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Strategies to manage difficult situations with key customers

Rachael McBrearty, Alex, Ravi

May 5, 2022

The pandemic has taught us innovative ways to connect with key customers more than ever before. When an organization thinks about key customers, they also think about how we break down and understand how they serve them. Are key customers someone who brings in the share of revenue, someone who makes us more profitable?

Is it simply someone bringing in a share of recurring revenue, a level of profitability we have with them, or someone that also satisfies the following:

  1. Customer lifetime value

  2. Level of influence and/or authority in the market

  3. Number of referrals they make

  4. Level of alignment and commitment to shared partnership goals

Focusing on the key customer simply allows you to focus on your mission, vision, and products that will be the most influential to the overall success of your business. When we think about managing difficult situations of key customers, we try to anticipate what the challenges are. When we think of the customers, we think about them in a multifaceted way. We should also think about those key customers from a market segment perspective. We align with the customer's business process and help them set up their business rules. Every business or organization has to have a support team.

An organization always needs help from the support team, not just technical issues, but just support and questions. As we know B2B software support has evolved over the last course of years, so you have to be very closely working with your product and engineering teams as well as within the support. mean you have to respond very quickly and make sure that we're listening to customers and taking their feedback and pushing it into our product team so that they can prioritize.

Take some time to understand the business use case, for why the customer is requesting that feature in that functionality.  Once you get the best understanding of what exactly they're trying to accomplish, think about these implementations. Even if you can't accommodate it in the immediate future, you can at least get an understanding of what they want to do. Also letting the customer know we're on it, letting them know that it's been escalated to senior leadership is super important for them knowing that we're on it and that we care.

Another important factor is to Identify a broader customer requirement, when a lot of customers are reporting the same type of issues, the support team must understand what kind of tickets they are getting and why they are getting those tickets. When we do this proactively, doing that will bring up some of these things and will be helpful, this helps make your products better.

Top CX Metrics:

The first important metric is to do a CSAT survey for our support, and how our customers feel about the experience is super important.

The other is the Practical side of the business, the relationship between support issues and retention is also a factor, look at churn, we do say it is a result of not dealing with issues properly.

The third thing is for Employees, always keep the focus on a decent workload on the team. More shuffling, ups and downs in staffing due to any reason, also affects so one should be aware of these metrics and make sure that they are taking care of their employees.

Best way to measure churn – Customer churn is a SaaS business metric that measures the number of customers that any business loses over a fixed time.  Churn or retention is a very important part, and turn is not always attributed to lack of support necessary. We have to beat down deep in terms of what's causing the churn. There are several things that you have to look at in the churn to figure out why customers are turning. You can’t solve a customer churn problem until you’ve identified its source, so understanding Why You’re Losing Customers is an essential step.

Strategies for mitigating avoidable and the unavoidable

Avoidable and Unavoidable –There are other organizational challenges that people might have also that might result in churn, which we have no control over.  Work with a chart of avoidable and unavoidable things. So, one of the things is how much is avoidable and unavoidable. Avoidable is what we focus on because that is something we can control.  On the other hand, unavoidable are things that are beyond our control that are going to cause churns and that we have no control over.

Freemium Business Model – In this digitization era, we can see a new or transforming concept of B2B or B2C. Now organizations can customize the business to use their operations with different models, like the Freemium model. With this businesses can provide Free premiums for their customers, these basic features of the products would be provided by the organization which helps customers to understand the effectiveness and quality of products or services.  Once the customer downloads the product or starts using the services, determine the level of help that can be given to this customer to make sure that they're able to use it. Work on the backend, and send them information about the product or service or other help.

Companies measure how much a customer wants services. When the customer evaluates products, they must see how much knowledge there is here. Finding information by hand, or self-help is more appreciated by the customers. The company should be more proactive, and able to identify the most important information that should be provided to them. So, the challenge for the companies is to be able to identify. what they need to provide to their customers more in a more proactive manner, whether it's to our knowledge center or whether companies are approaching them. So that is where the most supported model is evolving.

Companies use all of the interactions and use the data to bring out the escalations. if a company sees an issue, starting to happen to be able to get in front of that, if it's something that's not new that starts to impact certain customers who have certain setups. In SAAS, it’s much easier to remotely monitor what the customer is doing. It is leveraging your solutions for the right and from a support perspective in terms of monitoring escalations. It's keeping a pulse on what sort of issues we're seeing, how frequently they're occurring and what types of subjects matter to those tickets that are coming in from these. Customers are concerned if we see a trend where a certain question is being asked more than once will surface in our CSM. Companies should escalate that and make sure they get what they need from a wider product operation perspective.   It's also keeping an eye out for critical operations that are ongoing and may be affected by issues that come up. Also think sometimes about how we work with our customers, how we alert them, how we communicate with customers when we communicate, we're just not bothering them every single time, make sure that they're not overwhelmed, we have to keep that in mind that we are not the only vendor they're dealing with.

Companies also focus on the training they are offering for people to deal with very difficult conversations and difficult scenarios.  When a customer is upset and frustrated with an issue that they gauge is severe and critical, even if that's not the actual understanding from the support team in terms of product knowledge, Maybe it's not that severe in terms of how to fix it. But it feels like a major issue to the customer. be ready to empathize with their needs, understand their needs, but also be able to address them in a way where you understand their concern but still move them forward. make sure that your employees for troubleshooting are fully well versed on how to troubleshoot the product, and how to look into specific pieces of features. At the same time. They have to also be aware of when the threshold is to escalate an issue. Another thing that is also important in training is getting the motion down where a support agent can gather as much information about the issue as possible.  Before jumping on a call with a customer. Should never jump on a call with a customer half-cocked or half prepared because that is not going to be a good customer experience.

Believe in transparency, always let the customers know what the truth is, that's not hiding behind the trees. The team has to be transparent with the customers. The other thing that is very critical is it's a white box approach.  Which means the customer needs to know what’s going on? Sometimes customers are not worried about or don't get annoyed by the ladle resolution, but they get annoyed because they don't know how you're resolving the issue. Customers want to know the root cause, so the support team should help and tell them about the issue and resolve the investigation process.

So as we get more digital as we get smarter than able to serve up answers digitally, that has a huge opportunity to create raving fans with support.

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