The Lurking CX Issue: Prioritization

Learn Joseph Loria's approach to getting things done.

Gabe Caldwell

This post was originally published on RetentionworkCX by Joseph Loria. Joseph is the Founder & CEO of RetentionworCX, a consultancy that helps early-stage companies boost net revenue retention through its proven customer experience framework. Joseph spent over twenty years as a senior leader in high-growth tech companies. He was the executive owner of the post-sale experience in five organizations, one of which, as a result of the customer experience, garnered a 10X multiple upon sale.

I’ve become convinced over the past five years or so that one of the top issues in the post-sale world of Customer Experience is a lack of prioritization. Better stated, the skill that’s too often missing is the ability to relentlessly prioritize.

Whenever you’re dealing with the complexity of integrating technology into – or changing processes within – an existing work environment, which is filled with complex people and processes, there will always be too much to do. Post-sale or delivery work is never a matter of simply creating a to-do list and checking off your tasks one at a time. CX teams have no choice but to deal in reality versus the theoretical.

😵‍💫 And reality? It's usually messier than assumed. 😵‍

You must therefore perpetually ask yourself, “Am I doing the most valuable thing right now?” In the absence of a rigorous system of prioritization, Customer Success Managers find themselves cherry-picking tasks or making snap judgments on criticality. The fallout is always dealt with later – upset customers, employees mad at the lack of attention or follow-through, surprise churn from “happy” customers.

If you want to control your destiny, you must perpetually be prioritizing. And the journey starts with a couple of affirmations.

Prioritization Affirmations

The first one is best expressed as, “Life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something to happen.”

Put another way, there is no future ideal state where things are all calm and organized. We convince ourselves that we just need to power through the backlog, or just make it to the end of the month or the quarter. Then, everything will be better.


Your current state is not an anomaly. It’s your “always” state. Acknowledge it and understand that you will perpetually have too much to do.

Affirmation number two? Get comfortable with saying, “No.”

Accept that, because you cannot do everything, you will be selective, and saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to many other things. Below, I'll discuss how to say “no” well, but for now just get comfortable with the idea.


So, let’s recap. Say these two things aloud:

  • ✨ “My current busy state is normal.”
  • ✨ “It’s ok for me to say ‘no.’”

With these acknowledgements you can get to the real work of prioritization. Here are two great methods to get you started.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Tool number one in your arsenal is the Eisenhower Matrix. Inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the matrix was popularized by Stephen Covey. It’s a simple four-quadrant system that forces you to rank tasks based on their urgency and importance.

Urgency denotes time-sensitivity, a pressing deadline – the looming close of a month or quarter, or a customer needing something ASAP. The more pressing the timeline, the more urgent.

Importance relates to achieving your strategic objectives for the company or department. The more critical the task is to achieving objectives, the more important.

The process is simple: each task goes through these urgency and importance filters and gets placed in a quadrant, per the graph:

  • 🚨Do the urgent and important stuff now;
  • 🗓️ Schedule the non-urgent but important stuff for another day.

It’s deceptively simple, yet there is one subtlety that often gets overlooked, which is that the concept of “importance” relates only to your specific role. Importance is not considered in any absolute sense. For example, anything new-bookings related is important to the company, but unless you’re in Sales, it’s not important to you. So, if you’re a CSM, a new-booking opportunity might well be urgent and important, but not important for you personally, so it gets an “urgent / not important” rating from you, and therefore you delegate this to sales.

Think of Importance as “important for you in your role to achieve your objectives.” This will help you know what to delegate.

It sort of goes without saying, but:

  • ⌫ please delete anything that is neither urgent nor important. ⌫

The Action Cycle

When you decide to place items in the “decide” and “delegate” quadrants above, a process called The Action Cycle can help.

The Action Cycle defines the relationship between a Customer and a Performer, the Customer being the one that requests the work and the Performer being the one that does the work and delivers the result to the Customer.

Key to this Customer-Performer relationship are what’s known as the “Conditions of Satisfaction,” which are agreed to in advance of the work, during a “Negotiation” phase. Note this is all before any work is done. Conditions of Satisfaction (COS) include things such as the timing of delivery as well as the quality and breadth of the required work.

Unfortunately, what happens among coworkers goes something more like this:

  • Marketing: “Hey, we need some customer testimonials. Can you find us a few?”
  • CSM: “Sure thing.”
  • Marketing: “Thanks so much! You’re awesome!”

Next, the CSM jots this way down on her really long to-do list and goes back to work. Days later, Marketing is steaming that CS never takes their needs seriously.


Deploying the Action Cycle, the conversation goes something like this:

  • Marketing: “Hey, we need some customer testimonials. Can you find us a few?”
  • CSM: “When you say testimonial, what exactly do you need?”
  • Marketing: “Just some good quotes from happy customers on our primary use cases.”
  • CSM: “Hmm, I’m a bit swamped with the quarter close right now. Can this wait a few weeks?”
  • Marketing: “Well, we really need some quotes for the new website, which has to go live by quarter end.”
  • CSM: “I definitely have a few customers in mind, but I’m not sure I can chase down quotes.”
  • Marketing: “I’d be happy to chase them down if you point me in the right direction.”
  • CSM: “How about I do a few email intros to folks I think would help?”
  • Marketing: “Sure, just let them know what I’m looking for, then I can work directly with them.”
  • CSM: “Ok if I do those few intros by Thursday?”
  • Marketing: “No rush. Next week would be fine.”
  • CSM: “Great, I’ll get them to you by Monday.”

See the difference?

  • 🤝 First, they negotiated;
  • 🙌 Then, they agreed to the COS.

And all this before the work even started. Now the work can proceed on time and within priorities, meeting the expectations of both teams.

Note that this is also the nice version of saying “no.” Negotiate!

Ready, Set, Prioritize!

Ready to take control of your work, own your day, and hit your goals?

  • 💪 Acknowledge that your current busy state is normal;
  • 💪 Get comfortable with saying “no;”
  • 💪 Use the Eisenhower Matrix to rank and schedule your tasks;
  • 💪 Use the Action Cycle to negotiate the right work at the right time.

Good luck prioritizing!

Gabe Caldwell
Partnerships at Plain Sight Ventures
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