A Triggered Outreach Cookbook

A Triggered Outreach Cookbook

Recipes for Delivering High-Touch Customer Success at High Volume

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Do you have customers coming out your ears? Congratulations! Welcome to "high volume" customer management. That's fantastic news for your business, and a wonderful problem to have. Now it's time to start knocking it out of the park on the scaling front. You and your team can't possibly have a personal relationship with every one of those customers. Or can you?

What if you had superpowers? – the ability to send a personalized message to each of your customers at just the right time, based on exactly what they were (or weren't!) doing in your application, the results they were achieving, their lifecycle milestones, their interactions with your resources, or best of all… a combination of all of the above? It might sound pie in the sky, but it's not out of reach. As long as your customer data house is in order and you leverage it well, you can cook up some systematized triggers to kick off highly automated customer outreach that tastes just like homemade. In other words, even as each individual customer represents an ever shrinking proportion of your base, there's no need for them to feel any less like individuals. In fact, following or jumping off from some of the example "recipes" here can enable you to drive highly personalized, better timed, more pertinent customer communications than ever before, all with significantly less time and manual labor involved.

It's also worth noting that it's not just the number of customers you are managing, but also what they are paying you and how that might impact your strategy and execution in this area. If you have customers paying you $99 per month, you will likely need to rely fairly heavily on automation and scale to success. If, on the other hand, you have customers paying you $25,000 per year, you can afford to be more one-on-one oriented in many of your Customer Success activities. But still, as you grow, automation for certain tasks will enable your team to prioritize their time and spend it on the highest value activities.

Before we get started, let's take one moment for a quick definition: What is a "trigger" anyway?

A trigger is a pre-defined sign that a customer might be in trouble (unsuccessful with the product, at risk of non-renewal or debook, etc.) or showing potential for growth (approaching high utilization, achieving extraordinary results, etc.) which, when detected, kicks off an established, often automated or partially automated course correction or opportunity creation process.

Now let's step through some tested examples of triggered Customer Success outreach – first understanding some considerations, then tackling the low-hanging fruit, then reaching for some more advanced applications.


  1. Don't over-engineer. You don't have to go from fully manual to fully automated overnight. This kind of shift lends itself to a phased, iterative approach, and it's really an ongoing process. Take things one step at a time, have an experimental mindset, and learn as you go. Also, keep in mind that the goal should probably not be to automate absolutely everything. There might be certain customers (ex. top tier), timing (ex. during onboarding), or other circumstances (ex. when follow-up communication is needed) where you want to keep the kid gloves on and maintain fully person-to-person outreach. Remember that you'll be making more time for your team to excel at that kind of work by automating the areas where it does make sense to do so.

  2. Don't over-message. You should never use automation as an excuse to intentionally or unintentionally inundate your customers with emails or message pop-ups in your application. Remember that, even though you are enlisting the super-human powers of automated outreach, your customers are still human and will get bored or annoyed by incessant communications from you, no matter how timely or relevant they may be. Always put yourself in your customers' shoes. And lean on best-of-breed tools (such as MailChimp Automation) that can help prevent customers from ending up in the same campaign more than once.

  3. Don't under-apply. The examples below are primarily focused on Customer Success initiatives. But there are most certainly other realms where a similar approach can be equally useful. For example, does your sales team want to get more systematic and scale-oriented around trial conversion? Or would your product team love to reach out to the users adopting that newly released functionality for feedback? Once you've nailed this approach for your own use cases and requirements, share the learnings with other teams. You just might be their hero.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

Just to get your creative juices flowing, here are some basic examples of triggered outreach "recipes". If you haven't tried any of these yet, they're a great place to start. Keep in mind that these are only sample (although based on real-life) scenarios – you should be applying the lens of your customers, your company, your application, and make adjustments as needed to any of the aspects described.

And Now… On to the Trickier Stuff

If the "recipes" above seemed like old hat to you, or merely whet your appetite, then you're ready to take on some more advanced use cases of triggered, automated Customer Success outreach. The following examples utilize more layers and types of customer data and/or more complex customer insights. They also could be based on a secret sauce that combines your team's knowledge and intuition with factors that you need an analytics model to identify. Accommodating that may necessitate adoption of a Customer Success solution (shameless plug alert… such as Frontleaf!) if you don't already have one in place. But these types of scenarios have the distinct advantage of demonstrating to your customers that you are really paying attention – and to the very same things, no less, that matter to them!

The moral of the story: you don't have to be personally, manually recognizing the need for and generating all of the communications to your customers to do outreach well. Enabling automation to shoulder some of that burden can, in fact, result in more personalized, more timely, more useful messages reaching your customers.

I hope some of these examples have gotten your wheels turning on the possibilities of triggered outreach for Customer Success, or added to the list of what you already knew was possible. Please share your tales from the trenches! What's worked for you, what's backfired, what are your other go-to "recipes"? Bon appetit!

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