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Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.

If you focus on Customer Success, churn will not be an issue. At least in theory.

To take that from a simple theory to your Operating Model, you need to put systems in place, be able to monitor their effectiveness, and routinely perform root cause analysis when things go wrong (and also when things go well so you can replicate, right?).

So while our goal is to live in a world where churn doesn’t happen, while you have it, you really need to understand it so you can avoid it in the future.

To that end, I put together this Churn Classification system (or matrix or quadrant or whatever) to help you do that.

All Churn is Bad

All churn is bad, but some churn is worse than other churn.

Customers leaving is bad. Period.

Churn is a symptom of an underlying disease (and I’m not sure there’s ever a case for “good symptoms”).

Even if you think it’s “good churn” (which doesn’t exist; see above), you still have to acquire one more customer to offset the loss of that customer, and two if you actually want to grow.

And customers that leave on anything less than positive terms only cause more problems from there.

If a customer is unprofitable or annoying, it might feel good to see them go (GTFO and don’t let the door hit’cha), but there is so much going on there that is the total antithesis of why you’re in business that your shortsighted glee at a “bad” customer leaving can have real, long-term ramifications.

It’s at least the antithesis of Customer Success-driven Growth, which is kinda what I’ve dedicated my life to (for some unknown reason), and why I can’t accept your misguided argument that churn is somehow good.

All that said, though, if we didn’t see that churn coming or if we failed to unlock the Success Potential in that customer and that’s why they churned, that’s really bad and we absolutely need to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.

We can’t do that if we aren’t clear on what’s going on.

Which is why I created my…

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

While I’ve talked about this stuff before, I’ve never actually shared my full classification system publicly until now.

To date, only my clients have seen this.

But now, for the first time ever, you get access to my Churn Classification system (or matrix, quadrant, etc.) and you should definitely apply this to your Customer Success Management operation.

Green is good (but still bad; see above if you’re not clear why this is), and Red is really, really bad.

Churn Classification Explained

Essentially, customers leave for only two reasons: something happened to them or they didn’t achieve their Desired Outcome.

But for us to really understand what’s going on and to either operationalize from the start or optimize our in-place systems, we need to add another dimension to our view of churn.

And that’s where my Churn Classification system comes in.

Before I move on, I have to remind you that you’ll need to determine the actual reason customers churn, but those will all roll up to either Avoidable or Unavoidable.

Okay, so let’s actually define…

Avoidable Churn

Avoidable means the customer had Success Potential (was a Good Fit) and they’re still in business, out there paying other vendors. You lost them but shouldn’t have.

Unavoidable Churn

Unavoidable means the customer didn’t have Success Potential or they did but they went out of business or otherwise disappeared.

A good rule of thumb is if the customer is still in business and paying other vendors, and they were a Good Fit (with Success Potential), that churn was definitely avoidable. That understanding should help eliminate many of the false-positive “unavoidable” declarations that people like to make.

I go into more detail on this in my posts Myth of Unavoidable Churn and Excuses and the Myth of Near-Zero Churn.

Expected Churn

Expected simply means your signaling is right… you saw it coming.

Be clear that “expected” doesn’t mean that you took action to try to stop the churn and get the customer back on track.

It only means that you saw it coming.

That said, if you’re at a point where you’re seeing the churn coming before it happens, you’re in a much better place than – IMHO – the vast majority of companies that are still shocked (shocked!) by every churn.

Unexpected Churn

Unexpected means just that… you never saw it coming no you didn’t. That’s a problem.

Now, to put this into practice, let’s drill into each quadrant, shall we?

Churn Classifications: Deep Dive

Expected & Unavoidable

If you knew the churn (based on Success Vector, health score, or other methods) was going to happen – Expected – and you knew that there was nothing you could do (they were a Bad Fit, were going out of business, or even that they outgrew your solution) – Unavoidable – that’s the best case.

But that’s the best case when it comes to churn, which means it still sucks.

Look, if the customer left on positive terms (let’s say they outgrew your solution) after paying back acquisition costs and becoming profitable, they still took revenue with them, and that’s not good.

If you’re fairly managing your Customer Success Managers (CSM), you shouldn’t count this against them because it was unavoidable. No action on their part would have saved the customer.

However, you may count this against them if they saw it coming but didn’t report this to you before it happened.

Expected & Avoidable

If you knew it was going to happen (Expected) but didn’t act in time or in the right way to help the Good Fit customer unlock their Success Potential (Avoidable), apply this classification to that customer.

While it’s great that we saw this coming – the instrumentation and monitoring is working well – this is really something that should be counted against the CSM because it was avoidable.

From an optimization standpoint, I would want to look at how early we were able to mark this churn as “expected” and whether or not that was early enough to intervene and try to get the customer back on track to success.

I don’t like trying to save customers that are at the point of churning out… but I’m all about recognizing something negative is happening, intervening, and ensuring we have a plan in place to get them back on the right path. That’s kind of the definition of Customer Success Management, actually.

Unexpected & Unavoidable

If you didn’t see this churn coming (Unexpected), but it was truly Unavoidable and kind of happened out of the blue (like they went out of business or were acquired all of the sudden), apply this classification.

