I've implemented a couple of different strategies that depend on the customer ARR and why we think the customer might be a churn risk (beyond unresponsiveness).
Curious, @Sheryl Hawk . What are the differences with using the AI assistant and what do you attribute to using that successfully versus direct communication? This may be something I could see myself implementing.
The AI Assistant can target a larger number of customers consistently, rather than what can be haphazard outreach by a CSM. There is no recency bias in an AI Assistant -- they just keep reaching out (they don't get too busy, etc.) Since the email is clearly coming from an assistant, there is no requirement for it to be overly specific to the customer (some information can be pulled dynamically), which again frees up a CSM until a customer responds.
Also, the outreach can be configured based on event--EBR, set up a call, new features, etc.
@Sheryl Hawk - What AI tool are you using for these touchpoints?
One concern is I see significantly lower response rates from AI involved email outreaches because of SPAM filters. What have you done to get around that to drive engagement?
Conversica has a Customer Success Assistant that can be configured for a variety of use cases. I don't recommend using for strategic accounts, but it can be effective for smaller/non responsive accounts.
Drift either has something similar (or it is in process).
Both companies spend a lot of time/money to keep their sending reputation positive, but getting caught in spam filters can be an issue. As an aside, I've had the same problem with GainSight emails getting caught in spam. It's the 1:Many risk.
@Sheryl Hawk never though of this or heard about Conversia before but I'm looking into it right now. What is your personal experience with it? For Tech-Touch clients than of course
@Marijn Verdult I was VP Customer Success there (a few companies ago) and saw all the fantastic use cases and success stories our customers experienced. I also was involved in the early stages of the Customer Success Assistant. I was also a customer of Conversica in a different company.
My top 3 Tips:
Use an active issue or a recent industry factor as an excuse: back when i was working at Duetto, I reached out to an Anaheim account that went dark by using the news about Disneyland's failed Star Wars Galaxy Edge soft launch that had my customers scrambling to reduce rates because the occupancy they were expecting did not come due to the Disney failure. It was such a hot button at the time and I was able to get this customer to come back because they were interested in seeing how we helped other Disneyland Good Neighbor hotels and were also concerned about the Marvel Avengers opening and managing that soft launch appropriately.
Use a third party - I have found that renewals managers or even leadership are able to get the to the truth because sometimes the customer is not willing to engage with the CSM for reasons that can be a bit personal. Maybe they feel that the CSM doesn't understand their issues, they are not getting production they wanted from the meetings, or other reasons. The renewals manager can relay that information to you and you can present your action plan without specifically referencing the private conversation they had with renewals.
Be humble - humbleness returns honesty. Sometimes, I reach out and say "it looks like you may feel like you are not getting enough value from our engagements. I am here to help in any way including using your time effectively. Tell me if you would like to continue having our cadence call or if you want to redefine our business relationship. However you envision it, I will support it towards a thriving partnership. Some times they tell me they just got busy and they will ask me to reengage in a month and we pick up where they left off. They tell me they just need the product to work and for me to be there when it doesn't. I move them to a low touch model. They tell me, I just don't have the time by which I can ask if he wants to shorten calls, lower frequency, or appoint someone else to manage the call within their org.
If it's a key account where personal touches make sense, I've coached CSMs on being persistent with valuable and authentic outreach.
Try Voice/email/LinkedIn/SMS - I've been surprised by the success of texting with some customers.
Test various brief messages that might teach you what they do care about
This is the million dollar questions isn't it. For me I also take a few steps when I find myself in this position.
one point to note however is that you can not drag out any of these processes
“Active Stalker mode” 😆
I like to call it advanced research. I sadly do this a lot with new accounts I take over that never spoke to their CSM before. Crazy.
All great points here - much appreciated!
I love the suggestions so far!
I second a lot of what people have shared already so don't need to re-share.
One technique to add here is sending a calendar invite to them for a time to connect with a detailed agenda. I have found this to catch the person's attention because most people look at their calendar and it will force them to decline it and prompt them to tell you why they don't want to chat. Or on the positive side, they agree to a call and you get to learn about what's going on.
This was a strategy I used when I was in Sales and someone wouldn't confirm a meeting we had to reschedule. I would send a new invite. Don't recall my success rate, but it was higher than just emailing over and over again.
I'd suggest complete transparency. A personal call from the CSM or CS leader with the following type of script. "Thank you for choosing [company] to serve your [product/service] needs. We appreciate your business. I have been trying to reach out but have not had any response from you. I'm genuinely concerned that you are upset with us or are not receiving value from our products/services. Either way, I'd ask for a chance to talk with you and see how I can help. Won't you please take a few minutes to chat with me?"
I've had it work in the past by appealing to their sense of decency in a very transparent way. Who knows, maybe they love you and your products and are just really swamped and under a lot of pressure at their job.
I try to avoid the pre-conception that a customer is only important once I feel they churn, which is way too late. Once a customer decided to disengage, trying to win them back is
I found it more helpful to use a 3rd party (perceived as neutral) and analyze churned customers and make the adjustments we can.
To avoid falling into this trap too late, I start with a communication plan between our hierarchy: CSM, CS leader, Exec Sponsor and their counter-parts, and when and how to engage for any planned touchpoints, and how to escalate. For tech-touch, this is very templated, for more human engaged customers, this is bespoke part of the customer journey planning. Sounds elaborate, but it's a short activity to maintain in the CRM and present to/adjust with the customer.
Secondly I monitor the customer health and see if there is any drop-off due to declining usage, drop in value generated, increase in warning signs like suport tickets, NPS scores, customer sentiment
Now, when we engage, we always have a reason to engage (we agreed to connect this week, I am reaching out to you to see if my lower level counterpart is ok, ...) and a message of value to convey:
That creates a habit of my contacts actually responding and being candid upfront instead of silent after the fact
Thanks for sharing this question @Anuj Agrawal. This is something that I am dealing with everyday. Looking forward to learn more here from others.
However, these are my recommendations:
1. Be persistent and patient: As long as you have not lost the customer officially, keep the connection by sending emails, tips and tricks, just friendly ask how they are doing, and remind them that you are always there to help if they need anything. Send them emails regularly, but do not bombard the customer with your emails :)2. Do not push to book calls: If the customer is not responding, send them emails about other stuff than simply asking them to book a call. Check out their activities on your product (we check out communities) and if you see room for improvements, send just a few suggestions. Do not send a long list of to-do(s), you don't want your customer to freak out :) At the end, give them a way to reach out if they want to hear more recommendations. 3. Try to understand the need: Make sure you know what exactly is the use-case and what are the needs. Try to be creative, think about the different solutions by which you can help the customer to get what they want.