Contact Goes Silent - What's is your Strategy

BenB
BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment
edited August 2020 in CS Org Conversations

I wanted to start a post for everyone to share their playbook for when a primary contact or decision maker goes silent (if there is an existing thread please link).  

Example:  Client A, cancels weekly call two weeks in a row.  Client A responds to follow up email "sorry we've been busy with new launch, lets chat next week."  Client no shows next week.    CSM starts sending some email insights to try and gain lost ground from missed calls.  Client responds to every 3rd email with "thx i'll take a look"....   

Assuming this level of engagement goes on and does not recover.  What tactics, playbooks etc... are you handing your team to fix.  

#shareyourwork

1. we continue to standard communication - attempt to schedule meetings and send follow-ups. 
2. share valuable insights or nuggets of gold found in the their instance of the platform. 
3. find ways to include other contacts 
4. change the subject - get personal
5. LInkedin / txt etc... find a response 
6. Are they still at the company - has there been recent org or personnel changes 

 ..... we dont have finalized playbook , just lots of ideas incorporated differently by everyone on the team. Working on changing that. 





Comments

  • Kodak Maharaj
    Kodak Maharaj Member Posts: 8 Seeker
    edited August 2020
    Hey Ben - good question. I don't necessarily have a fully baked playbook of steps to follow but do have tricky tactics we've used in the past that have helped us get more engagement (whether a response or more engagement in conversation). I've jotted a few below in the hopes they help with your ultimate goal.
    • video messaging - I've had success with a tool called Loom (loom.com). With it, you could share quick custom videos of yourself doing screenshares so that customers will instead receive video embedded emails rather than writing. It's more visually engaging and we've seen customers comment on clips we've sent.
    • depending on relationship, phone call or text - if you feel you have a strong enough relationship, getting on the phones or taking a casual approach over the cell. I feel like the lighter tone is more inviting of conversation compared to the formal makeup of most meetings
    • change the subject - to your point, changing the subject line or breaking into a new thread could work. I've had success with subjects like "Is it something we did?"
    Hope these help!
  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited August 2020
    Great suggestions - we're starting to use videos so hopefully that wil help!
  • tmnovello
    tmnovello Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited August 2020

    Hey Ben- Some tactics that I've tried..
    1. Video! Vidyard has a free version. Be sure to provide value and include a teaser to get them to want to talk to you.
    2. Have a different contact reach out, ie the AE or AM, sales consultant etc. Again, goal will be to provide value to the customer.
    2. Before they become unresponsive, confirm the best channel to communicate with them. Cell phone, business phone, email or slack.
    3. Same as above, attempt to have at least 2-3 contacts at the company.
    4. Review sales>cs handoff, is sales providing enough information for onboarding to go smoothly..did onboarding go smoothly?
    5. Did the meeting cadence with the customer have set agendas? Are objectives being met? 


    Hope this helps! 

  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited August 2020
    Hi @Tracy Novello - that is helpful :) 

    Its CSM's responsibility to keep updated points of contact, but I can add a step to review/update and find any new contacts after the 1st , 2nd no show.  This way when its time to escalate or ask a diff person to call we can confirm who they've been trying to contact etc...
  • Warwick Brown
    Warwick Brown Member Posts: 14 Contributor
    Photogenic First Anniversary First Comment
    edited August 2020
    Hi Ben, there's some useful tips in this podcast episode How to Succeed: When You've Been Ghosted
  • Alejandro Sanchez
    Alejandro Sanchez Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
    Name Dropper First Comment First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    I'll share a story of a very specific thing I did once that worked well related to changing the subject and getting personal but not too personal to the point that it gets weird ;).

    So we needed the attention of a c-level connection at a very large company to strengthen the relationship. Out contacts were being gatekeepers and while this person had attended a couple calls, he was not engaged and didn't reply to our emails. He was not in the platform so as far as we knew, he was not very involved with our relationship. Therefore, it was clear that we needed to be creative to get his attention.

    So what I did was spend a lot of time deep on google, twitter, youtube and LinkedIn researching this person and trying to find that gold nugget of information that went beyond our partnership, but was still professional and work related. Usually, people in leadership roles tweet a lot, write blog posts, attend conferences (and there are videos of conferences in youtube), etc. All this activity leaves a trail out there in the Internet. So what I was looking for was something that clearly made this person proud, unique, or stand out. Something that they love talking about (even sometimes bragging) and would create a sort of expert type relationship. And I did find something that he was passionate about professionally that was related to his work but also involved other working areas. And it so happened that it was an interest of mine as well. So I reached out with the link of an interesting article about the topic and basically said I had found out he was an "expert" on the subject which was also an interest of mine, and I would love to take 30 minutes to pick his brain. And he replied, happy to share the time. The call was great, I introduced myself (and he knew were I worked and that they worked with us), we talked about that topic that I reached out about, and I took the last few minutes to really highlight what we've been doing for them but also what else we could be doing that they are missing. I prepared a ton for the call with stats form competitor and examples of what others are doing that we could be helping them do. Basically, bring my business case, in 5 minutes or less with a very convincing pitch for him to be interested. 

