Servicing customers with groups of CSMs?


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Does anyone out there have experience with servicing customers with a "group" of CSMs instead of a single CSM?

Our team is currently exploring the idea of grouping several CSMs together along with a more junior member and having this group collectively service a patch of customers. The thought here is that the more junior member would learn on the job by supporting the CSMs with the more tactical/day-to-day request while the more senior member focus on the strategic aspects: conducting EBRs, stakeholder engagement, adoption, etc. We're hoping that this would also help mitigate the friction/pains of account transitions when a CSM moves roles or leaves the company entirely. Instead of being assigned a completely new CSM, the customer would still have the familiar names and faces of their dedicated CSM group. Thoughts?

Would love to hear if anyone else has experimented with this and/or has other ideas for reducing account transition pains. If so, would also be interested in how you've implemented this in Gainsight. Thanks!


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My 2 cents is that this could be confusing for the customer to have multiple CSM resources with whom to engage. Unless it's perhaps a global corporation with pockets of teams that need resources in their local areas. I would also think having multiple CSMs working with the same accounts would increase your headcount budget.

My suggestion is look at other ways to scale: adjust engagement requirements/expectations, look at ways to automate more mundae tasks and/or to take some of the hand-holding out of driving adoption.

As far as account transition - we created a playbook to use when accounts transition from one CSM to another which includes steps for the OUTGOING CSM and the INCOMING CSM to complete, including scheduling internal transition conversations as well as customer-facing transition, capturing relevant summary/transition notes on Timeline, etc. Hopefully if the CSM has been tracking key activities on TImeline and their cockpit/C360 is all up to date, transition should be a relatively painless process.

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A point of clarification: I interpreted your note in the context of larger accounts (since you mentioned EBRs, stakeholder engagement) where you would have one "lead" or "assigned" CSM and other junior CSMs step in to work with that account on various items.

However, if you're talking about using a pooled CSM model to work with smaller ("long tail") customers, that could work very well, depending on execution. We have a Community of CSMs that work with thousands of accounts via online community as well as digital engagement. But the expectations on level of engagement are lower and none of them are "assigned" - at least from the customer perspective.

Happy to discuss with you more offline if you like. Feel free to email me: jeffrey.kirkpatrick@kronos.com

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All good points! Especially the issue of confusing the customer. One thought was to create an alias a dedicated alias that the customer would email but I can see how that could become a bit of a mess at scale.

Definitely agree on the use of Timeline and Playbooks to help with transitions. Do you specifically track outgoing and ingoing in Gainsight/SFDC?

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Can you elaborate on what you mean by "specifically track outgoing and ingoing in Gainsight/SFDC"?

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Ah yes, specifcally with assigning tasks to the outgoing CSM and incoming CSM. Do you track the incoming CSM on the account somehow prior to the transition?

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No we don't track the incoming CSM ahead of time. The playbook instructs the outgoing CSM to assign any relevant tasks/CTAs to the incoming CSM prior to actually changing the assigned CSM on the account.

We have a modified version of this transition for whenever an account is moving from an assigned CSM to the Community group.

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Ok got it, thanks!

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Hi,

Same as Jeff, we have the pool to deal with the long tail, but we also have a model of a dedicated CSM with the pool as well.  Mainly, it was created to help the CSMs that have a large number of accounts so the pool handles sending out performance reports and CCs the CSM on the communication so that they can follow up on any questions.  They were also sending out emails as value-add touchpoints, but we recently automated those.

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In our organization we have begun to implement a pooled CSM approach for our smaller accounts.  What I would be very curious to hear from others is in general, how do you measure success - specifically the metrics? We are currently looking at NPS and retention metrics.  

@caffeinatedadmin  I manage our pooled CSM team and we are currently measuring success on the following KPIs: revenue retention, upsells, Executive Business Reviews, CSAT/NPS scores (bi-annual) as well as regular customer engagement.

 

For revenue retention we monitor this at the department level in conjunction with our enterprise CSMs for the product as a whole, but we adjust expectations for higher churn for these smaller accounts. With upsells, we have a team quota (subjective goal) based on historical data and perspective opportunities and we track this number collectively. Executive Business Reviews are distributed to all customers and discussions are held with key accounts based on certain criteria. Along with NPS, we also solicit CSAT specific information for the pooled team as a whole — expectations are adjusted for things like lower engagement frequency, but high standards are expected for all other metrics. The team is also responsible for maintaining a consistent pulse on the relationship and any other risk factors.

 

I hope this helps, happy to connect if you have any suggestions on what has worked well when setting up a pooled model in GS!

@cmultanen I manage our team of pooled CSMs.  I like to call it ‘Client Success By Committee’.  Customers over a certain $ threshold receive a dedicated traditional CSM, but customers that fall under the $ threshold do not receive a dedicated CSM, and instead receive our pooled CSM resources, but we don’t really introduce the concept to customers because it can be confusing to understand who their key contacts are.  Their expectation after going live on our product is to reach out to Customer Support and use our Knowledge Base/Community for any product questions/needs. 

 

We generate various types of CTAs (post go live check in, NPS response, usage habits decreased, important event occurred, etc.) that go to an ‘Unassigned Cockpit’ List view, and our pooled CSMs work out of the queue(s) by taking ownership of a few CTAs per day and engaging with those customers.  If the customer engages back, the CSM will work with the customer over a month to two month long period to ‘get them back on track’ so they are maximizing the product and are comfortable managing it themselves with the help of Customer Support and our KB moving forward.  This model has its pros and cons, but it works well for our small accounts that don’t need a dedicated high touch CSM, so there is really no pain when turnover occurs.  We track renewal rate, NPS, and upsells/renewals that occurred as a result of the pooled CSM’s intervention.

 

Would be interested to hear if you went through with your ideas from a year ago and how it’s going now!

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