When the Champion / POC leaves the company...

Hey everyone! 

As we all know the economic times has caused many businesses have layoffs and cut back on expenses. I'm curious to know how customer success organizations are retaining customers when the champion or POC has left the company. I'm sure many are dealing with this and I'd love to hear thoughts on how others navigating these challenging times. 


  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 151
    100 Comments 25 Insightfuls 25 Likes Photogenic
    This is tough.

    If I were not familiar with the team was I would look at invoices, recent community posts and cases and find an active team member and ask them if they could connect me with the person who took over for _____.  If that outreach is via email, I check to confirm its a valid email address first. If one is gone, often other follow. 

    If that fails, I go to LinkedIn and start looking for active team members and a role that is close and private message that person and ask for guidance. 

    So far, I have not failed. 
  • Jordan Silverman
    Jordan Silverman Member, Success Network Members Posts: 99
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Likes Photogenic
    edited December 2022
    I think @Brian O'Keeffe gave some good insight on this. We are a restaurant SaaS so we see crazy turnover for our customers. What we have done to help with the issue (still an issue haha):
    • On kickoff calls we ask for multiple contacts and log in our CRM
    • Make sure in training we get multiple users set up with contact information
    • Reach out to active users if key contact starts ghosting
    • Try different forms of outreach - email, text, call all work - don't be afraid to LinkedIn hunt for who you think is back filling the role!
  • Bodin Pollard
    Bodin Pollard Member Posts: 7
    5 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic
    Brian & Jordan have nailed the main points of "hunting" for new contacts.

    The other part of your question ("retaining customers") depends on whether you've prepared yourself with something of *definitive* value for when you first interact with that new contact.

    You're likely to get the "Why do we need you?" question straight up in these current economic times, so do your preparation and have a REALLY good answer for a question you KNOW is coming.

    You have to be able to immediately explain your value, or the new contact will take the opportunity to cut you and be the hero to their boss for saving their company money.
  • Camille Acey
    Camille Acey Member Posts: 5
    Second Anniversary Name Dropper First Comment
    I was just asking about this in another forum and thought I'd check here as well. Thanks @Ashley Harpp !  I know that it can be a New Leader Power Move to rip out legacy solutions and put in their own New Shiny Thing, so this sort of play is pretty critical.

    The way I have been thinking about it so far is:
    Scenario 1. Your Champion/POC tells you they are leaving.  In this case you have time for them to either intro you to their replacement and connect you with other people in the company that can manage the relationship until a replacement is identified.
    Scenario 2. You find out your Champion/POC left (maybe through the grapevine or via LinkedIn. In this case, you might be able to ping that person in LinkedIn to give you some breadcrumbs to find out who the replacement is or who else in the company you might talk to.
    Scenario 3. Your Champion/POC leaves the company and ghosts you. In this case, I think you should loop back in the AE/AM to see if the financial buyer is still in the building and can provide a direction.

    In all cases where there is a new internal stakeholder, customer success should be ready to reach out and share with them what value the company has been getting from your solution and also learn what the new internal stakeholder's priorities are so you can figure out how to share the sort of information that will make them more inclined to hold on to your solution rather than kicking you to the curb.

    In Scenario 1, I'd probably feel OK leaving the account in the green health score-wise. Scenario 2 and 3 are definitely yellow.
  • mzhang3000
    mzhang3000 Member Posts: 1
    First Comment Photogenic
    A preventive action that worked for me was to always ask for a POC backup resource during the initial onboarding kickoff meeting, in addition to listing someone from their C suite. Bottom line is that the "contact" should not be just individuals of the customer, but the value that your product brings to their business. The way, the exec team of the customer will be all over you if any departure runs the risk of compromising their long-term business goals. Those business goals need to be reviewed during onboarding, and tracked throughout the adoption phase.
  • Jill Mancuso
    Jill Mancuso Member Posts: 6
    5 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    Agree with @Camille Acey - she brings up a few good points around various scenarios. My first step is always to ensure the CSM collaborates with the AE on the account to ensure all existing decision-making contacts have been contacted. If so, I'll go the LinkedIn route. If you are able to identify a decision maker, the CSM, AE, and leadership should collaborate on a "re-sell" strategy to ensure the current decision maker understands and recognizes the value of your product(s). Typically, I've done this in an Executive Business Review format, where we touch on key wins and adoption trends in addition to a lite demo/ROI discussion from sales. It's imperative that your new contact(s) understand the value and are bought in on strategy to leverage your product and how it will make their job better/easier/etc.
  • ashley_martin
    ashley_martin Member, Success Network Members Posts: 30
    10 Comments 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    I just had this happen to me.  We only had one POC at a company and he was recently let go.  I went on Linkedin and his boss left him a recommendation.  I ended up reaching out to his manager and letting him know that he was our POC and we were trying to get a hold of someone else.  His manager was helpful and got us in touch with 3 other people in the company.  We went from having 1 person to 3 just by contacting his manager.