That said, I always like to flag these for a deeper dive to make sure our signaling is good enough. Did we miss something that next time would give us a heads-up? Are there better questions we could ask? Are their external market or industry triggers that we could setup that would help avoid this in the future?

Only after that analysis would we figure out whether this was on the CSM or not; if it is, going forward that would count against them, but it’s not fair – unless it was SO obvious they should have known – to punish for something that no one understood.

Unexpected & Avoidable

If a Good Fit customer (Avoidable) actively cancels or fails to renew – but they’re still in business – and we didn’t see it coming (Unexpected), that’s the absolute worst-case scenario for Customer Success Management.

That’s a fail.

It means our signaling is off AND we didn’t help unlock the Success Potential of our customer.

This is on the CSM for sure, but it’s also on the entire CSM org, ops, management, etc. because this was a systemic failure.

Okay, but what about…

Churn Classification Benchmarks

Inevitably someone will ask about benchmarks on the ideal amount of churn that should exist in each classification bucket.

I don’t have any definitive benchmarks, but in my experience doing this with a lot of companies, WAY too many customer churns are classified as Unexpected and Avoidable, with Unexpected and Unavoidable following a close second.

This is due to their Customer Success Management operations not actually being that – they’re more like simple Account Management – and that they won’t freakin’ stop acquiring Bad Fit customers with no Success Potential.

It’s also important to know that different companies in different markets at different stages will have different realities so even if you were to benchmark, unless you’re getting fairly granular on the characteristics you’re comparing, you’re comparing apples to a Lego.

Forget benchmarks… wherever you are today, you should get to a point where you have as little churn in the Red and as much in the Green (though overall, still as little churn as possible).

So we need to look objectively at every customer that churned, classify them appropriately, and then…

Take Action to Reduce Churn

Ultimately, this churn classification method is all about understanding why churn happens so we can avoid it in the future to the greatest extent possible.

Classifying churn and not taking action on that makes no sense.

Churn happens for just two reasons, but why we allow it to happen – or why it happens in ways that seem to be out of our control – can be due to myriad reasons. This exercise helps us uncover those reasons.

I’ve detailed how to take action on this in the past in my post on Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization, so I won’t repeat it here.

I will repeat, however, that if you’re going to have your CSMs go back and classify past churned customers (from the trailing 3 or 6 months) to get a good idea on where things are in your CSM org, you should do it with 100% amnesty for your CSMs.

This will ensure that everyone gives their true view of whether they saw it coming and if it was expected or not. Going forward, however, there will be no amnesty! Everyone is accountable from now on.

Let’s work to make churn a non-issue, but while it is an issue, let’s work to understand it so we can do that first thing I mentioned in this extra-long final sentence of this website blog post.

The post Churn Classification for Customer Success Management appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

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7 Marketing Tasks You Should Really Outsource to a VA

outsourcing-businesss-marketing1

It’s no secret that time is money in any business. No matter whether you’re selling the hottest real estate around or making toothpicks for a living, you don’t have time to do everything yourself if you want to scale (or even run) your business effectively. You need to outsource some of your workload, but what should you offload?

Whilst the answer is really “anything which you personally do not have to do”, as long as your time could be better spent on something else, we have the top 7 tasks to outsource to a VA right here. These are the most common, time / resource consuming tasks which (frankly) we could happily see the end of.

If you want more time to focus on the things that matter for your marketing efforts, go ahead and outsource these tasks before anything else!

Gathering Emails

Nobody likes the arduous task of trawling through hundreds of contacts, manually adding their email address to each one. Equally, the task of finding new contacts and their email address can happily chew up hours upon hours of your work day; hours which could be much better spent personally building a connection to those new contacts, rather than just finding them.

Hence, whenever you have a task which requires the collection of email addresses, you should be outsourcing it to a VA. This is a prime example of everything an outsourced task should be; it’s time consuming, monotonous and doesn’t require any of your personal input or expertise to carry out.

Finding Contact Handles

This task has many parallels to gathering emails; finding other contact information such as Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles can be just as time-consuming as gathering their email. Time which, once again, could be much better spent creating content to market, improving your website or, as with the emails, building a personal connection to said potential contacts. Essentially, instead of building the framework, you’re shaping your network.

Curating Social Media Content

If this is not already handled by your business process automation system, social media is something which you (by and large) don’t want to be dealing with. You want to have your social media accounts topped up with content that isn’t just an endless stream of self-promotion, but where exactly do you get content that resonates with your audience.

Depending on your tastes, you might try social bookmarking sites like reddit, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, or putting together a small list on Twitter of accounts that tend to share top notch content. Making a marketing process for this should be easy if you know the kind of content you’d like to curate.

Visual Content

Whether you’re designing the cover for your brand new ebook or just need to get some header images to pair with your Twitter and Facebook posts, you could spend the time to do them yourself. After all, if you just have to do one or two images you might as well take the 5 minutes it takes to whip up a good image.

However, when you get to the stage where you need professional-looking infographics, 20 social media images a week and a new ebook every couple of months, it only makes sense to outsource the task to someone more qualified. Hey, just because the task is going to a VA doesn’t mean that it’s going to be worse quality! All you need to do is make some inquiries to learn who has experience with creating visual content, and then boom; you’re away.

