A Review: Adding Value to Customer Interactions

By Kristen Hayer

This article was originally posted November 7, 2016. Still very relevant!

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CSMs who call clients to “just check in”.  Support reps who provide bare minimum answers to customer questions.  Implementation specialists who narrowly focus on product configuration.  What do they have in common?  They are squandering rare opportunities to add value to customer interactions.

If you take the time to do the math, you probably aren’t interacting with your customers as often as you think.  While your CSM team might be tasked with outreach to clients on a monthly or even weekly basis, how many of those calls end in a voicemail?  Are your clients really seeing the emails your company sends them?  True engagement with a client is less common than you would expect, so it is vital to make the most of each interaction.  It might be the only time you connect live with that customer for the next few months or even years.

One easy way to make the most of each customer interaction is to develop the habit of asking yourself, “What can I do to add value for this customer today?”  Doing this for every client, every time will result in huge benefits over time.  Customers will see you as proactive, rather than reactive, and someone who is a trusted advisor.  The next time they need help they will be more likely to reach out to you, rather than suffer in silence.  They will also get more value from your company, which will make them less likely to churn when renewal time rolls around.

So, what is adding value?  How do you make the most of each interaction?  Here are a few ideas:

SUGGEST BEST PRACTICES & NEW FEATURES

Most companies have a large base of clients who haven’t fully adopted their solution, or aren’t following best practices.  An inbound interaction (support call, product question) is a great opportunity to bring up new features or use cases that could improve the client’s experience.  Don’t worry if your suggestion isn’t directly related to the issue they called about.  Most customers will appreciate new ideas, and this can shift the tone of the conversation from negative to positive.

SHARE SUCCESS STORIES

Do you have some customers who are getting a lot of value from your product?  Take the time to find out what they are doing right and share their success with other clients.  Sometimes your marketing department will have already done the heavy lifting here, and you can take advantage of their customer story materials.  If not, don’t let that hold you back.  You can still (without revealing confidential details, of course) share success stories with customers who could benefit from those ideas.

SIGN CLIENTS UP FOR TRAINING & WEBINARS

Many organizations offer regular webinars, and some even have formal training programs for clients.  If you think a client could benefit from one of your webinars or training classes, don’t just send them the link:  Offer to sign them up.  Even if the training class has a fee associated with it, you can generally have that waived if you can demonstrate that it will result in the client sticking around.

LEVERAGE MARKETING RESOURCES

Chances are good that if you have a marketing team they are publishing or aggregating content somewhere on your company’s website.  Chances are also good that the majority of your clients have never taken the time to look at this content.  While some material is going to be geared toward prospects, you can usually find blog posts, white papers and articles that are relevant for current customers.  Take some time each week to look at what your marketing team is publishing, and share the good stuff with your clients.

HIGHLIGHT INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS & EVENTS

Very few professionals have or take the time to keep up with all the details of their industry.  If you carve out some time each week to review trade publications and websites, you can be an incredible resource for your customers.  Links to important or interesting articles, reminders about upcoming events, or discounted tickets are all valuable things to share.

The common thread here is going above and beyond for your customers.  If you treat each client interaction as a rare opportunity to add value, you’ll be rewarded with better relationships, loyal customers, and a boost to your career.  Choose one of these ideas to start with, and begin developing the habit of always adding value today.

Playbooks can help ensure that your CSMs provide value to customers at every stage in the customer lifecycle.  The Success League is a consulting firm that works with executives who are ready to build and develop a top performing customer success team.  We can help you build a playbook that drives a delightful client experience.   www.TheSuccessLeague.io