    This worked. They were more engaged, he copied someone from his team that was higher up and involved other leaders and that opened doors to strengthen the relationship.

    I know it's very specific but I think my point is that it is potentially hard to build standardized playbook for this as each person is different and different tactics might work for one person vs another. But I understand trying to standardize and scale.

    Good luck with that!
  • Scott Morgan
    Scott Morgan Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    I like that tactic. It is a basic friendship tactic. Find something in common and start there.
    Thank you for your insight.
  • Scott Morgan
    Scott Morgan Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    We attempt to have a broad contact base with product users, procurement, through leadership. Basically, anyone that would have a touchpoint with our company we keep as contacts. This way we keep contact. We use video emails with content that is engaging. We keep the text of the emails talking to the audience. And much of the same as others here.
    We do not have a playbook per se, it is a list of technics that can be used to engage the customer. We have not found that one strategy works to engage the contacts at the customer.  We are do keep records on what does work and the details of the customer. Maybe there will be some correlation we can identify.
  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited August 2020
    Great example and Story - thanks for sharing!  

    --
    Benjamin Bunting
    Tampa Florida


    Sent with Mixmax
  • Clayton Courtney
    Clayton Courtney Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited August 2020
    Thanks for sharing Alejandro, great tactic.
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    Hey Ben,

    Here are a few things that I have found worked in this scenario: 
    1. If it's an Enterprise customer, we push for a face-to-face meeting (could be a timely QBR or an ad-hoc meeting), potentially with an Executive sponsor from our side. This last piece is intentionally included as part of the messaging to our PoC. This approach increases the chances that they provide more substance around their unavailability, or they take the meeting, and we have the opportunity to open the communication back up while taking the opportunity to create an impactful agenda and allow time for productive feedback. At this time, face-to-face meetings are not happening, yet a "Virtual Executive Touch Base" will pique their interest. Day-to-Day PoCs will think twice if your organization is making an Executive available to talk through the relationship and their experience. The executive involvement is not conducive for every client, of course, but it's worth the effort for high touch, high-value customers. 
    2. I would pull a report of any open support cases (or recently opened/closed), and I would connect with those individuals as a temperature check on their issue, but also understand what's happening in their business (or business unit). This gives a reason to connect with other folks within the organization and get intel that you may otherwise not have. 
    3. Most customers have at least one feature that they want that you may have yet to deliver on. Even if that item is not on the roadmap today, I've found that customized Product Roadmap calls with the Product team can also pull customers out of the cone of silence. That allows them to reiterate the business case for their request to the Product team directly. 
    Sometimes the customer is truly busy, but a strong CSM should stay persistent, because if weeks turn into months of silence, even if all is well on their side, you don't know what's happening with the customer's business. 

    ------------------------------
    Ja'Rod Morris
    Tribe Strategy
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-03-2020 11:34
    From: Ben Bunting
    Subject: Contact Goes Silent - What's is your Strategy

    I wanted to start a post for everyone to share their playbook for when a primary contact or decision-maker goes silent (if there is an existing thread please link).  

    Example:  Client A, cancels weekly call two weeks in a row.  Client A responds to follow up email "sorry we've been busy with new launch, lets chat next week."  Client no shows next week.    CSM starts sending some email insights to try and gain lost ground from missed calls.  Client responds to every 3rd email with "thx i'll take a look"....   

    Assuming this level of engagement goes on and does not recover.  What tactics, playbooks etc... are you handing your team to fix.  

    #shareyourwork

    1. we continue to standard communication - attempt to schedule meetings and send follow-ups. 
    2. share valuable insights or nuggets of gold found in the their instance of the platform. 
    3. find ways to include other contacts 
    4. change the subject - get personal
    5. LInkedin / txt etc... find a response 
    6. Are they still at the company - has there been recent org or personnel changes 

     ..... we dont have finalized playbook , just lots of ideas incorporated differently by everyone on the team. Working on changing that. 







    ------------------------------
    Ben Bunting
    Director of Retention
    ------------------------------
  • Anita Toth
    Anita Toth Member Posts: 246 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    @Alejandro Sanchez  Love this! It takes a lot of work but so worth the effort! Thanks for sharing this story. ? 
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    I've used these tactics to open up communication lines with accounts i've inherited that went dark before I got them.

    1) introduce a new CSM or a new internal stakeholder. This gives the customer an alternative to the person they were working with and I have found that a change of scenery has enabled customers to open up about grievances.
    2) Conduct a settings review - if we tell the customer that we would like to review both front end and back end settings to make sure it works for their current business needs and environment. "I'm sure business looks different from when we first set you up 2 years ago." Most employees would agree with that statement and would want to make sure they are optimized for today instead of yesterday.
  • Parker Chase-Corwin
    Parker Chase-Corwin Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    As you are building your playbook, make sure you set expectations on how to get upstream of these scenarios to avoid them altogether.  Score and measure your relationships at customers and ensure that your account teams are accountable to ensuring that there are no single-threaded accounts (great leading indicator KPI to track).  Have them always ask for cell phones and ask if texting is OK, and have at least 3 contacts at 3 different levels.