Blog Commenting

Other than being a fantastic way to get your name and brand out there and seen on more popular sources, blog commenting is another monotonous task which can take up hours upon hours without ever being complete (as long as there are more blogs and new posts, blog comments can be made). So, rather than tackle it yourself, you can quite happily hand the task off to a VA without too much trouble.

The only problem which can be posed by outsourcing this task is that the comments should have some sort of review process. This could either be yourself (even if you review each comment, you’ll still save the time taken to write them) or a permanent member of your marketing team, but there should be at least a little quality assurance before a VA is allowed to say anything under your name.

Transcriptions

Although this mainly applies to those of you who produce a podcast or video content, transcriptions are easy to do and provide you with extra content with relatively little effort. If you outsource the task you’re not even wasting any time on it – you’re essentially getting several mediums of content for the effort put into just the one.

Content Creation (Be Careful Though)

This may be a bit of a controversial one, but content creation doesn’t always have to be handled by an internal member of your team. You can outsource your content creation to a VA with little problem and, although you’d better have a thorough employee onboarding process to help them along, it should take little time for them to produce similar quality content to yours in the same (or even a shorter) time period.

As with the blog commenting, this should always be monitored and go through at least one of your team members before being pushed live; although many VAs are very talented and can most certainly deliver on what they promise, there’s always a chance that an error has snuck by them or that they haven’t got your tone right.

And there you have it! With a little caution and training, VAs can be a massive boon to your marketing efforts if you let them take these time-consuming tasks off your hands. However, why not take it one step further? Get creative with analyzing your day-to-day tasks and you may find that you can outsource more than you thought to great effect!

How to Share Posts From the Instagram Feed to Stories

Instagram has released a new way for users to easily share feed posts to stories.

More than 300 million users now use Instagram stories daily and this update will enable them to share any post from their Instagram feed directly to stories.

In the feature’s launch blog post Instagram explained:

When you come across something in feed that inspires you – like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand – you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.

How to share feed posts to Instagram Stories

To share feed posts to stories:

  1.  Tap the paper airplane button below the post (like you would to send a direct message)
  2. You’ll then see an option on the following menu to “Create a story with this post”
  3. Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can move, resize or rotate the photo or video. You can also use drawing tools or add text and stickers.

Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.

Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings.

In a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, hosts, Hailley and Brian discussed this update (around the 4:45 mark in the below audio):

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest social media news and views? Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

How brands can use this feature

Many brands and influencers already use stories as a way to drive attention to their latest feed and promote their latest posts. This update will be a welcome improvement to this process by allowing users to directly link to their latest feed posts, rather than taking a screenshot of a post and manually adding it to stories.

As Brian mentions in the podcast, this could enable brands to use stories as a way to cross-promote their feed posts to their audience on stories – people who may have potentially missed the post in the feed.

“One of the reasons we love stories so much is that it can be used as cross-promote content and now users will be able to go from stories directly to your feed,” he explained.

Hailley also drew comparisons between this feature and Twitter’s quote tweet functionality, where users can share content from the feed, but also add their own thoughts and context around it.

This is another exciting update from Instagram – following the share to stories and live video chat announcements at F8 – and it helps to better connect the feed to stories as well as providing a way for users to re-share some of their favorite Instagram content in a more public way than sharing with a couple of friends via a direct message.

These updates now available on Android and will be coming to iOS in the coming days.

What do you think to this release from Instagram? Will it change how you use Instagram stories for your business? Let us know in the comments <img src="http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72×72/1f4ac.png&quot; alt="

7 Marketing Tasks You Should Really Outsource to a VA

outsourcing-businesss-marketing1

It’s no secret that time is money in any business. No matter whether you’re selling the hottest real estate around or making toothpicks for a living, you don’t have time to do everything yourself if you want to scale (or even run) your business effectively. You need to outsource some of your workload, but what should you offload?

Whilst the answer is really “anything which you personally do not have to do”, as long as your time could be better spent on something else, we have the top 7 tasks to outsource to a VA right here. These are the most common, time / resource consuming tasks which (frankly) we could happily see the end of.

If you want more time to focus on the things that matter for your marketing efforts, go ahead and outsource these tasks before anything else!

Gathering Emails

Nobody likes the arduous task of trawling through hundreds of contacts, manually adding their email address to each one. Equally, the task of finding new contacts and their email address can happily chew up hours upon hours of your work day; hours which could be much better spent personally building a connection to those new contacts, rather than just finding them.

Hence, whenever you have a task which requires the collection of email addresses, you should be outsourcing it to a VA. This is a prime example of everything an outsourced task should be; it’s time consuming, monotonous and doesn’t require any of your personal input or expertise to carry out.

Finding Contact Handles

This task has many parallels to gathering emails; finding other contact information such as Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles can be just as time-consuming as gathering their email. Time which, once again, could be much better spent creating content to market, improving your website or, as with the emails, building a personal connection to said potential contacts. Essentially, instead of building the framework, you’re shaping your network.

Curating Social Media Content

If this is not already handled by your business process automation system, social media is something which you (by and large) don’t want to be dealing with. You want to have your social media accounts topped up with content that isn’t just an endless stream of self-promotion, but where exactly do you get content that resonates with your audience.

