May 13, 2020

Issue #3: Scaling a right-touch customer experience model

Chris Hicken By Chris Hicken
CEO at Nuffsaid
scaling-a-customer-experience-model

From an interview with:

jenniferdearman-pendo

One of the first pieces of thought leadership around Customer Success that came out was that “you can’t treat all customers the same.” You have to segment on something. 

 

That’s true of course, but unfortunately some companies focus solely on the high-touch experience. And frankly, I get it. It’s easier. Fewer customers; more love. It’s much harder to touch customers at scale.

 

I’m a proponent of creating a model that affects all customers at the same time, instead of just focusing on or starting with one segment. I also don’t believe that customers should be segmented solely based on ARR—when I joined Pendo, we created a segmentation strategy that has an ARR threshold but also heavily accounts for customer preferences (some customers prefer self-service and don’t want a regular 1:1 with a CSM) and growth potential (some customers, even enterprise, aren’t expected to expand). 

 

That’s how Pendo Neighborhood was born. It’s a fully digital experience for customers to get the resources they need, stay close to the product, and be part of a community. One notable difference between ours and most customer communities: the Neighborhood has CSMs specifically dedicated to support customers in this experience. 

 

The Neighborhood delivers a high-quality experience for customers and continues to maintain far above average renewal rates. That’s true whatever the customer size, but the experience is particularly impactful for small customers. Small customers are unique in that they can get a lot of synergy from each other in terms of how to leverage your product. Putting those customers together and creating a forum for them is important. 

 

Creating a scale program that retains high renewal rates isn’t just a nice-to-have either. It’s table stakes for a customer success program. Small customers tend to be the first to churn.

 

So, how can others create a scale program like the Pendo Neighborhood? Here’s some advice:

  1. Start now and iterate: There’s no shame in starting small. If you try to wait until you have all the building blocks in place, you’ll never launch anything. 
  2. Hosting: Pendo Neighborhood started out as a Slack channel with a few CSMs dedicated to supporting customers in that experience. Questions get repeated all the time, and you can’t store answers in Slack but it was a great starting point. The experience is now moving to be hosted on Zendesk. Zendesk is our support platform, but we have the Enterprise package and it has the ability to build community forums. 
  3. Have dedicated CSMs to this experience: This can be a real differentiator. It allows customers to have on-demand access to a human. Customers can also file support tickets right within the Neighborhood. As for support questions, we have a support team, but oftentimes customer questions get answered by other customers since it’s a community forum. 
  4. Make resources around their jobs to be done easily to access: We’ve built out an in-app onboarding experience and targeted in-app and email guidance around use cases. We’ve also focused on making sure our help center is robust. Ours is highly searchable and easy to access since it also lives in the Neighborhood. 

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The top articles this week: 

This week's newsletter features posts on: 

  • Capacity Planning
  • Ways for Leaders to Build Resilience
  • Fixing the "Overselling" Problem 
  • Mistakes New Managers Often Make

 

 

CAPACITY PLANNING

Customer Success Capacity Planning Calculator

If you’ve ever asked, “How many CSMs do we need to give our customers their Appropriate Experience (AX)?” You’ll find this calculator and framework from Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures helpful as a starting point for managing a team’s workload. 

Read the full post

 

LEADERSHIP

4 Ways for Leaders to Build Resilience

Here’s Alex Shootman, CEO at Workfront, with a concise but powerful piece on responding to the current crisis with empathy and vulnerability. It’s peppered with wisdom such as, “You need to see yourself on the other side of this crisis,” “take the time to reflect and hold a debrief... There will be lessons to learn from your organization’s response to Covid-19,” and more.

Read the full post

 

STRATEGY

COVID-19 Causing Sales to Oversell? It's the Success Leader's Problem to Fix

When “bad deals” are being closed, it’s easy to point a finger at sales and say they're lying and overselling. But the reality is, if bad deals are happening, it's the Customer Success leader’s responsibility to solve. Here’s how to diagnose and repair the problems that lead to bad deals. 

Read the full post

 

CAREER

9 Leadership Mistakes New Managers Often Make

Here’s a quick list of “don’ts” from Claire Lew, CEO at Know Your Team—written for new managers but applicable to leaders at any level. See timely reminders such as, “You think your team members generally know what’s going on,” “You think you communicate the vision in your team well,” and “You sort of prepare for your one-on-ones.”

Read the full post