Help your team procrastinate because it’s going to happen


Even the best Customer Success teams can’t to do it all.  Good intentions are delaying key activities while becoming less effective with your customer base. Easily working 50+ hours a week, teams are confusing constant bustle with real impact and craving meaningful direction to guide their priorities.

Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure that it is leaning against the right building.
— Stephen Covey

Problem: It’s likely your team is procrastinating backwards

Overwhelmed by the flood of requests spanning all levels in Customer Success (the execs, directors, etc.), planning evolves to a “nice to have” taking a backseat as everyone drowns in urgent items from irritated customers. Does “Why bother? So many fires come up, my plans always get shot anyway.” sound familiar?

Step 1: Start with a clear picture of what delivers real value and influence

Success relies on the execution of a vision. If your charter is a vague “make customers successful” and the goal is “to do more”, your team is in a haze. Lay out the major goals and milestones (such as delivering a quality business review) and challenge them to resist the Inbox temptation where their days are driven by small and tactical tasks. Hold yourself accountable to address any competing priorities that throw this out of balance for your team. There is never enough time to do everything, so make sure you are making the time to do the most important thing.

Step 2: Find your 80/20

As discussed in this previous post, not all customers are created equal so the effort from your team should be proportionate to the value to the organization. 20% of your customers and your to-do list will be worth five to ten times more than the other 80% put together. Successful execution on the top 20% of customers and tasks can represent 80% of the results you need to deliver. Ask yourself, “If I won a last minute trip, what are the items that absolutely need to be done today before I leave?”

Step 3: Delegate, reduce, or eliminate

Reviewing Gainsight’s reorganization may be useful to understand some of the dependencies between the CSM team and other parts of your company. Lead regular venting sessions to release any growing pressure, lift team moral, and maintain awareness of the points of friction for the team. Most importantly, be critical in determining constraints then step up to delegate, reduce, or eliminate these obstacles.

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