“You’re dealing with lots of political complexity” → Systematize Executive Sponsorship and a VoC Program
2(A): Executive Engagement/Sponsorship
Our CSMs might be working day-to-day with a director-level person, and that work is critical. But it’s equally important to ensure that we’re in close touch with the executive, who sets the objectives for the engagement and makes the decision on the renewal. Our leadership provides air cover for his/her team members by aligning with executives at our clients.
How to set up an Exec Check-in:
The goal of an Exec Check-in is threefold:
- Get a pulse-check on an individual customer from the Exec’s perspective
- Learn about any top-of-mind initiatives they are working on
- Share any insights or best practices that might be helpful in the current moment
The last one could mean anything from sharing thoughts on how to structure a team or process to get the most of the product, to sharing learnings from customers who have faced similar challenges.
We suggest that your VP of CS (or other member of leadership, depending on the customer relationship) reach out to an Exec-level individual at each of your customers on a quarterly or twice quarterly basis. Your senior leaders are busy people, so you can set up these reminders via a CTA.
Figure 4: An Exec Check-In CTA is triggered to remind our VP of CS to check in with the Exec contact at a customer
For example, every month, our VP of CS receives a CTA for a specific customer reminding him to reach out to the Exec contact at that customer (we call this an “Exec Check-In CTA”). This CTA has an associated Task with an Email Assist that our VP edits as needed and then sends out to the customer.
Once the Exec Check-in is completed, our VP posts his notes to Timeline via the CTA and drops a Milestone to track the last check-in.
Figure 5: Exec Check-In Email Assist
Finally, you might want to consider building out a dashboard to track all of your upcoming Exec Check-Ins for the quarter as well as how many have been completed. This gives your team a view into where they might need some VP coverage.
Figure 6: Exec Check-In Dashboard
2(B): VoC Program
A strong Voice of Customer (VoC)
program is a critical component to providing high-touch Customer Success. But a VoC program is more than simply listening to your customers—it also means closing the loop and following up with an action, so responses translate to improvements in the product and customer experience.
We have an easy 3-step framework for VoC:
- Listen: Capture insightful feedback by giving your customers frequent opportunities to submit feedback.
- Act: Follow up promptly so customers know that they are heard. Quicker response to customer feedback results in a greater impact.
- Analyze: Assess progress against goals and measure improvement to keep the program on track.
Step 1: Listen
Develop a Set of Personas
If your customers are anything like ours, you don’t have just one stakeholder, you have multiple—and you want to make sure you are gathering feedback from all of them. We tend to see at least five types of stakeholders (or “personas”) at most of our customers: the End User, the Admin, the Adoption Champion, the Executive Sponsor, and the Big Boss.
For each persona, we suggest you carefully lay out (1) what you’d love to see from them and, in turn, (2) what they need to see from you to be happy.
In practice, to track these roles, we recommend creating a new field on the “Contact” object to capture these roles for each customer. Try to fill these out as early as possible in the customer relationship—e.g. at the beginning of the post-sales kickoff with the customer but ideally in pre-sales.
Listen Through a Regular Feedback Cadence
We send an NPS survey via CoPilot to all stakeholders at each of our customers once every six months. We then slice and dice the NPS results by persona type. That’s critical, since for a given customer, we might find (for example) that the End User NPS is very high (the actual users love it!) but the Executive Sponsor NPS is low (indicating that the Exec contact may need some help seeing the value of the product).
We also send follow-up NPS questions by each department within Gainsight that a customer interacts with—e.g. the Product team, the CSM team, the Marketing team, etc. That way we can inspire other departments at Gainsight to improve the customer experience.
Listen Through Transactional Surveys
We also collect feedback after key milestones in the customer’s lifecycle or after service touch-points to gauge whether expectations were met.
- 60-days after deal closure: We distribute a Sales Expectations Survey 60 days after a deal has closed to gather feedback on whether we met the expectations in onboarding that the AE set for the customer during the sales process.
- Post-Onboarding: Once the onboarding phase has been completed, we send an Onboarding survey to gather feedback on the engagement.
- After a support case: Once a support case is closed, we trigger a Support survey to gauge whether expectations were met.
Step 2: Act
It is important to close the loop and follow up on customer feedback immediately—be it positive or critical. We recommend implementing follow-ups in an “if this, then that” manner. For example, upon receiving a particularly low NPS score from a given customer, we recommend triggering a CTA with with an associated Email Assist response in order to reach out for a conversation. Conversely, if an NPS score (or set of scores) is extremely high for a customer, your CSM might consider reaching out to ask whether the customer would be willing to serve as a Sales reference or participate in a testimonial for your Customer Marketing efforts.
Figure 7: NPS follow-up CTA and associated Playbook
Figure 8: NPS follow-up Email Assist
Step 3: Analyze
Once you have a strong listening program up and running, you will very quickly be collecting a large amount of valuable data. One of the most important uses of this data is benchmarking—that is, seeing how customers (or personas) stack up against each other or over time.
The quickest way to visualize the results of a given customer’s NPS survey (both at a current point in time as well as the trend) is to access the Surveys section of the C360. We have this section configured to show our CSMs average NPS by role over time:
Figure 9: NPS Chart by Persona
In order to dive deeper into individual responses, the Surveys section has a tab specifically dedicated to NPS. Within this section, our CSMs can view each respondent’s individual NPS score (plus comments).
Figure 10: NPS Section for a Given Customer
Finally, to view responses to the one-off transactional feedback surveys described above, our CSMs navigate to the “Survey Responses” tab next to the “NPS Responses” tab within Surveys. Here they can find and access the responses to all other surveys sent out through the platform.
Figure 11:Survey Responses (for Transactional Surveys)
We recently released a new VoC Solution that helps solves the specific need around gathering and acting upon a customer’s feedback. To learn more about our VoC best practices check out our Intro to VoC content