Adam Joseph, Founder, CustomerSuccessManager.com
No matter how good your people, tools and processes are, there is a significant lurking danger that will see your CS strategy fail - customer apathy.
One of the most common issues that I hear from Customer Success Managers is that their clients are not engaging with them. Yet, when challenged with how they should try to correct the situation, typical responses are often to repeat the behaviour that didn’t work in the first place, for example:
"I will email them again”
“Let’s get another ‘check-in’ meeting arranged to see what’s going on”
“I don’t want to bother them, let’s give it another couple of weeks before we try again”
What can you do to convert unresponsive customers into engaged contacts that you can have meaningful, on-going dialogue with? This blog sets out to discuss some of the major causes of customer apathy and what corrective action you can take.
You might have seen the illustrative graphic of what happens in a typical “internet minute” in 2018. The numbers are truly staggering, from the 266,000 hours of Netflix being watched to the 1.1 million “swipes” on Tinder. By far the biggest segment of all is the amount of email being sent; according to the research, 187 million emails are sent in an average internet minute during 2018.
This trend is on the increase, the “internet minute” for 2017 shows that 156 million emails were sent. Although it is difficult to corroborate the research methods used to create these “internet minutes”, it does point to a significant conclusion – email is hitting its saturation point and losing its effectiveness as a communication tool.
However, email is still the de-facto method that many CSMs use on an almost exclusive basis to communicate with their clients. There is definitely still a place for email; indeed for technical, first-level support, contractual or commercial communications it’s vital to have critical points documented. However, if it is used almost exclusively to communicate how the customer is going to get value from your solution, it is going to significantly diminish your key points.
Ask yourself whether email is really the best channel to send your message (especially if you have already used it previously but received little or no response). There are a variety of other communication methods that you can use that may yield better results. For example:
Direct Customer Interaction:
If you need to be further convinced about the importance of direct customer interaction, bear in mind that published studies indicates that 93% of all daily communication is non-verbal. Email alone can never capture strong indicators of customer happiness/displeasure (e.g. facial expressions, gestures, posture, vocal pitch, etc.). Indeed, the sentiments behind how something is written in an email can be widely misinterpreted by the reader. Typically, routine direct customer interactions would include:
Social/Professional media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.):
Email Best Practices
Despite the many challenges with email communications, there are some best practice approaches that can help improve your chances of getting a response. For example:
It’s All About the Message
Of course, understanding the optimal delivery method for your communications is only half the battle. If your customer does not deem what you are saying is important then it is highly likely that your message will never be acted on. Here are some suggested approaches to ensure that your message will resonate loudly with its intended recipients:
Naturally, there is nothing more frustrating than chasing a customer for an update only to find out much later that they have moved on to a new role; either internally or externally. Here are some suggested methods to help ensure that you keep track of any status changes to your contacts:
Customer apathy is largely driven by two key factors; what you are saying (i.e. message relevance) and how you are saying it (i.e. the communication channel). As the common adage goes, “insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results”, however very often we do exactly that when it comes to communicating with customers.
Take this opportunity to re-asses how you are communicating with your customer base and change-up your strategy to those who have become unresponsive. I sincerely hope that this blog has given you a fresh perspective on how to approach these contacts to re-establish dialogue and create a meaningful relationship going forward. I would also love to hear more about the techniques that you have used to re-engage with unresponsive contacts; use the “Comments” section below to share your thoughts with the wider community.