A surprise player has shown up on the scene in Customer Success. It’s a great tool for balancing the relationship aspects of customer success with the ability to scale. It has been part of our daily lives for years – but we are just now starting to take advantage of it in the business world.
Our attention spans are short. We don’t want to read endless blocks of text, and Zoom calls are exhausting for everyone involved. Often, the kindest thing you can do is to convey your message without putting the burden on the customer.
Enter asynchronous (aka async) video. This is a video clip that can be watched when it’s convenient for the viewer the same way an email or a direct message might be. Not only does it convey your message with a personal touch, but it does so in a way that is convenient, sharable, and repeatable.
Customer success exists on a spectrum – from high touch change management to 100% tech touch. What is appropriate depends on the complexity of the product, customer and use case. It’s a delicate balance. Too much attention can annoy the customer, and too little leaves them frustrated and likely to churn.
It started as a high touch field. CSMs were brought in for large enterprise accounts that accounted for significant chunks of a company’s revenue. The CSM acted more as a consultant that was always on call to the customer. The idea was to nurture the customer. Keep them happy. Make sure they renew.
It worked well for a while. But as Customer Success grew to more companies, customers quickly became overwhelmed with the demand for their time. The average company uses 75 tools in their tech stack! And they all have a CSM who wants to have a quarterly business review for every one of those. That’s not in the customer’s best interest. They have their own jobs that they are trying to do. The tools are meant to make things faster and easier.
Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction to where companies want Customer Success to be as automated as possible.
It benefits everyone for Customer Success to exist in a more scalable way, through various AI and automation tools. We can get customers information on their own time and handle more of them. But with that evolution, a lot of the personal touch was lost, and the ability to build relationships across departments started to slip away – and that can limit expansion opportunities.
Here’s how to inject a little humanity back into your customer success function – while keeping the efficiency to scale.
93% of communication is nonverbal. Body language and tone account for 55% and 38%, respectively. Do you really want to leave 93% of your communication up for interpretation?
There’s also something about a 1:1 video message that feels more personal – because it is.
Customers know you can’t “fake” personalization through automation with this tool the way you can with email. You are saying their name. You are referencing their experience. It lets the customer know they are special.
Creating trust starts with onboarding. This is where you build the relationship with customers. Even with taking the training part away, CSMs can spend more time where they can deliver real value – understanding the customer’s unique needs, making sure they feel heard, and that someone cares about their experience with your product.
The best way to connect with them is to talk to them face to face. This is when video calls should be happening, and CSMs should be confirming the customer’s goals with the product, uncovering any challenges they should anticipate, and coordinating plans for change management. But it’s also a great time to find out things they have in common with the customer!
Whether you find out a customer has a dog, loves basketball, or hates breakfast – write it down and reference it at some point down the line in one of your async videos. It shows you care about the customer as a human, not just a number. This increases trust and loyalty.
So 1:1 video messaging is great for customers. It’s low effort to consume, and it’s highly engaging – there’s just one problem: It’s still a lot of work for the CSM.
But this doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
The point of automation is to eliminate parts of the process that are repetitive and can provide the same value when automated. This is absolutely true of customer lifecycle emails, as well as certain risk and expansion plays.
The point of this isn’t to eliminate the CSM – it’s to free them up so that they can focus on the the parts of CS that require a human. Anything that needs nuance, whether it’s deescalating an upset customer, building connections across departments, or problem solving an adoption issue should be handled by a human.
By sprinkling in a few personalized videos amidst all the automated emails, it makes ALL the communication feel more personal.
Is this necessary for every single account? Not necessarily. For those on a solely tech touch model it’s not needed. But even in a low-touch pooled model it can be helpful for another reason –support.
This is a game changer. 2-minute videos have tons of use cases and make life easier for both your CSMs and your customers.
Onboarding takes a lot of time and effort for CSMs and trainings are a large part of that. It’s hard to coordinate scheduling it, and just because someone is present doesn’t mean they are paying attention.
While a recorded webinar is a good thing to have on hand for on-demand trainings, it’s hard to get customers to engage with it since it doesn’t feel urgent and feels like it takes a lot of effort to consume.
Enter the 2-minute video.
The idea is to reduce overwhelm and make it easy and appealing to learn the product.
Create a “Getting Started” section on your website.
Break down the training you would give into mini lessons comprised of only one step each
The CSM should talk through what they are doing each step of the way.
What: This is the area of the product where you can:
When to use it:
Getting started, when raveling for work, or on PTO.
Video –CSM screen recording as they perform the actions, showing where each preference is while narrating.
(e.g. “Now I click this button on the right with the three dots to manage my settings”)
Note: It doesn’t have to be two minutes exactly. It can be less, or a bit more. It’s better not to go over five minutes though. The point is for these to be bite sized and easily consumable.
While Success and Support are different, some support falls on the CSM. The difference? Tech Support should help the customers with technical issues while Success deals with enablement. What’s the difference?
“X isn’t working”
How do I …?
It’s far easier to show someone how to do something vs trying to explain it over the phone or making them jump on a zoom call. You can direct them to one of your 2-minute videos, or create a quick how to from scratch, simply recording the CSM performing the action while narrating.
Celebrations of milestones in the customer journey are great for adoption. It keeps the customer motivated by making the use of your product not just a work task, but an achievement.
These can be done in app, via email, or video.
For scalability it makes sense to have these automated for all except high touch accounts, where it’s essential to be tracking complex outcomes. The extra relationship building here is worth the time and effort.
Reading about a new feature coming out is one thing. But it’s not until they see it in action that customers experience that “Aha moment”. It becomes something the they can use right away rather than hearing about it over skimmed emails, then trying to coordinate when to attend a training or webinar on the new feature. It’s a classic case of “Show. Don’t tell.”
Pick one instance where you will incorporate video and start there. Do it consistently, and as it starts to feel more natural, you can branch out. Once you see how much faster it is than crafting a long email, and how well it gets your message across, you’ll want to incorporate it more.
The one barrier to using video tends to be that most people are not comfortable in front of the camera. The best thing you can do is to remember that everyone feels this way in the beginning. Start by using async video messages for internal communication, and don’t watch yourself while you are recording them. When the pandemic started, Zoom calls were excruciating at first. Now no one bats an eye at them. The same thing happens with video messaging. It just takes a little practice.
Also remember that these aren’t meant to be perfect. If your dog walks by, leave it. This isn’t a performance. You are conveying information – just like if you were leaving a voicemail.
Video is a great addition to Customer Success. It allows us to find balance and connection as we continue to scale. There are a lot of ways to incorporate it into your CS function, but the best way is to start slow.
Most CSMs got into Customer Success because they like helping others. They want to be involved as a human, not just pressing buttons all day. Let them bring some of the heart back into Customer Success and both your CSMs and your customers will feel the benefit.