How can Strong Client relations be key to Customer Success?

In episode #3, Shai Ritblatt and Rishabh talk about Client Relations, Customer success, and how to they can be key in cutting down on Customer Churn.
Is more product usage, and the trial user or new user churn, a problem for you.
Being someone in customer success, churn is always one of the main concerns. It’s a by-product of our customers not seeing value. And this is something that we’re trying to avoid.

So yeah, I think, you know, it’s the most creative KPI for every CS organization to measure their retention, to measure their both net retention and gross retention to understand how the business is performing right then it doesn’t matter how many customers you bring in, if you have a churn rate of 20% right then in five years, you’re going to lose all your customers.

And as the company grows and you have more and more churn, I think about companies that crossed the 100 million in ARR, right, losing 20 million every year, you need a lot of salespeople to bring that just to make up for that. It’s not something you can scale.
So, what do you do at your company as a Customer Success representative, what would they do?
Yeah, to prevent churn, in my opinion, I think you asked me to know what my three top things are to do to prevent churn.

So first, make sure the customer sees value, right. If they don’t see the value, they’re not going to use your product because it’s not helping them get from point A to point B. So, you need to constantly make sure that you’re engaged with customers, you understand how they perceive value, it’s not about what you make, it’s how they see it on all levels, not just your main point of contact, not just your champion.

It includes the executives, the decision-makers, the end-users that are using your product. You need to really understand what are they gaining by using your product, it’s not about features, it’s about the value. It’s about how can they reduce their costs, increase their revenue, gain better productivity, or just do a better job right and this is something that you really need to be on top of and you need to measure, and you need to constantly make sure that whatever they pay you, they perceive to get more value out of that, right, because at the end of the day, when they come to a decision where I continue to another year, right, if I’m paying X, I want to at least get x plus one. Right, so this is the most important part, and this is what customer success is all about value.

Now, to help us with that, I’d say the second most important part or maybe both are number one, in my opinion, is to build strong relationships. First, it’s good and it’s fun. Right, you’re working with people. It’s part of the job that I really love. Strong relationships will help you, especially in difficult times, where something is not working. Sometimes there is a bug in the product, sometimes you promise something, and you don’t deliver. Sometimes, something changes in the company. When you have a strong relationship first, it will give you the slack and the bandwidth to breathe a little bit. When things get a little harder, it will also enable you to discover things much sooner, and provide you more time, to act upon and change right.

If I have a good relationship with my champion and he’s here, there’s a new boss in his company and they might want to bring a different product because you’re used to it. You will most likely reach out to me and provide me with some intel about what’s going on. And then I can act upon it, I can proactively reach out to this new person in the company and ask what they want to achieve, what are their goals, see how I can help them, instead of getting to this point of, they’re already telling me that they’re moving to a different product, there’s little to none that I can do so strong relationship is key.
Not only helping them solving the problem but also expanding the accounts, like if you have a strong relationship, you can expand the account in the future right.
Absolutely, yeah it’s a combination of showing value right. In my opinion, the new sales leaders are right because most companies put their foot in the door and they start with one project, but if we showed value, customers would like to get more out of it.

Right and if the CS is providing this value and showing that, he can advise, “Hey, maybe if you do X, Y and Z you would be able to get even more value” And that means, buy more licenses, increase the use if you move to a different department, whatever, then expansion and upsells happen naturally, right, and people trust you.

And this is where relationships come into place right, people buy from people, SaaS companies. If they’re stressed, they will trust that you’re not going to sell them something that they have nothing to do with, if you already prove that you can provide value, it will increase the trust and will enable upsells and cross-sell and this is a key differentiator in successful companies that they can grow their business from existing business to companies that constantly need to bring more new customers to compensate on customers that are leaving.

And the third one relates to what we just spoke of. Now, this is easy to say but I think it’s very difficult to achieve. You need to find your ideal customer profile, and make sure you’re not selling to bad fit customers.
I’ve heard the same thing for sales guys and when I bought sales and marketing talks, they all talk about ideal customer profile, but is that equally important for Customer Success professionals?

So we customer success doesn’t sell the initial deal right, it’s been that myself. I think that as a company grows and matures and when you have a strong customer success organization, they can affect and work together with sales, but I’ve seen many cases, again, it happens, natural salespeople want to sell.

Obviously, they want to sell to good fit customers but sometimes, even if it’s not 100% Right, they have a quota, they have a lot of pressure. I get it. What they want to sell at any cost and make sense because, you know, they’re sharks, they see the blood in the water, and they come to close the deal. That’s fine, that’s what’s expected out of them.

I think of it as a company. Companies mature and you see it mostly with, you know, more experienced salespeople. They understand that if you’re not just closing a deal and then moving on but building a relationship and keeping in touch with your prospect even after he becomes a customer right and help him become successful. It will enable you to sell even more and sometimes, double, or triple or even 10 times more than the initial deal. By helping sales identify and listen.

