Ghosting is a phenomenon that originated in the dating world. In 2017 Merriam-Webster recognized this trend and added ghosting to the dictionary. New words are added to the dictionary only after they’ve been used for some time to describe an increasingly common behavior:

ghost-ing /’gōstiNG/ noun

1. the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Let’s put this behavior in perspective within Customer Success. As a Customer Success professional your customer is your full-time job, but your customer has their own full-time job with priorities, deadlines and sometimes fire-fighting that keeps them busy and these may have little to do with you. Your reason for wanting to talk with them is clear and a high priority for you – educate them about a new feature, review outcomes in a QBR, discuss a renewal – but you should always consider your customer’s perspective and think about their What’s In It For Me or WIIFM. Is it important to them that they connect with you, and why?

The exact stats vary by study but it’s consistently reported the average company has deployed over 100 apps and this is growing at an exponential rate. That’s a lot of solutions competing for mind share and chances are it will always be a higher priority for you to hear from your customer than the other way around. I can’t help if you’re ghosted in your dating life but here are a few suggestions that might help if your customer isn’t responding.

  • Be sure you’re communicating the right message to the right role at the right time. It sounds simple enough but using WIIFM as your guide consider if the new feature you’re trying to educate your customer about is relevant given what’s happening now customer’s business cycle. If you waited a couple of months would you get more traction because the timing is relevant to what’s going on in that moment? Is the renewal discussion better had with someone else in the customer’s organization.
  • Communicate without requiring follow-up. Keeping in mind that there are likely several other CSMs vying for your customer’s time are you able to summarize and share the outcomes your solution enables in a one-page report card, with an open invitation that you are available to discuss these outcomes in more detailed QBR whenever they want? Could the new feature and it’s benefit be explained in a 2-3 minute video?
  • If some action is required by your customer be sure to communicate the outcome of the action (or non-action) and the date this will happen and make sure they understand any consequences that will result – their WIIFM.
  • Again, if action is required try sending a calendar invite. In my experience this is successful more than half the time in connecting real-time with the customer, but be prepared that they may not show up.
  • Finally, I’ve used this a few times when there has been a pressing item the customer needs to engage on and all other efforts have gone unresponded to. Consider reaching out with an email that you’re genuinely worried that something might be wrong and you wanted to check in because you know they’re not the kind of person who would just not respond to you.

These are some practical tips that have worked when customers have ghosted me. Let me know if they’re helpful. If you have other suggestions that have worked for you I’d love to hear about those too.