There are three primary reasons for conducting Retrospectives:
Routine Retrospectives provide the framework for you to check in on your customer in a scheduled way to understand what’s working and what’s not. Simple agendas for Retrospectives allow you to use the time to nurture the relationship and foster stronger relationships, which, in turn, foster greater loyalty. Incorporating simple agendas that focus on emotionally rewarding topics, rather than reviewing numbers (usage rates, ROI, etc.) can reap greater loyalty points in the long run. (Check out our friend Ed Power’s video on the science behind this approach.) And, finally, Retrospectives should result in agreement about the next set of priorities and tasks for the subsequent sprint.
Retrospectives are typically conducted by Customer Success Managers; however, the methodology for conducting Retrospectives which affect your customers’ emotional connection to you and your product is an approach all customer-facing teams should know.
Retrospectives begin happening about a month after you have officially Launched your customer. They should then happen in regular intervals as your team deems appropriate. The frequency with which you conduct a Retrospective depends upon how customizable your solution is. However, Retrospectives should be conducted in regularly scheduled intervals, such as monthly or bi-monthly, and to coincide with the projected duration of your designed sprint cycle.
In the agile world of Customer Success, Retrospectives are the preferred, iterative way of remaining close to your customer. SaaS customers find Retrospectives less intimidating than QBRs and, when conducted properly, the Retrospectives are more manageable, provide strong data points for business reviews (which should be conducted semi-annually), and are simply more effective in cultivating loyalty than just having traditional QBRs.
Here are some basic guidelines for incorporating Retrospectives into your Customer Success model:
This simple open-ended format allows for easy and honest conversation. It takes the focus off of the technology and opens up the discussion to look at process and culture as they impact value attainment and goal progress.
Consider Retrospectives exercises in building customer loyalty, rather than analyzing Return on Investments. (There’s a place and time for that business agenda, but monthly Retrospectives should not get mired in the numbers.) Make it your goal to find concrete steps to take from each Retrospective that will help grow your customer’s trust, and therefore loyalty. Additionally, if we are not learning more about what works and doesn’t work within our customers’ unique environment at each Retrospective, then we need to revisit how we are conducting them. While all the steps that precede these regular meetings are vital to setting a customer up for success, these routine meetings are what build the long-time loyalty we want from our customers.