When we say “mistakes” we mean this empathetically. We are commiserating with our customers (CSMs) because we are Customer Success Managers ourselves, and have stepped in our own piles of “mistakes”. This list is simply a way to help others avoid the pitfalls we have experienced in building and shaping our own Customer Success team, and in helping our customers do the same.
With humility, we present the 5 mistakes we’ve learned the most from.
By nature, we CSMs are customer focused. It is our goal to bring daily delight to our customers, and we have lots of tricks up our sleeves to do so – from periodic platform updates to relationship building e-mails and calls to sharing best practice content to professional service offerings, and more. The problem is just that – we have so many tricks of the trade that we can exert extra energy trying to figure out which to pull out when.
Our Advice: Taking the time to create a customer lifecycle model for each type of customer is worth every minute spent. It saves time and work in the long run. Click To Tweet Taking the time to create a customer lifecycle model for each type of customer is worth every minute spent. It saves time and work in the long run. It takes the decision-making energy out of the game when we have to determine which “trick” to pull out today for a particular customer. Knowing ahead of time what works and when to use it saves us lots of time.
While it’s great to have a plan for facilitating usage and value for our customers, we can’t treat every customer the same. Quite simply, some customers are more valuable to us than others. What we provide our largest customers would be overkill for our smaller ones, and if we limited our services for our larger clients to the same that we offer our smaller ones, we risk not meeting their needs.
Our Advice: ARR is one way of segmenting customers. Vertical is another. Identifying the type and amount of customer success management defined segments of customers require is one way of reducing our work load. Taking a little time to segment our customers saves us a lot of time in the long-run by pre-defining what should be done for each type of customer.
A classic Customer Success no-no is providing white glove service that can’t be scaled and breaks down your revenue structure with a single client. There’s white glove service and then there’s green glove service. We tend to think that delivering a white glove level of service will guarantee that our customers are retained. That may be true for that customer, but when we deliver white glove to one or a few customers, we are surely not able to do the same for the rest of our customers. Additionally, those customers who have received this level of service will expect it going forward. This kind of service doesn’t scale or compute.
Our Advice: Define a green glove level of service that demonstrates commitment, but balances the scales between delighting your customers and affording the resources to do so. Click To Tweet Define a green glove level of service that demonstrates commitment, but balances the scales between delighting your customers and affording the resources to do so.
You’ve heard the expression, “don’t just give them fish, teach them to fish.” This rings true in Customer Success. While it’s important that our customers are provided the toolkit they need to derive full value from our solution,we do our customers a great disservice when we do too much for them without allowing them to discover (and own) the solution themselves. we do our customers a great disservice when we do too much for them without allowing them to discover (and own) the solution themselves Click To Tweet It’s a delicate balance. We don’t want our customers to feel frustrated and then give up on our platform, but we also can’t do their work for them.
Our Advice: We understand the ways our customers use our solutions. So, we must own the best practices for deriving full value, and enable those practices to be adopted by our customers. This is best done through an agile, iterative, and consultative approach.
It’s the sales team’s job to get the customers. And sometimes that means they must make promises of enhanced services if they see a clear route to a new account. Hopefully, they’ve vetted this offering through the services arm of your organization before promising it. Once it becomes a closed deal, it’s the customer success team’s job to ensure these services are delivered as promised. Sometimes this communication can be blurry.
Our Advice: It’s worth the effort to get this communication right. It might be a first reaction to resist or resent providing services above and beyond what is typical. We’ve learned that there’s a give and take that must happen. Customer Success must be willing to be a true resource for the sales team, but the sales team must be willing to set expectations for the customer.
As is said, learn not just from your own mistakes, but from those of others. It saves you a lot of heartache (and time). Our goal is to save our CSM colleagues and friends a little time and energy by sharing our wisdom born of experience. Ultimately, it’s our goal as Customer Success professionals to help shape the industry into the retention-reducing, revenue-sustaining model that it’s designed to be. To do so requires we overcome obstacles and continually improve delivery. If we can learn from one another’s mistakes, that may be humbling, but it’s a good thing in the long run.