These are the customers that really see the value of the product. These are the use cases where we are shy. Let’s avoid these cases you know we’ve tried this a couple of times, it didn’t work, you know, either the customer doesn’t have resources, or his use case is not exactly what we’re selling and there are other cheaper solutions that do the same, then you know we don’t have any unique value proposition.

So, if we can prevent selling to benefit customers we will prevent what most likely will end with churn, and most SaaS companies that I worked with, not that many, but the ones I know, usually start seeing profit out of the customer, some around the second-year right like after a year and a half a year in a couple of months, right, the first year there’s a lot of effort, you know marketing lead generation sales bonuses to be paid just to bring in the customer so usually, the customer acquisition cost is much higher than initial contract cost, right, and if we’re selling to a bad customer that will not redo, you know, we’re just spending too much time and money too much effort, you know, Customer Success support supporting him.

Just to eventually get to a point where he churns. So, work with the salespeople, it’s not. It’s not about telling them you can’t do it, but you know trying to convince them and show them. These are the customers we’re setting is going to be easier for you to generate upsells and expansion down the road and focus on those customers and these segments and let go of the benefits customers.

So, again, it’s hard. It happens more for mature companies, but if people can do it right from the get-go, it will save a lot of hassle.

So, when you say educate the customers so that they feel the perceived value is much more one that what they’re paid, So what do you do at Crowdvocate to make sure that this happens.
So I can tell about this by previous customer learning. Crowds look at our customers, so I still don’t have a formalized answer to give but I think it’s more, it’s more general right, first, you need to understand what your customers do.

What is their business in high level, you know, not even related to your product but what they’re trying to achieve, what are the goals, what are the KPIs, and then see how your product or your service, can really help them to achieve that right, try to understand that the big picture the high level? By the way, therefore it’s very important to do a proper handover between sales and customer success. There’s a lot of knowledge that the salespeople know after they do their discovery and close the deal.

So, learn from them but also speak with your customer, try to really understand what they do, and then ask the question right by utilizing my product. What do you think would be different, will it save people the time of manual work? Will it help you better identify your ideal customers? Whatever your product does, whatever it may be, really try to understand what’s going to be the impact, not just okay we’re going to have a dashboard, and they want to see something.

But how will the business be different, what is currently missing, what is that we’re trying to achieve, it’s an art of discovery, it’s not a one-time conversation, it’s an ongoing process? Right, you’re constantly peeling another layer until you find these golden nuggets that you say, Okay, I understand what this business is all about, how I can help them become better, I can save time. How can I reduce costs and generate more revenue streams? Right, my previous company size says we had a BI solution.

Right, so helping our customers get the insights out of their data, right, so they can make smarter decisions and sometimes even sell this data to their customers, generating more revenue out of the data that they already had, but it was just sitting there, and no one made sense out of it.
What are your views on product training content, I mean, a lot of software companies are now moving towards Academy and onboarding videos. What are your views on that, do you think they are useful?
First of all, I think training is useful right? How do you do it? There are different ways to do it. If it’s in-app training like walk me or if it’s you know, what’s your name, workshops that you do, face to face videos. I think the more training that you can provide to your customers, the better right. I think videos are good.

I’ve just seen a few HubSpot videos. I really like the short to the point, very specific to this specific feature that I just want to cover for you, those are helpful, you know, any information, articles, videos, whatever you can do to help your customer become self-sufficient. It’s both good for the customer.

It’s also good for you right? It can remove a lot of unnecessary, you know, work or emails or conversation or meetings that you need to do just to go over that so I think training is key, and something on my list to do as far as my neuro.
When would you recommend somebody moving towards an academy kind of environment at what stage?
Good question, you know if you can, from the beginning. If you have a customer, you know, we used the Litmos LMS back in the days when we had both documents. Litmos LMS is expensive. But yeah, you don’t need to buy a very expensive tool.

There’s a lot of effort, obviously, to generate those videos and documents. Really depends but the more training and education you can provide to your customer, the more they will be successful with your product and it will help you so whatever you can do, you know obviously depends on the stage of the company when you are a small start-up, 10 employees, everybody’s doing everything so it’s hard to find time and budget for it, and definitely, as you grow and you scale it becomes a necessity, not just something nice to have.
Any last thoughts, any recommendation you would ask for like new companies who are looking to cut down customer churn?
Stick to your customers, understand you know if you can review all of them, go ahead and do it, stick with one by one and understand what’s good, what’s not good.

What is the one most important thing that I can do for you that will make your life, they’re living an open question, and understand sometimes in your products, sometimes in your service, sometimes it’s general that do more of the listening than talking I know that this conversation I talked where but usually it’s better to shut up and listen as you learnt a lot.

And then, you know, make sure to act upon this feedback, not just listen but try to understand what you need to do and then make sure you do it.
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