Change Management: Customers Losing Their CSM

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Jeff Heckler
Jeff Heckler Member, CS Leader Posts: 80 Expert
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edited November 2020 in Metrics & Analytics
We are raising the threshold at which we assign a CSM to an account.
For example, we used to assign a CSM to all accounts >1MRR.
As of 2021, CSMs will only be assigned to accounts >10MRR.
We will not grandfather in accounts or have a transition.
We will allow CSMs to retain select strategic accounts based on qualitative value and/or future MRR potential.
How have you messaged and orchestrated change management for this situation?
Thanks!


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  • Jenny Leman
    Jenny Leman Member Posts: 15 Thought Leader
    edited November 2020
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    Following.  We are prepping to do the same in December.
  • Will Stamatis
    Will Stamatis Member Posts: 9 Contributor
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    edited November 2020
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    Coming from a Tech Touch lens, where there have been very few deep CSM <> Customer relationships, we manage this on an inbound basis. If a customer request comes in, we'll try to resolve it + introduce the CSM in a response email:

    In order to better serve our customers, there has been an internal rearrangement of accounts. CC'ed is my amazing colleague and fellow CSM, [Name]. He/She will be your point of contact going forward.

    It has been a pleasure working with you!

    For longer-term changes, we've sent mass emails to all DMs with similar messaging to the above
  • James Conant
    James Conant Member Posts: 37 Expert
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    edited November 2020
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    Hi Jeff,

    In short, thoughtfully and carefully. 

    I led a CS/AM team for a high growth business that had been acquired by a large Fortune 500 company. Sales skyrocketed once the well-established sales team added the product to their portfolios. As a result, we needed to adjust our CS strategy (as well as product, dev, etc) to enable our business to scale. 

    Proceed thoughtfully - To grow, founders provide hands-on one-one attention and it's not unusual for them to be the primary point of contact for their legacy customers. They are used to that level of attention. Besides the extra attn, there may be processes and reports that were created specifically for them too. It may be the primary reason they purchased your product. As these high profile accts are transitioned to CS/AM's they naturally feel pressure to retain them and may say "yes" to additional customer requests that strain your team's ability to provide high levels of service consistently (and those of your operations team). Layer on many new customers and it becomes obvious you can't scale with this model. Your team may be stressed and you feel the need to act, ...quickly. I know for I have been there. 

    You mention that you won't grandfather accounts or have a transition. As you develop your new strategy, keep in mind that these legacy customers may be a reason for your fast growth since they often become early advocates as well as the source of product mods. They receive personal attention. Many of them are by definition your Promoters. Moving quickly can create more work for you and your team as you and they receive emails and phone calls. And, it can damage relationships if they aren't on board with your plan.

    We considered the following elements when developing our new CS/AM strategy and change mgmt plan:
    1. Acquisition date
    2. Industry
    3. Size
    4. Number of products
    5. Known referrals
    6. Engagement level
    7. NPS
    8. Marquee brands
    9. Value
    10. Custom processes and reports
    11. Customer contact level (Exec, Dir, Mgr, etc)
    12. Health score
    We developed a communication template for external notifications, one for internal communication (your colleagues need to know too), desk instructions with anticipated questions and best-practice answers, escalation procedures, and then I met with the team to explain what we were doing and why. Importantly, I listened to them, intently, and noted concerns. They have to be part of the process upfront.  Moreover, they know their customers best. I modified our new model, communication plan, and desk instructions based on their input and established a meeting cadence for us to discuss progress, issues, etc. 

    Does this help?
    Jim


    ------------------------------
    James Conant
    ------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 11-06-2020 10:55
    From: Jeff Heckler
    Subject: Change Management: Customers Losing Their CSM

    We are raising the threshold at which we assign a CSM to an account.
    For example, we used to assign a CSM to all accounts >1MRR.
    As of 2021, CSMs will only be assigned to accounts >10MRR.
    We will not grandfather in accounts or have a transition.
    We will allow CSMs to retain select strategic accounts based on qualitative value and/or future MRR potential.
    How have you messaged and orchestrated change management for this situation?
    Thanks!




    ------------------------------
    Jeff Heckler
    Customer Success - Team Lead
    ------------------------------
  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
    GGR Blogger 2023 GGR Blogger 2021 First Anniversary
    edited November 2020
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    @Jeff Heckler would you be able to expand here on the reasons behind the change?  Whatever it is, is going to affect what kind of change management is the best route for you.

    I'll borrow from @Jay Nathan here and say that when you transition communications from personal to automated, make sure you always view the communications from the customers' point of view; keep yourself aware of the experience they're going to perceive.  If you automate with customer experience as your top priority, it will still come across as human care.

    You might also consider a concierge system, potentially staffed by a small team of Jr. CSMs who can handle a high volume of low-personal-touch small customers.  That would offer some semblance of human touch at scale, even though it would largely be reactive.  The other advantage here is you have a good bench and can grow peoples' careers in your image.
  • Tanya Strauss
    Tanya Strauss Member Posts: 14 Thought Leader
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    edited January 2022
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    Hi @Jeff Heckler,

    A year after you, I'm now going through a similar account shift. I see some great advice in here about being thoughtful about these comms. I'm curious whether you'd be willing to share what you came up to communicate this change to your customers last year.

    Thanks,
    Tanya
  • Jeff Heckler
    Jeff Heckler Member, CS Leader Posts: 80 Expert
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    edited January 2022
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    First, we led with messaging for nine (9) months before making the complete change in our CSM-assignment-thresholds and our portfolios.
    Secondly, we build up out self-serve customer enablement channels and did heavy customer marketing campaigns and messaging around them.
    Third, we updated our customers during their QBRs and EBRs and in some cases made transition plans with them.
    Fourth, we have some Professional Services engagements to help bridge the gap.

    Thanks for asking,@Tanya Strauss, it feels like so long ago now and it's always good to reflect.