How do we handle Customer Success during such trying times?

Erika Linares, MS, Customer Success Manager at Virgo

Customer Success is such a buzzy term these days, but it holds a lot of weight. Virgo’s Customer Success team keeps Virgo team members in the loop with issues, product enhancement requests, and small wins, all while maintaining communication, providing value, and building relationships with the customer.

Times are changing before our eyes, and given the state we’re in, we have to look at Customer Success through a different lens. As a standard we often visited our customers onsite, so now we must conform with the new reality to stay afloat. The question then becomes, how do we keep up with and adapt to such trying, difficult, and unfamiliar times? For teams obsessed with customer happiness, travel restrictions and asynchronous activity can be earth-shattering, but we’ve found some strategies and developed tools that help us maintain contact with customers, and actually have led to some of our strongest customer relationships.

Driving customer success during a pandemic hasn’t been an easy feat. From out-of-office replies to sick colleagues and family members, it can be hard to stay focused on simple tasks like email follow-ups. Personally, I’ve found that being empathetic in my approach has been helpful. We held off on reaching out to customers when the outbreak happened in mid-March. As things are beginning to pick up again, we need to re-evaluate ways to conduct business amidst a public health crisis. Onsite visits were commonplace only 5 months ago – now we have to take precautions before stepping out of our front door, even if it means just taking out the trash. Gloves and face masks are now commonplace and mandatory, while staying home has been advised globally. How can we possibly continue business as usual? There’s no way.

We now live in a remote world, where everything we do is in front of a lit screen, including our grocery shopping. How do we as a customer success team keep our stakeholders engaged? How do we install our product when we can’t even go onsite anymore?

While brainstorming a new approach to customer success, I started to think about companies that sell cable and internet:

  1. They ship you their equipment or you pick it up at a convenient location nearby
  2. You open the starter pack and watch the tutorial video by scanning a QR code or visiting their YouTube library
  3. You plug in the hardware in the right places
  4. You reset your router because the internet was being funky
  5. You have an up and running new toy
*they also often have an a quick to respond support team to walk me through any hiccups in the process

Given the similarities between our install workflow and that of a cable box or modem, I thought we could develop a similar remote install workflow that feels just like a consumer experience -- easy, convenient, seamless, and contactless!

Medical hardware can be just as fun and easy as consumer hardware, and I’m going to show you how we do it here at Virgo.

Instead of spending too much time reminiscing about how things used to be, me and my colleagues took a step back and sat with how things are in the present moment. Nobody is traveling and everyone’s screen time has increased two-fold. We sought out to figure out how to leverage all this extra screen time, and to use it as a positive customer success engine.

We took things back to our core principles – we sell hardware that captures video, for crying out loud! Video is at the core of what we do, so we took advantage of that. We use tools called Vidyard and Loom to upload unboxing videos and small snippets of “how-to” demos, allowing our customers to access these videos when it’s convenient for them. We enjoyed doing guided demos in person while we were onsite and didn’t want to lose that. Leveraging platforms like Vidyard and Google Hangouts has been a game changer, allowing us to have solid face time with our customers when it is time to conduct 1:1 and group-based demos- or even fully remote installs. Vidyard allows us to keep follow-ups more personal. Recording a quick thank you video that shows our excitement literally speaks volumes.

Stony Brook Medicine is a perfect example of how we moved to a fully remote business development and customer success model, selling Virgo 100% remotely. For background, onsite visits are commonplace in this industry – so much so that we really couldn’t sell without making several site visits, most of which could always have easily taken place remotely! They will be our first customer to execute a 100% remote engagement, from sales to installation. Using our video-based workflow, we sent follow-ups via video instead of a written up email because video allows us to be more vulnerable, showing the customer that we are real people who are truly excited to partner with them. It’s easy to send an email, but sending a video feels more personal.

Stony Brook will receive their hardware in the mail and connect with me once it’s time to install. I created an unboxing video for the customer to review upon receiving their hardware so they know exactly how to set it up. We then set up Zoom or FaceTime meetings for training and testing, and more face time for follow ups. Leveraging technology has been pivotal for staying afloat and keeping customers (both new and old) engaged and informed.

Although we are excited about the days ahead, and so proud of the work we’ve done to transition to a remote sales and success model, it hasn’t been without hiccups. For example, we surveyed our top end-users to see if they would benefit from a shared Slack channel where they could communicate directly with our software developers. Even though we thought it would be valuable, they disagreed. Listen to your customers!

Additionally, we’ve noticed it is sometimes more difficult to evangelize new features and ensure adequate understanding in an asynchronous environment. In the old world, it was tricky to determine the right follow-up cadence for non-responsive recipients; however, in today’s world, persistence and bi-directional empathy are the keys to building open lines of communication and fostering successful adoption.

Our customers are clinicians, and therefore at the front lines of this madness. We can’t thank them enough for helping to keep our communities safe while still finding the time to login to review their cases on Virgo. We see you, appreciate you, and thank you for your hard work and dedication.