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“The art of being a great Customer Success Manager (CSM) is telling your customers that they’re wrong and having them LOVE you for it.”

  • LM

    Lincoln Murphy

    over 4 years ago #

    When it comes to customers... Trust. Is. Everything.

    Telling a customer who's not a good fit for your product that they're not a good fit is awesome. You'll probably end-up generating more revenue (hard to quantify I suppose, but go with me here) by telling a customer who's not a good fit the truth (because they'll tell people that, some of those people will become your customers and maybe that person will come back when they are a good fit) then you would by accepting them and keeping them for a few months until they churn.

    Or as @ddelimar mentioned... you might just get a customer for life by doing what's best for them even if it's not something that will benefit you short-term.

    The article this thread is based on was all about pushing back on the customer to get them to do the thing that's right for them... and sometimes that includes telling them they're not a good fit for what you sell. Requires you to get out of your own way, take the ego hit, and do what's right for the customer.

    Now, onto the question @scottowades asked...

    I'd turn it around and ask what "spending more than they need" means?

    If you have people not using your product at all but are paying you for it - and you're feeling guilty about it - I've talked about that before here:
    http://sixteenventures.com/saas-customer-success-zombie-customers

    Now, if they're paying for features they're not using, that's different and there are a couple of ways to look at it.

    If it's an add-on piece of functionality that they're paying for or seats/licenses that are going unused, that could be bad.

    Or it could be fine... perhaps they plan to use them and want to ensure access to those as soon as they're ready. Maybe they decided to include it in the contract or to buy it when they had the opportunity internally, knowing that when they actually need it they may not have the budget/authority to make that happen.

    Good Customer Success Managers will have that context and know whether it's a good or bad thing. But even without a formal Customer Success organization, talking to your customers (at least the ones like this) might help in learning about their situation. Many people want to hide from customers, though, lest they remember that they're paying us - which seemed to be what @aurelie-chazal was alluding to - and stop... that's just a really bad way of doing business in my not-so-humble opinion.

    If there are simply features within the core product that the customer is not using, you could feel like they're paying for more than they're using... or you could know that they're getting value that's congruent with their current lifecycle phase a customer, their maturity as a business, the market they serve, etc. and not worry about. Again, context is everything.

    Frankly, companies over-engineer and build features few people use and then worry when people don't use them. But when you look into it, you realize those features were created because of only one or a few customers... or by the vendor on a whim. In other words, they aren't needed to reach the Desired Outcome for the majority of customers so they aren't going to be used by... the majority of customers.

    That, BTW, is a great way to segment features... look for those used by the few and carve those out as add-ons or to be included in the higher pricing tiers.

    If it's not that they're underutilizing the system, maybe it's just you.

    That all said, sometimes we just undervalue what we do for the customer and feel like we're charging too much.

    This happens primarily because we don't actually 1) understand the customer's Desired Outcome and 2) don't know if they're achieving - or on their way to achieving - that.

    Once you realize how your product or service is delivering value to your customers, you'll probably start to think you're actually underpricing your stuff!

  • SO

    Scott Owades

    over 4 years ago #

    Love this. I just spent the afternoon working on upselling customers who ordered the wrong product. Who would have thought that emails that basically say "Spend more money" are met with a "Thank you!!!!!"?

    My question is: what is your outlook on telling the customer that they're wrong when they're spending MORE money than they need to on your service?

    • AC

      Aurelie Chazal

      over 4 years ago #

      I'd love to see an answer to this question too. I feel like it happens quite a lot in SaaS where customers go with a plan that's way above their needs.
      Honestly, I feel that in most situations it would be counterproductive to say anything, as long as they are happy with their choice and the product.

    • DD

      Dom Delimar

      over 4 years ago #

      If they're spending more than they need, and if you position yourself as somebody who helped them even against your own obvious interest, you may just gain a customer for life, no matter what you'll be offering in the future.

      And it may just happen they don't listen to you but still remember what you did for them.

      It's hard to give a cookie cutter advice here, it always depends on the situation, but I'd at least it try with some customers and see how it goes.

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