So, the sales guys got the contract signed. Hooray! Now is the time to make sure that the client experience is positive and you build a lasting relationship.
Get to know your customer’s business inside and out. This means taking a deep dive into their business model, understanding the pain points and the main KPIs that drive the business and getting a feel for how the client likes to conduct their business. Are they dynamic and fast moving? Are they bogged down in their own bureaucracy (or as I like to all it “bureau crazy”)? Follow their social media accounts, sign up for their email newsletters, create a Google alert for the company and important competitors so you are always on top of information that may affect the client and a profile of your client’s target persona. Who are they? What are their needs? What’s the value proposition of the company’s product to a potential customer?
Once you are steeped in the business of the client and their target customer create a roadmap of how you are going to achieve success for the customer. What are the 3 month, 6 month and 1 year targets for success? What are the concrete steps that will be taken to achieve that success? Once you have a good understanding of the path forward, you will need to review this roadmap with your customer to make sure it aligns with their needs and does not undershoot or overshoot their expectations.
The old chestnut that it’s not what you know but who you know is as applicable today as it ever was. The personal relationships you build with clients will go a long way to continuing your business relationships as well. It’s all about building trust and providing value. Remember that Google alert for your client’s business and their competitors? That will come in handy here. As you move forward with the account, letting the client know that you are on top of developments in their industry will help build trust and provide value. If your point of contact is a mid-level manager try and get meetings with upper level managers (the folks who sign the contracts) and come prepared to those meetings with something of value to the customer. Always keep on top of what’s happening in your industry as it might apply to your client’s success. Is there a new product or service that might be of use to them? Can your services be intertwined with that new development and add even more value to the client engagement? Most importantly, take accountability for when things go wrong. Things will go wrong, mistakes happen, as long as you have established that trust relationship and you own up to the mistake most clients will forgive your transgressions.
Reports, reports, reports. If you have a track record of success with the customer make sure to document it in a visually appealing way that can be understood by a busy senior management person in a few minutes. I like to create presentations that have quick summaries of the value that has been brought to the relationship, and then more detailed slides that get into the nuts and bolts of what exactly happened in the engagement to allay any fears of your client that you are not paying attention to detail.
If you are the customer success manager it is your job to make sure that all the other areas of the business are aware of client activity. Sales and operations teams need to know what’s going on so they can add their value to the relationship. Every week a client review meeting should take place where client happiness, project progression and any and all client engagement is discussed. This meeting is also a great time to discuss future opportunities with the customer. Is there something that’s being worked on that might provide value or cross sell or upsell? Who do we know inside the customer’s organization that might find these services of value? When the lines of communication are open inside a SaaS or other client facing business the chances of success are much greater.