By nature, creating a “nest” for your customers requires collaboration. Sales, implementation, and customer success teams need to work together to cradle and support long-term relationships. In Part 2 of her guest post, Kristi Punches — a customer success director with decades of experience — dives deeper into the importance of collaboration between team members and adopting a company-wide customer-centric mindset.
Putting The Nest Into Practice
It's entirely up to you how your customer talks about you. By supporting and building a nest for your customer, that's going to be what really helps build your bottom line. I've seen it happen.
At the same time, you want to make sure your product team is really tight. They need to develop a product with minimal flaws — all products will of course have some flaws. But you can mitigate that by the type of development and testing you do before you send out your product.
One of the tenants we like to follow is that we love our customers and they know it. You cannot leave the word love out of any conversation that you have about your customers, because if you don't love your customers, then what's the point of being in business?
Balancing Being a Customer Advocate with Company Interests
The problem I sometimes see with leaders and organizations is they don’t understand how taking care of the customer comes first. This disconnect can often be attributed to the fact that they are not working with the customer directly.
But if you take care of your customers, that’s what is going to help your business grow.
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the Four Fs. I learned this from my partner and it’s been very successful with my team:
- Friendly: Whenever you're working with a customer — regardless of the circumstances — you should always maintain a friendly demeanor and tone.
- Fair: If your customer's upset, listen to what they’re saying versus making excuses. Sometimes what they have to say can help you in the long run.
- Firm: Be willing to let customers know when they’re using an inappropriate tone with you. Be willing to tell the customer no if your product can not accommodate their needs, but have a backup plan to help soften that news.
- Follow through: Whereas follow-up means calling to “check in and see how everything's going,” follow through is “here’s the answer to that question you asked me the other day, or I'm still working on it but will get an answer for you.”
If you follow these Four Fs, you will always be successful. You're going to gain the respect of your customers and be looked at as “wow, this person is really trying to take care of me or this company is really looking out for me as a customer”.
Nurturing This Kind of Company Culture
Set Expectations and Take Care of Them
With my team, I'm very clear. I've provided you with expectations about your job, and ask that you do that job.
You of course have to look at what it is that you're asking them to do. You have to set deadlines and expect that they will be met, but be reasonable in setting those deadlines. I am aware that people have lives, and there needs to be balance. My expectation is that you take the time off that you are allotted. If you don’t take the time you’re given, you can’t refresh your mind, body, and spirit. Creating an expectation of self-care ensures that not only your people are taken care of but that they will have the energy to take care of your customers.
It's part of your job as team leader to ensure your team understands that, one, they're well taken care of. Two, you understand what goes on in their world. And three, you are going to ensure that you have their back no matter what.
Understand What Goes On In Their World
I meet with everybody I oversee on my team. When we do, I don't always talk about business. I ask: what's going on with you?
When you get to know people on your team on a deeper level, they will be more willing to say okay, tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it.
As a whole, you have to be transparent. Your team is going to find out things one way or another, so you might as well be upfront and help guide them in the conversations that need to happen.
New Hire Best Practices
It's really about how potential employees resonate with your values and your mission. Did they ask questions you would want to hear from somebody you're going to hire? Did they answer your questions or skip around them?
It’s also important to think about the knowledge they have, if they’re quick learners, if they’ve worked in the industry, and what they did before — all those kinds of questions.
Let your people be part of that conversation. They’ll have their own thoughts on whether a person is going to be a good addition to the team. These early conversations with your existing team members can help you find ways to build cohesiveness.
Thank you Kristi for your insights! It’s clear that active collaboration and consistent nurturing are cornerstones of a customer success strategy. We’re proud to offer a client onboarding automation platform that helps bring sales, implementation, and customer success teams together in one place to keep everyone on the same page and support a more efficient, frictionless client onboarding experience. Learn more about our solutions here.