Customer Success: How to Tell Customers What to Do

For many Customer Success Management teams, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘just let your customers figure it out.’

In fact, it’s easy to think that’s in their best interest.

Leave them alone and they’ll discover what they need to on their own. But in most cases, that’s the exact opposite of what you need to do.

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.

Should we tell customers what to do?

Zoe had a similar problem as Joshua in the previous question, and she said that they called the customer and asked why their use declined. They found that the biggest issue was they didn’t know what to do next. She said they talked to customers, learned that, didn’t tell them what to do next, and went to product to get them to implement changes. This created a massive uptick in continued engagements.

I think that’s awesome.

Talk to your customers.

Don’t hide from your customers.

But I would say the things that we would hear from our customers, if we called and asked questions, are probably things that we actually already know. So I’m not saying don’t talk to your customers. Absolutely talk to your customers. But if you really just took a second and thought about it, you could probably figure this stuff out on your own.

It’s probably pretty obvious that we’re overwhelming them. That we’re not being specific. That we’re giving them all of the different things that they could possibly do, and they’re not doing those things. If you need to hear that from your customer in order to start doing that, cool.

But chances are like I said, you don’t even have to talk to your customers. You know what you need to be doing.

Now I would definitely talk to the customers.

What kind of caught me off guard in what Zoe said was that she didn’t tell the customer what to do even though they said they weren’t sure what to do next. And they just went back and fixed the product. That’s cool. Fix the product, but to me, also tell your customer what to do.

Our customers look to us for guidance.

And if I’m talking to a customer and they tell me I don’t know what to do next, I’m not gonna say okay cool. I’m gonna go talk to my product person and we’ll get back to you as soon as that’s fixed. I’m gonna tell them what to do. Our customers want to know what to do. And maybe I have a low touch customer segment, but I’ve been talking to them.

I’m still gonna tell those people what they should do next. So that’s my only, that kinda caught me off guard there. But I think that’s a great approach. Go talk to your customers and learn from them. And they might tell you I just have absolutely no idea what to do.

But again, if you look at things objectively, if you take a step back, your ego out of the way, I bet you could probably see what the problem is. Here’s something to think about. When was the last time you signed up for your own product? When was the last time you saw what a new customer sees when they first signed up for your product? If you haven’t done that in awhile, you want to do it.

Because there’s a really good chance it’s changed. It’s not the same experience that you once thought you knew. Or maybe you’re just wiser and you would go look at it and you would say: “Ah, okay.” When somebody signs up the first thing they see is this blank screen and no guidance.

Or on the flip side, the first thing they see is that they can do all these different things, and there’s no guidance.

So when was the last time you signed up for your own product? Go try that. See what happens. Take a screen shot. You don’t have to share it with anybody. But take a screen shot internally and get everybody to gather around and say this is the first thing our customer sees when they sign up. And this is a problem.

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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