Last week we co-hosted the inaugural Chicago Area Relationship Managers Group meetup. While the name is long, it does have a purpose. We (Synap & Voyant Consulting) wanted to create an all-inclusive, technology & tool agnostic meetup group that focuses on post-sales relationship management. And thus, CARM Group was born!
The goal of our first event was to create an environment that fostered meaningful networking, discuss real issues and topics that relationship managers are faced with, and to set the tone for future events.
With many thanks to our two moderators, Lindsey Perez & Jim Jones, and our highly engaged guests, we accomplished our goals! The night started with a bit of networking over snacks and drinks. But the real value of the evening came in the form of an activity and break out sessions.
We asked the group what relationship management topics were top of mind and this is what we saw.
*stickers on the left represent votes
Based on attendee votes, we focused on the top two challenges and opened up the discussion.
Customer Health Metrics & KPIs
Quantifying potential for churn
This is a difficult task for relationship managers because it can vary wildly, depending on company and customer. But, when posed to the group, they came up with several manageable KPIs to help identify high-risk churn candidates.
- Incremental engagement changes are good metrics to measure. They provide consistent insight into customers and help you gauge their experience on a micro level rather than waiting for a major event to occur. Consider quarterly or semi-annually.
- The ability to share and be transparent with customers regarding how relationship management teams measure them.
- Keep note of customer asset consumption and gauge the level of automation available for customers.
- Take the time to identify your customer’s level of engagement and how they engage with your product and company. Developing a profile for this will help you better understand customer triggers and identify pain points.
Tangible Qualifiers to Validate Risk
- Build credentials to provide transparency across teams.
Health Analysis and Comparative Regression
- Responsiveness - do they respond to your emails, take meetings with you, interact with your support team, engage with other resources
- Support info
- Do they pay their bills (on time)
- Billing info
- What parts of your product they use
- Do they use the sticky stuff?
- Do they use what you would recommend for their profile?
- Seat allocation if they purchase blocks of users
- Personnel changes
Managing Customer Expectations
It’s no secret that a major challenge for all relationship managers is managing customer expectations. We of course want to present ourselves as experts in our industry and product but it’s a fine balance between being knowledgeable and over-promising.
Having humility from day one will behoove you in your customer interactions. It’s okay to ask questions and it’s more than okay to admit if you don’t have the answer. Instead of promising what you can’t deliver or stretching the truth, be honest with your customer. Let them know that while you don’t have the answer right, you will get back to them in a finite period of time with the correct information.
Acknowledge & Advocate when the Product Fails
Part of what we do is act as a liaison between our customers and our company. In the case where our product is letting down our customers or they are experiencing particular challenges, it can be daunting to bring it to the attention of leadership. But, it’s on us to speak up and pass along their concerns. And while this can be easier said than done, the earlier we speak up on behalf of our customers, the easier it is to remedy the issue and manage their expectations.
Large Client Support
In the relationship management profession, it’s common to see people with split roles. They may be in charge of new acquisition and maintaining that relationship throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Split roles create a number of issues, specifically issues with bandwidth, resources and expertise which can all lead to customer dissatisfaction and even churn.
While we didn’t have an immediate solution for this problem, we did all agree that as an industry, we need to continually focus on eliminating this challenge. The more we talk about the problem and recognize the issue, the greater chance there is to find a solution!