The key to achieving maximum productivity as a CSM is the ability to be proactive—keeping you one step ahead of the curve and thinking strategically about how you want to tackle the day so you can continuously deliver value to your customers without skipping a beat.
Nonetheless, as your account portfolio grows, you will need to allocate more time to each of your accounts and sometimes urgent matters that require your full attention and time will also appear. So how can you maintain the same productivity levels without impacting your output? In this article, I will share best practices and recommendations based on my experience as a CSM. The goal is to help improve your daily productivity so you can keep a proactive approach with your customers without hindering your ability to deliver value.
Starting the Day Off Right: Prioritizing Tasks & Reviewing Meeting Notes
The way that you start your day can pretty much determine how productive you will be throughout the rest of the day. That’s why it’s important to tackle any pending tasks that are relatively quick to complete—i.e. tasks that take you less than 20-30min to complete. Dedicate an hour/couple of hours of your morning for this, and once you have removed them from your to-do list, you can then move on to tasks that require more of your time and focus, such as preparing for meetings/strategic work/customer meetings/etc.
In order to be more efficient with my task completion, I sort pending tasks by 2 categories:
Can I complete this task by myself, or does it require other teams' involvement?
- If it requires the involvement of other teams, then I know that it will require more than 20-30 minutes, so I leave it for after I finish the “small tasks”
If ‘Yes’, will it take me 20-30 minutes to complete or do I need to dedicate more of my time and focus to resolve it?
- If the task will require you to spend more than 30 minutes of your time, then you should dedicate some of your time later in the day to complete these tasks.
Lastly, after sorting out the pending tasks, I tackle the ones that have more urgency than others and/or the tasks that belong to higher tiered customers that expect a faster SLA, or those tasks that have a higher impact on the customer experience.
Make sure you have a good system in place where you can easily map pending tasks. For example, you can use meeting notes as a way to assign action items, and to prioritize your tasks more efficiently.
The importance of collaborating and coordinating with other teams
We mentioned that some of your tasks will require the involvement of other people on your team, or from external teams such as Product, Support and/or, R&D. As a CSM, it’s imperative that you not only have access to these people and resources, but also a strong enough relationship that if you need to prioritize a specific task you can get the relevant people on board with ease and minimal pushback.
Part of being a strategic advisor is having the ability to activate internal resources when needed in order to reach a quick and effective resolution for your customer.
Bestowing value and quality to each customer
After you knock out pending small tasks, you can now tackle the tasks that require more of your time and focus. These kinds of tasks should have a higher impact on the customer’s Desired Outcome and their overall experience with your product and company.
When we refer to tasks that require more time and provide more value to your customers, these usually are product training sessions, QBRs/EBRs, and account insights that enable the customer to make better decisions about their business.
Know Your Customer Health Scores
Knowing the health scores of your customers sheds light on how the customer is doing, and enables you to figure out how you can help deliver a high-quality customer experience to them.
One good way of creating relevant action plans for your customers is by analyzing the health score of your customers and identifying the potential problems/opportunities that may arise, and proactively take them on.
In order to develop an effective strategy/action from this analysis, you need to properly define a health score that takes into account the most important customer metrics; e.g. feature usage & adoption, last login, increase/decrease in users and usage, last touch point, last insight/QBR/EBR session, pending support tickets, DAU/MAU (stickiness), etc.
If you don’t have a customer health scoring model in place, you can start with this guide to creating a health score model with just four metrics.
The idea of having a health score is that, if analyzed properly, you can proactively create a strategic action plan that will add value to your customers by providing them with an appropriate experience and helping them reach their expected results.
Tips for successful onboarding, training, and customer follow-ups
The customer journey, at a high-level, can be broken up into two stages; onboarding and ongoing. These stages contain different milestones that you will work with for all of your customers. Obviously, there will be some variations, as you’d want to personalize the material and experience to fit your customers needs.
So if these are the milestones that are present in every customer’s journey, how can you increase productivity without hindering the value you provide?
