Actionable CS Leadership Reviews

Ronald Krisak
Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
First Anniversary
edited September 2020 in Metrics & Analytics

Hi,  On a monthly basis, I do a full read-out on Customer Success to our company's leadership team…including our CEO.   Lately, I feel my sessions have become more of a status update.  I am trying to turn it into a more actionable meeting, as well as demonstrating the impact that CS is having on the business.  I currently cover the following topics:

ARR, Renewal Rate, NRR, Risk Matrix across companies, Health Score summary, customer break-out/deep dives, usage metrics, & future initiatives.  Additionally, I am trying to modify my health score so I have an element/score that shows that client's value to my company (both financially & non-financially).  Appreciate any feedback.

 

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  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    @Ronald Krisak, it's great that you have the platform to hold these meetings, and I hear you on it feeling like an update.  Do you feel like you're losing the leadership team's attention?  Does it go beyond attention span, to the point you think they're questioning the value of CS?

    There are a couple of ways you might combat this.  The first is to focus on storytelling.  You mention a customer deep dive, I think that's a great idea - pick a customer or two every month and tell a story, good or bad, about their experience.  Perhaps a win wire and a loss wire?  For each story, show the impact on your ARR or renewal rate as a contextual example within your total number.  I would gloss over or even eliminate presenting the total numbers in the meeting; maybe just say you'll include them in a recap email later.  A really effective presentation tool is to prepare a slide for your stats, but put it after your "Thank you" slide instead of including it in the show.  If they ask for it, you can flip forward to it as an aside, then go back to whatever slide you were on.  They'll see you have more than you presented and it'll leave them wanting more.

    The second is, have you tried partnering with other leaders as part of your presentation?  For example, partner with a Support leader on hot ticket stories, or with a Sales leader on showing good hand-off or lead-pass teamwork.  Aside from getting direct engagement from those leaders, you mix up your presentation with a fresh voice.  These partnerships also make you an active teammate in the leadership group and makes other leaders accountable to your performance, as opposed to you being an isolated presenter on the hot seat.

    Just my thoughts, looking forward to hearing other ideas from the group.
  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    Hi Ronald -- These meetings sound like ideal forums to share voice-of-customer data and hold various departments accountable to action:

    First part of the meeting, ~30 minutes (Your customer-feedback platform should be able to provide answers to these questions with a click of a button)
    - How is sentiment trending in each of the key cohorts?
    - What is the opportunity (in financial terms) for improvement?
    - What are the key-drivers (with the root-causes of the key issues that will deliver the biggest "bang for the buck")?
      (note: root-cause is often part of the follow-up process, i.e. customers cannot provide root-causes -- only symptoms -- so the follow-u process should not only remediate/address any gaps in expectations, but also find out where those expectations came from)

    Second part of the meeting (~30 minutes to review action items from the last meeting):
    - How will the root-cause be addressed? Do we need to invest in new initiatives to address these root-causes?
    - Who owns development of the process / people / technology to prevent this issue from happening ever again?

    Thoughts? Can I provide more detail?
  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    Excellent suggestions @Russell Bourne.  I really like your story telling idea!
  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    @Steve Bernstein I'd love to hear more about how you go from tracking sentiment to quantifying the opportunity if sentiment improves?  Is that a built-in part of your CS platform, or are you using some other formula? 
  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    Thanks Steve.  I'll review these suggestions with my team, and circle back with you if we need more detail.
  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    Hi @Russell Bourne -- Great question and I am glad you asked!  Our platform (Waypoint's TopBox) looks at the differential value of the various account "sentiments" (high / med / low / silent) by cohort. "Happy and successful" accounts should be in a position to expand (cross-sell additional offerings and/or more seats).  The software will "snapshot" (keep historical data) and track account value and sentiment over time, and comparing a given account to other accounts like it (e.g. by tier/segment) to estimate potential opportunity.

    What do you think of the approach and/or do you have different ways to estimate growth potential?