Depending on your tastes, you might try social bookmarking sites like reddit, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, or putting together a small list on Twitter of accounts that tend to share top notch content. Making a marketing process for this should be easy if you know the kind of content you’d like to curate.

Visual Content

Whether you’re designing the cover for your brand new ebook or just need to get some header images to pair with your Twitter and Facebook posts, you could spend the time to do them yourself. After all, if you just have to do one or two images you might as well take the 5 minutes it takes to whip up a good image.

However, when you get to the stage where you need professional-looking infographics, 20 social media images a week and a new ebook every couple of months, it only makes sense to outsource the task to someone more qualified. Hey, just because the task is going to a VA doesn’t mean that it’s going to be worse quality! All you need to do is make some inquiries to learn who has experience with creating visual content, and then boom; you’re away.

Blog Commenting

Other than being a fantastic way to get your name and brand out there and seen on more popular sources, blog commenting is another monotonous task which can take up hours upon hours without ever being complete (as long as there are more blogs and new posts, blog comments can be made). So, rather than tackle it yourself, you can quite happily hand the task off to a VA without too much trouble.

The only problem which can be posed by outsourcing this task is that the comments should have some sort of review process. This could either be yourself (even if you review each comment, you’ll still save the time taken to write them) or a permanent member of your marketing team, but there should be at least a little quality assurance before a VA is allowed to say anything under your name.

Transcriptions

Although this mainly applies to those of you who produce a podcast or video content, transcriptions are easy to do and provide you with extra content with relatively little effort. If you outsource the task you’re not even wasting any time on it – you’re essentially getting several mediums of content for the effort put into just the one.

Content Creation (Be Careful Though)

This may be a bit of a controversial one, but content creation doesn’t always have to be handled by an internal member of your team. You can outsource your content creation to a VA with little problem and, although you’d better have a thorough employee onboarding process to help them along, it should take little time for them to produce similar quality content to yours in the same (or even a shorter) time period.

As with the blog commenting, this should always be monitored and go through at least one of your team members before being pushed live; although many VAs are very talented and can most certainly deliver on what they promise, there’s always a chance that an error has snuck by them or that they haven’t got your tone right.

And there you have it! With a little caution and training, VAs can be a massive boon to your marketing efforts if you let them take these time-consuming tasks off your hands. However, why not take it one step further? Get creative with analyzing your day-to-day tasks and you may find that you can outsource more than you thought to great effect!

How to Share Posts From the Instagram Feed to Stories

Instagram has released a new way for users to easily share feed posts to stories.

More than 300 million users now use Instagram stories daily and this update will enable them to share any post from their Instagram feed directly to stories.

In the feature’s launch blog post Instagram explained:

When you come across something in feed that inspires you – like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand – you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.

How to share feed posts to Instagram Stories

To share feed posts to stories:

  1.  Tap the paper airplane button below the post (like you would to send a direct message)
  2. You’ll then see an option on the following menu to “Create a story with this post”
  3. Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can move, resize or rotate the photo or video. You can also use drawing tools or add text and stickers.

Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.

Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings.

In a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, hosts, Hailley and Brian discussed this update (around the 4:45 mark in the below audio):

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest social media news and views? Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

How brands can use this feature

Many brands and influencers already use stories as a way to drive attention to their latest feed and promote their latest posts. This update will be a welcome improvement to this process by allowing users to directly link to their latest feed posts, rather than taking a screenshot of a post and manually adding it to stories.

As Brian mentions in the podcast, this could enable brands to use stories as a way to cross-promote their feed posts to their audience on stories – people who may have potentially missed the post in the feed.

“One of the reasons we love stories so much is that it can be used as cross-promote content and now users will be able to go from stories directly to your feed,” he explained.

Hailley also drew comparisons between this feature and Twitter’s quote tweet functionality, where users can share content from the feed, but also add their own thoughts and context around it.

This is another exciting update from Instagram – following the share to stories and live video chat announcements at F8 – and it helps to better connect the feed to stories as well as providing a way for users to re-share some of their favorite Instagram content in a more public way than sharing with a couple of friends via a direct message.

These updates now available on Android and will be coming to iOS in the coming days.

What do you think to this release from Instagram? Will it change how you use Instagram stories for your business? Let us know in the comments <img src="http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72×72/1f4ac.png&quot; alt="

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.

If you focus on Customer Success, churn will not be an issue. At least in theory.

To take that from a simple theory to your Operating Model, you need to put systems in place, be able to monitor their effectiveness, and routinely perform root cause analysis when things go wrong (and also when things go well so you can replicate, right?).

So while our goal is to live in a world where churn doesn’t happen, while you have it, you really need to understand it so you can avoid it in the future.

To that end, I put together this Churn Classification system (or matrix or quadrant or whatever) to help you do that.

All Churn is Bad

All churn is bad, but some churn is worse than other churn.

Customers leaving is bad. Period.

Churn is a symptom of an underlying disease (and I’m not sure there’s ever a case for “good symptoms”).

Even if you think it’s “good churn” (which doesn’t exist; see above), you still have to acquire one more customer to offset the loss of that customer, and two if you actually want to grow.

And customers that leave on anything less than positive terms only cause more problems from there.

