Customer Success: Real Talk from the Trenches webinar recap

On Tuesday, June 20th, UserIQ’s Chief Marketing Officer, Nicole Wojno, had the opportunity to moderate our webinar, Customer Success: Real Talk from the Trenches. We had the pleasure of hearing from three customer success leaders: Tiffany Cosgrove from Calendly, Jessica Spain from CallRail, and Barr Moses from Gainsight. They provided us with real advice and shared lessons learned on the highs and lows of what it takes to run a customer success department. During the discussion, our panelists addressed several issues and offered valuable solutions to the problems people tend to encounter within customer success. So if you missed our webinar, don’t fret! This recap will highlight those solutions to help your customer success team to overcome the challenges of moving customers from adoption to advocacy and saving them from churning.

Here are the hot topics we discussed:

  1. How do you deal with the derailing of initial onboarding calls either because of a technical issue, bad product fit, or difficult customer?

UserIQ knows how important it is to understand your users and their goals. Ultimately, your goal is to ensure every user finds success with your product. However, not every customer will be a good fit.

  • Don’t burn the bridges! Although they may not be a great fit at this time, who’s to say they won’t be a better fit in the future?  Tiffany recommends asking them “If this isn’t what you thought it was, what are you looking for?” She advises CSMs to take a consultative approach to the conversation so you don’t leave a bad taste about your company or your product. “Identify and eliminate those unfit customers in order for you to spend more of your resources tending the needs of those with greater potential.”

Post-sales surveys can serve as a valuable tool to help you learn how to improve the customer experience and help avoid this situations going forward. Barr’s solution to ensuring Gainsight’s sales team isn’t ignoring ICPs (Ideal Customer Profile) and closing bad-fit customers is a post-sales survey; consider compensating sales on this to make sure they are incentivized to not close bad-fit customers to begin with.

  • “We send a post-sales survey to customers 60 days in to make sure the expectations set in pre-sales align with post-sale actualities,” Barr said. This helps your team understand where any misconceptions might have occurred or where improvements can be made, and it also shows your customer that their feedback is valued.
  1. How do you handle renewing current customers to higher contract values due to pricing increases?

Just be straight-forward! The worst thing you can do is beat around the bush in this scenario. Not only do you lose the trust of your customers, but it can also ruin your company’s reputation.

  • Explain the reasons for the price increase and reassure them that your product will still continue to exceed their expectations. Let them know of the benefits and perks they will get out of upgrading their plans, ideally, it will be even more profitable to them.  
  • At Gainsight, they follow the Golden Rule. “If I were the customer, how would I want this conversation to happen?” Barr asks. “Look at the outcome from the customer’s shoes. Being upfront and transparent about the why helps maintain trust, and showing why the product is valuable is key.”

If your product features are valuable to your customers and differentiate from your competitors then remind them of your value. Customers are willing to pay a premium for your product if they feel it’s worth every penny!

  • Jessica gives some great advice here: “Making sure customer success is sales-trained and comfortable with talking about pricing helps them stand their ground when they know the value is there for the customer.”
  1. What do you do when your NPS survey score is not as high as you thought it would be and you have lots of detractors you didn’t know about?

Simply put, own up to it! Identifying these detractors and engaging with them to find out what is causing the issue will help you understand why you received that low score. Moreover, show appreciation for their feedback even if they are unsatisfied.

  • Tiffany explains, “Despite what your expectations might be, your customers are telling you what it is so you have to get insight about why they gave that score. Own the ball drop. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Detractors are often where you can get the best feedback. If their problem is not being solved, you can’t be concerned with if they’re having the best experience, but that they are, at a minimum, reaching the goals they set out for your product.”

Barr follows up with advice on how you can automate the NPS process to make sure you’re following up with all detractors, passive and promoters.

  • “Every CSM at Gainsight follows up with each group from their customer set and has pre-drafted emails which can be personalized based on the relationship. Following up quickly, especially with detractors, is key and having at least some automation set up is a great way to make that happen.”

Additionally, it’s important not to ignore your passives.

  • Find out, Barr says, “how can we wow you? What can we do to get you to the next level and make sure we’re helping you achieve your desired outcome?”
  1. What do you do when your top customer advocate/power user leaves and does this account immediately become at risk?

This is a big issue that must be addressed quickly and with great care. Jessica explains how these particular users are considered “at risk” internally.

  • Do everything you can to make sure you’re checking in with your customers frequently so you’re not blindsided by champion change. Make sure you have multiple points and methods of contact in your records.
  • When champion change does happen, Jessica recommends creating short 1:1 monthly meetings for things like a deep-dive of the product, giving a demo, talking about their goals and doing an on-site visit, if you can, to make sure the new point of contact feels welcomed and comfortable with a new software. This helps them gain confidence and trust.

We are grateful to have had our fantastic panelists share their personal customer success experience and explain to us how they were able to find solutions to some of the toughest challenges customer success teams face. Be sure to download the recording to get the full scoop on these topics and so much more!

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