    /Steve
  • Tiffany Morin
    Tiffany Morin Member Posts: 20 Thought Leader
    edited September 2020
    Something I do is tell the exec team about a specific customer success story. Where did our product make an impact on a large customer's business? What was the ROI or success story? It makes the meeting more 'human' rather than 'here are the numbers' it's 'here are the numbers and why customers stick around with us.' My CEO use to use stories in board meetings and in meetings with investors.
  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    Thanks @Tiffany Morin for the addition. Stories are important! I guess it @Ronald Krisak's question comes down to "what do you accomplish with the meeting?" I think everyone would love to hear the stories, but the forum that Ronald described sounded like an ideal scenario to hold people publicly accountable to "customer satisfaction." There's only so many hours in the day, so if CSMs are routinely managing "gaps" in the customer experience for individual accounts, then the rest of the company needs to step up to address it at the root cause. I understand that the CEO may want those stories, but I'd be concerned that nothing will ever get better if there's not sufficient light shined on the impact of specific recurring root-causes and how it's harming the business, so telling those stories as examples in the context of driving action items would great!
    /Steve
  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    Appreciate the comments & ideas,  @Tiffany Morin and @Steve Bernstein.  I do like certain elements of working in stories, but at the same time, I want my leadership team to be engaged on items that can potentially move customer relationships forward or assist me with other areas of the company that are hindering customer sat.  So, I can apply elements of a lot of the suggestions from all of you in this thread.   Thanks.

    ------------------------------
    Ronald Krisak
    Director of Customer Success at Longbow Advantage
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-03-2020 17:00
    From: Steve Bernstein
    Subject: Actionable CS Leadership Reviews

    Thanks @Tiffany Morin for the addition. Stories are important! I guess it @Ronald Krisak's question comes down to "what do you accomplish with the meeting?" I think everyone would love to hear the stories, but the forum that Ronald described sounded like an ideal scenario to hold people publicly accountable to "customer satisfaction." There's only so many hours in the day, so if CSMs are routinely managing "gaps" in the customer experience for individual accounts, then the rest of the company needs to step up to address it at the root cause. I understand that the CEO may want those stories, but I'd be concerned that nothing will ever get better if there's not sufficient light shined on the impact of specific recurring root-causes and how it's harming the business, so telling those stories as examples in the context of driving action items would great!
    /Steve

    ------------------------------
    Steve Bernstein
    Head of Voice-Of-Customer Programs at Waypoint Research Group
    ------------------------------

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-03-2020 16:50
    From: Tiffany Morin
    Subject: Actionable CS Leadership Reviews

    Something I do is tell the exec team about a specific customer success story. Where did our product make an impact on a large customer's business? What was the ROI or success story? It makes the meeting more 'human' rather than 'here are the numbers' it's 'here are the numbers and why customers stick around with us.' My CEO use to use stories in board meetings and in meetings with investors.

    ------------------------------
    Tiffany Morin

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-03-2020 13:16
    From: Ronald Krisak
    Subject: Actionable CS Leadership Reviews

    Hi,  On a monthly basis, I do a full read-out on Customer Success to our company's leadership team…including our CEO.   Lately, I feel my sessions have become more of a status update.  I am trying to turn it into a more actionable meeting, as well as demonstrating the impact that CS is having on the business.  I currently cover the following topics:

    ARR, Renewal Rate, NRR, Risk Matrix across companies, Health Score summary, customer break-out/deep dives, usage metrics, & future initiatives.  Additionally, I am trying to modify my health score so I have an element/score that shows that client's value to my company (both financially & non-financially).  Appreciate any feedback.

     




    ------------------------------
    Ronald Krisak
    Director of Customer Success at Longbow Advantage
    ------------------------------
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    VoC is huge to bring up because the Customer voice can tell a different story than the usage. Sometimes, the usage story just says we are forced to use this but would jump to a better solution if positioned or if we are out of contract.

    But take it a step further, actually get words over numbers. This customer said, they feel that the algorithm does not reflect the reality of their business. That is a strong statement and when it is said in an advisory board and co-signed by other customers. then the opinion is now a weighted opinion.

