Standing Recurring Calls with Customers - Am I missing the value?

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Calista Rollogas
Calista Rollogas Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited February 2021 in Strategy & Planning
I've recently joined a new company and I'm being handed accounts from existing CSMs. I'm finding that a large number of CSMs at my new company have standing, recurring calls (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) with customers that they are expecting me to take over. In the past, I've used recurring calls sparingly and for situations where I'm working through a project or escalated issue with a customer. The nature of these calls seems to be check-ins, pulse checks, and an opportunity for the customer to bring up support tickets that the customer wants an update on.

Am I wrong in thinking this approach is hard to scale and maybe missing the mark? Do you use regular standing calls with customers? If so, how do you ensure each call has value?

Thanks,
Calista

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  • Daniel Hoesing
    Daniel Hoesing Member Posts: 6 Contributor
    edited February 2021
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    Hi Calista

    I think you are exactly right to question this.  The best way to determine value IMO, is to identify it during the onboarding process by either confirming the reason for purchase from sales WITH THE CLIENT, or asking directly how your product helps them do what they do - also confirm current and future technology integration plans (record all this in a standard way in a CRM so you can report on it).  This is the value from the customer's mouth not the generic value you get from marketing and or is assumed sometimes from sales.  Your client's value may even be different than other people in their company, you should want to help your client look good :-)

    If I were you, I would take this opportunity to reassess the need for ongoing calls.  (Before you do, understand what YOU could get from the call) Since you are new, you could use this time to understand your customers need for the product you sell and what information is relevant, why and what frequency.  Great opportunity to change the dynamic with your customer and see if they actually find value in the reoccurring call! 

    As you point out, recurring calls do not scale and they limit the number of customers you can manage.  This may be busy work or it may be a 'requirement' for your industry.  I'd love to see you rock the boat coming into a new company and teach them a thing or two about customer success :-)

    Best of luck!   Please let me know how you come out!

  • Jon Johnson1
    Jon Johnson1 Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    edited February 2021
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    Calista!


    I'm right there with you. Just starting to take over my new book of business and seeing a ton (a ton) of regularly recurring meetings.

    I'm of the mind that those should only be used when actively working to achieve an outcome. Touch points need to provide value and, these "regularly scheduled meetings" (in my experience) tend to get rescheduled often and pushed down the value chart of "what I need to do today".

    I'd much rather have these meetings set up when there is value to be shared of captured.


    I always love to challenge "this is the way we've always done it" in these situations.

    Excited for you to get ramped up with your new role!


    - Jon

  • Chuck Barber
    Chuck Barber Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited February 2021
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    Calista ... 

    What a great question and way to show up, not just accepting "the ways things are". I always appreciate our new staff's fresh eyes on our processes - they make sense to us because typically our hand was involved in making them or we have been doing them so long that they seem second nature. I appreciate the feedback you have received so far on the question as well. I am a firm believer in our clients owning their success and our CSMs are their copilots, helping them along the way. While we have a standard of call cadences based on ARR, we also allow for our customers to help determine what works best for them and how we can help meet them where they are. Rarely do we have a request to meet more frequently, but when we do, the decision is based on purpose and value from the eyes of the customer and at the same time, when we have a request to meet less frequently, we also assess with the customer the risk and allow that to drive decisions.

    As a new CSM at your new employer, I appreciate the guidance provided by Daniel in that there is a GREAT opportunity at least in the short term to use the time to visit with and get to know your new book of business. If your customers are anything like ours, there is a commonality of characteristics in your book of business, but there is just as much uniqueness to each customer's WHY. 

    Kudos to the new role and cheers to your assessment of better ways to provide value to your customers! 
  • Patrick Ruster
    Patrick Ruster Member Posts: 9 Contributor
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    edited February 2021
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    About to hop into a (non-recurring) meeting, but wanted to chime in here before I get swept up in the day and forget to post. CS-life, amiright? 

    Anyway, kudos to you for challenging the norm, and you're absolutely right to question the value of standing meetings where they might be not necessarily be required. 

    I would take some time to get to learn about these customers before you change too much and would definitely encourage you to not be shy; straight up ask them "does this meeting cadence deliver value for you?". "are the things we discuss better handled with an email video?" (related; I've been using vidyard (there are a million options out there now; drift, wistia soapbox, etc) to send quick little videos to my customers of ideas I've had for them on how to leverage our platform more effectively, suggest marketing campaign ideas, ask followup questions, or just see how their pets/children/houseplants are doing, and its been hugely effective for increasing engagement, and also a more human way to get your message across without an email)

    I saw an article recently that said the average company nowadays has roughly 90 subscriptions, can you imagine how many recurring meetings and QBRs that results in, that might not be entirely necessary? Can't find the article at the moment, but this is an interesting visual: 

    image

    As CSM, we are trained to be empathetic with our customers, I would say this is one of those scenarios when you might be doing your customer a huge solid and freeing up a chunk of time on their calendar by dialing back the meeting cadence, but only if it makes sense! (very subjective, I know I know)

    Lastly, again, good on your for challenging convention! It will only benefit you and your org. Cheers!
  • Saad Khan
    Saad Khan Member Posts: 10 Contributor
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    edited February 2021
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    Hi Calista,

    Great Topic. I would suggest that you talk to the customer to see what value these cadence calls are bringing to them. While the Customer may be SMB, other segments like Enterprise may want to have them.

    You should also figure out if you want to reactive or proactive or a combination  communications with the customers. Are you using analytics to look at adaptations rates, churn warnings etc. Are you sending out Proactive updates, monthly reports  which include adoption rates, cases etc? These factors may help in making the decision if there needs to be regular cadence calls.
  • Calista Rollogas
    Calista Rollogas Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited February 2021
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    Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement and great feedback! I believe my approach will be to use the currently scheduled calls to learn more about the customer and establish the relationship. Then after 2-3 of these, I plan to have them answer the question of how much value these meetings are providing and hopefully either adjust the frequency or drop the calls altogether in favor of connecting when there is a more valuable conversation we can have.

    Thanks everyone!
    Happy successing!
  • Zeeshan Gauba
    Zeeshan Gauba Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    edited February 2021
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    Hi Calista,

    That is absolutely the right way to go in ensuring you have client buy-in moving forward.

    The questions that came to my mind was, are the meetings an expectation set by management? How and why were these meetings implemented? Is it up to the discretion of the CSM on how they handle clients?

    I also think that the meeting cadence is dependent upon the type of product / services being offered / consumed. 

    Although we set an expectation for monthly meetings post go-live, I have always let my CSMs decide on what cadence is appropriate. Our model is based on taking the lead from our clients in how much or how little they want us involved. If the client is self sufficient, then the CSMs are free to switch to a quarterly cadence. We are an enterprise level software so we find its important for at least a quarterly check in.

    Great question to ask!

    Thanks,

    Zee
  • Liam Farley
    Liam Farley Member Posts: 14 Thought Leader
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    edited February 2021
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    Thanks Patrick for sharing the visual, a Google image search came up with this article that looks to be the original.
  • Patrick Ruster
    Patrick Ruster Member Posts: 9 Contributor
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    edited February 2021
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    That's the one. Wild right?