Adding/Transitioning to a digital/tech touch model?

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Brian Hartley
Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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edited July 2020 in Metrics & Analytics

Hello fellow experts!  We are in the midst of taking a deep dive into how we scale as we grow larger.  Currently we have 3 CSMs who manage 350ish accounts.  Largely, they operate under a higher touch model as we want every customer to "know" who their CSM is and what value they can add, etc (this doesn't mean they are on the phone with every single customer, however lower ARR could potentially get the same amount of attention as a higher ARR.  I realize that is a different topic but providing context) .  As we grow we  can't afford to add resources in parallel so we really need to put energy into a digital led journey (s) (thanks @Alex Tran for the terminology).

Questions for the group

  • As you made this transition, what expectations did you set with leadership about the anticipated churn for customers in the digital journey?  Is it safe to assume that those customers in a digital journey may churn out at a higher rate?  What mechanisms do you have in place to prevent churn (i.e. having a "human" intervene, etc)
  • What are the most important items you need in place before you press go? I.E an incredible customer portal, Hollywood style training videos, drip customer marketing campaigns, etc?
  • How did you handle current customers who may have been used to having a CSM at their disposal in transitioning them away from that model? I.E.  Hey customer, Bob is still here but since you fall into our digital segment you will no longer have him on speed dial. (being a bit facetious but hopefully this makes my point :) ).
  • How much were other departments involved?  I.E. Marketing providing air cover from an email/customer portal standpoint?
  • What tools did you find helpful, outside of your CSP (we use ChurnZero)?

EDIT: I should have also mentioned that our onboarding would still require a bit of lift from us, all things considered, as SSO and other integration points would need our help.

I realize there are going to be a lot of great input.  If it is easier to connect offline, I am up for that too!

Comments

  • Marco Innocenti
    Marco Innocenti Member Posts: 18 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    Great topic Brian.

    A few items that let us scale: 

    • Onboarding and adoption campaigns run via our CS CRM (totoango)
    • We treat our segment not as fully digital, if a customer responds it will go to a pool of junior CSMs that can jump in and assist a customer on an as-needed basis.  Added benefit of building a strong bench and growth potential in your CS org.
    • We own our air cover with a dedicated CS Communications role
    • Defined process for churn mitigation with a dedication retention team

     I would be happy to chat about how we handle this at Zoom.

     

  • Andreas Knoefel
    Andreas Knoefel Member Posts: 74 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    I start with your item (b) about what needs to be in place to avoid any higher churn in (a). 

    Most important to me is a onboarding methodology/curriculum. Do you have a set of steps that everyone can follow to get you from null to productivity? Are there any early successes? Does an enduser see themselves in their job junction or is it all geek-speak? In many orgs the knowledge is in individual heads but not consistent. Then you can look at:

    1. in-app implementation and onboarding assistance. SAP managed to put this in place for complex business processes 25 years ago, so there is no reason why you should not be able to this. Look at WalkMe and userlane. That gives you also the progress telemetry right then and there.
    2. docs and videos that follow the same curriculum
    3. trained and certified partners
    4. user community for new customers with the same curriculum/methodology

    To assist user who get stuck you supply:

    1. progress telemetry to monitor those who get stuck but don't ask for help
    2. office hours
    3. knowledge articles that get added on with each new use case you master / support ticket you close
    4. user community
    5. support

    In regards to transitioning the ones who have you on speed dial, you (a) point them to all the other options you have now available and (b) dial back your response times.

     

    In response to air cover, Product needs to put the in-app help/telemetry in place. CS should own the customer portal any way, and Marketing assists with the messaging of all the new ways you support your customers, if you don't have a dedicated marketer in your CS team yet.

     

  • Brennan Hickey
    Brennan Hickey Member Posts: 4 Seeker
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    edited July 2020
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    In addition to product tools, one thing I've found helpful a learning management system (LMS) where you can host online training (video followed by questions to reinforce knowledge.  This allows a few things:

    • Scale your onboarding time and 'intro training'
    • Create learning pathways for different user types
    • Provide 'how to'videos' for support
    • Allows CSMs to review their client score etc

    From a content perspective, you can even take old webinars, training videos, or other content you've recorded and sliced them up into new trainings. Mindflash has a decent product for fairly cheap and has a free trial as well.

  • Alex Tran
    Alex Tran Member Posts: 38 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Hey @Brian Hartley !

    I love where you're going with this and I'm happy to share some of my thoughts as I'm in the journey alongside you! 