Using Presentation Templates
As mentioned before, since theses milestones will be the same across customers (think: KO, Product Training, QBR/EBR, Insight Session, etc.), that means that the structure of the presentations will stay (almost) the same, and only the content will be tailored to the customer. You can imagine how much time you will save by having these templates on, well, deck… get it?
Playbooks are critical for the overall success of a CS team. Playbooks take knowledge of Customer Success processes from tribal knowledge to institutional knowledge. An effective playbook should fully document the steps and sections of a successfully implemented process—thus making the process repeatable at scale.
The idea of a playbook is to document the steps and actions a CSM needs to take according to the stage the customer is in. It's important to mention that the playbook should be structured in a way that enables the CSM to implement a process without limiting the creativity or approach of the CSM.
For example, an onboarding playbook would contain the different stages during customer onboarding, the relevant presentations, steps on how to document everything on the CRM/CS platform, how to properly integrate the product, and so on. From there, it’s up to the CSM to decide how to tailor this playbook to fit their customers’ needs, and decide which approach they’ll take to execute this process.
Defining Scalable Frameworks
Tackling day-to-day tasks and continuously building a strong, trustworthy relationship with your customers will require focus and discipline. On one hand, you need to complete small and big tasks for your customers in order to get them closer to reaching their Desired Outcome, but on the other hand, you also need to continuously foster your relationship with them. This is only possible through human interaction (meetings, calls, face-to-face, etc.
In order to succeed in achieving both, I recommend creating a framework that works for you and your working style. Once you create a framework/working cadence that works for you (e.g. 2 hours on, 15 minutes off, or front load the beginning of the day with meetings and save the latter half of the day for heads down work), divide your day accordingly and set the frequency of the meetings with your customers to suit that framework within reason.
Tips On Staying Productive Throughout the Day
In addition to the items mentioned above, having a “productivity tool kit” is a MUST in order to stay ahead of the curve. These tools can be scheduling tools, ready to send email templates, CSM software tools, task management tools, etc.
What Does the End of the Day Look Like for a CSM?
Writing final notes and communications to a customer
How you end the day will have a big impact on how efficient you’re going to be the next day. Any pending small/medium tasks that you can close by the end of the day (last 2 hours of your day) should be completed so by the next day you will only deal with new small/medium tickets that arise. Then allocate the rest of your time to more important tasks that will have a higher impact on the value your customers will receive.
Figuring out top to-do’s for the next day
There’s no guarantee that when you finish the day customers won’t send an email requesting something from you, so in this case, instead of replying a “half answer”, understand how much time it will take and what kind of action is required. From there, you can label the task as small/medium/large, important/non-important and/or, urgent/non-urgent so you can prioritize accordingly the next day—if you need to reply, share an SLA with your customer. This should take some pressure off your shoulders as you have responded within 24 hours and already acknowledged that you’re on top of it.
Take a look at your calendar. If there’s a call you need to prepare for, make sure that you allocate the necessary time to come prepared to the call as facetime with your customers is a unique opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.
At the end of the day, being the most productive CSM is not about the number of tasks completed, but knowing how to prioritize the different tasks you have to tackle, while simultaneously maximizing the value you can deliver to your customers.
- Speak with your customers in order to understand what action items are the most important to them. This should help you understand what to prioritize first.
- Learn your product inside-out. By having this perspective, you'll have an easier time understanding if pending tasks are limiting the value your customers can get from your product.
- Create a framework that works for your working style and allows for maximum efficiency. That’s the key to having the biggest impact on your customers’ perceived value, and will enable you to build stronger relationships.
Customer Success Managers that use Vitally are some of the most productive CSMs on Earth! But don't take it from us, take it from them...
“Of the Customer Success tools that I’ve tried, Vitally is the one that spoke the most to the Customer Success Manager in me,” — Diego ‘Colo’ Ventura, CSM at MonkeyLearn
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