View the CSM Handbook homepage for additional CSM-related handbook pages.
One of the primary tools CSMs have to become a trusted advisor and assess and improve account health is the customer cadence call. This is an opportunity for the CSM and the customer team to sync on business outcomes, priorities, progress on initiatives, and concerns, and it is a great opportunity to bring in other GitLab team members that the CSM feels should be included (for example, Product to review feature requests and the roadmap).
Cadence calls are an important aspect of CSM engagement to continue to understand customer's evolving needs, ensure GitLab is delivering value and outcomes, unblock barriers, address issues, collect feedback, nurture relationships, and ensure the customer continues to have positive experiences.
Cadence calls should be captured in Gainsight, which drives the Engagement scorecard metric.
An effective cadence call involves more than just the call itself. There are several stages that occur before, during, and after the call.
Leading up to a cadence call, the CSM should prepare a meeting agenda. This is the foundation of an effective call, and should be collaborated on by all attendees. The agenda should be made available to everyone at least a few days in advance of the call.
The collaboration project template includes a meeting agenda issue template that is structured to follow this format. (Note: Scale CSM customers do not receive/use a collaboration project)
The topics and the naming of the cadence call (when you send an invite to the customer) are also an important part of the CSM engagement. The following names for the cadence call have been used with success and are recommended - ordered by popularity:
By developing an agenda and doing advance preparation for the meeting, the CSM (and the rest of the account team) will be ready with relevant questions and information for the customer.
The following items are to be covered/completed in your initial cadence call/kickoff call with a customer:
After the initial call, you will have subsequent cadence calls, each of which you will need to prep for and ensure is an impactful and successful meeting.
Prior to the call, review the following items:
With every customer call, always be sure to have an agenda prepared and share it with the customer in advance. Here is a template that some CSMs use to prepare agendas for customer meetings.
Additionally, there may be specific items that are worthwhile to discuss about their self-managed subscription on a regular basis:
If the CSM has sufficiently prepared, the call itself should be a comfortable and valuable experience for everyone involved. The CSM should be prepared to conduct the meeting according to the agenda and cover all of the listed discussion points. This is our chance to help the customer make forward progress on their objectives by sharing our expertise and answering their questions!
The CSM should drive the call proactively so the customer sees a value in it and comes away feeling they have gotten something out of it. Try to ask questions to get into discussions and let the customer talk most of the time. When putting together the call agenda, ensure that you are covering topics that help you with your customer strategy, but also ask yourself "if I were the customer, would I find this relevant?"
In addition to the GitLab external communication guidelines, here are a few tips for having a strong cadence call:
Before you end the call, take a few minutes to summarize the highlights of what was discussed, and review the action items and who is responsible for each of them. It's also worth reminding everyone of when the next cadence call is.
If there are no action items or follow-ups that come from a cadence call, the call was not effective. At minimum, the CSM should send a follow-up email or create a follow-up issue for the participants covering the summary information that was discussed at the end of the call, answer any questions that were posed during the call, and make sure everyone knows what the action items from the call were.
After a call, there are a few items to review and update to ensure the content from the call isn't lost and you maintain a positive relationship with the customer.
It's a good idea to start creating the agenda for the next cadence call at this point, while the call that just ended is fresh in mind.
When crafting your follow up messages to customers, follow the below recommended guidelines to ensure a positive experience.
All customer call notes should be saved in Google Drive, following this format:
/Sales/Customers & Prospects/A/Acme/Acme - Meeting Notes. See an example meeting notes here.
The rationale for saving call notes in this manner is as follows:
Customer- Meeting Notes" allows for fast searching using Google Cloud Search for Work
Customer call notes should also always be linked in the C360 for the account, under the "Summary" tab, in the "Account Attributes (Editable)" section, in the "Google Doc Notes" field.
When CSMs are logging calls in Gainsight Timeline, they need to copy & paste the link to the Google Doc. They should either write a simple summary of the meeting along with the link, or have the link be a direct deep link to the date the call happened, so as to not duplicate efforts.
At the end of each customer call any changes to customer health should be reflected in the customer's Gainsight account. You have a few ways to update the CSM Sentiment and Product Sentiment for an account's health score, described in Determining CSM Sentiment and Product Risk, the easiest of which is updating it directly when logging the call.
The below non-exhaustive list is simply suggestions for cadence calls, and other topics may be more important, so use the suggestions at your discretion.
There are two sections, General Suggestions is for topics that are good at any time, and Ephemeral Suggestions is for topics that are ephemeral, such as release-specific topics or requests from Product Managers.
These are suggestions that can be used at any time on customer calls.
For more timely discussion topics, please refer to the CSM Hot Sheet (GitLab internal link).