Thanks to Marvel Studios and their prolific use of post credits scenes (spoiler alert don’t click the link if you are not up to date with the Marvel Cinematic Universe), my wife and I now sit through the entire credits of any of their movies.
One of the things that I noticed is how directors, producers, and top billed stars have personal assistants (some might even have two personal assistants). I guess when you’re paid in seven or eight figures, you can splurge a little and let someone else handle the less interesting parts of your job. But on the practical side, it also makes sense given how busy some of these individuals are.
And it’s not just Hollywood types that are taking advantage of personal assistants. A search of LinkedIn for people with the job title “Executive Assistant” returns about 1.7 million individuals and the title “Administrative Assistant” has almost 2 million people with that job title. It’s clear that busy people are benefitting from having assistants to help them through the day to day.
Now wait, you are probably saying – I’m pretty darn busy myself! And it’s true that for most working professionals the “40 hours a week” work week is more like 50 hours a week (or more). And when it comes to tasks like picking up dry cleaning or scheduling an oil change, I’m sure we all wish we had a personal assistant to take care of the less challenging aspects of our to-do list.
This is where technology can help those of us who might not be able to afford a live person as our personal assistant. Smart phones, smart apps, and digital assistants have started to make a real impact in the past few years and are only expected to get more intelligent and more helpful. So there is hope for “the rest of us!”
Personal Assistants for CSMs
When it comes to the job of a CSM, the idea of a personal assistant couldn’t be more appealing. Think about all the things that a CSM manages in a typical day:
- customer meetings
- preparing reports for management
- communicating cross-functionally
- ensuring at-risk accounts are given proper attention
- staying on top of renewals
- proactively addressing customer health concerns
- preparing for executive business reviews
- and the list goes on and on…
It’s a LOT to keep track of! And if you focus too much on any one aspect of the job, you run the risk of something else falling through the cracks.
Now just imagine if you had a personal assistant who could lend a hand by:
- Watching all your accounts for changes to health markers and alerting you of any that need attention
- Reminding you of overdue customer outreaches or internal updates
- Reminding you of important lifecycle events like customer anniversaries or upcoming renewals
- Automatically emailing your customers with detailed information about their usage, about new product releases, or about their upcoming renewal
- Creating management dashboards and reports to keep your boss (and your boss’ boss) informed of your efforts and the status of all your accounts
- Holding internal teams accountable for any cross-functional areas impacting Customer Success
- Gathering information from all of your internal systems (support activity, financials, key contacts, usage data, NPS survey results, customer health, etc.) and providing both a live view of all of this data in an easy to access page as well as exporting this data to powerpoint on command
- Preparing your PowerPoint presentation for upcoming Executive Business Reviews with customer-specific success plans, usage data, and key health metrics
That’d be pretty cool, right? Now before you head down to your boss’ office requesting an assistant in the name of “providing an outstanding customer experience,” maybe we can leverage technology to help us do all of that!
Gainsight – The CSM’s best friend
If you’re reading this blog post you are likely pretty familiar with Gainsight and some of the key value that Gainsight delivers. Things like: reducing churn, lowering customer acquisition cost, increasing renewal and expansion revenue, and expanding customer advocacy. These are the important Board of Directors-level objectives that really impact the bottom line.
Now, all of that is fine, well and good – but what about the individual CSMs who manage a portfolio of customers? How can Gainsight help them be more efficient, stay on top of their book of business more effectively, and maybe get out of the office before 5:15 on a Friday? Let’s take a look at some common CSM tasks and how Gainsight (your ‘CSM personal assistant’) can tackle those for you.
Prepping for Customer Meetings
Before you meet with your customers, it’s probably a good idea to scan the relevant information associated with their account. Things like recent and open support cases, open calls to action, current health scorecard (and recent history), recent Chatter comments, current usage (and recent history), recent activity on your community portal, recent NPS, and other survey responses. You might also want to remind yourself of their annual spend, renewal date, and number of users.
All of this research can take time and is comprised of data in multiple systems. Your “CSM personal assistant” – in this case Gainsight’s Customer 360 View – can help.
With a single click, all of this information is at your fingertips and meeting prep time is cut from many minutes (or hours) to a few seconds.
Providing Account Summaries for Management/Executives
An added plus related to the previous topic is when a member of management or an executive is interacting with one of your customers and asks for some aspect of data associated with that account. Instead of this request disrupting your schedule for the day while you research and consolidate this information to send to them, they can have the same access to all of this information via the Gainsight platform.
Sales and support reps can also access all of this information so that every interaction with a customer is informed and current. Your ‘CSM personal assistant’ saves the day again!
Watching Your Accounts for you
You have lots to do, but letting a renewal lapse or not noticing a downward trend in customer health would be a critical miss. It’s true that your ‘CSM personal assistant’ pulls all of this data into a consolidated view through the aforementioned Customer 360, but if you manage a portfolio of customers, it would be fabulous if Gainsight could also watch all of your accounts for you.