If a customer is unprofitable or annoying, it might feel good to see them go (GTFO and don’t let the door hit’cha), but there is so much going on there that is the total antithesis of why you’re in business that your shortsighted glee at a “bad” customer leaving can have real, long-term ramifications.

It’s at least the antithesis of Customer Success-driven Growth, which is kinda what I’ve dedicated my life to (for some unknown reason), and why I can’t accept your misguided argument that churn is somehow good.

All that said, though, if we didn’t see that churn coming or if we failed to unlock the Success Potential in that customer and that’s why they churned, that’s really bad and we absolutely need to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.

We can’t do that if we aren’t clear on what’s going on.

Which is why I created my…

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

While I’ve talked about this stuff before, I’ve never actually shared my full classification system publicly until now.

To date, only my clients have seen this.

But now, for the first time ever, you get access to my Churn Classification system (or matrix, quadrant, etc.) and you should definitely apply this to your Customer Success Management operation.

Green is good (but still bad; see above if you’re not clear why this is), and Red is really, really bad.

Churn Classification Explained

Essentially, customers leave for only two reasons: something happened to them or they didn’t achieve their Desired Outcome.

But for us to really understand what’s going on and to either operationalize from the start or optimize our in-place systems, we need to add another dimension to our view of churn.

And that’s where my Churn Classification system comes in.

Before I move on, I have to remind you that you’ll need to determine the actual reason customers churn, but those will all roll up to either Avoidable or Unavoidable.

Okay, so let’s actually define…

Avoidable Churn

Avoidable means the customer had Success Potential (was a Good Fit) and they’re still in business, out there paying other vendors. You lost them but shouldn’t have.

Unavoidable Churn

Unavoidable means the customer didn’t have Success Potential or they did but they went out of business or otherwise disappeared.

A good rule of thumb is if the customer is still in business and paying other vendors, and they were a Good Fit (with Success Potential), that churn was definitely avoidable. That understanding should help eliminate many of the false-positive “unavoidable” declarations that people like to make.

I go into more detail on this in my posts Myth of Unavoidable Churn and Excuses and the Myth of Near-Zero Churn.

Expected Churn

Expected simply means your signaling is right… you saw it coming.

Be clear that “expected” doesn’t mean that you took action to try to stop the churn and get the customer back on track.

It only means that you saw it coming.

That said, if you’re at a point where you’re seeing the churn coming before it happens, you’re in a much better place than – IMHO – the vast majority of companies that are still shocked (shocked!) by every churn.

Unexpected Churn

Unexpected means just that… you never saw it coming no you didn’t. That’s a problem.

Now, to put this into practice, let’s drill into each quadrant, shall we?

Churn Classifications: Deep Dive

Expected & Unavoidable

If you knew the churn (based on Success Vector, health score, or other methods) was going to happen – Expected – and you knew that there was nothing you could do (they were a Bad Fit, were going out of business, or even that they outgrew your solution) – Unavoidable – that’s the best case.

But that’s the best case when it comes to churn, which means it still sucks.

Look, if the customer left on positive terms (let’s say they outgrew your solution) after paying back acquisition costs and becoming profitable, they still took revenue with them, and that’s not good.

If you’re fairly managing your Customer Success Managers (CSM), you shouldn’t count this against them because it was unavoidable. No action on their part would have saved the customer.

However, you may count this against them if they saw it coming but didn’t report this to you before it happened.

Expected & Avoidable

If you knew it was going to happen (Expected) but didn’t act in time or in the right way to help the Good Fit customer unlock their Success Potential (Avoidable), apply this classification to that customer.

While it’s great that we saw this coming – the instrumentation and monitoring is working well – this is really something that should be counted against the CSM because it was avoidable.

From an optimization standpoint, I would want to look at how early we were able to mark this churn as “expected” and whether or not that was early enough to intervene and try to get the customer back on track to success.

I don’t like trying to save customers that are at the point of churning out… but I’m all about recognizing something negative is happening, intervening, and ensuring we have a plan in place to get them back on the right path. That’s kind of the definition of Customer Success Management, actually.

Unexpected & Unavoidable

If you didn’t see this churn coming (Unexpected), but it was truly Unavoidable and kind of happened out of the blue (like they went out of business or were acquired all of the sudden), apply this classification.

That said, I always like to flag these for a deeper dive to make sure our signaling is good enough. Did we miss something that next time would give us a heads-up? Are there better questions we could ask? Are their external market or industry triggers that we could setup that would help avoid this in the future?

Only after that analysis would we figure out whether this was on the CSM or not; if it is, going forward that would count against them, but it’s not fair – unless it was SO obvious they should have known – to punish for something that no one understood.

Unexpected & Avoidable

If a Good Fit customer (Avoidable) actively cancels or fails to renew – but they’re still in business – and we didn’t see it coming (Unexpected), that’s the absolute worst-case scenario for Customer Success Management.

That’s a fail.

It means our signaling is off AND we didn’t help unlock the Success Potential of our customer.

This is on the CSM for sure, but it’s also on the entire CSM org, ops, management, etc. because this was a systemic failure.

Okay, but what about…

Churn Classification Benchmarks

Inevitably someone will ask about benchmarks on the ideal amount of churn that should exist in each classification bucket.

