What are the main differences between 1:1 and 1:many customer success management?

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Q: What are the main differences between 1:1 and 1:many customer success management?

The big difference between the two types of Customer Success strategies is probably specificity. When you are working with a customer 1:1 you are going to be specific in how to help them, how to solve their specific problem, but when you communicate with large groups of customers, you have to elevate the content a bit to make sure it applies. Even customers with the same use case may take a different approach.

When I was a CSM I managed Enterprise customers, I had the privilege to support brands like Oracle, Aetna, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc. When I engaged these customers I came prepared to discuss their specific partnership needs, train and enable their teams, cover industry trends, etc. This required me to have a deep and intimate level of understanding about their product, their customers, their strategy, how they used our software, business goals, partnership goals … you get it; I needed to know everything so I could provide them with the level of strategic support they needed.

I’ve managed teams of CSMs who are not able to go as deep or spend as much time, and that is ok. Their support might not be as specific but they were always providing value. When it comes to managing the masses, you just need to be clear in how value is being defined.

Now if you really just wanted a quick list of the difference between the two, here are my top 3:

  1. Time Allocation
  2. Strategic Alignment
  3. Relationship Development

Want to get advice from CS Insider and Kristi Faltorusso?

  • Send your questions for publication here. (questions may be edited.)

Q: If you’re a CSM of a SMB business with a lot of clients, how do you give the time to each? Also, email merges are never successful for me…do you have any key tips to be more successful with emails?

Scale CS, Tech Touch, Omni Channel CS, etc… whatever you call it, it’s definitely a hot topic as companies try to do a lot more with less. The first thing I would say is to make sure you are very clear on the engagement model and metrics that your leadership has put in place so that your effort is aligned. This isn’t just about giving time, it’s using the time that you have in the best way possible to help your customers achieve their goals.

Here is how I’ve advised my teams to support their longtail customers.

  1. Map out the journey and experience you want for your customers, including timing, outcomes, etc. This is critical as a first step because if you don’t take the time to think about the entire strategy or big picture, you are simply doing activities and those might not be the right things to do at that time.
  2. Come up with your delivery mechanism; while some things can be in email, perhaps other things are better suited to be a video call or even webinar or loom. You have to think about the message and determine the best way to deliver that
  3. Determine your outcomes! Don’t be a box checker. If you are doing something for your customer, hopefully, it's because you want to help THEM do something. Make sure you have the ability to track their actions and that they are the correct things. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
  4. Collect feedback from them early and often. Make sure to find out what is working and what is not. Keep modifying your approach to deliver exactly what your customers need.

Now I didn’t intentionally avoid answering your question about mail merges, but I thought it was important to elevate the question a bit and ensure you are thinking about the work you are doing more strategically and considering what would be the best experience for them given your limited time allocation. One last piece of advice I’d offer here is to connect with your Marketing team. I am sure they have a lot of insight on what works and what doesn’t when it comes down to emailing your customers.

Q: When applying for a job, what are great CS work-related projects to do for a hiring manager?

If you are referring to projects that a candidate can complete during the interview process, one of the assignments that I assign to people is to develop a strategy for their “book of customers”. I usually give them a list of 10 “Customers” along with a few data points like ARR, Renewal Date, Account Health, and a scenario and I have them present to me how they would prioritize their book of business based on this information. I love this because it allows me to see how they think and use data. I have a few rules:

  • Their presentation deck must be 10 slides or less.
  • They must present in under 30 minutes and that includes kicking off and Q&A.
  • Along with prioritizing the data, they also must present a strong plan of action.

In this exercise, I can see how the candidate thinks and how they prioritize. Along with that, I get a glimpse into their ability to execute typical CS strategies, their presentation style, and their ability to stay on time. I know there are some folks that ask candidates to execute a mock QBR or something of that nature but I personally never felt that I had learned enough about the candidate through this approach.

For leaders, I have a different assignment. I usually give them 3-5 priorities, think OKR style, and I ask them to develop a strategy and how would they execute. Again, this helps me understand how they think, and is usually a good indicator of what to expect from them if/when they come on board.

Overall I am a huge fan of a presentation or exercise as part of the CS interview process. The candidates that REALLY want the opportunity, almost always knock it out of the park.

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