Thank you for visiting my essay on what it means to be a Calm Customer and how customer success departments can facilitate creating calm customers that add profit and retention to a company.
My name is Lawrence. I’m a Senior Customer Support Operations Manager and a Customer Success Manager. I also run my own consultancy.
What is a Calm Customer?
A calm customer is cool, collected, unflappable, self-assured, confident, and relaxed. Customer Support should not “calm” customers down. Customers are not to be “calmed”. Instead, Calm Customers are naturally “calm” by virtue of their connection with us and our product or service.
There is a world of difference.
Calm Customers feel that our company’s product or service:
- meets their expectations
- performs consistently
- adds value to their lives
- stays invisible until needed
- is easily understood – and explained
- is discoverable and self-documenting
- asks little, but gives a lot
- is stable and grows coherently
- stays attractive
- reminds them life is better now than before
- makes them feel special
3 Easy Examples:
- A human relationship
- A quality pen
- A book
Customer Relationship Management
Customer Success is fond of the word “Customer Relationship Management”. Applied to CRM software, this has meaning. Applied elsewhere, it can be a red flag.
- People strive for human relationships that feel magical, special, that symbiotically flow, and that feel giving.
- We want pens that write when we need to write. We do not like pens that require us to “figure it out”, or to contact outside help, or beg us to use them when we’d rather not be writing.
- We desire books that wait patiently on a shelf for us to read them. We love books to sit quietly on our nightstand – even for months – but when we open them, they work as expected, and we can immediately use them as easily as we did before.
Do you want your human relationships to be “managed”? Such relationships are often in trouble if they need to be managed.
Do you want human relationships where you:
- see a counselor to discuss your “pain points”?
- require your friends to “reach out” to see how you are doing?
- find yourself taking surveys to see what your needs are, or where they need to improve?
- read books and articles to “figure out” how to make things better?
- attend boring webinars put on by your friends?
- have limited personal space?
- your friends often interrupt your plans and goals with changes which you can not control?
- are forced to do things their way?
- complain about your own needs, and are told your opinion is important, but nothing much changes?
- feel common, just one choice among a sea of options?
The Customer Journey
The “customer journey” is an important industry term, but we have lost the context. Know where our customers are in their journey is good, but does it have to be arduous?
Synonyms for “journey” are trek, expedition, odyssey, excursion, voyage, pilgrimage.
Those sound like a lot of planning and work. On our customer’s part. Did our customers know it was going to be like that when they signed up?
Humans like adventure. But we don’t want our everyday pens, books, and relationships to always be such an adventure.
If companies are mapping how they manage their customer relationships, maybe they need to step back. Is the journey so complex that a map necessary to understand a customer’s “journey”?
Churn and Retention
It is helpful to focus on our customers’ churn and to measure their interest in staying with us.
Can we increase retention with better words, better support, better service? Of course.
But are we manipulating the external? To what end? Everyone else is doing the same thing, playing by the same handbook, soothing with the same game.
If a human relationship ends, who is to blame?
If your pens keep failing you, how does that change your expectations the next time you buy a pen?
If books are boring and its readers find it confusing, don’t grow, and don’t deliver on dustcover promises, is the author and publisher at fault, or the reader?
Are we willing to examine the root cause of these things, to go through a period of self-examination, and perhaps ask why we, as companies, cease to be attractive?
Customer Support Operations often point to these basics needs:
- better documentation (write more words)
- faster ticket turnaround (don’t ignore them)
- create support guides (give consistent reasons and excuses so customers don’t feel misled)
If we are not doing these basic things, then yes, we need to implement them quickly to be on a level playing field with our competition.
But after doing so, guess what?
Then, we are on a level playing field with our competition.
We can not get ahead by writing more words, paying more attention to customers, and avoiding the impression we are lying.
We can only stay afloat.
We can only do that for so long.
Some companies double-down. They write even more documentation, create better video tutorials, use chat agents (and even chat bots), hire more support staff, evaluate and add more software tools, “uptime” commitments, and status pages.
Not all such efforts are wasteful, but let’s be clear: it is effort toward more words, more consistent excuses, and higher customer availability.
It does not fundamentally alter the root issue.
As many companies know, these efforts often lead to massive cost overruns. “Award-winning support” sometimes equates to “we kept them with us even when they had every right and desire to leave”.
A new type of Customer Success Manager
Somewhere, right now, a different kind of CSM is looking beyond this.
This new breed of CSM believes in Calm Customers who are self-assured, unmoved, and are pleasantly content to keep paying for our services or products.
This new CSM combines Support Operations. They are not only managing support teams, tracking metrics on tickets, putting out weekly and monthly reports, writing loads of documentation, and boosting morale among the troops.
At least, not most days.
No, this new CSM is creating Calm Customers by standing next to the head of Product Development, the Operations Management team, the SVP of Sales, and the Marketing Department.
This CCSM (Calm Customer Success Manager) has the metrics and the high-energy support team in one pocket – and the Empathy and Understanding of our prototypical Calm Customer in the other pocket.
This CCSM not only discusses, debates, and pushes back – but has the ability to even demand change where needed.
There is one goal: Calm Customers.
Calm Customers have these external identifiable traits:
- they pay on-time and without complaint
- they accept new changes peaceably
- they brag and share about our product or service without prompting
- they use 90% of our product or service without outward assistance or onboarding
- they ask few questions and require even fewer fixes
- they don’t care what the competition is offering
- they don’t leave or threaten to leave
- they believe they are getting the better deal out of our “relationship”
- they feel unique and special
- they can not identify pain points, or don’t believe they are worth mentioning in light of the greater benefits
Do you want Calm Customers?
Are most of your current customers calm?
You don’t need yet another software tool to manage more data about the humans who give you their money.
What you do need is a Senior CSM that is part of your core management team, that brings the story of the Calm Customer into every scenario, that reminds your team of what we are really striving for:
Wait. Did I just say that word?
Imagine if 95% of your customers were Calm Customers. Ticket queues would plummet, support staffing needs would be significantly reduced, double-digit growth would be commonplace, and ineffective social media marketing budgets would be slashed.
Imagine the increased profits.
What if most all your customers were Calm Customers?
You don’t need a Magical Product or Service. You need a Director of Customer Success to think – and keep re-thinking – about all aspects of customers and their connection to your products and services.
This starts with the core approach of how you handle support presently. It continues outward to touch every avenue of how a customer feels about your company.
Customer Success is not about shoe-horning customers into a ‘success’ model. It is not merely Account Management on Steroids.
Some innovative companies now have a Chief Customer Officer. That’s excellent if it’s more than a title.
Make customers successful because your product or service always continually puts them in first-place; customers do not have to ask to be put in first place.
A calm customer feels they have made – and continue to make – a successful choice each day.
They believe their use of our product and service is a natural fit.
As more of your customers become calm customers, profits go up, retention goes up, and growth increases.
Start making the switch to a calm customer approach today.