Lessons learned with Digital Customer Success
I have been part of multiple digital customer success initiatives, including starting and managing a community, being a Community Customer Success Manager with very little guidance and freedom to experiment, and coming in and leading the digital CS initiative from nearly scratch. (It has been deployed but barely.) Here are my biggest lessons learned:
#1 Digital is a company-wide initiative and applies to all customers. It applies to those with low ARR, and digital may be the primary touch, but it is not just for those who are small, need less attention, or have less value. Limiting it will lead to failure points* and divide the team into "real" CS and that silliness with a "bunch of emails." When you build out the lifecycle program, it applies to all customers and all programs.
*Failure point examples:
The digital manager is seen as the CS rep for that portfolio. What do you do when a customer assigned to the digital near needs help? You do the same thing with one assigned to a CS Manager: email both!
Digital becomes competition for "real CS," and managers for the CS team fight to make sure resources and reporting reflect "real CS" and diminish that "bunch of emails" approach.
#2 Report high-level metrics to the top from day one. ARR, renewal rate, customer growth rate? All were increasing very nicely and proving the value of digital CS. The problem is that only my direct team and VP saw those numbers. When the VP left, and strangers to the program came in, the first question was what are you doing? Concurrently crowing about the increase in renewal rate, customer footprint growth and celebrating it but never connecting it to the digital programs in place. Swoosh went all that value-added out into the ether and left those who remained to try to connect the programs in place to the larger successful metrics.
#3 Partner closely with all other CS leaders, marketing, customer education, and support. They need to know exactly what you are doing, and you need them to understand digital and make sure you are all using the same message, not overlapping (Ed team has an onboarding strategy, too? Whoops, suddenly the same contact is targeted twice.) THIS CAN BE INCREDIBLY HARD to do. I don't have time (or I don't care). I saw what the previous team did, and they failed, are common responses. Or your time frame is such that building those relationships will happen as you launch new initiatives. Anyone who has advice or experience on successful partnering strategies here, please share!
#4 Don't let not having the data, not being sure of the exact outcome, or it not being the exact right time stop you from moving forward. Do the best job possible with what you have, but move forward. I have seen programs become molasses-like because critical data was missing or not ready (you need to wait one month, you are told, for it to be ready? Don't count on it. That month becomes many, and suddenly you are on pause forever.) Worse is when no one wants to make a decision that could fail, and then they own it. Get a program in place and then iterate. Leave room for changes, and even be prepared to trash what you have and replace it. It sucks, but doing nothing forever will kill your program. (Example: Our data was bad but being cleaned up and imported, so we could not create data-driven trigger-based campaigns right away. Instead, we crafted time-based campaigns based on common guestimates of how long onboarding takes and what those steps tend to be. It was hardly rocket science and looked at skeptically by some, but it worked. When we had the data to do trigger-based data-driven campaigns, we retired the time-based ones.)
Have you been part of a digital program? Any tips or feedback?
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