We’ve already shared why customer visibility is crucial to improving internal customer strategy and overall customer health. Now we can take this to the next level and figure out how to automate some standard CS processes, giving your CSMs the bandwidth to be true strategic advisors to your customer base.
Whether you have five customers or five thousand, developing efficient processes by leveraging technology and automation platforms can help extend your reach into your customer base, defining your organization’s best practices.
Best practices are defined as operational processes that are generally considered the most effective. We suggest several aspects of best practices for companies when they are first starting their Customer Success Journey. However, every move of automation comes with a warning.
In the introduction of “The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook,” Gainsight’s CEO, Nick Mehta, stated,
Companies cemented in the past are still searching for ways to automate the humanity out of customer relationships. However, the companies that will win the next era of business know that the technology-empowered human will always be at the center of their relationships.
So, while automation will no doubt create efficiencies when incorporated into best practices, don’t forget the human element of your work. Instead, look to create opportunities to inject the “human” touch at the right time and the right place. Yes, this is possible even in a tech touch model of business.
To begin the process, you should segment your customers. Customer segmentation comes in numerous forms and variations from enterprise to small-medium business (SMB), low touch, and tech-touch models. First, you need to know what works best for your company. Next, consider an organized and automated sentiment and health signals system. This helps raise alerts when customers fall below baselines enabling you to mitigate issues automatically.
These issues don’t have to be negative, such as a lack of customer product engagement or a decreasing health score. It can also raise the flag for renewals or when a customer is ready to be approached for referrals or advocacy. This motion can even help you understand both churn and retention better. By increasing the level of understanding of your customer, your company can focus and prioritize, thus accelerating growth.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can predict certain behaviors based on preset metrics that similar customers typically achieve. These can trigger communications, such as in-app or email messages, to the customer while notifying you of their status. Thus, tech-touch powered by AI is a fantastic way to reach a large segment of customers without needing many CSMs or using fewer CSMs through a pooled model.
The ideal blending of tech touch, digital automation, and human touch gives you a better chance to capture the voice of the customer and scale more reliably. However, using the one-to-many model provides you with powerful management of all your customers—when implemented and utilized correctly. This model is especially effective with long-tail customers across their lifecycle. In optimizing CSM workflows in every model, you will give every CSM the ability to provide more attention to customers while reducing busy work.
Leveraging Automation with Best Practice Playbooks
Visibility into your customer base is a necessary part of establishing best practices. By “seeing” into your customer accounts, you can better understand them through usage insights and health scoring. Visibility also can align your entire company around a “source of truth” that provides everyone with the correct information. Most of all, it can help build a solid foundation for delivering customer success. Once you have a strong foundation, the next step to optimizing your CS strategy is to apply the benefits of automation. By automating some of the key activities that your team regularly does, helps streamline processes.
Next, you can deploy and incorporate best practice-based Playbooks. These provide step-by-step guidance on the tasks your team should take on any occasion. With your technology in place, it can empower you with visibility while signaling to your CS org or any customer-facing teams that some action is required on an account. At that point, playbooks are where everyone should turn to execute a standardized approach to help customers solve problems and ultimately realize value. An excellent example of automation coupled with Playbook power is when a customer has an upcoming renewal. Simply by having the visibility of a customer’s impending renewal, you can trigger a playbook for the CSM 120 days before it is supposed to happen. The play from that Playbook will outline all of the steps they need to take to drive a smooth renewal.
Automation can be included in some of the communications processes. For example, using the best CS tools can help you develop an automated customer journey that engages your customer at critical moments during their lifecycle. In Gainsight, you can automate simple communications to your customers, such as conducting a regular NPS or other surveys to collect feedback. When needed, you can send your customers information and updates about their accounts. Another example is sending in-app messages to notify them of new features you’ve released, in addition to walk-through guides to aid them in proper usage of the new features.
Gainsight Sightline Vault
As Gainsight is the creator and leader in CS technology, we also have these best practices packaged and ready for our customers based on our years of historical data through Sightline Vault. Have confidence in your strategies by executing tried and proven Playbooks. You can also deploy assets such as health scorecards, email templates, reports, rules, along with playbooks, into your Gainsight instance. All it takes is the click of a button.
The one-to-many outreach model realized through automation is an outstanding best practice in itself. Every company that learns to use every technical tool at its disposal to create efficiencies realizes how critical it is to your success, especially your CS team or organization. Leveraging technology and automation platforms to help extend your reach into your customer base, no matter the size, is always a winning combination.
Gainsight is here to make your customer success journey simple. We have a ton of resources available to help, including a two-part webinar series designed to guide you end-to-end on how to leverage and grow with Gainsight. You can also download several resources for all things customer success here.