     

    I echo everything said already because that's what we're doing here at Gainsight (FYI - we're building the plane as we fly...it's not fully fleshed out YET)

    I'll share a bit about our story...First, we acknowledged that it was a scary jump and shift from what we're used to. Being a Customer Success company ourselves, we're used to being hands-on and high touch similar to RFP360. My manager said it best - it's like a relationship. You have anxious type and secure type relationships. You want to move towards secure relationships that isn't always dependent and wanting you to be at their beck and call. The goal is to get customers to feel secure in their abilities, the product, and so on to be confident in being successful using our product.

    We pitched this idea to our leadership and they understood the potential of churn, but the ARR was "losable" compared with our bigger customers collectively.

    Second, here are some things that we needed to have:

    • Customer Support team on board with this shift
    • Training docs ready (at least the essential ones)
    • User community
    • Support articles
    • Customer lifecycle built out

    Let me know if you'd like to chat more! You can re-view my post about the digital led segment to spark more ideas!

     

    If you'd like to connect and talk in real time, you can email me at atran@gainsight.com!

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Thank you @Marco Innocenti .  I will be in touch to chat further.  Is there a good way to get ahold of you to schedule time?

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    This is great @Alex Tran .  I will most likely be dropping you a line soon!

  • Marco Innocenti
    Marco Innocenti Member Posts: 18 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    feel free to shoot me an email- marco.innocenti@zoom.us 

  • Jenny Leman
    Jenny Leman Member Posts: 15 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020
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    My org is doing this exact thing right now.   We are in the midst of working on this transition and asking ourselves hard questions.  I'm hosting a webinar this week about how we arrived at this decision to restructure our CS model entirely and what we're learning as we bravely "lose some to gain more" so to speak in regards to churn.  I'm taking an entire team of 1:1 CSMs are we are pooling everything, going entirely to a 1:many model.   I don't have all the answers, but I believe my team is willing to ask the right questions and use our resources to figure out each next step of the journey....     

    Here's a link to the webinar on Thursday if anyone is interested.  There's a Q&A that I'd like to have some engaging discussion.   

    When: Thursday July 16 | 11:00 AM PT, 1:00 PM CDT
    Register @ https://bit.ly/2YSZA4c

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    A few things I will share from my 1 to many experiences.

    1. You need great product analytics to drive timely automated actions that customers deem as valuable. We used Pendo, Gainsight and Salesforce for this in the past.  I will now be looking to use Pendo, ChurnZero and Braze for this in my current role.
    2. Consider having a dedicated resource focused on information that will help with adoption.  I have had this live in marketing and live in the CS team under the role of "Customer Experience" but in order to make up for the insights that CSM's provide you need content that has a different tone than that of traditional lead-gen focused marketing content.
    3. Consider implementing a ticketing system for incoming customer requests that would typically be handled by CSM's today.  Start having the CSM's forward the requests they are getting to this queue so you can categorize and start to report on the types of processes and content you will need to put together.  This will also help you understand where you can provide a global solution or still need to account for some sort of manual or unique intervention.
    4. Office Hours - Use Calendly or other tools to be clear when the team is available for "Ask the Expert" sessions.  Consider promoting that in the product itself.  This will allow you to really manage the hours that resources are on calls.  Its a bit of a rip the banded off approach so consider providing more hours and flexibility to start and then, over time, reducing those hours.

    I hope this helps and these were certainly core components that helped me to make the transition from a single person being able to manage 10 to 100 and eventually 500+ customers.  

     

  • Jenny Leman
    Jenny Leman Member Posts: 15 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020
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    @John Bosch  --- thanks for the info you shared.  

    Would you be willing to share more about the structure of your team in terms of function and skillset to do this?  That's my next big item to work through....  I would be happy to send you a DoorDash lunch if you have 20-min to spare for a zoom call to pick your brain on this.   :)   

    Never heard of Braze. Does it replace SFDC as a CRM for you?

  • Sana Farooq
    Sana Farooq Member Posts: 23 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    Great insights @John Bosch , thanks for sharing. Is there a particular customer facing alias you use for the ticketing system? 

    We feel that this is the more scalable solution as we transition further into a high volume model, and to minimize the number of times a client is handed off between CSM's, but our biggest concern is losing that human element of a name, a face, etc for the client. 

    Curious if you have been able to find a middle ground while moving into a shared model.

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @John Bosch thank you for the insight, very helpful.

