By Amin Akbarpour
In my last blog post I compared kicking off a new customer relationship to a first date, and covered some tips for how to make that new partnership a success. This time I want to talk about how to build on that relationship you started and provide value to your customers over time.
Providing Value in All of your Conversations
It takes more than time to go from casual dating to owning a dog together. It's your interactions together that get you from point A to point B. A key part of relationship-building is having high quality interactions. As customer success professionals we want to create as many of those as possible since that is what will help turn us from vendor reps to trusted business advisors. How do we do that? Through regularly scheduled, proactive outreach.
That just means picking up the phone or physically meeting your contacts with value-adding conversations. What is a value-adding conversation? You have to give them something to hang their hat on - a little nugget that allows them to see a good reason for and tangible value in your relationship. Sometimes that nugget will be directly related to the product or service you offer. Other times, it'll be unrelated to your business but relevant to your contact in some way. Just like you would if you were building on a dating relationship, you want to look for relevant topics of conversation that work toward growing the business relationship with your client.
Do you find it tough to start conversations with your contacts? You’re not alone. Here are some tips for low hanging fruit when it comes to looking for a reason to reach out to a client:
- Outstanding Issues: Do they have any tickets open with your technical support team? Any pressing needs or matters that you or another department have been tasked with? Go light a fire and see if you can give the client some positive news about the timeframe it'll be done in.
- Opportunities: Are they an expansion revenue target? Approach them about an opportunity to expand their business with you guys.
- Company Changes: Check their website to see if anything has changed. Did any of your contacts contribute to a new blog post? How about a webinar they did with a partner? Any tantalizing press releases? A new round of funding to congratulate them on? A few resources to use here: CrunchBase (subscribe to their email) and Google Alerts. Don't forget to follow them on social media too (leverage Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter across all clients.)
- Technology Data: Any usage statistics you log and keep internally could be used as a great conversation starter for better leveraging your tools. Do you use any Customer Success solutions? Think tools like Totango, Preact, and Bluenose.
- Your Own Notes: Don't forget to use your own conversation notes as a basis for another touch point. Did your contact mention their love for pugs and you discovered there’s a pug convention happening in their town? It might not directly correlate with the product/tool you sell but it helps advanced your relationship. Makes you personable and shows that you care and listen.
If you don't regularly take someone out on dates that are fun, refreshing, and equipped with enticing new conversation then you'll never push things beyond a casual surface level type of relationship. Chemistry and long-term compatibility aren't created and discovered in one date. It’s the same with your relationships with business contacts. Get creative and bring value to the table and you'll help transform your organization's brand.
Looking to turn your customer success team from weekend flings into long-term lovers? The Success League has the experience and track record to aid in that revamp!
Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who is grateful to still be able to call San Francisco his home.