Raise Your Customer Success 1:1 Game
Brent Grimes

Brent Grimes

Founder & CEO reef.ai • 10/27/2021
Raise your customer success
Brent Grimes
Brent Grimes
Founder & CEO reef.ai • 10/27/2021

Ever wrapped up a 1:1 meeting with your boss (or as a boss) and felt like it was kind of a waste of time? Over my career, I’ve been part of a lot of 1:1’s; And … if I’m being honest … a lot of them were mediocre at best.

They were pretty good as general check-ins and for catching up but I’ve often walked away feeling like it wasn’t a great use of time for me or for the other party.

To be fair, customer success 1:1’s can be tricky. CS professionals wear lots of hats and are responsible for a wide range of activities with customers and internally. They have to keep customers on the rails, ensure they adopt and stick around, set them up to grow. They have to be the voice of the customer, they have to run down support issues and much, much more. So, as a manager, it’s not realistic to try to cover everything, every week.

Tired of mediocrity, I was able to implement some small changes that made a world of difference for me, leading to much more effective 1:1’s.

5 keys to killer CS 1:1's with effective customer coaching

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.

Commit to a consistent structure Commit to a consistent structure

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.

1:1 Data Review Examples 1:1 Data Review Examples

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.

Curiosity-based customer coaching questions Curiosity-based customer coaching questions

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.

Narrow focus Narrow focus

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:

accountability accountability

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.

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