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    Hello All! Great question and awesome responses!

    I have a few questions on which I'd love to get some guidance on:

    1. How do you handle Cross-sell/Up-Sell in Tech-touch model (i.e. how do you identify an opportunity and execute it)?
    2. How do you handle renewals? Has anyone used any highly automated workflow + Docusign type setup or auto-renewals?
    3. How do you "present" value or outcomes achieved to the customers who're in TechTouch segment?

    Thank you!

  • Andreas Knoefel
    Andreas Knoefel Member Posts: 74 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Ad (2), automatic renewal workflows are standard in several CRM and financial systems. I used SAGE INTACCT before for that purpose.

    Ad (3), for High-touch customers you have the luxury to define bespoke outcomes and ways to measure. For tech-touch you have to make some assumptions on the outcome the customer expects and validate at Sales/post-Sales survey. Then you can use your telemetry to report on engagement and derive metrics that correlate to the ROI or consumption. Not perfect, but you are balancing effort against profit margin.

    Ad (1), once you have (3) in place, you can identify the customers who are ahead of target and trigger expansion plays. For consumption-based subscriptions, if they consumer a years worth in 6 month ==> $$$. For ROI-based subscriptions, use the ROI model to trigger campaigns/playbooks if you show that the customer is on par/ahead of expectations.

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Jenny Leman I've been involved in these efforts twice. Once at a startup, and once at the company that acquired that startup.  

    At the startup which was ~2000 low dollar monthly SaaS subscribers.  100 of those customers made up 80% of our revenue.  So we had:

    • 1 Enterprise CSM for the top 10 customers.
    • 2 Mid Level CSM for the next 90 customers.
    • 2 Early Career Customer Success Reps (CSR's) - to handle the one-to-many proactive communication through email and they worked the incoming request queue.
    • Our Product/Solution Marketing Manager helped with the content for the customer base
    • 1 Product Manager who owned Pendo that we worked with very closely with to trigger in App messaging, schedule NPS campaigns, and create guides in the product. 

    At the larger company, we had 4 tiers of customers.  Lowest tier was 5 CSRs to ~2500 customers (roughly the lower 20% of revenue), we implemented autorenewals, which was being handled manually prior to my tenure there.  We changed the team to be proactive based on usage and health score triggers, and reactive to a queue of requests that came in. With 5 people each person had 1 day every week where they owned the queue, the other 4 days were focused on one-to-many communications and reacting to data triggers. Customer Experience team helped with the content for the communications and ran NPS and other surveys during the customer lifecycle.  Most of the team was early-career and their career path was to move up to the next tier of customers and become a CSM.

    We did assign the CSR's customers based on region, so there was some level of consistency in name, and we did give them target customer to learn how to execute the strategic part of the job, but it was in the interest of low-risk high reward training to develop them into CSM's.  There was a lot of positive turnover year over year.  We got really good at the transition playbook :-).    

    We had fluctuations in churn at the bottom tier due to auto-renewals and other factors, but the trickle-up effect was tremendous and it freed up the more Senior CSM's to be more strategic. Ultimately both our gross and net renewals rates went up for the entire company.

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Sana Farooq Great question!  John@xxx.com was the default for a while until someone named Leah wrote an email that was supposed to come from John.  So we stopped with the names after that.  

    We used CustomerSuccess@ and had playbooks to transition from a general response to a personalized response when the situation called for it.  

  • Mahesh Motiramani
    Mahesh Motiramani Member Posts: 21 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    Thanks @Andreas Knoefel - this is very helpful.

  • Sana Farooq
    Sana Farooq Member Posts: 23 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    haha. @John Bosch  I am actually laughing out loud, because we have been considering going that route, and that is exactly the inevitable outcome that i was concerned about. 

    Thank you for your response and tip- very helpful! 

  • John Bosch
    John Bosch Member Posts: 26 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Jenny Leman just catching up on some responses here.  I would be more than happy to jump on a Zoom and talk shop.  Ping me directly john.bosch@hqo.co and we'll find a time that works

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    It sounds like Mindflash is your recommendation @Brennan Hickey ?  Have you used other LMS tools?  I have only demo'd skilljar in the past

  • Brennan Hickey
    Brennan Hickey Member Posts: 4 Seeker
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    edited July 2020
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    The only tool I have used enough to form an opinion on is Mindflash. My only gripe with Mindflash is the UI is not as 'clean' as it could be. Skilljar looks pretty good from what I can see from the public-facing side.