I don’t have any definitive benchmarks, but in my experience doing this with a lot of companies, WAY too many customer churns are classified as Unexpected and Avoidable, with Unexpected and Unavoidable following a close second.

This is due to their Customer Success Management operations not actually being that – they’re more like simple Account Management – and that they won’t freakin’ stop acquiring Bad Fit customers with no Success Potential.

It’s also important to know that different companies in different markets at different stages will have different realities so even if you were to benchmark, unless you’re getting fairly granular on the characteristics you’re comparing, you’re comparing apples to a Lego.

Forget benchmarks… wherever you are today, you should get to a point where you have as little churn in the Red and as much in the Green (though overall, still as little churn as possible).

So we need to look objectively at every customer that churned, classify them appropriately, and then…

Take Action to Reduce Churn

Ultimately, this churn classification method is all about understanding why churn happens so we can avoid it in the future to the greatest extent possible.

Classifying churn and not taking action on that makes no sense.

Churn happens for just two reasons, but why we allow it to happen – or why it happens in ways that seem to be out of our control – can be due to myriad reasons. This exercise helps us uncover those reasons.

I’ve detailed how to take action on this in the past in my post on Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization, so I won’t repeat it here.

I will repeat, however, that if you’re going to have your CSMs go back and classify past churned customers (from the trailing 3 or 6 months) to get a good idea on where things are in your CSM org, you should do it with 100% amnesty for your CSMs.

This will ensure that everyone gives their true view of whether they saw it coming and if it was expected or not. Going forward, however, there will be no amnesty! Everyone is accountable from now on.

Let’s work to make churn a non-issue, but while it is an issue, let’s work to understand it so we can do that first thing I mentioned in this extra-long final sentence of this website blog post.

The post Churn Classification for Customer Success Management appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

7 Marketing Tasks You Should Really Outsource to a VA

outsourcing-businesss-marketing1

It’s no secret that time is money in any business. No matter whether you’re selling the hottest real estate around or making toothpicks for a living, you don’t have time to do everything yourself if you want to scale (or even run) your business effectively. You need to outsource some of your workload, but what should you offload?

Whilst the answer is really “anything which you personally do not have to do”, as long as your time could be better spent on something else, we have the top 7 tasks to outsource to a VA right here. These are the most common, time / resource consuming tasks which (frankly) we could happily see the end of.

If you want more time to focus on the things that matter for your marketing efforts, go ahead and outsource these tasks before anything else!

Gathering Emails

Nobody likes the arduous task of trawling through hundreds of contacts, manually adding their email address to each one. Equally, the task of finding new contacts and their email address can happily chew up hours upon hours of your work day; hours which could be much better spent personally building a connection to those new contacts, rather than just finding them.

Hence, whenever you have a task which requires the collection of email addresses, you should be outsourcing it to a VA. This is a prime example of everything an outsourced task should be; it’s time consuming, monotonous and doesn’t require any of your personal input or expertise to carry out.

Finding Contact Handles

This task has many parallels to gathering emails; finding other contact information such as Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles can be just as time-consuming as gathering their email. Time which, once again, could be much better spent creating content to market, improving your website or, as with the emails, building a personal connection to said potential contacts. Essentially, instead of building the framework, you’re shaping your network.

Curating Social Media Content

If this is not already handled by your business process automation system, social media is something which you (by and large) don’t want to be dealing with. You want to have your social media accounts topped up with content that isn’t just an endless stream of self-promotion, but where exactly do you get content that resonates with your audience.

Depending on your tastes, you might try social bookmarking sites like reddit, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, or putting together a small list on Twitter of accounts that tend to share top notch content. Making a marketing process for this should be easy if you know the kind of content you’d like to curate.

Visual Content

Whether you’re designing the cover for your brand new ebook or just need to get some header images to pair with your Twitter and Facebook posts, you could spend the time to do them yourself. After all, if you just have to do one or two images you might as well take the 5 minutes it takes to whip up a good image.

However, when you get to the stage where you need professional-looking infographics, 20 social media images a week and a new ebook every couple of months, it only makes sense to outsource the task to someone more qualified. Hey, just because the task is going to a VA doesn’t mean that it’s going to be worse quality! All you need to do is make some inquiries to learn who has experience with creating visual content, and then boom; you’re away.

Blog Commenting

Other than being a fantastic way to get your name and brand out there and seen on more popular sources, blog commenting is another monotonous task which can take up hours upon hours without ever being complete (as long as there are more blogs and new posts, blog comments can be made). So, rather than tackle it yourself, you can quite happily hand the task off to a VA without too much trouble.

The only problem which can be posed by outsourcing this task is that the comments should have some sort of review process. This could either be yourself (even if you review each comment, you’ll still save the time taken to write them) or a permanent member of your marketing team, but there should be at least a little quality assurance before a VA is allowed to say anything under your name.

Transcriptions

Although this mainly applies to those of you who produce a podcast or video content, transcriptions are easy to do and provide you with extra content with relatively little effort. If you outsource the task you’re not even wasting any time on it – you’re essentially getting several mediums of content for the effort put into just the one.

Content Creation (Be Careful Though)

This may be a bit of a controversial one, but content creation doesn’t always have to be handled by an internal member of your team. You can outsource your content creation to a VA with little problem and, although you’d better have a thorough employee onboarding process to help them along, it should take little time for them to produce similar quality content to yours in the same (or even a shorter) time period.

