Jun 27, 2023

Read Time 3 min

The silent cause of customer churn: champion change


This is a guest article by Todd Busler, co-founder and CEO of Champify.

In today’s macro-economic climate, a dollar saved is often more valuable than a dollar earned. As the cost of acquiring customers (CAC) continues to increase, improving the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer base and your net retention rate (NRR) become increasingly important metrics for a company’s success.

Beyond the users of your product, the lynchpin for a strong relationship with a customer is the “champion.” Sometimes, the champion leads the evaluation, and other times, it’s another individual that owns the implementation and ongoing management of the product.

Customer Success teams work with champions to share product updates, drive adoption, quantify business value, and secure renewals and upsells. Champions often become the most vocal advocates for your product internally and after they leave their organization.

For that reason, many companies set up a process to track champions when they move to new accounts. This is often the most efficient way to create new pipeline for companies. While former buyers and active users moving from customer accounts into prospect accounts is an invaluable trigger to drive new business, every key contact departure presents a major potential churn risk for CS teams.

“Like many SaaS companies, the biggest kryptonite is champion change. If our customer champion leaves the organization, and they have someone new take over, we don’t always know about it right away. This increases the account’s overall risk. Our main/immediate focus is to begin building a strong relationship/partnership with the new point of contact quickly.”

Emily Hollinger, senior manager of customer success, Qualio

Without a formal process in place, it’s nearly impossible for even the best CSMs to stay informed on all critical departures within their accounts.

The three-step process for a successful champion change

1. Monitor the right people

Just like in a sales cycle, CS teams should be multi-threaded in managing an existing relationship. Make sure to designate each person in your CRM/CSP system with the appropriate role (power user, executive buyer, champion, etc.). Once they’re in your CRM, leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator or a solution like Champify to trigger an alert when someone in these audiences leaves the account.

2. Notify the right people and update systems

Once a key stakeholder leaves a customer account, you want to make sure that the relevant team members know. This might be account executives, account managers, customer success managers, and even executives depending on the importance of the contact. You also want to mark the contact as “no longer at company” in your CRM, so that your marketing team doesn’t email them, which would hurt your email domain reputation.

3. Engage stakeholders within the account

Lastly, to reduce risk of churn, reach out to other stakeholders at the account to find out who’s taking over their responsibilities. It’s best to provide CSMs with proven messaging templates like these to make it easy and consistent when they reach out to stakeholders.

Beyond finding your new point of contact, consider looping in executives at the account, talking to the most active users, and pulling forward touch points such as QBRs to get a pulse check on account health and take any actions needed to increase health.

Implementing a robust champion change management process enables companies to mitigate churn risks, maintain strong customer relationships, and leverage the advocacy of their champions. By monitoring departures, notifying the right individuals, and engaging with stakeholders, organizations can navigate champion transitions effectively and sustain customer success.

Learn more about how to navigate this key inflection point, and turn it into a moment to win a new champion, in our webinar, “Your customer champion just left. Now do this.


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