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How to do effective Account Transitions in Customer Success?

What is an account transition?

An ‘account transition’ is the process by which an existing or a new customer account is transitioned from one member of the Customer Success team to another. In an ideal world, your Customer Success Managers would have a great relationship with the customers. They’ll keep up the relationship for as long as possible. So, an effective account transition is important in such situations.

However, nothing lasts forever. At some point, due to unforeseen reasons and circumstances, the customer would need to be reassigned. This will pose a real challenge to the smooth journey that the customer is having with your business.

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Why do these transitions occur?

A myriad of reasons might lead to the transition. Irrespective of the reason, your customer deserves a seamless transition and the same level of customer experience s/he expects. Some of the reasons are as follows. 

Top 8 Reasons to why Account Transition Occurs
  • The previous Customer Success Manager (CSM) might be leaving the firm. 
  • A CSM is overloaded. S/he needs to distribute the load to other CSMs. 
  • New customers need to be assigned to a CSM. 
  • The Customer or the CSM requests a transition, due to different reasons, to another CSM. 
  • A Change in Customer Segment or territory can trigger this change. 
  • The CSM has been promoted. 
  • The CSM has been underperforming for a while. 
  • The Customer’s size is either getting smaller or bigger. 

Suggested Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Being a Customer success manager

6 ways to do an effective account transition.

Customers and CSMs, alike, would prefer a smooth transition process.  However, it’s not easy to carry out. In this blog, we’re going to offer 6 great hacks for leaders like yourself to help your account transition happen seamlessly. 

6 ways to do an effective account transition.

Prepare Internally for the transition.

Align your team and members first before starting out with the transition. Have your previous CSM and the new one sit and devise a plan for a smooth transition. It would be better if you can incorporate the whole account team in the discussion. The new CSM should be thoroughly debriefed about the customer. Encourage him/her to ask questions and obtain clarifications wherever needed. 

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Be transparent with the customer about the transition.

In cases, where your customer hasn’t requested for the transition, the next step is to inform them. Clearly communicate the plan for the transition with them. Ask for their feedback, in case they need any change in the same. Be transparent and honest with the customer. It’s important for you to not lose trust. You don’t want a customer churn due to a lack of clear understanding by the customer about the account transition. 

Provide context as to why this change is happening. Uncertainty would mean customers trying to read between the lines, possibly with a worse outcome. Explain the efforts being put in to carry out this change as smoothly as possible. Assure them that this would be business as usual. 

Set up a ‘Transition Process’ in place.

Plan strategically about the transition. An effective account transition in customer success demands a solid process to be in place. If you have a ‘transition process’ in place already, the actual account change won’t be a headache. This process will encompass different aspects of the transition including, but not limited to, the points mentioned here.  

  • Defining the transition process
  • Being upfront and honest about the transition process.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Sharing and leveraging the data.
  • Reviewing previous transition meetings/calls
  • Asking for feedback from the customer.
  • Clear, concise, relevant, and timely communication.
  • Include the account team in the process.

Suggested Read: Digital Customer Success Manager

Clear Documentation is crucial.

Document everything clearly. This step is inevitable for an effective account transition in customer success. Every information, even the minutest of the details, is vital. Putting up ‘ongoing documentation’ will set up a new CSM for success. Account transition, or not, this process helps. Ensure that the CSMs have access to the history of the account like its desired outcomes, success plans, onboarding, stakeholders details, the customer journey, a transition document, etc. 

Avoid asking the same questions repeatedly. Try assigning a CSM that was as good as the previous one. Make sure that all decisions and touchpoints are detailed, documented, and accessible to the new CSM. 

Devise a Success plan for before and after a transition period. 

Create a success plan for both before and after a transition period. This is to ensure that new CSMs would know exactly why and how the customer account will be going in a particular direction. If the account is in the middle of hitting a milestone, the approach and mindset of the new CSM need to be aligned to the same. You would not want anything too disruptive to take the customers off the path. 

Details of the success plan are crucial. New CSM could use these later in case s/he faces any blockers or issues that can have a long-term impact on that customer. The plans can be shared with the customers. These serve as a tool to align your both internal and external stakeholders. 

Check out the 90-day success plan for CSMs!

Instill confidence in the new CSM and the customer as well. 

Ensure both the customer and the new CSM, this is business as usual. Provide all the support to the new CSM and the team in handling the account professionally. Transitioning a customer, especially a large account, to a new CSM should be well-orchestrated. If that’s achievable, then the customer should feel that nothing has changed. 

It makes perfect sense to shadow the existing CSM before the transition. A good understanding of the static and dynamic attributes is important to know what worked in the past and what did not. As the CSM and customers progress in their relationship, they’ll gain confidence. 

Final thoughts on an effective Account Transition in Customer Success

If your customer doesn’t feel any turbulence while transitioning from one CSM to the other, it means you have a solid process in place. Start internally. Ensure that your teams and team members are on the same page. Once that is done, inform the customer about the same. Be open and honest about your processes, the steps, the members involved, etc. 

Document everything clearly. If you have got a success plan in place, show customers and instill confidence that the change would be good for them. It would prove advantageous if they feel like a change hasn’t happened. Use this change as an opportunity to grow customer relationships rather than feel uncomfortable about it. 

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Content marketer at CustomerSuccessBox | An avid reader, a passionate writer and a life long learner | Writer @ Hacker Noon | B2B SaaS & Customer Success enthusiast |