Customer Success Hinges on a Proactive Approach. Here’s How These Pros Adopt One.

Why getting ahead of customer needs is foundational to a strong, value-driven relationship.
May 12, 2021Updated: May 12, 2021

Accommodating — and exceeding — customer needs is vital for any customer success professional. Forecasting and preparing for what could be bubbling up on the horizon, versus simply navigating the real-time movements of a relationship in a reactive manner, can help take their experience to the next level while providing value and bolstering the relationship along the way.

Sometimes, that can entail a strategic initiative: For example, Colin Fritz, relationship manager at NextCapital, said that “joint business planning sessions” are useful tools for gaining alignment with customers’ priorities, helping to put the fintech company in the position to be proactive when it comes to forecasting needs.
 

healthjoy team members working together
Healthjoy


Conversely, it can be a routine like that of HealthJoy Customer Success Lead Haley Tessaro, who allots a portion of each morning to figure out the day’s must-dos. “Unexpected things are always going to pop up, but by identifying what my priorities are at the beginning of each day, I know what I absolutely will get done and deliver on for my clients,” she said.

A particularly useful practice when endeavoring to be proactive? Engaging with and leveraging data, which can be particularly telling about a customer’s behavior and potential areas of need.

“At the end of the day, the data is telling us a story about how our clients are using our system to achieve their business outcomes which is critical to our functioning,” Alexandra Corcoran, senior customer success team lead at Yello, said.

Below, the trio of professionals shared with Built In Chicago how they approach customer success with a proactive mindset. 

 

Alexandra Corcoran
Senior Customer Success Team Lead

Writing down priorities and embracing collaboration are all major factors in how Alexandra Corcoran, senior customer success team lead at talent acquisition and recruitment platform Yello, gets ahead of customer needs that could come up.

 

Whats one personal habit youve adopted thats helped you be more proactive as a CSM?

I have a notebook where I list out my priorities for each client for the week. I highlight each client’s name and the action items I need to get done for them in that five-day period. I also have a whiteboard above my desk that lists out all of the business reviews I need to get done in a given quarter, as well as any clients up for renewal in the current quarter and the following quarter. I am a tactile person, so having these physical reminders, in addition to leaning heavily on Salesforce (our company’s single source of truth) and Google Calendar, help me really stay on top of things. Plus, I am a big believer in the theory that committing something to paper with pen commits it to memory.

 

What role does data play in helping you and your team be more proactive in your approach to customer success?

Data is critical to our success. Whether we are monitoring something as simple as how often clients are logging in and out of their account or keeping track of client metrics, data tells a story about how the client is deriving value from our system and what we should be honing in on to improve their experience. We also work closely with our clients to review their data in quarterly business reviews (working with recruiters, it’s things like the number of candidates met, engaged, hired, etc.) and monitor progress and make sure things are trending in the right direction. At the end of the day, the data is telling us a story about how our clients are using our system to achieve their business outcomes, which is critical to our functioning.
 

We have a great culture of inter-team and inter-departmental collaboration to help ensure that we are helping our clients succeed.”


As a team, whats a system or strategy youve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

At Yello, most things involving clients are a team effort. While the customer success team is most often the face of the company, we have a great culture of inter-team and inter-departmental collaboration to help ensure that we are helping our clients succeed.

As far as getting in front of potential issues, we have a monthly meeting with our leadership team to discuss any accounts that might be at risk based on any number of factors, and we strategize together on how to move forward. Sometimes it means looping in the engineering team to look at a feature request; sometimes it means having one of our executives hop on a call to develop a relationship with a client to give them some extra attention. It is incredibly useful to have not only leadership’s input but voices from different teams and departments to help us see challenges from a different perspective.

 

Haley Tessaro
Senior Customer Success Manager

It’s not just one team that can play a role in satisfying customers. At healthtech outfit HealthJoy, for example, the customer success team works in tandem with the data team on generating a “Customer Health Scorecard,” which can then inform subsequent choices pursued by the product team, Customer Success Lead Haley Tessaro said.

 

Whats one personal habit youve adopted thats helped you be more proactive as a CSM?

I take 30 minutes each morning to review and prioritize my action items for the day. Unexpected things are always going to pop up, but by identifying what my priorities are at the beginning of each day, I know what I absolutely will get done and deliver on for my clients.

 

What role does data play in helping you and your team be more proactive in your approach to customer success?

We work very closely with the data team here to quantitatively understand the customer lifecycle. Based on certain client characteristics, we are able to project benchmarks for important client metrics. These benchmarks help us determine if a client is meaningfully lagging behind their targets well before they are actually short of them. As a result, we are able to act early to help keep a client happy and on the right path to success.
 

We work very closely with the data team here to quantitatively understand the customer lifecycle.”


As a team, what’s a system or strategy you’ve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

The customer success team at HealthJoy leverages Gainsight, a CRM software to help manage our customer lifecycle. With the support of our data team, we are able to take into account a broad spectrum of quantitative and qualitative input to create a “Customer Health Scorecard” to help identify potential clients at risk. This allows us to get ahead of future issues and capitalize on opportunities with our product team, identifying new features and products that could drive more value.

 

Colin Fritz
Relationship Manager

NextCapital values customer feedback on the fintech company’s roadmap. But, as Relationship Manager Colin Fritz said, it can also put the organization in a “position of reactivity.” Accordingly, the aforementioned “joint business planning sessions” have been a useful tool in charting future paths of success.

 

Whats one personal habit youve adopted thats helped you be more proactive as a CSM?

We have spent a lot of time with our customers listening to their asks and getting their input on our product roadmaps. All of that is insightful for relationship building, but it can foster a position of reactivity and feeling that we need to respond to, and even address, all of their wishes. Recently, we’ve introduced joint business planning sessions with our customers to align on shared goals and outcomes. In those, we’ve made space to lay out our strategic priorities and our key areas of investment as a way to balance the conversation and provide an opportunity to align to outcomes, rather than specific feature requests. This has the knock-on effect of reinforcing our mission and inspiring both teams to keep innovating.

 

What role does data play in helping you and your team be more proactive in your approach to customer success?

Like most customer success teams, we know long-term success work kicks in after our customers’ initial launch. For us, insights into plan adoption, participant engagement and patterns in success (and misses) within partner channels and across our customers provide valuable insights into how we support our customers’ go-to-market and ongoing adoption tactics. To do that, we have to be deliberate and prescriptive in partnering with our customers on how they bring solutions to market, understanding the keys to channel and participant engagement.

Once a solution is launched within a customer channel, we leverage standard marketing conversion metrics, as well as plan performance across customer solution portfolios, to inform where to lean in and where to pull back. Data also plays a key role in compiling business cases. These business cases help dictate our roadmap and identify new features that lead to cost savings, added efficiencies and additional revenue streams both for our customers and ourselves.
 

Like most customer success teams, we know long-term success work kicks in after our customers’ initial launch.”


As a team, what’s a system or strategy you’ve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

At NextCapital, customer success grew from an alignment of our relationship managers, project managers and engagement services teams. Our “issues” are less centered on support-related issues and more about staying ahead of “go-to-market” and ongoing adoption success.

Specifically, that means analyzing plan adoption rates with customers and, where we are engaged in active marketing and participant adoption campaigns with our customers, looking at conversion data and usage metrics to see where participants are engaging or dropping out of the enrollment experience. Leveraging data from past campaigns, we’ve identified the most impactful levers for adoption across the participant experience — which often is less about content and more about the overall workflow and friction points — and use that insight to help our partners key in on areas of investment and attention and, similarly, pull back on areas that aren’t yet set up for success.

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