Keep it Epic with Contests

By Natalie Macks

I was at the opera over the weekend, appreciating the amazing performance and invariably thinking about customer success. All the work that goes into every little detail! Luckily my work history has been not quite as bloody as the SF opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor, but I definitely have those moments I remember. While opera can hardly still be accused of being an opiate of the masses, it has survived. And should live on in some form; these stories have been around for ages for a reason. 

Its the drama. It has the capacity to hook us. Whether you are in the spotlight or the audience, you are either engaged or put to sleep. Like it or not, your business is drama. In your team's head, your customer success objectives juggle time with other tasks like picking out a halloween costume, figuring out holiday plans, procuring the next caffeine/chocolate fix, not to mention the everyday demands of life and family. How do you keep your star players hitting their high notes and the supporting cast aiming for the stars? 

Orchestrate your team's role in the drama. Contests give you that opportunity, and actively fuel your company culture. Consider: What single activity or metric can your Success Team move the dial on? Get input from your team on how to make it happen. Chat with marketing about creating a mood. And then have fun and inspire folks to take the next right action with customers through a contest.  Here are some steps to make your contest both effective and memorable.

Act One - Set the Stage

Create an environment that draws attention to the theme. Decorate your team area overnight or over the weekend to kick things off. Leave a custom invite on your team member's desks. The invite should explain things like the rules and length of contest, but could also include a giveaway that ties into the contest. Fun swag provides a reminder of the contest and also gives the team something to talk about with friends from other groups.

Act Two - Keep Their Attention

Events will unfold. Give everyone the details with daily or weekly updates. Don’t be afraid to throw in a rule change if needed to keep things interesting. Here are some ideas for communicating with your team:

  • Create a themed email and use it for all contest updates
  • Have a public board with everyone’s progress that you update everyday
  • Include executives on weekly updates and any big wins 
  • Add pictures if possible

Act Three - Deliver Swift and High-Impact Rewards

Presentation is everything. Use rewards as a way to recognize top performers in front of the team. Perhaps the winner needs to choose a prize blindly, or their win for the day or week gives them a better chance at a bigger prize. Again, bring on the drama! Side note: Make sure that the value of the rewards are worth the amount of work you're asking from your team. 

Act Four - Wrap it Up

Deliver any grand prizes as soon as possible after the contest end date. If an event is part of your reward, make sure that it happens within a week or so. Avoid any temptation to reschedule as the reward will rapidly lose its impact. Keep a record of the contest results and any thing you’ve learned so that you can make your next contest even more epic!

Have you run a really successful contest for your customer success team? Share it with the group!  Need help building an engaged and motivated customer success team?  The Success League is a consulting firm that works with customer success leaders who want to unlock the retention and revenue potential in their team.

Natalie Macks - Natalie builds a culture of dedicated customer evangelists, as well as the systems and processes required for success.  Her award-winning leadership expertise coupled with integrity and passion produce increased customer retention and generate revenue.  With over 15 years in customer-facing roles, Natalie excels in bridging the gap between business technologies and the user experience.  She holds a BA in Zoology/Genetics from Michigan State University and resides in San Francisco, CA.