What does Proactive Customer Success look like in your organization?

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Brian LaFaille
Brian LaFaille Member Posts: 10 Contributor
edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

We in customer success continuously strive to be more proactive with customers. But as a day-to-day CSM, or CS Leader how does the term 'Proactive Customer Success' manifest in your daily activities as a CS professional? 

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  • Jared Orr
    Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    I think being proactive (which is the first habit in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People :) ) is the key to being a great CSM. 

    To me, a proactive CSM is constantly using their CRM or CS Software to ensure they are staying on top of renewals, client milestones, and "check-in" schedules. When they check-in, they always have some value to offer rather than just seeing how the client is doing. They are also proactive in their relationships with sales, support, and product teams. This can be shown in how they communicate product issues, client requests, and feedback. If they are being proactive then not everything is an emergency but a chance to collaborate and find solutions together. 

    Jared Orr

    Customer Success Whisperer

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Great question @Brian LaFaille 

    Proactive for me in the role of the CSM is using all data they have available to them to drive their engagement with the customer, rather than being “reactive” waiting for the customer to contact you or for something to go wrong.

    I would also say the next stage of this evolution, is using data modelling to be predictive rather than proactive. A whole new discussion on this one.

  • Monica Trivedi
    Monica Trivedi Member Posts: 5 Seeker
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    edited July 2020
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    Being proactive as a CSM does require data/information about customers.

    In a basic model (in the absence of robust data), it is about knowing your customer, their business and goals and reaching out with valuable information. This could be bench marking within their industry related to your product, recent thought leadership, or a new feature to address their pain points. 

    With data, the proactive CSM is armed with information to have targeted discussions on low usage, high usage, specific parts of your platform that are not touched, and expansion opportunities. This also allows proactive triggers for CSMs and auto campaigning to turn the relationship with customers that were typically reactive to proactive. 

    I agree with Matt that predictive is the next stage of this topic.  

  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Great question, @Brian LaFaille and from the work we did with you/Looker way-back-when you'll know that we use a customer engagement process that starts from the sales cycle and goes through the full lifecycle, collecting the customers' assessment of their experience and success (i.e. the voice-of-the-account) with the "vendor." As @Matt Myszkowski reminds us that data is king, and with follow-up to address what the customer is telling you, you will not only strengthen relationships by "demonstrating listening" but also gain valuable insight into the optimal improvements that are needed. For "long tail" smaller accounts you'd follow-up 1:Many around themes, where Tier 1/Enterprise accounts should incorporate the voice-of-the-account into the EBR via a Joint Success Plan. Here's an article with details on how such an orientation can scale: https://waypointgroup.org/stop-chasing-renewals-heres-how-to-keep-customers-engaged-so-renewals-and-more-will-just-come/

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    To me, proactive customer success is about looking at this data-set: customer's usage of the product, challenges, results, company news, industry trends, any changes in my company's products/services/process) and ask these questions: 

    1. What does "this <insert data/observation>" mean for my customer and the outcomes they want to achieve? 
    2. Who can I talk to validate the impact? (it could be someone in customer org, my own org, partners, industry experts, etc.) 
    3. How might we be able to help the customer in this situation? (CSM may need to orchestrate help from a cross-section of expertise and resources) 
    4. What does this mean for my company and I? 

    And, finally, acting on the responses to the above! 

    Now, one can't do this "reconnaissance" and ask these questions for every account in the portfolio, every day of the week, but operating with this mindset, constantly orienting yourselves to the problem or opportunity, and bias for action - when done regularly - is what proactive CS is all about.

  • Elizabeth Bukys
    Elizabeth Bukys Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020
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    I think this breaks down well into two areas. There's day to day personal proactivity, which involves being intentional about what you're prioritizing with which accounts on your particular task list. Then there's high level proactivity, which in my mind is where you're measuring and deciding how to address non-specific items, things that affect a category of customers, or maybe all of them. The resulting tasks may be account-specific across the Success org (or the entire company) but they're also the larger projects that work towards scalability and more productive customer journeys.

  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    In addition to the great responses above, I’d boil it down this way (of course using data, analytics, insights, etc.) - being proactive means CREATING conversation around critical topics and not just participating in EXISTING conversations started by your customers.

  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Beautiful definition, @David L Ellin ! I'd like to plan to use this definition in showing how Waypoint's TopBox drives PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT with 

    1. all the right people (key stakeholders with 80%+ participation!) 

    2. at the right times (relationship and experiential feedback at the right listening posts in the account's lifecycle) 

    3. by collecting the right feedback (persona- and segment-based  data) 

    4. to drive the right priorities (key driver analytics linked to financials)

    5. at the right levels (1:1 with contacts, 1:Account, 1:Many, as appropriate).

    What are your thoughts?

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    I love your definition of proactive CS @David L Ellin Thanks for sharing!

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
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    In my organisation it’s all around using the data that is available to us, analysing it and inspiring new ways of thinking. 

    One thing I say to my team is, looking and analysing the data and presenting the results isn’t proactive enough. We need to change the way they think and deliver true value. 

    To me, providing best practice based on results is reactive to the data available to you. To become proactive you need to understand your customers and drive the shift in mindset. 

  • April Hannah Olsen
    April Hannah Olsen Member Posts: 3 Seeker
    edited July 2020
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    Completely agree proactive strategy is the way to go and I appreciate you calling out HOW to tactically execute using the right tools.  @Jared Spencer Orr 

  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Love that you are focused on both 1:Account and also 1:Many, @Elizabeth Bukys !  We've found that the quick wins happen at he account level, while the structural changes to drive 1:Many improvements often take far longer to implement for the customers to perceive the change.  So while you're waiting for "air cover" from the rest of the company to drive the right improvements (you are sharing trustworthy feedback data with them, and they act on it, yes?) you can certainly strengthen relationships in a less scalable way (higher touch for Tier 1 accounts, at minimum) and then take those learnings to drive the 1:Many...  The community may be tired of hearing from me too much so can you tell us more about what you do to enable that?

  • Rachel Priest
    Rachel Priest Member Posts: 6 Contributor
    edited July 2020
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    Agreed @David L Ellin . Knowing the relationship well enough and having enough trust built up to create and shape conversations about what matters to the customer.  Seizing the moment and walking with them along the way.  Thanks!