Ideation: A New (Better!) Way to Manage Enhancement Requests

For most support organizations, the enhancement request process is broken. It unfolds like this:

  1. The customer opens a case to request a new feature
  2. After checking it’s not a bug or a user error, the support engineer logs an enhancement request.
  3. No one in the product management or engineering team looks at the request, at least not on a predictable schedule.
  4. The customer contacts support again.
  5. Support escalates the request.
  6. Circle back to step 3.

There is a better way, ideation. It works like this:

  1. The customer logs ideas for new features in a special section of the online community.
  2. Other customers vote and comment on the ideas.
  3. Community moderators, developers, and product managers can ask questions, clarify and confirm the ideas.
  4. Product managers assign a status to the ideas as they review them, from in progress to not considered, to delivered, duplicate, etc.
  5. Customers can check the status of ideas, their own or others’, online, in self-service.

Ideation is not just a theoretical concept. You can see it in action in the Topliners Dream It community (no login necessary to view). It works because ideas are improved through collaboration, and it’s easy to show ROI because of the voting feature.

We can also help you implement ideation and other community functionality. Please reach out to me if you are interested.

And if you have an ideation process, please tell us how it’s working for you.

Meet your new CSM, or how to ace account handovers

A CSM left the team, or was promoted to manage larger accounts. How you handle the transfer of the account to the new owner matters a lot to the customer — and to the bottom line, in the form of renewals and expansion revenue. Here are 6 tips to do it right.

Document all aspects of the account. This includes the business needs of the customer (why they use your solution), the organizational structure of the accounts, their business processes, any commitments made, either contractual or informal, communication preferences, and outstanding issues. Gathering documentation is easier, of course, if the departing CSM is leaving on good terms. If you are putting a CSM on disciplinary notice, make sure that his or her accounts are well documented, just in case.

Prepare the sales team and other internal players. The switch should not blindside anyone. Plus, a well-prepared account manager will help position the new CSM in a good light.

Do a warm handover if possible, with both the departing CSM and the new CSM on the call. This is an excellent way to check that the account documentation is complete.

Focus on the future and de-emphasize the reason for the change. The customer will likely resent having to work with someone new, even if it is an upgrade in the long run. It won’t help to explain that the departing CSM got a better job (what could be better than working with us?) or has been terminated (why did you allow such a person to work with us?).

Go up one on your side, especially if the account is sensitive or the departure chaotic. Having the manager oversee the transition (both the handover meeting and the first few weeks afterwards) will soothe hurt feelings, and may generate interesting feedback.

Minimize handovers, at least for high-value customers. Set up systems and processes that allow customers to maintain reasonably long-term relationships with their CSMs. For lower-value customers, consider working with a pool of CSMs so customers find it normal to work with different individuals rather than resent their frequent reassignments to new “dedicated” CSMs.

Find more ideas about managing customer success in our workshop for CSMs.

Have more tips to share? Please add a comment.

The FT Word – October 2016

The FT Word

The FT Word is a free monthly newsletter with support management tips. To subscribe, click here. The subscription list is absolutely confidential; we never sell, rent, or give information about our subscribers.


to the October 2016 issue of the FT Word. Topics for this month:

FT Works in the News

Registration is open for the Great Support Websites workshop

After a successful first run over the summer, I look forward to another session of the Great Support Websites workshop starting November 29th. It’s conveniently scheduled in short, remote sessions, and this time the sessions are scheduled over the course of two weeks, making it easier to focus on the topics at hand. Another improvement is that you now have a choice between a group review of your site, for maximum exposure, and a 1:1 review, for more confidential feedback.

Get practical suggestions to improve your support website. Space is limited. To sign up or to get more information go here.


Curious about something? Send me your suggestions for topics — or add one in the comments — and your name will appear in future newsletters.

Françoise Tourniaire
FT Works
650 559 9826

About FT Works

FT Works helps technology companies create and improve their support operations. Areas of expertise include designing support offerings, creating hiring plans to recruit the right people quickly, training support staff to deliver effective support, defining and implementing support processes, selecting support tools, designing effective metrics, and support center audits. See more details at

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