Every customer has their own unique needs. Often, delighting the customer means extending the relationship beyond the customer success team. Connecting them with the right technical subject matter expert, product leader, or C-level executive could make a major impact, particularly when customers are experiencing challenges. Or, they may just want to know that they have a voice in the future direction of your product, and that their requests are being considered.
Finding the right connection for your customers can feel a lot like matchmaking. It involves understanding the customer’s state of mind throughout the relationship, and knowing the right points in time to have these conversations with internal experts.
Here are a few tips for how to get this process right.
Capitalize on customer insights and product data
In nearly every case, it is important to have multiple champions, or points of contact, within your customer’s company. In some cases, there may be different personas using your product — for example, sales, customer success, and HR could all use the same software for entirely different purposes.
That’s why it’s critical to have a high and wide approach where you establish touch points across the organization and at various levels, and connect them with the right experts in your company at specific points in time. While it may be tempting to want to fully contain the customer relationship within customer success, involving inter-departmental experts at your company can deepen the relationship, reduce risk and help grow the account over time.
Understanding the customer’s pain points starts with the discovery process. Each user group or “persona” should have the opportunity to share exactly what they need out of the product and customer relationship. From there, product data can uncover usage patterns, and provide your team with a good foundational understanding of what’s working well, and where customers could benefit from a well-timed conversation with an expert.
For example, you may find that the marketing team within your customer’s organization was enthusiastic about the product for the first few months, but usage is now trailing off. Before it becomes a potential churn issue, you can offer a targeted training session with a marketing expert at your company or 1:1 with a marketing customer champion. Engaging with customers early and often is a great way to build loyalty and trust.
Connect your largest customers with executive sponsors
One of the best ways to keep a high-value customer happy is a connection with an executive sponsor. The role of customer success, in this case, is to prepare the leadership team and management team with information on these key accounts. It’s critical to understand how the strengths of each executive would pair to each customer’s pain points. For example, it makes sense to connect a technical leader to a customer who has deep, feature-oriented questions and/or a wide range of technical users.
While every customer would love to talk to the CEO, that’s just not possible or scalable. Other executives on the team, however, should make time to prioritize conversations with customers. Doing so is the best way to make top customers feel understood and valued. Meetings can happen in a one-to-one, or one-to-many setting. Many companies, for example, have developed customer advisory boards to listen to and incorporate feedback directly into the product roadmap.
Take advantage of automation
Beyond the top 1% of your customer base, most customers can be mapped to defined needs and potential areas of conversation. In these cases, you can leverage automation to create a decision tree and land your customers with the appropriate executive at the right time. For example, our team uses routing forms to align customers with technical experts. Automation helps our customers book a call in a business day or less when there’s a person with that expertise available.
One big disclaimer around automation: You can’t set it and forget it. Make sure to test the experience and iterate on it. For example, you may initiate certain automated messaging that isn’t applicable as you scale. It’s important to regularly check in on your automated systems to ensure that they’re meeting both your team’s and your customers’ needs.
Meeting your customers in the moment
Regardless of the approach that you take, it’s crucial to consider where your customer is in their journey. Also, think about how external factors, like the economy, are impacting your customers’ companies and personal lives. For example, as you reach out to your customers, ensure that you are aware of any layoffs, so that you can communicate empathetically and find the best way to make your point of contact’s life easier. Meeting with your internal experts should be a value-add, not an extra item on the customer’s to-do list.
When done right, assembling a team of subject matter experts can help your customer experience operations scale throughout the entire company. Customers will feel understood, while your team gains valuable customer insights that can improve your product and service operations. It’s a win-win that’s well worth the effort.