    However, if you are ghosted, one technique to use after you've tried a few of the other great ideas in this thread, is to go for the "no".  Often customers (especially ones that have built a rapport with your team) don't want to disappoint you with bad news, and need to be invited to share if something has gone wrong. Using a third party story ("Typically when I work with other customers who cancel back-to-back calls it's a sign that they are no longer investing in our solution...") can help to soften the message and help them feel more comfortable in sharing bad news.  Sometimes, you've got to overcome the emotional obstacle and invite them to tell you no ("I'm assuming that since I haven't heard back from you, you've decided to go in another direction. I totally understand that business needs change over time, and want to help facilitate a seamless transition for you. So unless I hear from you otherwise, I will set your account to expire on x date.  Of course, if this is an incorrect assumption, please let me know, as I'd love to continue to work with you!")

    They will always correct you if you are "wrong" and at that point, it's easy to fall back and apologize and pick up where you left off.  Can even help to set a more even playing field going forward to for expectations of communication.

    ------------------------------
    Parker Chase-Corwin
    VP of Customer Success
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-03-2020 11:34
    From: Ben Bunting
    Subject: Contact Goes Silent - What's is your Strategy

    I wanted to start a post for everyone to share their playbook for when a primary contact or decision maker goes silent (if there is an existing thread please link).  

    Example:  Client A, cancels weekly call two weeks in a row.  Client A responds to follow up email "sorry we've been busy with new launch, lets chat next week."  Client no shows next week.    CSM starts sending some email insights to try and gain lost ground from missed calls.  Client responds to every 3rd email with "thx i'll take a look"....   

    Assuming this level of engagement goes on and does not recover.  What tactics, playbooks etc... are you handing your team to fix.  

    #shareyourwork

    1. we continue to standard communication - attempt to schedule meetings and send follow-ups. 
    2. share valuable insights or nuggets of gold found in the their instance of the platform. 
    3. find ways to include other contacts 
    4. change the subject - get personal
    5. LInkedin / txt etc... find a response 
    6. Are they still at the company - has there been recent org or personnel changes 

     ..... we dont have finalized playbook , just lots of ideas incorporated differently by everyone on the team. Working on changing that. 







    ------------------------------
    Ben Bunting
    Director of Retention
    ------------------------------
  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    edited August 2020
    I would add that if you continue to copy the individual on the results you're delivering for them, then don't necessarily interpret a lack of senior executive engagement as fatal. Top execs are always in demand and must prioritize their time. If the exec is otherwise engaged, he or she will reappear when an important decision must be made, read their emails, talk with other key players, and engage on their terms. Many of the tactics here are spot on--focus on their wins (not yours), identify and build a broad consensus in the Decision Making Unit, be responsive to the account's changing needs, and act quickly to conduct "re-boarding" whenever turnover occurs. If all of these are in place, ghosting executives becomes less of a problem. (I'm also speaking from experience having been that executive.)
  • Nicholas Ciambrello
    Nicholas Ciambrello Member Posts: 27 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020

    One of our main focus now is in value engagements... Meaning the value we bring to customers isnt in showing the tool or setting things up its in the Recommendations you bring to the table in order to drive the customer to success while using your product. With this shift we stopped calling our meetings "demos" or "syncs" we now call them "planning sessions"

    So if I client is cancelling your weekly call a couple of fixes come to mind
    1. maybe once a week is too much for your meetings; we had that mind set too an exercise we recently did was defined the best customers habits were and developed a plan to get repeat that for every customer... Turned biweekly calls into monthly calls that are more valuable maybe something to consider
    2. Maybe the value you bring isnt being recognized; Try making a recommendation to the user that your company can solve thats relevant to them. For example if theyre telling you theyre launching a new product maybe theres some process your company can help them with... "Hey since youre going through a new product launch we have X tool that helps you manage the steps to launch all in one space. If youre interested lets use our call this Thursday to go through how we can help you become more efficient in this area"

    For us the whole point of our interactions is to bring value to what it is that is currently relevant in the clients world. So to us in our org if the client is going silent then we need to reevaluate the value we have brought them to this point and re-establish ourselves as a trusted advisor. If we are trusted then they wouldn't do something like launch a new product without consulting with us on how the product can help them out (assuming theres some relevance to it)

  • Anita Toth
    Anita Toth Member Posts: 246 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary
    edited August 2020

    I just used this with 2 people who have gone rather quiet. I recorded a quick 1 minute video on Loom and used the subject line: I made a video for you. Surprisingly, they not only viewed the video, but both have booked meetings to talk.

  • Devin Swindall
    Devin Swindall Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited August 2020
    This is very similar to our strategy. Occasionally with the face-to-face meeting we implement some of the other strategies discussed and make it specifically about growing the personal relationship instead of discussing the specific issue or account at hand. That really improves the response rate from the customer in the future. If that's not possible we review usage and tickets to identify if there are additional services or something close to coming out on the road map that can add value to the customer. Its all about providing value and building the relationship.