This is one of the powerful aspects of the Gainsight platform – intelligent automation. By building instruction sets (rules), the Gainsight ‘CSM personal assistant’ can monitor any number of lifecycle or triggered behavior actions associated with your customers. All this is done completely automatically and if any of the watched events happens, not only is the CSM notified, but they can also be provided with a playbook of recommended actions, email templates to use, and integration with the company’s Chatter feed.
Here are some scenarios where instead of getting blindsided, you are immediately alerted so you can be responsive and manage risk, capitalize on opportunity, or simply stay on top of lifecycle events:
- Executive sponsor changes role or company
- Customer submits a low NPS score
- Customer has a high number of support cases
- Customer has a support case open too long
- Customer has recently declined in usage
- Customer is coming up for renewal in the next 90 days
- Customer is approaching their max number of licenses
- Customer submitted a NPS promoter response
Example Lifecycle Events:
- Customer has reached 90 day post contract signature
- Customer has reached “healthy habits” usage levels
- Customer has their anniversary in the next 30 days
When you are responsive to these types of triggers you will have overall more satisfied customers, a happier boss (and executive team), and you’ll experience less stress.
Organizing your Calendar – Planning your Work
One of the the top responsibilities of any personal assistant is to make sure that you don’t miss any appointments or important events. If you’re like most CSMs, your week is filled with a combination of events, some of which are urgent priority and which must be managed immediately, some that are less critical but which still are up there in importance, and some of which are lower priority but which should not be forgotten.
Gainsight acts as your personal assistant by giving you multiple methods to organize your workflow and a variety of ways to view your calendar and to-do list. Not only does the Gainsight Cockpit allow for almost any variation on sorting and filtering, but it also includes a calendar view which helps if you like to see these actions grouped by day/week/month.
Again, the goal of the assistant here is to manage the little details so you are more productive, efficient, and competent. Who doesn’t want that?! This feature is so powerful that I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you a link to one of our amazing online reference articles to learn more.
Taking Care of Scripted Communication
Personal assistants often manage routine or rudimentary communications on behalf of their bosses. In the realm of Gainsight’s ‘CSM personal assistant’ services, this takes on the form of automated emails and mass communications. Here to save the day is Gainsight’s CoPilot tool.
- Perhaps you’d like to have all of your customers notified about an upcoming product release. CoPilot does that.
- Or maybe you’d like to send a customized report on utilization to each of your customer sponsors (including graphical reports with their unique customer data). CoPilot can handle that too.
- How about a special outreach to executives but only to your Northeast region customers who have an annual spend of over $100k. Yep, you guessed it – CoPilot has it under control.
CoPilot can handle mass emailings, emailings with customer-specific reports and tokens, highly filtered recipient lists and more. And CoPilot can be configured to automatically send outreaches based on customer lifecycle events, risk triggers or any schedule that you desire.
This kind of power is practically worth the price of admission all on its own, but your ‘CSM personal assistant’ is not done yet. How about providing analytics and details about the success of your email campaign? Yep, CoPilot does that too.
Preparing for Executive Business Reviews
Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) are excellent opportunities to demonstrate value to the customer decision makers, align on strategic goals and maximize adoption (and renewal odds). That’s some of the good aspects of EBRs. One downside is how long it can take to prepare an effective and detailed presentation deck. I think by now you know that I’m going to invoke the power of the ‘CSM personal assistant’ one more time!
Imagine if you could task your personal assistant with pulling together all of the progress against customer specific strategic objectives since the last EBR, add in some graphical reports showing progress related to usage, support cases, or other key metrics and then merge all of that customer specific information with the standard deck that is being used by your CSM team this quarter.
That would be a HUGE time saver. Once the personal assistant does the heavy lifting, all you have to do is review the information they gathered, add some finishing touches, and finalize the deck.
Gainsight does exactly that when it comes to EBR prep. It’s as simple as:
- Uploading the CSM team template deck
- Mapping the reports and success plan exports that you want to appear in the deck
- When the time comes to prepare for the EBR, just pull up that customer’s C360 page and select Export > Quarterly Business Review.
In a minute or two you will receive in your email inbox the completed deck, ready for your final touches.
If you’re like me, any software tool or personal productivity hack that can give you more time while simultaneously making you better at your job is an easy win-win: a “no-brainer.” While we can’t all afford to hire personal assistants to make our jobs easier, tools like Gainsight can manage a lot of the routine tasks associated with being a CSM resulting in less oversight, more time to work with customers, and ultimately a healthier work-life balance.
Now, if I can only figure out how to use Gainsight to pick up my dry cleaning! I guess I’m on my own for that one.