Preflight Conversations

Transitioning clients between CSMs

Learn how Customer Success teams can smoothly handle the account transition between CSMs
December 7, 2021
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In the Customer Success space, there are many discussions around nailing handoffs between sales-to-customer-onboarding and onboarding-to-success teams. However, the transitioning of customers between CSMs is a rarely discussed topic. 

 The handoff typically happens because: 

  1. A new CSM is being onboarded
  2. The existing CSM has been promoted or is changing teams
  3. The existing CSM is underperforming
  4. The client’s organization is growing
  5. The existing CSM’s workload needs reducing 

Making this transition happen is tricky, as it can break the customer-CSM relationship.

So, how to ensure that the transition of accounts between CSMs happens smoothly? We asked Preflighters to share practical suggestions to make the handoff smooth. 

Aditya Maheshwari, Head of Customer Success - AppsFlyer

Aditya shares their handover process for a high-touch engagement model. This elaborate handover has four major steps:

1. Handover document

This document is prepared by the CSM handing over the client. It covers the business metrics and KPIs important to the customer and indicates any special technical integrations in place. The document also lists the stakeholders involved on the client side and the relationship with them. 

Past engagement details, including the last QBR, executive relationships, product adoption status, and what needs to be done next with the customers, must also be mentioned.

2. Account context meeting

The old CSM walks the new CSM through the handover doc and answers any follow-up questions they might have during the meeting.

3. Introductions

The new CSM is introduced to the customer, and the change/reason for leaving is communicated via email. It’s also important to mention whether the former CSM will continue to aid the client.

Include a line about the new CSM that can help build credibility, such as “<person> has over 11 years of experience working at the intersection of cutting-edge technology and client servicing. Before X, he has worked in companies like A, B, and C and will be able to add a lot of value to your growth strategies.”

4. Ongoing support

The former CSM must support the new CSM for the first few weeks until the new CSM is fully comfortable with the account, people, and technical details.

Ensure that the new CSM doesn’t have to do the same amount of groundwork already put in by the previous CSM. 

Srikrishnan Ganesan, Co-founder -  Rocketlane  

Here’s a checklist of items for CSM-to-CSM handovers:

  1. Stakeholder + relationships analysis (along with their predisposition towards our solution)
  2. History of incidents for the account
  3. Joint success plan
  4. Adoption status
  5. Request tracker (if any)
  6. The last 2 QBR decks, key takeaways from each + any business metrics, KPIs tracked
  7. Last five communication threads + last five meeting notes
  8. Any workarounds, specific configurations, customizations followed for the customer, and history of problems from those
  9. Ongoing conversations and deadlines

Lakshmi Narayanan G, Customer Success Manager - Whatfix

Here's the process Whatfix follows:

  1. Using Google Drive folders to maintain a customer repository in a shared drive space that contains all the key docs such as the MSA, kickoff, sales handoff, PO, invoices, EBRs, etc. The former CSM shares the specific customer folder with the new one.
  2. Each CSM has to update the customer success tool with the latest pulse. Emails are auto-synced, pulse updates are done every couple of weeks, with an account summary added and updated by the former CSM.
  3. The new CSM must go through the CS tool and folder before setting up the internal handover call. 
  4. The former CSM should do a warm handover with the customer and, if time permits, join a couple of subsequent calls as well
  5. Handoff Timeline: 2 - 3 weeks ideally. At least one week to cover until the warm handover.
  6. Apart from the warm handoff, this usually takes 1 - 2 internal calls and 1 hour of tool and doc review per customer. 

Handoff checklist

  1. MSA, invoices, and other contracts in the drive
  2. All engagements/emails synced
  3. Key engagement collateral such as kickoff, EBRs, sales handoff, etc. in the drive
  4. A summary of recent issues (6 months usually) + ongoing issues + RCA/links to Jira
  5. Overall pulse of the account, the pulse of each stakeholder towards the product and team
  6. List of commitments made, blockers, renewal probability, risks documented
  7. History of advocacy engagements (if any)
  8. Technical documentation - workarounds, setup details, customer application access creds (if your product needs it), etc.
If you want to learn more about Customer Onboarding, Implementation, and Professional Services in-depth, join the Preflight Community.

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories
  2. Preflight Conversations
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  4. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

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Mohana Valli Prabhakar
Marketing Analyst @ Rocketlane & Community Manager, Preflight

Introverted, but willing to discuss books. Follow me on Twitter @Mohanavalli96

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