Customer Success: How to Reset Mismanaged Expectations

Carefully. One of the biggest drains on Customer Success Management resources is customers that have not had their expectations properly managed and having to work around that.

Avoid that where you can by doing things correctly from the outset, but if you’re there already, maybe this will help you.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

How do you reset customer expectations if they haven’t been managed correctly?

Carefully, is the answer.

That’s an awesome question because it’s applicable to most companies who have been in business for any amount of time. But we’re gonna have done things in the early days, that’s we realize we didn’t need to do. And again, a great example is we give free consulting to customers that really don’t pay us that much.

What I say is, that early cohort of customers we can’t punish them for being there early with us and for us learning from them. And so what I would like to do is draw a line in the sand and say any customers that come in from now on, they’re gonna get this Appropriate Experience. Right? Whatever that looks like. Those customers that were here before, we can be honest with them. What a concept.

Hey, you know we’ve learned some things. And what I would say is there’s a really good chance that if you’re having a one-hour meeting with them every week, that they even may not need that. They might even think that’s inappropriate. But you’re offering it. You’re giving it to them. So talk to them. And say what would be a more appropriate interaction schedule.

And you could even provide some self-service deflection options for them. Things that they could do on their own. You could provide, you can be more prescriptive and say what we’ve done with you is sort of have these weekly meetings.

What we’ve learned since then is that these sort of self-guided courses and then a quarterly business review is actually working a lot better. That would give you back three or four hours of your time every month. If you kinda put it into their terms, and think about it from their point of view, actually it could really work wonders. But, you can’t punish them. You can’t punish them because you screwed up. And that’s what we have to understand.

I talk about this passionately because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. That’s why I can share this stuff. Because I’ve seen it, I’ve been there, done that. And I’ve even done it wrong. I’ve actually gone back and punished customers when I shouldn’t have. And I’ve seen the backlash. I’ve seen the negative fallout from that. So we can’t do that.

So we have our customers that brought us to the dance. We can’t, I don’t know what you do when someone brings you to the dance and you leave with somebody else, I guess. Whatever. We can’t punish them for being there for us. We can go back and try to reset expectations as long as it’s in their favor. And that’s the reality.

But going forward, like from now on, for anyone new that comes in, we have to give them that Appropriate Experience which means if you haven’t thought of what the Appropriate Experience is, you need to do that right now. Because ultimately, and hopefully you can see through that idea of giving just too much to our customers.

It’s gonna start to affect scalability. It’s gonna start to affect your margins, your operating margins. All this stuff is going to be really negatively impacted by this. And it’s going to cause at the very core of what you do. It might start to cause a customer negative environment.

A cycle of apathy.

This cycle of distrust.

We hate our customers. We hate our customers because they take too much from us.

That’s our fault.

We gave it to them.

So we need to get out of that cycle as quickly as possible. Stop doing what you’re doing right now with those customers.

Figure out what the Appropriate Experience is going forward. And give new customers that, and then go back to, the other, the customers that have been there. The legacy customers. And try to figure out how to how to manage expectations with them. But again, making it about them and making it about their Appropriate Experience.

Good luck with that. It is going to be a challenge. But it’s something you need to do sooner rather than later. Because it’s just gonna get worse.

About Lincoln Murphy

I am a Customer Success Consultant focused on Customer Success-driven Growth. I wrote the Customer Success book which you can buy at Amazon. If you need help applying Customer Success-driven Growth principles in your company or would like me to speak at your event, please contact me. Also, connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

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