Switching from reactive to proactive CS


When establishing their CS team, many organizations start with a reactive business strategy, responding to unanticipated issues only after it occurs. Shifting the mindset to a proactive strategy can enable the team to anticipate those issues, therefore eliminating the problems before they appear. So, how do you make that shift from firefighting churn to a lean and mean proactive CS machine?

In this episode our host Anika Zubair chats with the inspiring Kristi Faltorusso, VP of Customer Success at IntelliShift and voted one of the top 25 Customer Success Influencers of 2020.

Kristi is a Customer Success Executive with experience in building, scaling and transforming organizations at hyper-growth B2B SaaS companies. Over the past decade, she has helped many companies redefine their CS strategies, resulting in increased retention, long term revenue growth and customer advocacy. She has also been recognized as a 2020 Top Customer Success Influencer by SuccessHacker, 2021 Top 50 Customer Success Influencer by SmartKarrot, and a 2021 Top Engagement Expert by HigherLogic.

One of the things that make Kristi unique, is her ability to break down CS and make it simple. So much so that she is launching her new brand, CS Real Simple. It started after speaking to so many CS leaders who always seemed to face the same issues, confusion on how to approach CS, how to build it and how to deploy an effective CS program. She found people were just over complicating things and forgetting their main objective, to make their customers successful. Kristi embarked on this new journey through her desire to help people move their programs forward, be more successful and keep CS simple.

“The reality of it (CS) is, that it's not just plug and play. Everything we do has to be designed specifically for every company, your customers, your personas, the markets and the landscapes that you operate in.”

Having worked in New York she feels CS just breeds great people. There's something special about people in the field, their passion for the industry and their desire to help others. It’s one of the many qualities that have built a successful CS community and why it’s thriving more than any industry, it’s people who care about other people and want to share information. The people really are the ones who make the difference within the CS space.

Kristi moved into CS from a digital marketing role, where she spent the first decade of her career, and her first CS role was with a company she already knew before she started. She was able to anchor her success by knowing her peers and driving a strategy as that was what she was familiar with. So, when she took on a new CS role, where she didn’t know the space, she had to adjust and pivot as she couldn’t rely on knowing the product and customer base. You might not know your product, but knowing the fundamentals and knowing the basics is what is transferable and then having the know-how, ability and drive to learn the other bits is what can make you successful.

“For me, it’s the passion for people to be successful. Whether it was my employees or my customers, it didn't matter. It's that commitment to them.”

When shifting from a reactive to proactive CS, Kristi suggests identifying where in the company’s maturation are you deploying CS. If you’re at the early stages with only 10 customers, then it’s super easy, you can just flip from reactive to proactive. But if you’re trying to drive proactive change in a large organization with a lot of customers all in different stages of their customer journey, then you can’t just flip a switch. Speaking about her current role, Kristi had to do things differently while she built the proactive strategies. Firstly, she figured out what were the things keeping the lights on? You’re going to have to keep some reactive things in place while you pivot, so, what is the one thing you can do today to be proactive? For Kristi, this meant changing their engagement model as they hadn’t spoken to some of their customers in years. The number one proactive change they could do immediately was reach out to customers first. That one thing you change will lead you down the proactive path.

Another proactive element is the design of the program and to design and craft it from the outside in. Kristi has seen many companies fail at CS because they design inside out and design the CS journey based on what the company needs, not what the customer needs.

“Start to design something but put yourself in your customers shoes. Think about what they need in order to be successful and design that program with no barriers.”

Another top tip is to design a program as if there were no limitations, no restrictions on budget, people, resources and creative operations, just design your best program ever. Then, figure out what you can actually deploy day by day and start chipping away at it.

“What’s the best way we can do this and then figure out what’s the realistic way we can do it. That gives you something to work towards because nothing should be one and done. Change is the only constant ever.”

Krist shares so many useful and proactive tips in this energetic podcast, so listen now to the full conversation on switching from a reactive to proactive CS.

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