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Context: Managing relationships and engagement through a crisis

When we traditionally think of Customer Success, many of us think of the value-driving proactive team that ensures renewal and facilitates growth through strong adoption. However, due to COVID-19, clients cannot use or even pay for services. You should thus ensure that you are engaging sensitively considering the current climate.

Providing value by being supportive of clients!

Communicating with customers

The very first thing is to understand product and service impact. Secondly, you must segment, and mass communicate with your clients. The main goal is to analyze how you could help them reduce the impact on their business. One step further is providing personal responses. All clients should be receiving a message from you. But of course, this depends on the type of company you are representing. If you have a small number of customers, then the personalization should be very simple. However, if you have a thousand of customers, it could be more complicated to remain personal. You can approach it by being authentic and sympathetic. Now is not the time to be opportunistic.

At the same time, it is absolutely necessary to tell your customers that you have a business continuity plan. They should feel reassured. If your services are going to be impacted, tell them. It is better to be transparent and keep that communication going. Make sure that they understand what is going on and explain to them what your plan is.

Moreover, it is vital to look out for any internal silos and any mixed messages. Again, many organizations are structured differently. Some teams have product marketing divisions, some others only have a marketing team. A lot of different people may be interacting with your customers. You should particularly connect with other leaders in your organization who may entrust their team members with reaching out to customers. You must deliver the same tone. Make sure that customers are not feeling like they are being somehow attacked from all angles.

This idea of over-engagement can be especially off-putting during sensitive times!

Preparing for customer risk

Clients under financial stress, especially in the sector of tourism, catering, and hospitality, may look to terminate their contract or request to temporarily suspend services. You must react quickly and not leave clients waiting for too long.

Moreover, empower your team by building playbooks for inbound contract questions: if a customer reaches out and wants to terminate their contract, what are CSMs supposed to do? What can they say on their own? What can they do/offer? Who do they need approval from? Do they need any paperwork or documentation? What does the process look like? Make sure that the plan is clear for them, so they can move as quickly as possible.

If you have juniors CSMs, they may have never been in a position to have this kind of difficult conversation with customers. It is important that your team feel confident and as comfortable as they can. It is never going to be easy, so you must sympathize with your colleagues as well. For instance, you can help them deliver tough messages and navigate financial conversations.