Retention: Shifting from Reactive to Proactive to Stop Chasing and Start Leading

Let’s get real. You’re swamped, your team is overwhelmed, and you’re juggling the constant demands of retaining customers while chasing that elusive long-term success.

You’re in firefighting mode—again.

You know you need to shift from a reactive approach to a proactive one. Deep down, you feel the urgency, but the ‘how’ eludes you. It’s like being stuck in a loop. So, how do you break free?

That’s what we’re diving into in this post.

The inability to shift gears is more than just a tactical challenge; it’s a complex puzzle of resistance, skills gaps, and confidence that leaves even seasoned Customer Success Managers (CSMs) and Heads of Customer Success grappling for solutions.

You’re not alone.

So, let’s demystify the path from reaction to proactivity in customer retention.

Customer Success Podcast: Impact Weekly Episode 43

If you want to go deep on this topic, listen to this episode of our Customer Success podcast, Impact Weekly, that comes out every Wednesday. You can listen below or on your favorite podcast app:

The Art of Deprioritization

The first hurdle is to understand what’s truly essential and what’s not. Yes, every customer matters, but let’s face it: not every customer activity yields the same ROI.

Deprioritization is not about neglecting your customers. It’s about auditing where your energy goes.

Can you identify lower-impact activities that are eating up your time and move that focus to proactive efforts?

A shift in focus frees up valuable resources, which allows you to delve into strategies that make a more significant impact in the long run. Think of it as judicious conservation of your team’s cognitive bandwidth.

Establish Concrete Objectives

Great, you’ve pruned the activities that were draining your team. Now what? Floating around aimlessly won’t do you any favors.

You need concrete objectives.

A common pitfall is setting vague or overly ambitious goals. Instead, specify what success looks like. It could be something like, “We aim for a 10% increase in proactive customer engagement by the end of Q2.”

By defining your objective and the timeframe clearly, you’re no longer shooting in the dark—you’re laser-focused on a target that’s both tangible and achievable.

Take High-Impact Actions

Remember, proactivity for its own sake is a vanity metric.

You’ve already deprioritized to make room for proactive efforts; now, make sure those efforts count.

Every action should be mapped to customer outcomes—this is your guiding star. If the action doesn’t move the needle on customer success, it doesn’t belong in your proactive strategy.

The Barrier of Resistance and Objective Confidence

Change is never easy, and it’s always met with resistance.

Couple that with the gaps in skills and confidence, and you’ve got a cocktail of challenges.

What you need is a framework that serves as your team’s north star in times of change. That’s where a concept like “Objective Confidence” that we teach in Impact Academy is so valuable.

It empowers your team, fortifying their sense of belonging and competence.

When your team feels confident, that feeling is communicated to the customers—a win-win for everyone involved.

Celebrate Milestones, No Matter How Small

If your team is used to getting that dopamine hit from the occasional saved customer, moving to a proactive approach might feel less gratifying in the short term.

That’s why it’s crucial to celebrate progress milestones.

It could be as small as transitioning a customer from one lifecycle stage to another.

These victories matter; they accumulate and contribute to a broader success narrative.

Data Visibility: The Unsung Hero

Without visibility, your team’s efforts are akin to running in the dark.

Data isn’t just numbers; it’s the story of your customer’s journey with your product.

A powerful CSM platform can serve as your eyes, helping you track progress, monitor actions, and, most importantly, celebrate the wins that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Make an Impact… Weekly

Don’t miss out on the insights that could revolutionize your partner relationships. Ensure you’re at the forefront of customer success management by subscribing to our Impact Weekly podcast.

Every Wednesday, we delve into a new aspect of customer and partner success, equipping you with the knowledge you need to thrive in the multi-channel landscape. Subscribe now, and let’s keep learning together.

About Lincoln Murphy

I invented Customer Success. I focus primarily on Customer Engagement. Learn more about me here.