When you think of the milestones in life, you may think of graduating college, your first corporate job, marriage, parenthood, retirement, and building a legacy. And, some of these life events don’t even happen in sequential order (or at all). More often, they come in a “non-traditional” order and one is not a prerequisite to another: marriage can come after parenthood; continued education can be a means to better oneself even after carving out a solid career path; and if the cards allow, we can create lucrative income streams by renting out extra rooms or properties on AirBnB and live poolside, which disrupts the known playbooks to “succeeding” in life. But what we often don’t tell in our stories is our own birth – how we came into existence – as it can feel that this story isn’t truly ours to tell.
The story of your birth is one you likely heard from your parents or caregivers. Although it is a piece of your own story, it may feel artificial, as it is your prologue written by someone else as a contributing author. Yet, knowing your own birth story is a huge advantage. It is how your journey began, and being able to know how, where, and when you came into existence is a privilege. In the US and many other countries, your birth certificate shows your legal name, place and date of birth, and who your parents are or were – all details that give you the power to utilize your entitlements in your pursuit of goals and milestones. This vital record is a way to ensure you are enabled to journey through life and procure additional documents to soar across the biggest oceans.
Why not provide the same privilege for your customers?
When customers have a birth-like story, they too can take advantage of their entitlements, and have a richer context explaining why they’re on a journey with you. The knowledge of why the relationship exists, when it began, and how that relationship will continue to grow from the moment of inception is vital to their success. You should be confident to disclose who within your organization will be responsible for your customer as they grow with you, where they can go for help, and which contacts from both the company and customer side are responsible for ensuring mutual success.
You should feel confident letting your customers know the entitlements and licenses they have purchased and which they haven’t. What is the best way to communicate this to your customers? By planning for and creating a Customer Birth Certificate (CBC). Here’s how:
Plan and Gather Data: You’ve struck a deal with your customers. You’ve both signed contracts. Recurring revenue has begun to flow in. The sales win can be intoxicating, but we need to do additional work to ensure the win is a profitable sales play and not just something that looks sexy on a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) dashboard. I recommend that Customer Success Managers (CSMs) schedule time with sales internally to be debriefed on any new account in your Mid-Market segment or larger. Since CRMs don’t always capture the subjective tone, CSMs need to gather data and insights from multiple sources: the contract, license management, and sales teams. Once that data has been gathered, convert it into a digestible format. Before you organize the data, ensure you have the following information at a minimum:
- The customer name and their point(s) of contact (including roles and titles)
- The customer’s original Sales Representative(s) and renewals Sales Representative(s) if applicable to your business model
- The customer’s CSM
- The contract Start Date
- The contract Renewal Date
- Any customer or product specific identifiers or details
Create the CBC: The format can be as simple as a one-page document or a short presentation deck. If using slides, I recommend a three-slide maximum if possible.
Present the CBC directly to the Customer: Avoid emailing the CBC right out of the gate. Once you’ve gathered the information you can use it as leverage to kickstart the onboarding process. After you’ve created the certificate, schedule time with the customer to ensure they see the value of the Birth Certificate. Highlight what they can do with the information as they navigate their resources within your organization. While you have their attention, expand the conversation to collect use cases and business objectives with associated timelines.
Update the CBC: After the CBC has been presented to the customer, you may notice some discrepancies between what the customer has officially elected and what they think they have. If this occurs, immediately schedule time with sales or the appropriate internal contacts to clarify the issue and provide an update to the customer as soon as possible. This may be painful and feel chaotic, but there is nothing worse than starting an implementation project with the wrong information, only later to engage with sales to upsell or make concessions to the customer to ensure project completion when it could have been prevented.
Send the CBC: Once you’ve walked through the CBC with the customer and you’ve updated it with any needed changes, email a copy to the customer contact.
Document the Process: If the data collection and organization process takes hours, then improve the process. Collecting and reformatting the data should take several different internal strokes of effort, but not at the expense of greatly slowing down other current projects. Internal data collection would have an “easy button” if I had my way, but that’s not always the case. Use your time logged on collecting the data points to create an internal case to increase internal customer data visibility and even exploring the need to invest in a CS platform.
Don’t Neglect the Customer: We all do our best to have everything buttoned up for the customer prior to our primary engagement, but sometimes life gets in the way. A Sales Representative may need to focus on end of year sales efforts, or you may be waiting on clarity on a product update. Don’t let your own agenda, however well-intentioned, prevent you from engaging with the customer right away.
Start Now: It’s tempting to think that your organization, or yourself, are too busy to begin this process. Maybe all your customers are transactional in nature or your company has not yet scaled. But if your organization’s objective is growth and renewing contracts, you will eventually need to begin this process – so start now.
The Customer Birth Certificate is meant to ensure that you are building on the customer’s story that was brought by life through the sales process. Use the CBC to assist with the entire onboarding process for you and your internal teams. Ensure that the customer and product data collection is scalable. Go forth and multiply.