Work management basics for software-as-a-service startups
5 Dos and Don’ts to Support Best Customer Success Practices
Lincoln Murphy defines Customer Success as “when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company. “
OK. That works.
Then, what is Customer Success Management? Is it the measurement of how happy your customers are? Or is it knowing what your customers need at all times and being able to do what you must to help them reach their desired outcomes?
If you’re shopping for a CSM platform, you might think it’s the former. Many of the current technologies that are promoting themselves as Customer Success platforms focus largely on measuring customer health. These tools have powerful analytics capabilities, and can tell you a great deal about the status of each of your accounts.
That’s not Customer Success Management. That’s Customer Data Management or Customer Success Measurement.
Customer Success Management is the gritty part that happens behind your customer data. It’s what you’re doing with your customers on a routine basis that affects that healthscore and user data. And, done right, it’s the consistency of delivering with your best practices at all times. This is all about work management.
Customer Success Management isn’t Customer Success Measurement. It’s about the work that goes into managing the relationship. And there are some very basic dos and don’ts for managing this work:
- Communicate with your sales team as soon as possible
But then conduct your own discovery sessions. You may confirm what you know, but you may also uncover more important cues about what your customer needs. These sessions also establish you as their point of contact and a good listener. Be both.
- Segment your customers
Not all customers are the same, but there are similarities among them. Find the most important attributes for segmentation – ACV, Industry, Geography, size, maturity, etc. Then establish best practices for meeting those types of customers. No need to reinvent the wheel for each customer. Rely upon proven practices, and be flexible when you need to be.
- Pre-draft standardized communications (templates)
This is a simple time saver. Once you know that you will be sending welcoming e-mails, scheduling QBRs, and getting permission for surveys, spend the time to hone these communications to their best. Then set them, and forget them. Use them each time, and use your extra time to… take on more customers!
- Define customer lifecycle(s) that reflect customer journeys
Want to really streamline your customer success workload? Take the time to define customer lifecycles for the different segments of your customers. This will allow you to refine your delivery tasks even better. It will also give you another line of sight into the health of your customer and their path toward renewal.
Listening to our customers both quantitatively and qualitatively is a guiding principle of Customer Success Management. Spend the time to hear what your customers articulate and also what they don’t say. Then spend the energy to decipher what they really need to get full value from your solution. Knowing your customer AND your solution will bring you ultimate success in managing your work and delivering delight.
- Ignore Trends
When you identify certain behaviors among your customers, pay attention. Whether it’s usage patterns or customer success needs, these trends can (and should) be addressed when defining delivery best practices. Ideally, you can begin to make predictions and those predictions can serve as triggers for managing your work. (Does your platform support such triggers?)
- Just check-in
Your time and your customers’ time are valuable. Don’t waste either with phone calls or e-mails that require your customers to stop what they’re doing to think critically about your solution, or even just to chat. Plan meetings that are concise and valuable for both parties, and have agendas that reflect established priorities.
- Dismiss healthscores
But don’t think that a single NPS score means that everything is fine OR that you’ve lost the opportunity for a renewal. Healthscores should be well thought out algorithms that reflect what your company really wants to know about your customers. If they are, then they’re worth paying attention to. Spend more time with those customers whose healthscores are concerning. But don’t write off (or panic about) a customer just because of a single negative score.
- Be a one-trick pony
Face it. Your job is multi-faceted. You must be both product-wise and relationship-savvy… and every combination of the two skill sets in between. Don’t over-focus on platform capabilities while failing to develop relationships that will lead to greater trust. Both hats are important in securing long-standing relationships.
- Isolate yourself
What you learn in your work is vital to the organization as a whole. Even if best practices are standardized, you will continue to learn new and better ways to manage your work and deliver better. The rest of your organization will be stronger when you bring those ideas to the table.
The bottom line for “doing” Customer Success Management is to focus on delivery (doing) rather than data (analyzing). Analytics are only reflections of the work you do. Spending too much time studying red, yellow and green takes you away from the important work of tending to your customers. Managing the vital tasks of Customer Success that actually delight your customers should be the cornerstone of your identity.
About the Author:
As the founder and principal of Eserveo, Tim Conder is excited to have joined forces with Bolstra, now serving as vice president of customer success. Bolstra has designed a game changing product to help them take customer success management to the next level.