Governance of customer email communications

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Nick Mehta
Nick Mehta Member Posts: 10 Contributor
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
First of all, this is my first GGR post - so excited! Huge congrats to Jeff, Jay and others for building this forum.

We've observed a great deal of confusion within companies about how to govern email communications.

On one extreme, some might say "all communications go through Marketing," but that's fundamentally not practical nor is it realistic, since CSMs and others send emails (via Gmail or Outlook) every day.

On the other hand, allowing every team to email clients with no coordination can lead to a fragmented and frustrating experience.

Does anyone have a strong governance model for email communications to clients? If so, who runs the process, who's involved and what are the mechanics of it?

Thanks in advance!


Comments

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
    First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
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    While I can't speak to my entire organization, RingCentral gives us autonomy to treat our book of business as if it is our business. So all communications does flow through me, and I engage with the appropriate departments as needed. This enables me to really have a 360 degree view of my customers and has led to upsells and cross-sells that I was the one to initiate the lead so it could be closed by my AEs. Obviously, they love me for that. 

    But, here is where it gets dicey. We currently don't have a consistent ownership process where emails I forward to appropriate departments are given the attention it deserves or a set SLA or Time to Completion. This means that I am forced to keep track of all communication tracks. With a day in the life of a CS professional, that adds time to an already busy schedule. But I prefer this responsibility because it has unlocked a level of trust from the customer that has led to driving of KPIs and mindshare to accomplish so many feats. It also allows me to stay on top of non-Customer Success issues that could potentially lead to churn. I had to right a ship that was souring due to issues with sales, another with issues with professional services,  and another due to issues with tech support. I could not accomplish the path to green if I didn't insert myself in those processes.

    Not sure if that helps, but at least I can give you one perspective at a basic level that shows scaling governance through customer success has its advantages but its barriers to success at scale. It may not be an active process of governance but I think that such an ownership of governance can be effective in CS if we have the software to make it efficient and guarantee transfer of ownership and adherence to standards or KPIs.

    After all, we represent the voice of the customer, so it makes sense for us to own the communication.

    Best of luck.

    ------------------------------
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Customer Success Manager
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-07-2020 23:20
    From: Nick Mehta
    Subject: Governance of customer email communications

    First of all, this is my first GGR post - so excited! Huge congrats to Jeff, Jay and others for building this forum.

    We've observed a great deal of confusion within companies about how to govern email communications.

    On one extreme, some might say "all communications go through Marketing," but that's fundamentally not practical nor is it realistic, since CSMs and others send emails (via Gmail or Outlook) every day.

    On the other hand, allowing every team to email clients with no coordination can lead to a fragmented and frustrating experience.

    Does anyone have a strong governance model for email communications to clients? If so, who runs the process, who's involved and what are the mechanics of it?

    Thanks in advance!




    ------------------------------
    Nick Mehta
    CEO
    Gainsight
    ------------------------------
  • Jeff Breunsbach
    Jeff Breunsbach Member Posts: 266 Gain Grow Retain Staff
    5 Insightfuls Photogenic First Anniversary GGR Blogger 2022
    edited October 2020
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    Thanks for joining us @Nick Mehta, glad to have you!  And love this topic - something we're actively exploring at Higher Logic.  We're at the beginning stages but we see this as a critical part of our customer engagement. 

    We've spun up a Customer Communications Clearinghouse (3 C).  The idea is a cross-functional team that meets regularly to look at not only email communications but all channels that we're communicating with customers.  We will evaluate the message that needs to be sent, the channels available to us and the execution plan to get us there.   

    We will start to have actions that come out of this team: 
    • Calendar of communications for customers
    • Campaign briefs to share internally
    • Engagement metrics by account and contact
    Members of team (this will adapt as we go - but starting concentrated) 
    • CCO
    • CSM Leader
    • AM Leader
    • Customer Training & Enablement 
    • Customer Experience
    • Product Marketing
    • Customer Marketing
    @Kristi Faltorusso Is looking to build a similar model as well. 

    ------------------------------
    Jeff Breunsbach
    Founder, Gain Grow Retain
    Director of CX at Higher Logic
    Top 25 Influencer 2020
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-07-2020 23:20
    From: Nick Mehta
    Subject: Governance of customer email communications

    First of all, this is my first GGR post - so excited! Huge congrats to Jeff, Jay and others for building this forum.

    We've observed a great deal of confusion within companies about how to govern email communications.

    On one extreme, some might say "all communications go through Marketing," but that's fundamentally not practical nor is it realistic, since CSMs and others send emails (via Gmail or Outlook) every day.

