All great relationships require work. That’s why we recently invited NYC’s best and brightest CX pros to our office for an event focused on taking customer relationships to the next level.
We learned a lot —and had a blast hosting it. From personalized haikus and a bouquet bar to handmade treats and local brews, we made sure to make the most of this meeting of minds.
Check it out!
But for now, let’s get back to our biggest takeaways of the night:
Compassion is key, according to Lauren Panken, the Operating Systems Manager at Untuckit. “Regardless of all the training someone has, it’s making that relationship better that matters.”
Customer Success and Support pros often have to deal with customers at the height of their emotional journey. Maybe something we said we would deliver as a company, but didn’t. Or perhaps an overpromising sales rep who puts us on the wrong foot with a client. In any case, finding the ability to remain calm and see it from their perspective takes some practice.
For the folks at Flatiron Health, this is part of their training from Day 1.
“We work on building customer empathy by having new hires go out and visit customers for a week” recounts Frankie Shen, Director of Support and Training Operations at Flatiron Health.
While familiarizing new CX hires on the product is common, a more immersive training technique has started to become more popular as companies realize the importance of customer success to their own business. This deep dive into how the product works is something that Karlan Baumann from Greenhouse, agrees with wholeheartedly.
“The onboarding period is crucial,” The Senior Customer Success Manager continues. “One thing we do at Greenhouse for new CX hires is go through the same implementation tracker that our actual customers go through.”
Ongoing training and early product immersion are two things that these companies are doing to help cultivate a culture of empathy and compassion in their teams, and ensure that everyone is on board.
“We know what we do, but sometimes we need to have conversations about what we can’t do.”
Transparency is an easy virtue to espouse, but a difficult one to deliver. While it can help build trust with a customer, it also puts you in a more vulnerable position that can push your CX abilities to the edge.
Karlan Baumann knows this challenge first hand. As a Senior Customer Success Manager, he has dealt with his fair share of uncomfortable conversations, especially those stemming from misunderstandings. Recalling a time a customer wanted a feature that they did not have, Karlan reiterated the importance of transparency to the crowd:
“If you’re not being transparent and honest with your customer, you’re doing them a disservice. Especially roadmap conversations.” It might be uncomfortable but he recommends that you remain honest with customers stating that, “It’s a hard conversation to have but you’ll be doing them a disservice if you’re not helping them meet their goals and if you lie you lose a lot of that credibility.”
Frankie also agreed with that adding that being transparent and open with your customers must ultimately start with the company being honest with itself.
“Make sure you have the right idea of who your customer is and who they are not” Frankie pointed out. “Sure you want everyone to be your customer, however, it’s not about the quantity, but the quality.”
Be a Good Listener
Good listening skills are vital for customer success and support pros. Without the ability to really listen and understand your customer, it is almost impossible to help them.
However, a customer will sometimes call a support line feeling frustrated about the product but there is not much that can be done. Karlan understands this problem completely and knows just how to tackle it, encouraging CX workers to empathise and understand the customer’s perspective.
“All anybody wants is to feel understood,” he says, “Give them a chance to vent and then appeal to logic and explain your points. Don’t go into it defensive, nobody likes being told that they’re wrong.”
Frankie agrees, stating, “You can’t fix all the problems. Sometimes they just want to vent- you have to learn to read between the lines.”
Alignment means more than just knowing what your customers want- it means knowing what you want, internally, as a company. That alignment can be admittedly hard to come about when multiple departments with different goals, metrics, and motivations are trying to work in the same space.
“All anybody wants is to feel understood.”
Lauren recalled a time at Untuckit where the marketing department and the CX department were in conflict. Due to lack of communication between teams the customer experience was suffering and recovering from that was taking a toll on the team.
However, once they realized the importance of working cross-functionally, things started to run more smoothly. “Marketing started incorporating the customer information and feedback that CX gathered into their workflows and decision making process.” From there, she said, the tension began to fade. “It started to feel like a partnership and we all started feeling respected.”
But how do you go from butting heads to holding hands? Frankie offers a solution that works for them at Flatiron Health: A single source of truth.
“Create a culture that relies on a “single source of truth” or if you have multiple, decide what information goes where.” Making things easy to surface using internal wikis, or platforms like Slack, Guru or Obie can help you keep track of what knowledge goes where. “You can learn something, but easily forget it soon after.” Alignment in which tools you’re using to find, record, and store your most relevant and up-to-date information will help not only your staff but your customers as well.