Kaitlyn Bate, Senior Director, Global Customer Experience Strategy, Freshworks took the time to answer some audience questions after her presentation: A Practical Playbook to B2B Customer Renewal at this year’s SaaS Metrics Summit.

Kaitlyn discusses common renewal mistakes, tips for engaging silent detractor clients, and transitioning into success from support.

Check out the replay in the OnDemand section of our membership area.

Q: What kind of data can you use to indicate a customer at risk of churn, and how do you evaluate which customers are the most important to focus your efforts on?

A: We have the product input, so we look at a customer like, “What is their essential rating? Do they have a strong rating? Has the customer downgraded any in terms of their revenue?” Another thing that you could look at is whether the customer visited the cancellation page. That's the perfect opportunity to have an alert sent to the CSM.

You obviously want to protect the revenue, so if you've got a big customer, we tend to put more effort into protecting that, because if you lose one big customer, it's the same as losing multiple smaller ones. But also, it's coming to the realization that sometimes customers are just not a good fit, and is it a good use of your time to focus on saving that customer?

There's a multitude of factors, and you have to ask yourself, “Can I control this? What impact does this have on the business? And what are the core reasons for them leaving? Are these things that you’ll actually be able to implement? Are you going to put a lot of resources on it, and not get a lot of value back from it?”

Q: I'm transitioning into success from support; what do you guys expect from a new CSM from a different background at Freshworks?

A: I guess what we look for in a CSM is somebody who really cares about making sure that that customer is successful with what they purchased.

Sometimes you get customer success managers that have commercial conversations, experience, and interest in doing sales. Our CSM works on flat renewals, so they’re still the customer advocate, but we want somebody who's the customer’s champion, who makes sure that they understand what the customers purchased.

We put a lot of focus on the engagement metrics, so CSM's are measured mostly on churn rate, and then engagement. It's always evolving, sometimes it's advocacy, sometimes it's engagement.

Q: Do you have any tips for engaging those silent detractor clients? Is it difficult to get accurate feedback on the health of the relationship client experience when they are very quick to say that all as well, even if it isn't?

A: We have what we call executive summaries. So if we're not able to get the customer on the line, we put together a crisp, exact, high-level document, I always say text message length, so get something out there that says, “This is the value that we're driving. We want to know what your goals are and make sure that we're continuing to deliver”.

Send emails, those emails have allowed us to get somebody to say, “Hey, actually, let's have a conversation about this”.

We also have other programs like an executive sponsorship program, and ‘Voice A Customer’ program, where we actually have one of our C-level execs assigned to some of our larger customers that we want to build a rapport with but don’t currently have relationships with at that level.

So, our Chief Customer Officer will reach out and say, “Hey, here's our CFO, we want to engage with you.” We launched that program in January, and we're seeing really good results.

That's something that we've definitely wanted to focus on, getting to that next level of engagement with stakeholders.

Also, we make sure that CSMs are not always asking confirming questions. So if you try to phrase it in a way that's not confirmation bias, for example, you don’t want to ask, “Is everything good?” You want to ask a question that doesn't pose exactly what the sentiment is, asking those questions allows them to open up and say, “Well, actually, you know, no, it's not great.”

Q: What are some of the most common mistakes that people make in customer renewal?

A: I think it's just doing it too late and not understanding the customer’s contracts.

It all comes back to really knowing the customer's goal and what they’re trying to achieve over the next year.

One of the ways you can say this is, “Are there any changes to your environment over the next six months that will make us less valuable?”

Obviously, it's a little bit different with monthly contracts, because you don't want to be having these conversations every month. But we also try and move customers from monthly to annual contracts so that we have the opportunity to show them value longer.

Thinking it's not going to take time is a common mistake, licenses have to go through procurement on their end, or legal or whatever it may be.

Just really trying to be proactive is the key.