A few months back, I completed my 4th year in the Customer Success world. When I look back to the old me, I feel that I have learned a lot as a Customer Success Manager (CSM). Like all other roles, this one has its own challenges but there are a whole lot of fun bits too. There are days when you feel the Lord is testing your patience, but there are other ones which are oh-so rewarding.
Despite the crests and troughs, falling back to the basics, sticking to your strengths and taking each day at a time is what would help you excel at what you do.
In case, you are planning to switch to Customer Success and wonder how we truck through our day, here’s a little glimpse.
A Customer Success Manager’s role differs on the basis of a high/low touch base model and the size of the accounts – small, medium and enterprise. Fortunately, I have had the chance to work with a multitude of customers – hence, accumulating all the experiences in this article.
Let’s start with what I do in my day to day life to give you a better understanding of the work.
A typical day for a CSM starts with addressing a ton of emails when you are handling multiple clients. The context of these emails will depend on the stage of the customer lifecycle – onboarding, implementation, post go-live feedback etc. You have to quickly go through all the emails and segregate them on the basis of priority and call to action, for example, follow-ups on support tickets, technicals questions, meeting requests, implementing new features, renewals, invoices, etc.
The key to success here is to take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book and organize! Depending on the priority, I segregate the to-dos that I have to complete in the day and jot them down; I love striking each one out as I complete them. It gives me a sense of triumph 😉
If your company has a platform to understand the health of the account, then your life is sorted
Depending on the internal processes at your company and their maturity stage, you might also be using a Customer Success Platform. These platforms generally have very handy dashboards comprising of a number of parameters – users, usage, initiatives, adoption of the initiatives/use case, etc. that give you a hawk-eye view of the health of all of your customers. This is a definite game changer! If your company has a platform to understand the health of the account, then your life is sorted. If not, you as a CSM should create one for yourself to keep a check on the pulse of the account.
After sifting through my emails, I ritualistically go to my customer success tool’s dashboard to check the health of the accounts. This is instrumental in helping me plan my day. If anything needs my immediate attention or a push I get in touch with the business user on call/email or in-person depending on the criticality of the matter, preferred channel of communication and the availability of SPOC.
Coordinating between different teams
I also have to collaborate with multiple teams internally to enable my customers and solve their problems. These teams include
- The Support team to know the status of the tickets raised by clients and escalate if needed
- The Engineering / Solutions team to work on technical/integration challenges
- The Product team to know the product roadmap and also to give feedback about the product if you have got any from the customers
- The Accounts/Finance to raise invoices or confirm if the payment has been made
- The Marketing team for facilitating case studies, success stories, best practice docks, etc.
Now, let me iterate some of the action items that are infrequent (not part of my daily routine), but definitely some of the most crucial parts of my work that take a sizeable chunk of my time and effort.
Onboarding new customers
Once the opportunity is converted, the Customer Success team comes to the forefront to run the show. Critical to meeting your customer’s onboarding needs is having crystal clear clarity on the happenings during the Sales cycle through a proper handoff between the Account Executive and yourself – what features struck a chord with the customer, which other competitors were you pit against and what made the balance tip in your favor, how does the stakeholder hierarchy look like, who signs on the dotted line etc.
All of this creates the foundation and groundwork for creating a kickass first impression in front of your new clients on the all-important kickoff meeting. This is one of the most important parts of the Customer’s Journey with your company. In this kickoff meeting, you interact with the stakeholders, try to reconfirm the use case and business objectives (depending on your inputs from the handoff meeting), get additional inputs and establish a roadmap for the journey ahead. You also decide on the metric for success so that you can quantify the ROI of the project further down the line.
Training, and implementing creative solutions
The training has to be effective and structured in such a way that the customer does not feel overwhelmed by all the information
You have to train and enable the new customers/stakeholders coming to the application anew. The essence of SaaS applications are that they’re DIY (do it yourself) and meant to be implemented by the business users; hence the initial training is crucial. The training has to be effective and structured in such a way that the customer does not feel overwhelmed by all the information (Tricky huh!).
Even after an effective training, there might be scenarios where the Product in its raw capacity does not cater to a particular use case out-of-the-box.
In such cases, you need to don your creative hat, understand the end goal of the client, and design a creative solution for them to create a personalized experience. Not only does this contribute in creating successful customers; the value created is the sturdy foundation on which you build a business relationship with them.
Deriving Value and Communicating it to Customers
You have to keep track of how effectively each customer is interacting with your application – which stage are they in? Have they implemented the product? If yes, then is it working for them? What kind of impact is your service making for them? Are they able to achieve their desired outcome?
It’s all a matter of perceived value!
These are important questions and will define their renewal (and other future collaboration) with you. You can leverage the power of different tools to get these data points and accordingly you can strategize and devise a plan of action. You have to track the account growth and build account intelligence through analytics and past data related to that account and communicate it to the customer on a regular basis so that the customer stakeholders are apprised of the journey with your product. And hey – this can be good/bad data.
However, as a CSM, you have to paint the picture in black and white – if everything is peachy, then awesome; else, you have to figure out a way with the customer to work on the shortcomings and the next steps for the journey ahead. You have to showcase the value of your product/service at every part of the customer journey – how effective was the onboarding, how quickly they got trained on to the tool and were able to draft a solution, how quick was the turnaround on every issue they raised – it’s all a matter of perceived value!
If I look at mine as well as some fellow CSMs day, it’s packed with a lot of action and there is never a dull moment! In case you’re just starting out on your quest to power customers through to Success, these are some crucial (but not exhaustive) points that you would want to keep in mind.
In the end game to achieve the desired outcomes with your customers, it is imperative that you take each day at a time and achieve the set goals for the day. The above pointers have served as a good vantage point for me in the past to win my day, and I hope they serve you well too! Remember Ben Franklin’s words – “For every minute spent organizing is an hour earned.”
Kritika Kishor is a Customer Success enthusiast, who loves making people successful in what they are trying to achieve with SaaS based platforms. She is currently handling some of the biggest market players at Whatfix, consulting them on how to implement success best practices.