    On the other hand, allowing every team to email clients with no coordination can lead to a fragmented and frustrating experience.

    Does anyone have a strong governance model for email communications to clients? If so, who runs the process, who's involved and what are the mechanics of it?

    Thanks in advance!




    ------------------------------
    Nick Mehta
    CEO
    Gainsight
    ------------------------------
  • Elisabeth Courland
    Elisabeth Courland Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    Name Dropper First Comment First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
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    Hi Nick !

    At our company, we have one team who is dedicated to "mass emailing". 
    A Customer should not be addressed more than 2 times in the last 7 days.
    All teams communicate their calendar and agendas and this team at the marketing department make sure we Don't pollute the client
    Hope this helps !
  • Kristi Faltorusso
    Kristi Faltorusso Member Posts: 45 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
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    How timely!

    At IntelliShift, I am building a similar framework to what @Jay Nathan and @Jeff Breunsbach are building at HigherLogic. The idea is to build an infrastructure to support and govern customer communications. This is going to be spearheaded by myself until I feel I can confidently pass the baton to someone else but will help to ensure the right messages are going out at the right time to the right people through the right channel. 

    Now while this addresses the more formal communication messaging and strategy there are still the everyday communications we need to coach our teams on. There are a few things I will be working on in the coming months:

    1) Formal communications training for the customer success organization - Hopefully to be applied to all customer facing teams
    2) Messaging training, to help ensure that all customer facing teams understand how and what to message to our customers to achieve their objective while staying on brand
    3) Ongoing coaching and training - This cannot be a one and done approach, we are working to ensure that all members of the team are provided ongoing coaching from their managers and leadership 
    4) Tools - Grammarly is a great tool to help ensure all communication is correct, which is as important as the content
  • Kerry McDonough
    Kerry McDonough Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    edited October 2020
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    I'm excited to hear others are figuring this out at the same time we are! We're broken into Account Managers who own customer relationships/renewals, and my Customer Success team is more technically inclined and provides consultative solutions and Best Practices to our customers and AMs, which we often share directly with customers. Our CS team is working closely with our newly formed Customer Marketing team to balance our respective messages with other departments' outreach (Support advisories, product releases, etc.). We also use Gainsight (hi, Nick!) so have the ability for our Account Managers to send emails to their customers, which means we're continually tweaking our process to ensure we're effectively reaching customers with what they need to hear without pinging them with items they don't want to hear. Right now we're in the process of building out a cross-departmental calendar, but at the end of the day the AM owns the customer relationship, so if other teams are reaching out to customers we're also ensuring that we loop in all AMs ahead of any outreach to incorporate their feedback or just keep them in the loop.  Great to hear the varied experiences of others!

    ------------------------------
    Kerry McDonough
    Manager of Customer Success
    Everbridge, Inc.
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-07-2020 23:20
    From: Nick Mehta
    Subject: Governance of customer email communications

    First of all, this is my first GGR post - so excited! Huge congrats to Jeff, Jay and others for building this forum.

    We've observed a great deal of confusion within companies about how to govern email communications.

    On one extreme, some might say "all communications go through Marketing," but that's fundamentally not practical nor is it realistic, since CSMs and others send emails (via Gmail or Outlook) every day.

    On the other hand, allowing every team to email clients with no coordination can lead to a fragmented and frustrating experience.

    Does anyone have a strong governance model for email communications to clients? If so, who runs the process, who's involved and what are the mechanics of it?

    Thanks in advance!




    ------------------------------
    Nick Mehta
    CEO
    Gainsight
    ------------------------------
  • Justin Oberbauer
    Justin Oberbauer Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited October 2020
    Options
    This is a great topic Nick and curious of other CS leaders perspectives. Here is our approach...

    I like to consider the rules based on ultimate ownership and then what the expected or desired response should be. Assuming CSMs ultimately own the revenue relationship and the retention and expansion targets, all communications to customers should ultimately have the stamp of the CSM or (their management proxy.) Who "sends" it depends on what the content and the recipient response expectation or desired action is. By send I'm referring to the From Address, not the system that sends it. From there, I think most communications break down into two categories: promotional and success management. 

    Based on that model, we've developed a collaborative approach with Marketing where they own the promotional stuff and CS owns the Success Management independently, And where they might overlap, typically marketing to send under the name of the CSM. CS generally follows the lead of the marketing calendar in any CS owned communications where possible, but as CS owned emails generally are about impacting existing customers for CTA or Health based purposes, there is less consideration of overlap with the marketing calendar. In our case, we have a dedicated Customer Marketing manager that lives in marketing but develops much of the content that is executed on behalf of CSMs for promotional purposes.

    Justin