3 Tactics to Optimize Your Customer Success Accounts
If you’re like most SaaS Customer Success Managers, chances are you have 30, 40, sometimes 50+ accounts or relationships you want to assure benefit the most from your companies partnership, inevitably resulting in renewal and expansion opportunities. More frequent than not, questions like these plague your conscious on the regular:
- Where does X account stand?
- Have we showcased our newest offering?
- Would they renew today?
For us at Vendr, retention is paramount and requires an intimate knowledge of each customer’s needs and desired outcomes. Below are 3 organizational tactics that I’ve historically deployed in unison for maximizing my outputs for customers. Independent they are strong, but together they’ve proven to be a most effective strategy. Best of all, they can be used at any time during the course of your fiscal year.
Tactic 1: Tiering
Customer success tiering allows you and your team to understand which of your accounts may require more personalized outreach than others. I personally like the tiering approach, because unlike PAV (potential account value) or TAV (total account value), which are both quantitative metrics typically created by your company, tiering is based on a qualitative understanding of your account relationships. It’s the art that can be paired with the mathematics of your organization to make sound decisions. Once tiering is completed, this is really helpful for sharing out with team members on your sales, marketing and product team to assure alignment on your allocated efforts and where they can help. Your accounts can be categorized like this.
- Tier 1 = Most Important Accounts. Those who require your largest chunk of attention due to their strategic importance, market fit or where they are in your onboarding experience. They require personalized touchpoints and support from across your organization. Naturally, these tend to be accounts that are in a high growth phase.
- Tier 2 = Aspiring Accounts. Those who may be categorized as healthy. Based on product usage, you expect to retain their business. With that being said, you haven’t identified room for growth with your existing product offering. These Tier 2 accounts can flutter between Tier 1 and Tier 3. This is often the forgotten tier, but can quickly surprise you when given extra attention or lack thereof.
- Tier 3 = Minimalist Accounts. Those who have lower TAV (total account value) and if they were to search for alternatives you could quickly rescue them with additional attention.
In ranking the above, your next step is quite simple. Assign a regular cadence of communication to accommodate these and add them into your calendar as a recurring reminder.
- Tier 1 = Weekly personalized communication
- Tier 2 = Bi-Weekly personalized communication
- Tier 3 = Monthly personalized communication
This helps assure your entire book is being serviced, you are constantly aware if a shift in tiering is applicable and lastly, the first time a customer hears from you it won’t be when it’s time to discuss commercials.
*Tip: Tiers aren’t set in stone. Review often. Step back and bounce this off a peer who may help you adjust your initial impressions. Every partnership matters. If your CS team uses a CRM tools like HubSpot, Gainsight and/or Salesforce, these CRMs allow you to add a “tier” field right into your customer’s account overview.
Tactic 2: 9-Box
In the world of customer success, it can be effective for plotting your book (this is stolen from talent management circa 1990).
I recommend performing this after you’ve tiered accounts because tiering allows you to understand where you would like to spend your time. 9-Box-ing allows you to showcase how you’re actually spending your time.
Your goal here is to have as many accounts in the upper right-hand quadrant as possible (“Heavily Invest”). This would indicate that you have a strong relationship with the customer and there’s a large upsell opportunity. On the contrary, if an account is plotted in the lower left-hand quadrant (“Rescue”), this can let your company know that the relationship is at risk and you either need to discover some new revenue potential or invest in building a relationship.
*Tip: Plot your strongest relationship and least successful relationship first to set boundaries. Reviewing this every quarter will allow you to witness the shift in strength over time as you develop your new cadence.
Tactic 3: Functions, Features and Offerings
On the x-axis of a spreadsheet plot all the variables that make up a strong partnership. On the y-axis list your tiered customers.
You can use this template to get started.
This will allow you to do 3 things:
- Identify which accounts are not taking advantage of your total package (which will lead to opportunity)
- Identify lack of engagement so you can re-engage
- Cross-pollinate, allowing those that are thriving to help support those that may not be
Engaging with both depth and breadth across your partnerships is difficult. This strategy will relieve stress, organize your process and allow you to focus on driving authentic partnerships across your entire book. Please let me know what you think when employing the above.
With only lagging metrics in their toolset, customer success leaders can’t really drive strategy at the executive level. Here’s Chris Hicken, former president at UserTesting, on how to change that.