Podcast

Stopping Churn Isn’t Your Only Job

Eric Crane

Posted 11/10/2020

Stopping customer churn shouldn’t be a CS leader’s main concern. 

Admittedly, it can be tempting to place this metric on a pedestal and turn it into the north star of your CS strategy. But if you ask Maranda Dziekonski, VP of CS & People Ops at Swiftly, she thinks one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is directing the CS team to focus solely on reducing or stopping churn.

Recently, we spoke with her about the follies of becoming — what she dubbed — a “churn-stopper” and picked her brain about other CS topics like:

  • What to focus on instead of stopping churn

  • Evolving your CS processes to accommodate for remote work

  • Where to learn more about CS

Avoid Being a “Churn-Stopper”

"Customer success is way more than just churn-stoppers." — Maranda Dziekonski

Stopping customer churn is not the work of a CS team. It is the result of all the work the CS team should be doing. If you hire a team just to stop churn, then you are missing the point of customer success. Here are some initiatives you should focus on instead.

Leveraging Insights from Across Your Portfolio

As a CSM, one of the most robust resources you have is your customers. From your unique vantage point, you can see multiple different examples of how customers use your service. You also can see multiple different examples of how your customers operate their business as well.

Because of this perspective, you become a repository for all the best practices within an industry. 

So why not share those insights with all of your customers? Spread the wealth, as they say.

After all, your customers are always looking for ways to upgrade their business. And as a CSM, helping them upgrade their business should be your goal too. 

This is especially true for any period of great disruption — such as the COVID pandemic — when old processes no longer work and new processes need to be iterated on the fly.

Ultimately, your aim should be to build a community where your customers can share what’s working with each other so that everyone benefits.

Becoming a Better Partner

"The experience your customers get may not be the experience you think you're giving." — Maranda Dziekonski

Developing a deeper relationship with your customers should be another focus. This is especially true if you’re dealing with larger entities that are paying top dollar for your services. 

They aren’t just paying for the product or service; they expect you to provide something more to ensure that they will be successful.

In completing the work of understanding your customer and their business, uncover what will make you indispensable to them. Once you do, document it out so that your customers don’t just achieve ROI one single time, but over and over again. 

Come to an understanding of what the customer hopes to gain out of the experience and then overdeliver on that.

Be an Internal Advocate

You shouldn’t only be sharing your newfound knowledge with your customers. To be a successful CSM, you should be sharing all of that knowledge internally within your own organization as well. 

After all, your company needs to evolve too so that you can offer your customers the best experience possible.

Committing to constant evolution also means that you should consistently analyze your internal processes to see what can be improved.

A lot of CS teams came to this realization after switching to remote work during COVID. Maranda’s team was one of them.

Leveling Up Your CS Process For Remote Work

A couple of months into the switch to remote work, Maranda noticed that things felt broken. “Not everything, but a couple things just felt like the process was not scaling right,” she said.

For a while, she couldn’t figure out why it felt wrong. But then a lightbulb went off. 

“We’re remote now,” she realized. “We need to completely level up the entire team and get everybody to look at all the processes and figure out what needs to evolve.”

Does this situation sound familiar? 

If it does, you might be wondering what exactly you should do about it. According to Maranda, a good place to start is hosting a brainstorming session to discover what’s working and what’s not. 

Her team focused on two questions: 

  1. What tools aren’t working quite as well as they had before the switch to remote work? 

  2. And what gaps in skill sets do we need to level up? 

That latter question is especially important. 

Why? Because the answer is the key to the evolution of your company. 

By constantly looking to improve your process, technology stack, and people, you enable your organization to fill in the skill gaps and grow. Maranda recommends doing this every three to six months.

It’s important to note that what got you here, won’t get you there… especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

Learning Resources for Budding Customer Success Leaders

If you’re a budding customer success leader in search of a mentor, Maranda has some recommendations for finding one:

  • Sign up for Catalyst’s Coaching Corner: A CS mentorship program that recently formed.

  • Reach out to CS leaders on LinkedIn: It’s true, they might be too busy. But if someone says no, don’t be dissuaded from reaching out to others.

  • Join the Customer Success Leadership Network Slack channel: Maranda helps run this community that counts people from all levels — from executives down to those aspiring to join their ranks — as members. They even have a channel dedicated to aspiring CSMs.

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Maranda Dziekonski, VP of CS & People Ops at Swiftly, joins us to discuss: 

  • Why CS leaders should be leveraging relationships they’ve built

  • How to be more than just a churn-stopper

  • How CS leaders can act as internal advocates for customers

  • Why advising has been so important to Maranda’s career

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Podcast quote from Maranda Dziekonski

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