Customer Success is a relatively new business methodology and function derived from SaaS business models. It has given birth to consumer applications such as Netflix and Spotify, and B2B Customer Relationship Management Software (CRMS) like Salesforce and Hubspot. Customer Success ensures that customers reach their desired outcome while using the product or service. It focuses on aligning the client and vendor goals in order to drive mutually beneficial outcomes.
But many are left questioning how exactly this can be done. What is the mindset and approach that Customer Success Managers (CSMs) should adopt in order to ensure effective delivery?
Know your industry, and more
As the above title suggests, excellent Customer Success management means understanding your industry, your core value propositions, your companies’ unique abilities, AND general knowledge about your clients' industry and market practices.
First ask yourself the question, “What does success look like for my client, or segment of clients?”
The answer to this simple question differs greatly from clients and users. Some are data analysts in large enterprises, who require generation of reports. Others are specialists in their field, mainly utilising your product as a tool. At the organisational level, usage of your product or service would drive a different value as compared to the value driven to individual users.
Imagine that you are the CSM for a CRMS, and you have one client from a small marketing agency, and another from a larger, traditional B2B Information Technology (IT) vendor. Based on their immediate objectives and long-term vision, the usage of the CRMS would look extremely different. Perhaps for the marketing agency, their usage of the CRMS would involve a great number of automations to reduce administrative load. On the other hand, the IT Vendor would require greater clarity in terms of pipeline, reporting, and deal tracking.
Indubitably, both entities would use the various functions and features of the CRMS. However, each would define success very differently, based on their business focus. It is thus, important to understand what your client requires, and balancing it with your solution's capabilities. A great tip would be to use product and service metrics to help you track each customer at scale, and never lose touch of their context!
Communicate the value of your solution
Based on the distilled outcome of the above, become a trusted adviser to their company. They are paying you to discover the best way to use their solution for their business. Remember to stay in touch with them, communicate new releases, and champion features you deem suitable.
As a CSM, continual engagement with your clients is key. The implementation efforts of initial on-boarding is insufficient in ensuring clients are integrating well with the technology solution you provide. Once initial implementation and adoption is achieved, strive to deliver above and beyond - product and workflow optimisation of your solution.
This may come in various forms, from simple process advice and best practices within the industry, to suggesting workarounds and quick wins to where your solution might not be optimal. The reality is that your SaaS technology might not be the perfect fit for your customers. However, having a thorough understanding of your customers' market and current objectives will allow for you to deliver optimal value. Having such a mindset when engaging your client will allow for consistency in realising your company's value to your clients.
Post by Lance Chua. Lance has been in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry for 2 years, working at first with Zegal (formerly Dragon Law) and currently at Horangi. Seeing different companies and the way they tackle SaaS, Lance has developed the ability to conceptualise and balance against the stresses of Customer Success. His motto "Serve by delivering value" sums up the concise manner Success can be realised in any business and his philosophy.
A version of this article first appeared on Horangi's Blog on 21/09/2018.