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Enhancing CSM Communication: A Three-Step Approach

As a CSM, approximately 40% of your efforts go into managing tasks behind the scenes. Fortunately, in today's world, we have an array of tools at our disposal to assist in creating playbooks, tracking deliverables, sharing updates via client dashboards, and managing issues like escalating client tickets or long-pending enhancements. However, having all this information is only valuable if you can deliver it effectively, in a structured and audience-oriented manner. 

 

CSMs often find themselves inundated with calls, aiming to balance efficiency and effectiveness, while relying on tools designed to streamline their work. They must master the art of fostering value-based relationships by delivering results and essential information, all while maintaining control of the call, comprehending client requirements, and steering conversations and projects in the right direction, call after call. The challenge lies in deftly managing these responsibilities, ensuring a seamless flow of information, and addressing client needs. In this blog post, our goal is to assist you in creating more structured and efficient calls, enabling you to adeptly navigate these challenges.


 

Before the Call:
 

  1. Leverage Customer Data: Make the most of available customer data to personalize your approach. Understand their past interactions, product usage, preferences, and pain points to help tailor your conversation. Anticipate potential questions that may arise during the call and prepare for them. Keeping a list of questions, icebreakers, and case studies handy can be particularly helpful.
     

  2. Make Notes: Create a structured outline or notes to guide your conversation, but don't rely on reading from them verbatim. 
     

  3. Agenda and Goals:  Establish a clear agenda and, even better, share it with the client before the call. Ensure you have well-defined goals for what you aim to achieve during the call.
     

  4. Dress for the Occasion and Tidy Yourself: Ensure you are professionally dressed and your physical environment is clean and presentable. 
     

  5. Arrange the Environment: Set up your workspace to minimize distractions and ensure good audio and video quality. 
     

  6. Check Your Tools: Ensure you are logged into your CRM, CS tool or any other information you may need for the call. If you are working from home, check your internet speed and connection.
     

During the Call:
 

Simply having all the necessary details/information and access to tools cannot ensure your best performance for the meeting. Every conversation involves both the information you explicitly convey and what others perceive from your non-verbal cues, gestures, behavior, and the surrounding environment. When conducting a client call, it's essential to consider these factors, in addition to the following key points:
 

  1. Choose a Good Posture: Maintain good posture throughout the call to convey confidence and attentiveness. Maintain eye contact and avoid using unnecessary fillers (um, uh) or fidgeting. Employ natural, non-distracting gestures to emphasize points when speaking. 
     

  2. Listen Actively and Respond with honesty: Pay close attention to the client's needs and concerns. Practice active listening, express genuine empathy, and engage in thoughtful questioning to gain insight into their perspective and business. Instead of merely reciting information from your notes, foster a meaningful dialogue with the client. Serve as their advocate within your organization, striving to align your efforts with their best interests. However, it's equally important to establish clear expectations and cultivate relationships grounded in honesty and transparency.
     

  3. Stay on Course with the Agenda: Ensure the call stays on track and covers the necessary topics. A presentation/ document/ dashboard/list (According to the type of call) can help ensure you cover all the important points. Don’t be rude and stop the client if they are distracted a little but summarizing a topic and establishing relativity with current discussion helps staying on track.
     

  4. Know Your Audience: Tailor your communication to the client's level of expertise and avoid technical jargon and local slangs, they may not understand.
     

  5. Stay Genuinely Interested: Show interest in the client's discussion and avoid shifting focus, changing your seat, or making excessive movements.  A detailed research before the call and genuine curiosity really helps here.
     

  6. Goals: Establish specific goals for the call and maintain a checklist that you can refer to before ending the conversation. These goals can be integrated into the playbook you create, complete with triggers based on the information gathered.
     

  7. Real-Time Notes: Take real-time notes during the call to document key points, action items, and the client's emotional tone. This ensures nothing is forgotten after the call and helps in tailoring follow-up communication.  A call recording also helps but, it also means double the effort unless you can mark the timeline for important points.

 

After the Call: 

 

While it's true that certain Customer Success Manager (CSM) calls demand more pre-call preparation and delivery effort than others, the journey doesn't stop there. To ensure alignment with previous calls and continuous improvement, it's crucial to follow the necessary post-call steps for everyone. Here's the list:

 

  1. Record and Schedule the Next Call: Document key points from the call and schedule the next appointment in the CRM or CS tool you are using. If you have a playbook, complete the steps associated with the result of the call or customer lifecycle stage.
     

  2. Personalized Follow-up: Tailor your follow-up communication to the specifics of the call. Address any concerns or commitments made during the call and show appreciation for their time. You can do this through email or a shared dashboard, but I personally prefer the timeless elegance of email.
     

  3. Track Deliverables and Prepare the Project Plan: To keep track of tasks and deliverables, prepare or refine your project plan and share it accordingly. You can use your CRM/CS tool for this purpose. Collaborate with other teams on SLAs and delivery timelines.
     

  4. Automate Tracking - In addition to using a tracker or delivery dashboard for critical or red accounts, it can also be highly beneficial to implement one in green accounts to ensure consistent value delivery. Ideally, if your CRM/CS tool can track these deliverables and highlight SLA breaches, that's the best option. However, if these options are unavailable, consider creating an Excel sheet or shared document to keep the client informed at all times.
     

  5. Continuous Learning: Review the call to identify what worked well and note areas for improvement. Continuously refine your approach and communication style based on these insights.
     

  6. Feedback Loop: Encourage clients to provide feedback on the call experience. Their input can help you make adjustments and improvements for future interactions.
     

  7. Documentation and Knowledge Sharing: Ensure that the insights and knowledge gained during the call are documented and shared within your team & organization. This shall equip other team members to better support the client in the future.


 

We've covered the essential steps from pre-call preparations to conducting the call and post-call follow-up. It's a dynamic process that involves leveraging customer data, maintaining a professional presence, being a great listener, and staying genuinely interested in your clients' needs and goals. Real-time notes and effective follow-up ensure that nothing is overlooked, and continuous learning, feedback, and knowledge sharing help you grow and improve over time. 

 

We'd like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all the dedicated CSMs out there who work tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver exceptional service. Your commitment, efficiency, and passion for ensuring your clients' success shall not go unnoticed. By following the steps outlined in this guide, we hope you can further elevate your abilities and continue making a positive impact on your clients' journey. Keep up the excellent work and know that your efforts are truly valued and appreciated.

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