Renewing Before the Renewal

Colleen Kelly

Renewal meetings can be exciting. They can also be disappointing—yet what they should never be is a surprise.

When customer relationships are managed thoughtfully and consistently throughout the contract, the renewal meeting should be nothing but a formality.

There is no process that 100% guarantees that a customer will renew. There are, however, intentional behaviors and habits you can implement to keep your customers happy (and more likely to renew).

Consistent Engagement for the Win

The most important place to start is having a clearly defined and consistent customer journey. From the point of sale, the goal of your CS organization should be regularly interacting with their customers. ‘Regular interaction’ can mean different things to every CSM, so it’s necessary to break out tangible and repeatable steps. This ensures all CSMs are communicating with their customers in the same way.

Customer communication can be in the form of human touches, tech touches, or a blend of the two. No one way is better than the other. What really matters is quality and consistency.

No matter what method you choose, make sure your communication is providing real value to your customers. The goal is not to reach out just for the sake of reaching out. The objective of any communication should be to help your customers get the most out of your product or service.

Potential ideas for communication content include:

  • New product features
  • Tips for adoption
  • Training opportunities
  • Webinars/Blog Posts

Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) and Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) should be a critical step in your engagement strategy. Think of these meetings as an opportunity for preemptive problem solving. Your goal should be to identify issues and address them before a customer opts not to renew.

Postal Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble getting your customers to attend their QBRs or EBRs, try incentivizing them with a gift or other offline experience. If they accept, they’ll be more likely to show.

Clue Them Into the Process

In the post-sale process, customers often feel lost. The Account Executive just handed them off to the CSM, and everything feels unfamiliar. It’s your job to arm the customer with as much information on your process as possible. Giving them insights into what their customer journey will look like will make them feel more in control.

The best time to walk your customer through the customer journey is during the initial implementation meeting. Taking the time upfront to explain each stage sets realistic expectations moving forward.

One tool to help clue customers into your process is context setting. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set the most effective context.

1. Statement of Intention: My intention is …

  • Ex: My intention is to help you understand the customer journey from here on out.

2. Acknowledgements: Anything that needs to be acknowledged; A past misstep; A warning of bad news or negative feedback to come; An elephant in the room

  • Ex: This is going to be a lot of information to receive all at once.

3. Verbal Agenda: A numbered list of the primary components of the meeting

  • Ex: 1. Introductions 2. Customer Journey Map 3. Engagement Overview 4. Next Steps

4. Escape Clause: Gives people an out

  • Ex: It’s ok if you walk away feeling overwhelmed.

Show Customers Some Love

There’s a reason people like their birthdays. Birthdays make people feel special and celebrated. What if you could give your customers this feeling on an ordinary day. There are several ways to do this that range in effort and dollars spent.

Write a Handwritten Note

In today’s world, everything is digital. Receiving a handwritten note makes people stop in their tracks.

Notes can plug in anywhere in the customer journey. Try sending a note to follow up after a QBR or to thank them for providing product feedback.

For just five minutes of your time and a 58 cent stamp, you can endear yourself to your client.

Send Personalized Gifts

The key word here is ‘personalized.’ This requires you to go the extra step and take time to form genuine relationships with your customers. The dozens of Zoom calls everyone has daily all kick off with a little bit of small talk. Use that time to make an effort to get to know your customers outside of their 9 to 5.

Sending a Starbucks gift card is great. After all, who doesn’t love free coffee? But, sending a virtual wine tasting experience to your customer who just returned from her Italian honeymoon will mean even more.

When using gifting, it’s important to do so with good, clean intention. The intention is not to schmooze customers or convince them to stay on as clients. The intent is to express genuine appreciation.

Put Feedback into Action

Customer feedback is great. But, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take action. Many companies used Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Service Index (CSI) to gauge customer satisfaction. If your business doesn’t have the resources for these tools, don’t fret! A simple email survey or QBR question can do the trick.

Once you gather the data, it’s time to develop a strategy for how to respond to scores. This playbook will vary depending on your business, but here are a few strategies you could include.

Categorize Your Responses

NPS and CSI both have specific categorizations/naming conventions. The goal here is to separate your customers into a few buckets based on their satisfaction levels. Doing this allows you to tailor your strategy based on satisfaction level.

Follow-up with Customers

Whether they were singing your praises or were less than thrilled, you should follow up with your customers. This behavior demonstrates that you care about what they have to say.

For your highly satisfied customers, capitalize on their satisfaction by running a follow-up review campaign. Thank them for their feedback and ask them to leave you a Google or G2 review. You can incentivize them to do this by offering them a gift for taking the time to do this.

Schedule meetings with unsatisfied customers. As soon as the negative feedback hits your inbox, reach out. The email is simple. Let them know you received their survey response, thank them for taking the time to answer, and ask for a quick follow-up call.

During that call, dig into their answers. Ask them follow up questions to better understand what isn’t working right. Your goal of this call is NOT to save the account. Your goal is to gain a better understanding of what is going on. Once you have a better grasp on the situation, you can work with the customer to find the best solution.

Customer Loyalty
Colleen Kelly

Colleen is the Partnership & Marketing Manager at Blind Zebra, a sales and customer success coaching company focused on complete customer journey training for your client-facing teams. Prior to moving into partnerships, Colleen was an Account Executive at Blind Zebra. Outside of the office, you can find Colleen trying new workout classes and testing out new recipes.