High-Touch Challenges?

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Ja'Rod Morris
Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
First Anniversary
edited August 2020 in Strategy & Planning
I wanted to open up a discussion to the forum around challenges that organizations may be facing in the High-Touch space.

This segment would include clients where Customer Success Managers:
  • Have regular engagement based on relatively high ACV for your portfolio
  • Enterprise customers
  • A large user and/or admin base
  • Any other dynamics that you have deemed the need for ongoing, close contact
As the Customer Success industry continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, I'm curious as to any themes or significant obstacles that leaders or teams are encountering when it comes to driving success with these customers. 

The question isn't how you segment these customers, the question is - are you consistently seeing challenges that force you to rethink how you engage with your high-touch customers? 

I appreciate any insight on this theme, or any threads where this has been discussed.


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Ja'Rod Morris
Tribe Strategy
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Comments

  • Tiffany Morin
    Tiffany Morin Member Posts: 20 Thought Leader
    edited August 2020
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    Though Enterprise is my sweet spot there is something I love about managing the high-touch model. It comes with unique challenges. The biggest challenge for me was scaling. As you grow and your number of long-tail customers increases, how do you manage your engagement model in a way where resources internally are not overburdened and your customers are getting the service and support they need to be successful. 

    I solved this in a few ways: self-service onboarding, stronger FAQs repo, and one-to-many marketing strategies. This way, the process was as automated as possible and customers felt like they were getting one-on-one support while training customers to be self-service. I also made clear the line of distinction between CS and Support so the customer always knew who to go to for what.
  • WillowMoellering
    WillowMoellering Member, CS Leader Posts: 21 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited August 2020
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    @Ja'Rod Morris, this a great question and in general I think the right engagement model.  You are right though, there can we come challenges with this model.  Here are a couple I see frequently:
    • The CSM becomes a Support Agent as well as a CSM because they want their customer to get the best service and they think they can provide it.  This causes an issue on 2 fronts: 1. It removes the CSM from the role of strategic advisor to more tactile 2. It takes away the scalability of Support vs CS (mentioned next)
    • Margin - You have to watch Cost to Retain for these larger customers.  It is easy to get trapped in a hole where the client is paying $50k/annual and your CSM is only managing 4 customers.  I guarantee there is a margin issue on that customer.  To the support vs customer success comment above, a support team/resource would be more inexpensive and tactical, and be a better answer for the true 4:1 ratio.  
    • Relationship over value  - It is key that value still be the focus for these high ACV accounts.  So many times with high ACV accounts the CSM builds the relationship through time, onsites and ongoing communication but doesn't strategize with the client on a Joint Success Plan to understand, deliver and report on the value being provided through your platform.
    I know those are more, but those are my hot buttons right now :) 
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    @Tiffany Morin,

    Appreciate the insight. I agree with the self-service empowerment for those customers that fit that profile. When those resources are easily available and. easy to follow with little support, it definitely makes things easier. What challenges did you run into in the more complex environments with your Enterprise customers? 
  • Ja'Rod Morris
    Ja'Rod Morris Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    @Willow Moellering,

    Thanks for your response. To your first point, I've seen this happen on several occasions, and I've been a culprit of trying to solve something outside of my wheelhouse. I've also seen it happen the other way around, where a support agent runs into an issue that they should bring the CSM in on, and it doesn't happen fast enough, creating a more significant problem than as time passes. It can be challenging for either function not to get caught in the wrong conversation and stretching outside of what they do best. 

    Margin is an interesting component CSM with a low ACV portfolio. I know there are instances where a reputable logo will get substantial discounts in their contract because of their size, potential, and/or name alone, with the ultimate goal being to grow that ACV over time. I've been in the seat of managing 4-5 large accounts, but with much larger ACVs, so margin wasn't much of an issue there as much as strategically moving those accounts from point A to B on the joint success plan you mentioned. I've seen the cycles of having all the meetings at the right cadence, but not experiencing movement that ultimately is needed for that customer to realize the value of the solution entirely. This dynamic leads to a "We love XYZ Customer Success Manager, he/she is great...but we're still warming up to your platform", from the customer, which is not ideal (and really defeats part of the purpose of the role).

    Thanks again for the feedback!

    ------------------------------
    Ja'Rod Morris
    Tribe Strategy
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    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-26-2020 13:41
    From: Willow Moellering
    Subject: High-Touch Challenges?

    @Ja'Rod Morris, this a great question and in general I think the right engagement model.  You are right though, there can we come challenges with this model.  Here are a couple I see frequently:
    • The CSM becomes a Support Agent as well as a CSM because they want their customer to get the best service and they think they can provide it.  This causes an issue on 2 fronts: 1. It removes the CSM from the role of strategic advisor to more tactile 2. It takes away the scalability of Support vs CS (mentioned next)
    • Margin - You have to watch Cost to Retain for these larger customers.  It is easy to get trapped in a hole where the client is paying $50k/annual and your CSM is only managing 4 customers.  I guarantee there is a margin issue on that customer.  To the support vs customer success comment above, a support team/resource would be more inexpensive and tactical, and be a better answer for the true 4:1 ratio.  
    • Relationship over value  - It is key that value still be the focus for these high ACV accounts.  So many times with high ACV accounts the CSM builds the relationship through time, onsites and ongoing communication but doesn't strategize with the client on a Joint Success Plan to understand, deliver and report on the value being provided through your platform.
    I know those are more, but those are my hot buttons right now :) 

    ------------------------------
    Willow Moellering
    Director of Customer Success
    CHARLESTON
    ------------------------------

    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-26-2020 12:54
    From: Ja'Rod Morris
    Subject: High-Touch Challenges?

    I wanted to open up a discussion to the forum around challenges that organizations may be facing in the High-Touch space.

    This segment would include clients where Customer Success Managers:
    • Have regular engagement based on relatively high ACV for your portfolio
    • Enterprise customers
    • A large user and/or admin base
    • Any other dynamics that you have deemed the need for ongoing, close contact
    As the Customer Success industry continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, I'm curious as to any themes or significant obstacles that leaders or teams are encountering when it comes to driving success with these customers. 

    The question isn't how you segment these customers, the question is - are you consistently seeing challenges that force you to rethink how you engage with your high-touch customers? 

    I appreciate any insight on this theme, or any threads where this has been discussed.


    ------------------------------
    Ja'Rod Morris
    Tribe Strategy
    ------------------------------