As with the blog commenting, this should always be monitored and go through at least one of your team members before being pushed live; although many VAs are very talented and can most certainly deliver on what they promise, there’s always a chance that an error has snuck by them or that they haven’t got your tone right.

And there you have it! With a little caution and training, VAs can be a massive boon to your marketing efforts if you let them take these time-consuming tasks off your hands. However, why not take it one step further? Get creative with analyzing your day-to-day tasks and you may find that you can outsource more than you thought to great effect!

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.

If you focus on Customer Success, churn will not be an issue. At least in theory.

To take that from a simple theory to your Operating Model, you need to put systems in place, be able to monitor their effectiveness, and routinely perform root cause analysis when things go wrong (and also when things go well so you can replicate, right?).

So while our goal is to live in a world where churn doesn’t happen, while you have it, you really need to understand it so you can avoid it in the future.

To that end, I put together this Churn Classification system (or matrix or quadrant or whatever) to help you do that.

All Churn is Bad

All churn is bad, but some churn is worse than other churn.

Customers leaving is bad. Period.

Churn is a symptom of an underlying disease (and I’m not sure there’s ever a case for “good symptoms”).

Even if you think it’s “good churn” (which doesn’t exist; see above), you still have to acquire one more customer to offset the loss of that customer, and two if you actually want to grow.

And customers that leave on anything less than positive terms only cause more problems from there.

If a customer is unprofitable or annoying, it might feel good to see them go (GTFO and don’t let the door hit’cha), but there is so much going on there that is the total antithesis of why you’re in business that your shortsighted glee at a “bad” customer leaving can have real, long-term ramifications.

It’s at least the antithesis of Customer Success-driven Growth, which is kinda what I’ve dedicated my life to (for some unknown reason), and why I can’t accept your misguided argument that churn is somehow good.

All that said, though, if we didn’t see that churn coming or if we failed to unlock the Success Potential in that customer and that’s why they churned, that’s really bad and we absolutely need to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.

We can’t do that if we aren’t clear on what’s going on.

Which is why I created my…

Churn Classification for Customer Success Management

While I’ve talked about this stuff before, I’ve never actually shared my full classification system publicly until now.

To date, only my clients have seen this.

But now, for the first time ever, you get access to my Churn Classification system (or matrix, quadrant, etc.) and you should definitely apply this to your Customer Success Management operation.

Green is good (but still bad; see above if you’re not clear why this is), and Red is really, really bad.

Churn Classification Explained

Essentially, customers leave for only two reasons: something happened to them or they didn’t achieve their Desired Outcome.

But for us to really understand what’s going on and to either operationalize from the start or optimize our in-place systems, we need to add another dimension to our view of churn.

And that’s where my Churn Classification system comes in.

Before I move on, I have to remind you that you’ll need to determine the actual reason customers churn, but those will all roll up to either Avoidable or Unavoidable.

Okay, so let’s actually define…

Avoidable Churn

Avoidable means the customer had Success Potential (was a Good Fit) and they’re still in business, out there paying other vendors. You lost them but shouldn’t have.

Unavoidable Churn

Unavoidable means the customer didn’t have Success Potential or they did but they went out of business or otherwise disappeared.

A good rule of thumb is if the customer is still in business and paying other vendors, and they were a Good Fit (with Success Potential), that churn was definitely avoidable. That understanding should help eliminate many of the false-positive “unavoidable” declarations that people like to make.

I go into more detail on this in my posts Myth of Unavoidable Churn and Excuses and the Myth of Near-Zero Churn.

Expected Churn

Expected simply means your signaling is right… you saw it coming.

Be clear that “expected” doesn’t mean that you took action to try to stop the churn and get the customer back on track.

It only means that you saw it coming.

That said, if you’re at a point where you’re seeing the churn coming before it happens, you’re in a much better place than – IMHO – the vast majority of companies that are still shocked (shocked!) by every churn.

Unexpected Churn

Unexpected means just that… you never saw it coming no you didn’t. That’s a problem.

Now, to put this into practice, let’s drill into each quadrant, shall we?

Churn Classifications: Deep Dive

Expected & Unavoidable

If you knew the churn (based on Success Vector, health score, or other methods) was going to happen – Expected – and you knew that there was nothing you could do (they were a Bad Fit, were going out of business, or even that they outgrew your solution) – Unavoidable – that’s the best case.

But that’s the best case when it comes to churn, which means it still sucks.

Look, if the customer left on positive terms (let’s say they outgrew your solution) after paying back acquisition costs and becoming profitable, they still took revenue with them, and that’s not good.

If you’re fairly managing your Customer Success Managers (CSM), you shouldn’t count this against them because it was unavoidable. No action on their part would have saved the customer.

However, you may count this against them if they saw it coming but didn’t report this to you before it happened.

Expected & Avoidable

If you knew it was going to happen (Expected) but didn’t act in time or in the right way to help the Good Fit customer unlock their Success Potential (Avoidable), apply this classification to that customer.

While it’s great that we saw this coming – the instrumentation and monitoring is working well – this is really something that should be counted against the CSM because it was avoidable.

