Building A Better Customer Relationship Management Strategy

Last verified Sep 23, 2021

Happy customers, happy life – that’s the saying, right? Yesterday I co-hosted a webinar dedicated to customer happiness alongside Sarah Sheikh, head of customer success at Front. Sarah and I chatted through our top eight rules for customer experience teams to follow to keep customers happy and loyal. Check out a recording of the webinar below:

Or, if you just want a quick recap of what we covered, here are our eight rules:

1. Speak the customer’s language

It's easy to get swept up in the terminology your company uses internally, but your customers may not be familiar with the phrases or acronyms that are specific to your industry or organization. Cut the jargon and use the terms that are part of your customer’s vernacular. Being familiar with your customers' websites and the common phrases they use can also help you communicate more effectively.

2. Embody the champion you want your customer to become

Walk the talk. If your CX team is jazzed about your product, your customers will be too. A huge part of being in a customer-facing role is getting end users excited about your product and demonstrating its value. Being excited to talk about your product and its outcomes will transcend through your customer conversations and catch on within their organization, making enthusiasm for your product contagious.

3. Lead with your core values

Your company likely spent a lot of time constructing its core values, and they are important to your culture. You should embody those values not only internally, but also externally. Respect those values and act with integrity when interacting with customers. For example, both Guru and Front include transparency as a core value, so we both strive to be as transparent as possible when speaking with our customers.

4. Don’t just manage customer relationships, invest in them

Whenever you're working with customers, remember that they are also people. Get to know them on a personal level and grow those relationships like you would a friendship. The better you know a customer, the more effectively you can communicate with them and foster a strong connection.

5. Share customer feedback with your entire team

Customer feedback is a great reminder for your internal team of the impact the CX team is making. At Guru, we reinforce the idea that we are a customer-centric culture and building a customer-centric product, so customer feedback is important to all of us. We share feedback in a public Slack channel so that everyone can see it and contribute to creating a better product.

6. Close the loop on customer feedback

Close the loop, but actually do it. Oftentimes, customers submit feedback or fill out an NPS and then get crickets. When someone takes the time to share their thoughts about the product and those thoughts have an impact on the next iteration of your offering, let them know! It's a small effort that delights customers.

7. Think strategically about the customer’s future

You are in a unique position to help customers think strategically, because as CX professional, you may have experience with some of the challenges they're facing via other accounts. If you have seen that companies of a certain size in a certain industry often face the same hurdles in their first 30/60/90 days, offer your insights up proactively. If you can use your experience and anticipate the future needs of your customers, you can help guide them through periods of growth.

8. Be outcome-oriented

Spend time focusing not only on what your product is and what it can do for someone, but on what outcomes you want to aim for. Think about which of your customers' broader goals are related to your solution and aim to help them achieve them.

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Many of you asked awesome questions over the course of the webinar. Here are the ones we answered live:

How do you empower your teams to invest in customer relationships with accounts that have multiple contacts, especially when new contacts or stakeholders are introduced?

Front: You don't always know when new people join the customer teams, so try your best to monitor big changes at the executive level in those companies, and then reach out proactively to figure out how you can engage with that new leader. It's hard to do at scale, but building out a bit of a customer org chart can help you stay up to date with their team structure.

Guru: One of the first things we try to do with our champions is figure out who their boss and their boss's boss is, and then determine what those people care about. Because if you want to empower your customers to show value internally, you need to know what "value" means to different stakeholders. 

What is the best way to manage the passover to a new team member post-sale that doesn't bring unease to the customer?

Guru: We try to make sure that the sales-to-CS handoff conversation takes place before the sale is even finalized, and we often bring CS team members into the final phases of a deal so that the prospect can meet who will be managing their account. In terms of account transitions internally, when handing an account off from one CS team member to another, we try to make that transition as smooth as possible with a standardized template. We aim to do it in person and give the customer fun facts about their new CSM so they can get to know them and feel comfortable with them quickly.

Front: Explain the breakdown between people. If customers will interact with a salesperson, an implementation specialist, and then a customer success manager within their first 90 days, walk them through those different phases and be upfront about when those transitions will occur. Showing customers that you're a tight internal community, maybe even sitting near each other, also helps.

How do you keep company morale up around the office when things are busy or tough?

Front: Don't sugarcoat things. If there is a down time in the organization, acknowledge it! You hired these people because they want and can handle the truth, so if there is an elephant in the room, acknowledge it and share the plan to remove it.

Guru: That, and shine a light on people who are working hard. Let the rest of the team know that a certain person has accomplished something. We share new customer success wins with the entire company to give some credit to our CX teams after successful implementations.

What is the top metric for your team?

Guru: The #1 thing for our success team is adoption of the Guru product. We want to see the entire team that has access to Guru actually engaging with it and finding value in the product. This is a quick determinant to see if an account needs more love or another nudge.

Front: We also know that there are critical features that deliver success, so we look closely at which features accounts use. We also look at how often they're on the platform and how they're engaging with it.