2021 has come to a close and we have a bright 2022 ahead for us. But with the end of the year comes a long laundry list of to-dos. It is especially difficult after the end of the year holidays (we know). B2B SaaS companies are preparing for their final quarter sprint, determining metrics for the next quarter and year & working on Quarterly Business Reviews while also working on customer journey after the new year. But we have seen that even Customer Success slips up at one task, keeping customers first on their to-do list because they think they will always be here.
Customer Success depends on the ability to retain and build healthy relationships with customers. Healthy relationships mean that you have to keep them happy. This is not limited to just providing them with your product and business goals but telling them that your company cares about them.
So with the end of the year checklist for customer success for the year 2021, we keep customers first and then the capacity planning, budgeting, and other really scary stuff.
Strategic To-dos for Customer Success Checklist
This will lay the foundation of your Customer Success plan next year.
1) Customer review
A new year becomes an onslaught of new expectations to reach higher for a company. In this mayhem, customers sometimes get left behind. Reaching out and preparing them for the upcoming year is not just a checklist. It is about understanding where they are in their customer journey and what will be the best pathway for their growth. Most companies must have done annual planning and outlined a growth plan for 2022.
As a Customer Success department, you need to align those plans with your customer journeys. So how do we go about that? The first step will be to review how they are utilizing your product at this moment, asking questions about what they feel is lacking or why engagement might be less with some team members. This is where CSMs should dig deep in use cases and help them identify a better usage strategy. Bring in innovative ways to use your product or service to see value return so their retention is ensured.
Your year-end review will also be about the achievements you have made for the customer. Show them the value framework that is set up for them.
Year-end is definitely a crucial time for certain industries. Understanding how your product is being utilized in this crucial period will give you immense insight into the customer. Answer questions like how can you help them become more successful? Or how to help them thrive in the first few months of the year where it gets exceptionally busy? Help them achieve their Q4 goals and ease them into their Q1 objectives with your end-of-the-year customer review.
Additional Read: Quarterly Business Review Guide
2) Customer Goals & KPIs for 2022
Your customer review ensures that the advent of the following year is smooth & fruitful in terms of product usage. It is also equally important to understand the business objectives/goals and KPIs for the coming year.
A few questions that will help you:
We see that a major focus for Customer Success in 2022 will be on advocacy and expansion. A few KPIs that you might want to track next year are 1) Expansion MRR and 2) Net Promoter Scores (NPS). For a detailed look, we have a blog ready on KPI trends for 2022.
Discuss the Key business objectives and KPIs with your customers. Make a note of how key stakeholders are measured. This will ensure the CS department is aligned in the coming year.
Defining what success means in the following year will make the journey for customers as well your business smoother. Going blindly will lead to a crash. Get ready to have the important conversations and set a solid foundation for the new year.
3) Internal planning
Now that the customer aspects of the checklist are secured, we can get down to some internal planning. This will consist of budget approval and capacity planning. We have rounded up some of the best practices you can use to make this internal planning successful.
- Build a customer-to-CSM ratio for every segment
It is incredibly important to not have a CSM covering two different segments. This leads to customer journeys becoming muddy and causes unnecessary confusion too. Also why every segment needs a customer-to-CSM ratio is because each segment is different and the ratio will differ.
- Finance Team has to sign off on your ratio
Before a budget is formulated according to the ratio you build, have a trade-off conversation with Finance to approve it. Reviewing it beforehand with Finance will ensure that you aren’t dealt a blow in a later stage of budget approval.
- Build your budget before asked
Start early. It is as easy as that. Start your financial model as soon as you have the data to back it. Do not be the last department to hand in a budget request.
Here are some data points to help get your budget approved
When trying to come up with a budget and headcount at the end of the year, make sure you pay close attention to the customer journey. Include every touchpoint and also leave room for growth in the coming year.
4. Send your Customers something special
This is the part that is fun! Customer Success and your company are all about those customers. You are on this ride together and it helps to make them feel appreciated. CS becomes a partner with their customers. Set up a dinner or send them a personal note that appreciates them. You can also just call them to the office for a talk or share exclusive news with them. Your options aren’t limited. An email might also work but it is recommended to put more effort into it. Make sure to have a personal follow-up with your high-priority clients as well.
A customer success checklist can be much more nuanced in your case than the one above. But we believe these are the basic things you should be conversing about at the end of the year. We are sure that you already have a plan in place but these measures will keep the plans aligned to the broad visions and ideologies of the company. It is also important for us to tell you to ENJOY the holiday season and we hope that the next brings a lot of success to you.