    Be aware that if you are presenting behind other departments, everyone will have statistic fatigue. We want to stir emotion so there is motivation behind our research.
  • Chad Horenfeldt
    Chad Horenfeldt Member Posts: 57 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    I have these meetings as well. I know that they are successful as the CEO keeps inviting additional people. I did hit a point where they started to get stale so I've mixed things up. The end goal is to make sure the exec team is fully aware of our risks and to come out with real actions that different functions can act on. Here are some things I do to make these meetings better:
    • I now have themes for each meeting. I focus one key area: a client that churned (or a trend), key product gaps for our largest customers, results from a VOC survey etc... I discuss this with our CRO ahead of time. It's part of the storytelling. I even send out an email the day before where I use some foreshadowing on what we'll talk about so I get everyone interested. 
    • I bring some friction to the meeting. I've attacked other functions or at least called them out. I've used data and customer feedback (Gong calls are great) so these aren't out of the blue. I let the functional leader know ahead of time what we'll talk about so they can prepare and get their perspective. Using VOC data and other data (especially churn).  Tell them that you are doing this so we can solve the problem and show empathy. But at the end of the day, you need to expose the problems. Don't surprise other functions during the meeting.
    • I bring other people to the meeting. I've had our strategic CSM come and discuss his biggest issues with his clients and we go through them. Like Russell said, it's great to have others so it's not just you all the time.
    • I partner with Support and Pro Serv. I want to give them a voice and we work together to push our needs. As an example,  I've used data from our Support platform to call out specific issues to push for change.
    • I push new initiatives. eg: next month will be an exec sponsor program. I also want to create a whole strategy for our strategic customers using our new product marketing team. Stay tuned!
    • I share the deck and results with my team so they know what I'm championing. I get their input as well prior to the meeting.
    I hope that helps - great topic!!

    PS - it's great that you have this meeting to begin with!
  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    @Chad Horenfeldt  @Kevin Mitchell Leonor  appreciate the feedback & suggestions.   Chad, I liked your progression of the things you added to your meeting to keep it fresh.  I feel I have taken a few steps to change things up, but some of the other items you mentioned are definitely things I can consider going forward.                       
  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
    GGR Blogger 2023 GGR Blogger 2021 First Anniversary
    edited September 2020
    @Steve Bernstein, I think you're on the right track and I like the case studies you have up.  My main question would have been around how automated the sentiment collection is.  My experience has been that if you can identify opportunity for cross-sell, or risk for churn, early in the customer's decision cycle, the win rate is really high (and I should add I've had the privilege of leading high-performing teams; not all teams can take that win rate for granted).  

    So, you're addressing the challenge of finding those opps/risks early in an automated way - as opposed to having a CSM manually input sentiment scores!  That's fantastic.

    My second question is still around how you quantify, in dollars, the growth potential:
    • Do you assume a % growth, for example, if a customer has high sentiment, that you can grow their ARR by 20%?
    • Do you have intelligence that says something like, "this customer owns 100 seats they bought as a test group, but they have 1,000 employees, and their sentiment is high, therefore we have an opportunity for 10x growth"?
  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited September 2020
    Hi @Russell Bourne -- thanks for the continued discussion. Yes, automated sentiment with the drivers behind it that answer "why" for the individual, account, cohort, or segment. For the financials, there are a few visualizations that would be important -- here's two examples from Waypoint's TopBox SaaS:
    1. The first shows differential account-value for a given cohort. Establish sentiment at an account-level with data from each of the contacts in that account, and then look at a normalized average-spend for each of the accounts with that sentiment. The point is that we almost always see that "green" accounts buy/spend more than the other sentiment categories, and it's easy to calculate the delta between green (highly positive sentiment) from the accounts that are red or gray (silent) .


    Simple example of sentiment linked with financials



    2. A second example shows revenue-at-risk, calculating the total amount of revenue in each of the sentiment buckets. That is, this chart shows 33% of the company's revenue (combining all the spend from the red low-sentiment accounts with the gray silent accounts). Don't forget that silent accounts are ~14x more likely to churn than others, so including the silent category is super important, and should shine the light on the need for improved customer engagement tactics

    Revenue at Risk as established by account sentiment
    I'd love to know what you think and the extent to which I addressed your question. It's my pleasure to be able to to continue the discussion and/or arrange a conference call if anyone is interested in deeper exploration of successful ways to engage an account, acquire accurate representation of sentiment along with "why," telling the financial story, etc...
    /Steve