing they need to do is go into their CRM and pull a list of all the accounts they work with.
Then, they need to analyze those accounts using insights from across their tech stack.
- How are they doing from the customer health standpoint?
- Are they in good standing in terms of billing?
- Do they have outstanding tickets?
- What are their product usage trends?
- Have they been seeing significant results from the product or service?
This analysis will help CSMs determine which accounts they should focus on in order to spend their time the most impactfully.
2. Prioritize Specific Accounts and Gain Additional Context
After analyzing as many accounts as they can, the next step to conducting proactive outreach is to prioritize which accounts need to be focused on and research those individual accounts further.
This can involve analyzing the same areas as in the previous step, but more in-depth so the CSM can ensure they’re fully informed of all the context around a client’s engagement and can create personalized messaging.
They also need to determine which contacts within the individual accounts they’re focusing on should be reached out to as part of the proactive outreach effort.
3. Craft Communication
Finally, after determining which accounts should be reached out to, who specifically at those accounts should be contacted and having an understanding of both the context of that account’s greater engagement and the cause for outreach in the moment, CSMs need to craft a message to send.
This involves identifying what the desired outcome of their outreach is so they know what next steps to prescribe. For example, if they’re reaching out due to a high NPS score, the goal might be to request a review. If the outreach is triggered by increased usage data, the CSM might be pursuing an upsell opportunity. If the communication is because of an overdue payment, the goal is to resolve the financial situation.
Another aspect of crafting the message to send is determining what the best channel is for that individual account. Some customers might prefer to have everything in writing, so email would work best. Others might be more receptive to verbal discussing the situation, so a call or meeting would be better. For some situations, a communicating via a messenger platform like Slack or within a software like a project management tool or ticketing system would work best.
Summing up the proactive customer outreach process into three steps can make it seem deceivingly simple. But, it’s very possible for companies to understand how to do this and still not be successful with it because a complex web of tech and processes is required behind the scenes to enable each step.
The traditional way to make proactive outreach easier for your CSMs is to divide some of these steps out among various in-house teams. For example, you might have a team of business analysts who are responsible for analyzing accounts and identifying who needs to be prioritized, similar to how business development reps help sales reps prioritize which leads they should focus on.
Doing that allows CSMs to focus just on communicating directly with customers and building relationships with them, increasing the number of customers they can engage with.
However, that approach can be really expensive and takes time to set up. You could also partner with a company like SaaSWorks to enable your customer success team.
SaaSWorks has built technology that connects all the different tools companies build their businesses and brings customer data into a single place. They then continuously monitor that data in order to bring to light outreach opportunities so that customer success teams can focus on customer relationships.
Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.