What Does Engagement Mean for the Customer?

In order to successfully engage a customer, you have to understand what engagement means to them. Running a QBR or sending a monthly email for a client just because you do that for all the others is the antithesis of Customer Success. The point of our role is to augment the value of the software with customized plans to help customers reach their goals. If you treat everyone exactly the same and ignore their specific needs, you will struggle to engage your client base.

During one of my first customer interactions at VS Networks, one of the main account contacts said, “I don’t need to meet and discuss the account very often but it’s important to me that I have somebody to call when there’s a problem.”

The feedback was extremely enlightening because it helped me realize that the planned level of outreach was likely going to annoy them. Our attempt at driving engagement would ultimately have driven them away. Most customers are not going to be that up front with their needs or may even lack the knowledge to know where their best interests lie. It’s up to you as the company and customer expert to read the cues and set them up for their version of success.

So how do you put these thoughts into action? Try thinking of 3-5 main categories of customers you help. If your marketing team has produced any personas, you can start there. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for each category and sketch out the right communication cadence. Next, using what you know about your book of business, put each customer into one of those buckets. Finally, as you talk to each one, walk them through your intended reach out plan to get buy-in or make any adjustments.

Once you’re operating in a world with customized communication schedules, your ongoing focus should be centered on delivering value. A client who continually gets what they need and has their time respected from you will remain the most engaged on a long term basis. Conversely, meetings that should have been emails or issues that took too long to solve will be remembered by customers well after they have happened. I know this is true because I have been tasked with managing a vendor relationship where the CSM was poor.

The kickoff call was him reading from a slide deck, implementation issues took multiple days to get addressed and he was unable to share any best practices for driving adoption of the software. In the last case, it was suggested we hop on a call to discuss, which clearly would not have been fruitful since there was no available information to share ahead of time. As a result, I opted not to have the call and had to figure out other adoption strategies.

Over the life of the contract, every time his name popped up in my inbox my default reaction became negative even before seeing the content of the newest email. The valueless calls and slow issue fixes ended up skewing my perception of the company and led to a recommendation not to renew.

As a CSM, you have the power to make or break the relationship with your customers. A declining relationship is often signaled by decreased engagement, so make sure you’re following the tips laid out in this article to keep them engaged:

  • Determine a communication plan and gain customer sign off
  • Make sure every customer touch point adds value

With set expectations and a focus on delivery, you’re ready to engage customers in a way that will prove beneficial for all.


Scott Berry is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Customer Success Podcast. He is currently the Director of Customer Success at VS Networks.

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