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How to Customer Success during Disruption Part II

How to Customer Success in a Downturn Part II
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

The pandemic has caused serious disruption to business and now more than ever, companies are relying on customer loyalty to keep their businesses going.

Customer Success has always been about improving customer retention and revenue growth.

But it is a complex practice at the best of times.

Now it’s becoming increasingly so.

And so is its importance to companies.

People have many questions about how to handle navigating Customer Success during a global pandemic. In part two of this series I continue to answer your questions.

Do you believe that customers' "desire path" has changed in light of COVID-19?

I do. The environmental changes have impacted all businesses and how they operate. It is therefore important that companies understand what the new customer journey map looks like as a result and adjust their playbook accordingly to be able to serve customers in an updated manner.

How can we implement these key principles for customers who have been with the organization for a number of years, but perhaps have not experienced as defined of a customer journey?

There is never a bad time to continuously improve the customer experience for customers. Existing customers will welcome changes that help them become successful in an easier, more seamless manner. Customers also expect vendors to continually improve their product and how they help customers, so it should come as no surprise to them when a vendor changes their operations for the better.

The important thing for companies to remember is to communicate clearly with customers. Explain why the changes are occurring and how they benefit the customer. Also make sure they understand how to find the information they need or how they can easily enlist the services that you are offering.

What, if any, do you believe will be the long-term impact of these last few months for CS?

The pandemic has been a forcing factor on companies to really get behind customers and support them with their objectives. This should not be anything new for Customer Success but unfortunately, rapid growth and many internal company initiatives competing for resource attention has caused vendors to not be as customer focused as they should have been.

We are seeing companies get back to the fundamentals and rally behind customers knowing that they cannot afford to lose them in this environment. I do see this continuing and, especially in uncertain times and a downturn, companies will continually turn their focus back on customers to make sure they remain loyal.

Do you believe that CS is "out of the woods" as it relates to the business impact of COVID-19?

I’m not sure what “out of the woods” means in terms of business impact.

Has the chaos that occurred when the pandemic first hit calmed down? Yes. Companies are keeping a keen eye on their metrics to better understand where their business is currently at and have settled into a new normal.

But business continually evolves and changes. This was true before Covid-19 and is certainly true with it as well. Organizations need to make sure then that they are organizationally agile so that they can evolve with the times just as rapidly.

That’s why I like to take a holistic customer approach to Customer Success. When companies understand how their services and products are used within the larger context of the customer’s environment, they are better poised to adapt to changing circumstances to ensure that their customers still achieve their desired outcomes.

As an individual contributor, how should you approach the conversation if your organization is not efficiently managing customer journeys?

I think providing productive solutions and use cases are always beneficial in promoting change.

Pointing out to your organization what is happening on the front lines with customers, what challenges exist and how they can be overcome by implementing customer-centric solutions, and then demonstrating some wins that you’ve had with customers as a result, is a powerful way to start change.

Working in collaboration with like-minded individuals from other departments within your organization to help improve the customer journey also starts the snowball effect. Small wins encourage others to change, contributing to more wins and so on. Change is hard but it’s actually done best when made with small, incremental changes at a time.

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