To DM or not to DM?

Options
Daniel Sonnenschein
Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
edited July 2020 in CS Technology

Hey CS peeps! Are any of your teams communicating with US-based clients via DMs and non-email channels? If so, I'm especially interested in learning about the preferred platforms (WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, Slack, etc.). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Comments

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    I encourage my teams to use Whatsapp/SMS to build the relationship. We are cautious not to use it as first communication method but use it to for higher priority messages. Often though this causes the customer to use it as their preferred method. 

    My caution for this though is how you then track the conversations, you cant upload WhatsApp to CS platforms etc like you can email so there's some discipline needed.

  • Meghan Price
    Meghan Price Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    We actually went in the opposite direction going from a variety of communication channels (whatever works best for the clients was always our motto) to one communication channel (Slack). The main reasons were: it became really inefficient/confusing for account managers to keep up with so many lines of communication and increased the chance of something getting missed and was very hard to track. With multiple team members on one account, there were often times when other members weren't aware that client conversations had happened because they couldn't be seen and weren't always tracked in the CRM. 

    We are currently in a learning phase where some customers just flat out aren't using Slack. In those instances we've reverted back to Email but always try our best to point back to the Slack channel when possible (example: a question is asked by the client in email, we get back quickly and let them know that the response is in Slack (in a nice way haha))

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks Will! Super interesting. I have some experience with markets where WeChat is a preferred method for example, and there we had challenges with timely updates on our CRM. Is WhatsApp working well with US based clients?

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks Meghan! I wonder about Slack being the right channel for us. On the one hand we use it internally across the board, on the other hand we're a B2G company and I worry it's not so prevalent in our space. I am curious - how tough was migrating multichannel comms to Slack?

  • Britt Hall
    Britt Hall Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    I fall pretty squarely in the "not to DM" camp here. I've been a CSM with Slack communication with my customers, and it was one of the biggest factors that led to my burnout. I manage a team now, and I've encouraged them not to give out their personal cell phone numbers, etc. and to generally avoid the DM-style conversations.

    As I see it, our CSMs should be strategic, forward-thinking partners and advisors for our customers. We keep regularly-scheduled calls on the books, and have set agendas ahead of time and documented outcomes for those meetings. Slack and other tools can be nice for the quick messages (running a few min late, etc.), but they open the door for a lot of misuse that just doesn't feel worth it for my team.

    I found that within DM conversations, customers are often looking for tactical, reactive guidance that should honestly go to our Support team, which is available 24/7. When CSMs are also available on-demand (and especially if they're actually more accessible than the Support team), the nature of the relationship with the CSM changes.

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    So we are UK based currently but in my previous company I used it a lot with US clients due to costs of SMS. We had a pretty good uptake of it.

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thats a great point and something I am trying to address myself at the moment. How do I make sure my CSMs are not turning into premium support. Being new into the org I am trying to change that "here to assist" mentally out of my CSMs and refocus into a "here to drive value" mindset.

  • Britt Hall
    Britt Hall Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    If you're going to move forward with DMs, your CSMs are going to have to be very empowered to say to themselves and their customers (in a diplomatic way!), "I could answer that, but I won't. You need to go to Support." Not impossible, but it takes work to hold those boundaries!

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Very true, I had it working well at my previous company, as the product was so complex it was inevitable it needed to go to support.

    Now its a simpler product the temptation is to be a people pleaser. This makes it harder for us leaders too as the data from support often is inaccurate meaning we may not identify training gaps etc 

  • Manan Joshi
    Manan Joshi Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Relationship building is a key tenet to become a successful CSM and we do encourage CSMs to engage with champions via non-email channels - LinkedIn message, texts, whatsapp etc.

    At times, we over complicate CSM role and try to track all the things they do and communicate.. and that is fine... but there is always a human element to every engagement and that's where a quick DM or a quick text goes a long way!!

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks Britt! Very valid point. For a smaller company where CSM serves as customer support as well, would you still advise against DM?

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks Manan! Some of my best interactions with vendors and partners were also the simplest! Definitely a great point for DMing

  • Marcus Sparks
    Marcus Sparks Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    First Comment GGR Blogger 2021
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Agreed. DMs as part of the ongoing conversation are an indicator of a healthy relationship. We just have to be diligent in coaching our CSMs stay strategic and lean on internal resources.

