A CSM left the team, or was promoted to manage larger accounts. How you handle the transfer of the account to the new owner matters a lot to the customer — and to the bottom line, in the form of renewals and expansion revenue. Here are 6 tips to do it right.
Document all aspects of the account. This includes the business needs of the customer (why they use your solution), the organizational structure of the accounts, their business processes, any commitments made, either contractual or informal, communication preferences, and outstanding issues. Gathering documentation is easier, of course, if the departing CSM is leaving on good terms. If you are putting a CSM on disciplinary notice, make sure that his or her accounts are well documented, just in case.
Prepare the sales team and other internal players. The switch should not blindside anyone. Plus, a well-prepared account manager will help position the new CSM in a good light.
Do a warm handover if possible, with both the departing CSM and the new CSM on the call. This is an excellent way to check that the account documentation is complete.
Focus on the future and de-emphasize the reason for the change. The customer will likely resent having to work with someone new, even if it is an upgrade in the long run. It won’t help to explain that the departing CSM got a better job (what could be better than working with us?) or has been terminated (why did you allow such a person to work with us?).
Go up one on your side, especially if the account is sensitive or the departure chaotic. Having the manager oversee the transition (both the handover meeting and the first few weeks afterwards) will soothe hurt feelings, and may generate interesting feedback.
Minimize handovers, at least for high-value customers. Set up systems and processes that allow customers to maintain reasonably long-term relationships with their CSMs. For lower-value customers, consider working with a pool of CSMs so customers find it normal to work with different individuals rather than resent their frequent reassignments to new “dedicated” CSMs.
Find more ideas about managing customer success in our workshop for CSMs.
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