Last week, I met with Kat Olarte, Senior Customer Success Manager at PandaDoc, to discuss the state of Customer Success (CS) today. Kat has been a CS professional for over ten years, and I am thrilled to share her insights with you.
We discussed the following:
- Shifts in CS processes over the past year
- Predictions for how CS will change as we head into 2023
- Top three retention challenges Kat’s seen over the last year, and her tips and tricks for overcoming them
- Advice for handling accounts at risk of churning
Shifts In CS Processes & Predictions For 2023
Over the last year, there has been a shift in focus from reactive to proactive adoption. Proactive adoption is the goal. You don’t want to be in a situation with a client where you are constantly handling just what they need at the moment. With proactive adoption, you can take more time to understand how the client uses your product and make suggestions on maximizing efficiency.
As we head into 2023, proactive adoption will continue to be a goal for CS teams. With the volatile economic climate, it’s important to help users get the most out of your product and understand the full value your product can provide for them. You want to create power users who are so passionate about your product that they champion it to their co-workers and executives as a continued business need for the organization.
Top Three Retention Challenges & Solutions
Kat shared the top three retention challenges over the last year are disengaged clients, downsizing staff, and acquisitions. These challenges will likely continue into 2023, and Kat offers some excellent advice for how to approach retention under these circumstances.
1). Disengaged clients - if clients are minimally using your product or service and are unresponsive to your outreach attempts, get creative in your approach. In your email communication to your clients, highlight that you want to help the team streamline their workflows, maximize adoption, and collect feedback to pass along to your product team about suggested improvements. Demonstrate that you are a committed partner and identify additional ways that your product or service can provide value in your clients’ day-to-day activities.
2). Client is downsizing - don’t be dismayed! Instead, focus on their remaining users and help them become power users. Take the lead and provide a proactive plan for how your product or service will support them during times of change and heavier workloads.
3). Client is going through an acquisition - Proactively reach out to your client, offer words of support, and ask how else you can help. Leverage your power users to showcase the business need for your continued relationship as the company acquiring your client may already have a tool in place and the sooner you can communicate the value to the acquiring company, the better.
Saving At-Risk Accounts
Kat stressed the importance of listening for the verbal queues that could indicate a churn risk. The client may mention investors are looking at acquiring their company, your primary user’s role could be changing, the company may downsize, or the company could designate a new individual to manage vendors, just to name a few.
If these statements come up in conversation, asking probing questions is crucial. Even if they are difficult and the conversation may be uncomfortable, you need to ask about the client’s next steps and expectations. Remember that time is the enemy. The client only has a certain amount of days until the renewal, and you want to be proactive about any risk to that renewal.
The client may tell you they have decided to cancel, but saving the client is still possible. Kat’s suggestion here – don’t give up! Ask the client about their offboarding plans and how you can help with migration to the new software. Show the client that you care about their success and want to make the transition as smooth as possible. Kat commits to sticking with her clients until the very end, which has helped her to win back at-risk accounts simply because of the care she has shown along the way.
Recap & What’s Next
The next time you take a moment to review your accounts, ask yourself if any of the church scenario indicators (less direct verbal queues) have come up in conversations lately, and create a proactive outreach plan to solidify and expand your partnership.
Next week will be the last post of 2023! Where did the time go? For the final post of 2023, I will share ten tips to start the year off right. Start by reading this article and brainstorm 3-5 goals and priorities for next year.
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