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Creating Engaged Customers and Product Champions

What’s the difference between knowing how to drive an old Ford Pinto around the block and winning a Formula One race?

Training, practice, and the right tools.

It’s the same with the engagement process of the customer journey.

If the initial adoption and training was giving customers the keys to the car and getting them set up with the system, then engagement is teaching them how to win the race. That means leveraging training and the technology to reach their desired outcome.

Engagement is the most crucial part of the customer journey and your chance to create a champion of your product or service for life.

When you win at engagement, renewal is all but guaranteed.

But too often companies and CS teams take a backseat approach to engagement and miss the chance to build powerful relationships that turn their customers into power users.

Here’s how to win at engagement:

Why Engagement Matters

The goal of engagement is to turn customers into masters of your product or service through repeated training and use. Truly engaged customers are connected with the product in a way that meets their unique (and changing) objectives.

Engagement is the most crucial part of the customer journey because it determines if your customer uses your products or services well enoug to get the full value and meet their objectives. When customers are engaged and see the product’s full value, they become loyal to your company. But when they aren’t maximizing what the product is designed to do, they are more likely to leave your company to try something new.

The clock starts moving on engagement as soon as customers reach their first value with the product or are completely set up with the software. Ideally, engagement should be complete, meaning the customer is meeting their objectives using your products or services, 30 to 60 days before renewal.

Engagement Requires a Proactive Plan

Engagement is a vital part of the customer journey because it provides CS teams with incredible opportunities to showcase their product and build lasting relationships with loyal customers. But the flip side is that when companies don’t win at engagement, they can lose potentially valuable customers.

The biggest threat to a successful engagement is having a hands-off mindset. You wouldn’t give someone the keys to a racecar and then ask them to let you know if they have any problems. You would provide the resources and training they need to understand the car. You would walk through the basic driving and safety features as well as the next-level features that will help them win the race.

Too often companies fall into the monitor mentality and give customers the keys with no other training. They invest heavily in the implementation and adoption phases and then back off at engagement. Instead of actively reaching out to the customer with training and resources, they become the support function and wait for the customer to have a problem.

Active engagement requires CS teams to have a proactive mindset and a comprehensive plan to serve customers. Engagement can’t be reactive or passive.

Successful engagement takes time and continual effort to ensure customers understand how to best use your solutions and use it to reach their goals. It requires staying in contact with customers and building solid relationships to continually learn and improve the value your customers are receiving.

Have a Scalable Plan

To win at engagement, you have to identify the features your customer must master to become a power user. Walking them through those features requires creating a strategic, scalable plan. Going into engagement without a plan is like taking a drive without a map or GPS. You’re much more likely to get lost and miss out on great views and opportunities because you’re too busy figuring out where to go.

A strategic plan requires proactive outreach, training, and awareness. CSMs need to religiously track metrics and analytics of a customer’s progress towards their goals and review the progress in monthly or quarterly meetings and trainings. Engagement isn’t a one-sided event from either the customer or the CSM — it requires communication, effort, and evaluation from both sides to make sure the customer is progressing towards the full value of your solution.

Researchers at McKinsey put it this way: “To unlock maximum value, companies need to address every opportunity to improve productivity while delivering a better service experience.”

A large part of staying in contact with customers, and scaling this effort, is through automated communication. Automated messages that share a new feature of the service or touch base with a customer help CS teams stay on top of their relationships and foster a proactive mindset.

Today, in many companies, these engagement messages are typically driven by the customer marketing group and are not strategically placed within the customer’s journey. They are often sent as a single “blast” and don’t take into consideration the context of where the customer is in the journey. CSMs are often running blind because they don’t know the marketing messages customers receive. To leverage the power of automated communication, CS teams need to have visibility and control into the messages customers are receiving. Combining customer marketing communications with the CSMs efforts creates a personalized engagement map that shows where the customer has been and the path they should take.

Create a Champion

The ultimate goal of engagement is to create a power user of your product. That naturally happens as you move through the first-year customer journey with a proactive plan. As customers transition seamlessly from implementation to adoption and engagement into renewal, they can build a relationship and see the product’s total value.

A customer accomplishes engagement when they relize your soluitons full value and are engaged and meeting the objectives they set when they first signed with your company.

When you win at engagement, the next step of renewal is the natural outcome. When you develop customers who leverage your product, they’ll never leave you. That’s why engagement is so critical. When you create champions, you create long-term customers who are equipped to win with ease.

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Greg Lloyd

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