From an optimization standpoint, I would want to look at how early we were able to mark this churn as “expected” and whether or not that was early enough to intervene and try to get the customer back on track to success.

I don’t like trying to save customers that are at the point of churning out… but I’m all about recognizing something negative is happening, intervening, and ensuring we have a plan in place to get them back on the right path. That’s kind of the definition of Customer Success Management, actually.

Unexpected & Unavoidable

If you didn’t see this churn coming (Unexpected), but it was truly Unavoidable and kind of happened out of the blue (like they went out of business or were acquired all of the sudden), apply this classification.

That said, I always like to flag these for a deeper dive to make sure our signaling is good enough. Did we miss something that next time would give us a heads-up? Are there better questions we could ask? Are their external market or industry triggers that we could setup that would help avoid this in the future?

Only after that analysis would we figure out whether this was on the CSM or not; if it is, going forward that would count against them, but it’s not fair – unless it was SO obvious they should have known – to punish for something that no one understood.

Unexpected & Avoidable

If a Good Fit customer (Avoidable) actively cancels or fails to renew – but they’re still in business – and we didn’t see it coming (Unexpected), that’s the absolute worst-case scenario for Customer Success Management.

That’s a fail.

It means our signaling is off AND we didn’t help unlock the Success Potential of our customer.

This is on the CSM for sure, but it’s also on the entire CSM org, ops, management, etc. because this was a systemic failure.

Okay, but what about…

Churn Classification Benchmarks

Inevitably someone will ask about benchmarks on the ideal amount of churn that should exist in each classification bucket.

I don’t have any definitive benchmarks, but in my experience doing this with a lot of companies, WAY too many customer churns are classified as Unexpected and Avoidable, with Unexpected and Unavoidable following a close second.

This is due to their Customer Success Management operations not actually being that – they’re more like simple Account Management – and that they won’t freakin’ stop acquiring Bad Fit customers with no Success Potential.

It’s also important to know that different companies in different markets at different stages will have different realities so even if you were to benchmark, unless you’re getting fairly granular on the characteristics you’re comparing, you’re comparing apples to a Lego.

Forget benchmarks… wherever you are today, you should get to a point where you have as little churn in the Red and as much in the Green (though overall, still as little churn as possible).

So we need to look objectively at every customer that churned, classify them appropriately, and then…

Take Action to Reduce Churn

Ultimately, this churn classification method is all about understanding why churn happens so we can avoid it in the future to the greatest extent possible.

Classifying churn and not taking action on that makes no sense.

Churn happens for just two reasons, but why we allow it to happen – or why it happens in ways that seem to be out of our control – can be due to myriad reasons. This exercise helps us uncover those reasons.

I’ve detailed how to take action on this in the past in my post on Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization, so I won’t repeat it here.

I will repeat, however, that if you’re going to have your CSMs go back and classify past churned customers (from the trailing 3 or 6 months) to get a good idea on where things are in your CSM org, you should do it with 100% amnesty for your CSMs.

This will ensure that everyone gives their true view of whether they saw it coming and if it was expected or not. Going forward, however, there will be no amnesty! Everyone is accountable from now on.

Let’s work to make churn a non-issue, but while it is an issue, let’s work to understand it so we can do that first thing I mentioned in this extra-long final sentence of this website blog post.

The post Churn Classification for Customer Success Management appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

How to Share Posts From the Instagram Feed to Stories

Instagram has released a new way for users to easily share feed posts to stories.

More than 300 million users now use Instagram stories daily and this update will enable them to share any post from their Instagram feed directly to stories.

In the feature’s launch blog post Instagram explained:

When you come across something in feed that inspires you – like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand – you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.

How to share feed posts to Instagram Stories

To share feed posts to stories:

  1.  Tap the paper airplane button below the post (like you would to send a direct message)
  2. You’ll then see an option on the following menu to “Create a story with this post”
  3. Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can move, resize or rotate the photo or video. You can also use drawing tools or add text and stickers.

Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.

Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings.

In a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, hosts, Hailley and Brian discussed this update (around the 4:45 mark in the below audio):

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How brands can use this feature

Many brands and influencers already use stories as a way to drive attention to their latest feed and promote their latest posts. This update will be a welcome improvement to this process by allowing users to directly link to their latest feed posts, rather than taking a screenshot of a post and manually adding it to stories.

As Brian mentions in the podcast, this could enable brands to use stories as a way to cross-promote their feed posts to their audience on stories – people who may have potentially missed the post in the feed.

“One of the reasons we love stories so much is that it can be used as cross-promote content and now users will be able to go from stories directly to your feed,” he explained.

Hailley also drew comparisons between this feature and Twitter’s quote tweet functionality, where users can share content from the feed, but also add their own thoughts and context around it.

This is another exciting update from Instagram – following the share to stories and live video chat announcements at F8 – and it helps to better connect the feed to stories as well as providing a way for users to re-share some of their favorite Instagram content in a more public way than sharing with a couple of friends via a direct message.

These updates now available on Android and will be coming to iOS in the coming days.

What do you think to this release from Instagram? Will it change how you use Instagram stories for your business? Let us know in the comments <img src="http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72×72/1f4ac.png&quot; alt="