Customer Success has become the focus of many organizations and answers questions such as “how do I retain my customer?” And “how do I grow within my current customer base?” To ensure your organization is focused on the right CS motions, start with the customer journey and download SBI’s Customer Touchpoint Capture Guide so that the CS team is driving value across the customer journey through 6 core functions:
- Customer Onboarding: During the initial onboarding period, properly introduce new customers and users to products, functionality, and best practices
- Customer Life Cycle Management: Understand the Life Cycle of your Customers and the key leverage points that you must orchestrate
- Value Creation and Community: Throughout the Customer Life Cycle, identify, generate, and communicate the value that the product portfolio creates
- Opportunity Management Process: Build an opportunity management process to uncover additional sales opportunities
- Advocacy Process: Leverage your successful relationships to generate references and referrals both inside the account and to other accounts
- Sales Handoffs: Constantly evolve accounts to sales to ensure that proper accounts are consistently supported based on opportunity
After determining the best customer journey and where the CS team will support this journey, it is time to look at your organization. Customer Success starts with a good organizational design and the right talent in the right place. Customer touchpoints that differ by industry or country can create role confusion and leave your customers in black holes spiraling into nowhere. However, even if you have the best processes and technology enablement available, this will not overcome a talent issue.
There are several aspects that need to be integrated to create a great CS Organization.
- Core CS Competencies
- Persona Mapping
- Motivational Drivers
Core Customer Success Competencies
Let’s start with core competencies. High performing Customer Success Managers (CSMs) exhibit degrees of the following competencies: Customer Focus, Business Acumen, Problem Solving, Domain Expertise, Opportunity Management, Value Justification, Negotiation, and Influence, Retaining Customers, Organization/Planning, Communication, and Active Listening. Of all the focused competencies, three have proven to be the most valuable during this pandemic in supporting the failing sales motions:
- Value Justification: Understand and present cost justification methodologies relevant to the business, quantify cost information that is relevant to the buyer, utilize a value case to differentiate a solution from competitive offerings, build multiple evaluation criteria that are compelling to the buyer, and develop business models that can be replicated and used by others.
- Retaining Customers: Gain customer loyalty, possess personal connections with accounts, ask for references, prevent customer attrition, serve as a trusted advisor, and generate repeat business.
- Communication: Communicate through written means, demonstrate prudence in the written word, communicate clearly, and observe rules of form, style, and syntax.
Roleplaying, creating situations, and case studies that allow interview candidates to demonstrate these capabilities are key, whether they are internal or external.
There are two types of persona mapping exercises that need to be executed on an on-going basis—Industry Mapping and Customer Mapping. Let’s talk about Industry Mapping first. Mapping your CSM to the customer industry aligned to their persona and skill set has become more important over the last several years than mapping them to specific areas of the country. For example, customers asking for CSMs with similar accents, say Chicago vs. Atlanta, was important to enable the customer to feel a local connection with the CSM. Customers are now asking for an industry expert to help them execute the CS motions within their organization.
Mapping your CSMs to specific strategic customers facilitates organic relationship development, especially since so many of these relationships will now be virtual because of our “new normal.” This is always a tricky one; if you have designed your organization geographically or by product, it is harder to really map your CS personas to your customers. This is really important during the renewal process and if you want your CSMs to upsell or cross-sell within the current products purchased. Much like sales, a mismatch in personas creates award conversations around simple upsell items that truly add value to the customer.
CS organizations, whether born from sales or for Customer Care, find themselves in a silo without good career paths into other areas of the organization. It is simple, no career path, no A-player.
Mentorships, rotation programs, and extended on the job training in other areas are critical to showing the team the organization is serious about developing their CSMs and providing them with growth opportunities within the organization. Much like keeping current customers, it is easier and less expensive to develop great talent then get into the crazy “new hire” cycle.
Remember, Customer Success organizations should be focused on the most impactful areas of your customer journey to gain the stickiness of your product and drive your customers to the max value for what they have purchased from you. Leverage the Customer Touchpoint Capture Guide to ensure your touchpoints are aligned. Then use the six core functions to guide the delivery of customer success motions that are enabled by a clear organizational design with motivated talent.