The 5 keys to killer CS 1:1’s with effective customer coaching
Why customer coaching? It’s called Customer Success for a reason. With all the different pressures and distractions, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the #1 mission. The purpose of the role is leading customers to succeed and grow. So, dedicate at least 20 minutes of every 1:1 to customer coaching. This is an opportunity for curiosity-based conversation where you can help your team members discover their own solutions instead of solving for them.
1. Commit to a consistent structure.
Showing up with a plan not only helps you stay on track, it signals to your team that you take this time seriously and you care about making it valuable for them. This will help ensure you always carve out enough time for customer coaching. It also makes 1:1’s much easier because you don’t have to try to think of good questions to ask or invent ways to add value, you can just follow the plan. Here’s a simple template I use for a 45 minute 1:1 to stay on track and to take notes. Reminder: you don’t always have to drive. It’s good for your team to take ownership of topics but you setting the structure keeps the discussion more focused and productive.
2. Lean on data
Use a consistent report or system to review a small number of customer KPI’s every week. This will help you establish a data-driven culture with your team and communicate that data will drive priorities. Simple is great to start but make sure the metrics you choose are meaningful. Here are a few examples that I’ve seen work well. You may have your own reports that are better for your business. It’s more about developing the habit of data-driven prioritization and decision making.
3. Be Curious
Great coaches are also great thought partners and intellectual curiosity fuels thought partnership. Here are some examples of some curiosity-based customer coaching questions to help challenge your team members to think through the hard questions with their customers.
4. Narrow Focus
This has been the hardest one for me to get comfortable with. There’s so much to do and I want to do it all. But, CSM’s can’t do everything with every customer every week. Based on what you learned from the data and conversation, help your team members narrow down their focus to a realistic number of high-impact actions with high-priority customers for the upcoming week. LESS IS MORE. Focusing on a small number of high-impact actions, doing them well, and doing them all the way will result in far superior outcomes than trying to do a little bit of everything and keeping the plates spinning. Here is a simple worksheet that helps capture the most important actions with the highest priority customers.
5. Hold each other accountable
Agree on specific actions and hold each other accountable for follow-through. This is a natural extension of the work you did in #2, #3, and #4. You’ve identified the highest priority customers, validated those priorities with data, and narrowed focus to what’s truly the highest impact. Here are a few tips on the specifics:
Following these keys hasn’t made me a perfect coach and I still stray back into “wing it” mode from time-to-time. But, when I stick to the plan, I’m a better manager, a better coach, and my team is focused and prepared to go help their customers thrive.
Good luck on your own coaching journey and I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what’s helped you become a better coach.