Driving Success from High-touch Accounts

Author: Maria Jose Villanueva, CSM at Ultimate Kronos Group and Founder of Customer Success Montreal

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariajosevillanueva/

Customer Success Montreal: https://cs-mtl.com/

As a CSM, you have been given a book of business that consists of mostly Enterprise accounts, with the highest ARR contract value.

It is now in your hands to foster and grow them.

In this case, let’s say you have the right engagement model in place for them. So now, it’s imperative that you develop a plan and have the right approach in mind. These are the 4 things that I have implemented in my day to day that have helped bring value to my high-touch customers.

Create and Strategize a Joint Success Plan

Everything starts with understanding your customers as deeply as you can.

What business outcomes do you need to see them achieve to know that they are successful with your product? How are you measuring that?

Creating a Success Plan for each of your customers will help you have a clear definition of success and have them also commit and sign off on it. Once you have established the plan, the next step is to work in collaboration with your customer on outlining, developing, and prioritizing key activities that will drive your customer closer to their goals.

The Success Plan will help you ensure key Customer Success engagement activities will take place, and that they are aligned without any conflict. One thing this can do is provide future value for EBRs. These are key to help you present what your customer have achieved, their progress so far, and their overall experience with your product.

Another key activity is having a joint roadmap planning exercise with your customer. This will allow for greater alignment with other technology platforms and provide better long term plans. 

I still remember the first time I presented these exercises to one of my Enterprise customers. They were very enthusiastic in their feedback:

“ I wish all our vendors would do the same! This has helped us keep track of all our initiatives. Thank you!”  

Having a Success Plan will help you set mutual goals with your customers and give you a roadmap on how to achieve those goals. 

Build Internal and External Stakeholder Relationships

Establishing cross-functional communication will be imperative for you as a CSM. It will play a crucial role in creating a top-notch customer experience for your Enterprise customers. It will empower you to provide product knowledge, quicker customer updates, and generate more in depth insight about your customers.

By doing this, you will become your customer’s advocate and the voice for your customer inside your organization. 

When it comes to building the relationship with your external stakeholders you should always aim to take the role of a strategic advisor verses a tactical one. Thinking together with your customer by helping them solve critical problems with your product can elevate the current and future conversations you have with them.

Always have a value-driven discussion with your key executive contacts at every interaction.

Having these value-driven discussions will be key in helping your customer move closer to their desired outcomes. This isn’t always easy since putting out fires may disrupt you delivering value.

So how do you prepare for it? 

Ensure you are always prepared for every single call you have with your customer. Do your due diligence! Research the project at hand, ensure you have the right resources, and remind yourself of what the desired outcome is for the customer.

This is al important information to have, otherwise, you won’t be able to add any value and you’ll miss a great opportunity. Make it an habit to ask yourself these key questions on your on-going cadence meetings with your customer: 

How can my product/service bring more value to my customer?

How is my customer tracking against their desired outcomes?

How can I help them drive product adoption?

When it comes to leveraging digital engagement for certain value-driven activities, such as new feature announcements, you might need to make sure you follow up with them if they need training that focuses more on their relevant business case.

Be a Problem Solver and Knowledge Advisor

Help your customer by constantly sharing best practices for your product or service. By providing best ways to use your product and connecting them to the right company resource, you become a trusted partner.

Be present beyond the initial period of onboarding.  When you customer is having a critical escalation, it’s an excellent opportunity to build trust as you will find ways to help your customer with their issue at hand. These situations often position you in way that help your customers see you as their knowledge advisor.

Brainstorm on leading change management initiatives with them and find creative ways to solve their problems. Don’t shy away from these conversations. 

I hope these key points help you and that at some point along your journey as a CSM, you’ll cross a threshold where you’ll say to yourself, “Bring it on! I can take on any Enterprise account and there isn’t a customer situation that I can’t handle!”

Keep in mind that your relationship with your enterprise customer will be a continuous evolution process. It’s challenging but rewarding in the end.

About The Author

Maria Jose is an experienced business and Customer Success professional with 10 + years of experience in SaaS technology industries. In her current role with UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), Maria Jose is responsible for working closely with Enterprise customers as their Customer Success Manager, focusing on driving their long-term success with their solution and building relationships. She is the founder of CS-MTL, the first Customer Success Meetup group in Montreal, where she has hosted several Customer Success content-driven events contributing to the growth of the Montreal CS community.  She is also an active Mentor at CS Network Mentorloop program. 

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