  • Marcus Sparks
    Marcus Sparks Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    First Comment GGR Blogger 2021
    edited July 2020
    Options

    I will chime in on the no DM...or at least to not emphasize DM as a formal communication channel. When my previous company was growing from $5mil to $10mil, we had Support, Implementation, and Training in place before we even launched Account Mgmt/Customer Success. So we established an internal culture early-on of Support handling the tactical, operational guidance, and we trained CSMs to hold to that model. And we made damn sure that our first-line Support professionals were fairly compensated, knowledgeable, rock stars. 

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Daniel Sonnenschein how small is your CSM team? From a strategic perspective I would do all I can early on to separate CSMs and support and have a dedicated support function. Even if it’s only one person. This means there is a clear break in responsibilities.  

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks @Alex Tran - I was also thinking that DM communication can be reserved to a higher tier of clients and/or strategic users like decision makers and champions

  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Daniel Sonnenschein @Alex Tran   I do the same with my cell on my email signature.  I take things case by case/customer by customer.  As I try to have my team develop relationship with a customer, our top tier clients might be the ones we go the DM route when our normal modes of communication fail...or if it is something urgent I need to ensure they get. 

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thanks for the input @Ronald Krisak - which platform does your team use to DM? Curious especially for International clients

  • Ronald Krisak
    Ronald Krisak Member Posts: 48 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
    Options

    So far, we use Skype or MS Teams.

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    interesting - thank you!

  • Will Pagden
    Will Pagden Member Posts: 99 Expert
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Ronald Krisak for me I do not expect my team to be available 24/7, but I am prepared to be available 24/7 as I have less customer interactions. So I also give my cell number out to all customers. I set clear expectations its not an emergency support line more of an escalations or advice line if they feel they're not getting what they need. It very rarely rings, which must mean my team are doing a top job.

  • gurd3v
    gurd3v Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Individually, I loved making myself accessible for my customer and opening up any and all lines of communication for the customer. While it works for me, it doesn't work for the org at scale so I've scaled these options back significantly. 

    The way I think about it - if I set the expectation that I'm willing to do this, but their next CSM (should they have a "next") doesn't support it, I've set an unrealistic expectation for the customer, and left the next CSM at a major disadvantage to win that customer's loyalty. 

    Internally, we operate strictly via e-mail and web to case forms for support. 

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Comment
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Britt Hall love the discussion in the head and reality is the cycles to answer a question, can turn into many more cycles if not bounded appropriately.  Case in point, I wrote a very complete reply to some problems I found common in a Udemy course as it related to implementing Heroku. I ran into someone who had a very different problem who asked for help on the question. I knew exactly the answer, but it was 3 iterations of progressively detailed answers to help the person over the finish line. I literally gave them circled screenshots and the exact video location where the solution was discussed. 

    While it was a great exercise in empathy.  If you don't strike a bullseye, you own future conversations.  Those conversations will get in the way of other value-producing activities

  • Brian LaFaille
    Brian LaFaille Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    I'm firmly in the camp that tools like slack should be used for internal collaboration, but should be used with caution directly with a customer. Tools like slack almost have an unspoken SLA around response time, and putting any CSM into that level of communications obligation could lead to burnout. That said, having an internal slack channel for every customer account team where they can collaborate has moved mountains for us at Looker. 

    That all said, I feel earning the level of trust so a CSM could text their key champions / sponsors is a sign of trust and engagement that few CSMs ever achieve. I don't think it should be the primary mode of communication (that's reserved for email / zoom) but should be a status every CSM should be striving for, effectively asking the question: "Have I built enough trust, and added enough value that I could text my key contact?" 

    Here's more on how we leverage slack internally for collaboration on all our customer accounts: 

    https://www.customersuccessfieldguide.com/fieldguide/slack-for-customer-success

     

     

  • Shari Srebnick
    Shari Srebnick Member Posts: 110 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2020
    Options

    I'm with Britt on this.  

    Since I echo almost all of her sentiments, I don't want to be redundant.  However, what I will say is that this notion we have to be available to our customers "24/7" because it creates more value or fosters a better relationship isn't necessarily true and can set a precedent that will be hard to get out of should things need to change.  Further, never in my experience have I heard of a customer churning because they didn't have DM/Open access to their CSM.

    I think we need to focus more on driving customers towards their goals so that they see clear ROI, and less focus on making sure we over-extend ourselves and our teams.  Burn out helps no one.

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Comment
    edited July 2020
    Options

    @Brian LaFaille  inter-company peer channels tend to work well.  Been using  them at IBM before Slack.  Always set boundaries.  

  • Daniel Sonnenschein
    Daniel Sonnenschein Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited July 2020
    Options

    Thank you @Brian LaFaille  - such great framing, aspiring to the level of trust but deploying selectively