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Prioritizing Accounts & The Customer Success Community

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Account Prioritization
Photo by Phil Desforges

Thousands of people have descended upon Moscone Center in San Francisco this week for the annual Pulse Customer Success conference.

It is an opportunity for the Customer Success community at large to come together and share insights and knowledge amongst peers and colleagues in the spirit of continuously defining and improving this industry.

I am a huge fan of knowledge sharing and helping out the community.

With over 135 articles written, 6 eBooks, dozens of conference presentations and webinars, interviews and responding to followers’ questions I share my insights to do my part to contribute back to the community.

It certainly has not been easy (those that know me know that writing is my nemesis) but it has been rewarding!

So, in the spirit of community and sharing, especially this week, I thought I’d take the time again to respond to another question I received via LinkedIn.

I hope you find this helpful and I look forward to learning from you as well!

Account Prioritization Question

Hi Kia,

I hope this message finds you well. I would like to pick your brain and see your approach in regards to account “prioritization”.

I have 100 accounts that are up for renewal next quarter:

a) 10 of those have been flagged as at risk

b) 15 of them have shown a pattern for upsell opportunities

c) 30 of them have been identified as medium risk

d) 12 accounts have responded as “detractors” in an NPS survey

How would you prioritize these accounts, why and what steps should be taken in reaching out to these accounts?

Account Prioritization Response

This is a great question and perfectly demonstrates just how hard and overwhelming the job of a Customer Success Manager can be!

It’s also a tough one.

Where does a CSM start when there is so much to do? What is the immediate, tactical solution to get the job done?

And what is the organization doing to structure operations so that this type of scenario is not “dumped” on the CSM to solely figure out? What is the holistic approach to address effective customer management?

As with any business scenario I am a big believer that context is key for good decision making.

In this case a CSM would want to understand the various key factors of the accounts in question to determine a tactical, work effort prioritization.

What is the ARR of each account, when are they up for renewal, where in the criticality of their customer journey (deployment or usage) are they, are some of the factors to look at to determine which accounts to address first.

The CSM should also consider what their company’s requirements are (i.e. meeting revenue targets, customer referrals, etc.) and factor this into prioritization as well.

With all those aspects considered, a CSM would then simply work through the list of prioritized accounts accordingly, running activities in parallel where possible to engage with a number of accounts and involving others (management, cross-functional roles when appropriate, etc.) when the workload and time urgency demands more resources to help out.

That’s the tactical answer.

But it begs the question, is this scenario healthy and can it be improved?

Holistic Customer Approach

Ultimately a business wants to find itself in a situation where they are proactively managing customers so that at-risk accounts, NPS detractors and upsell opportunities are not things that “popup” in the quarter for a CSM to reactively manage.

Does the company have an operational model for dealing with NPS detractors immediately and resolving issues long before an account turns to at-risk?

Are CSMs (or AMs) strategically partnering with customers so that upsell opportunities are designed into the engagement model rather than an unexpected “win” like a lottery ticket?

When an organization understands the patterns of its most successful customers and uses their desire path to create an intelligent framework that leverages the aggregated understanding of the customer base to define the ideal manner in which to prescriptively manage customers to success, account prioritization is less likely to be about reactive work effort and more about proactive engagement.

Now that’s an effort to prioritize!

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