As a Customer Success Leader, to scale your organization, you have to get the most out of your team. Your greatest lever, is how to allocate a Customer Success Professional’s most important asset, their time.
In order to drive the right Key Results, Customer Success Professionals must invest their time in the right way. A tool we have used effectively for sales roles is called the Customer Success Time Management Tool. In effect, it allocates a week into 10 cells, one for each half day. Of course, there will be seasonal patterns (in most software companies, Q4 is a busy renewal cycle due to many contracts being originally booked in that window.
This tool follows principles from the best time management book I have read, “First Things First ” by Stephen Covey. To effectively manage our time, we must schedule our priorities rather than prioritizing our schedule. This means we put the larger rocks in first and allow the smaller pebbles and sand to fill in the cracks. This exercise is effectively summarized in this video.
Big Rocks for Customer Success
What are the Customer Success Big Rocks? These are the things that create value for customers:
- Onboarding and Driving Utilization– Whether you are a subscription or “consumption based” model, getting your customers to a fast start is a key driver of a positive customer experience, and positions you to help them achieve their business outcomes. Engagement with users that will drive usage and ultimately create value for your customer.
- Capture and Communicate Value – If value is created, and the Buying Decision Team doesn’t know about it, did it even happen? This existential question has an easy response for Customer Success: no. In a high touch model, the Customer Success team must ensure that value generation is captured and packaged in the customer’s language. When done well, we make our sponsor or mobilizer feel comfortable with the buying decision they influenced and position them with the buying decision team.
- Proactively resolve issues – Even the best solutions have issues from time to time. Most of these issues should live with your support and/or operations teams. The Customer Success team is the last line of escalation for issues, so they can be quickly resolved. Customer Success should also have visibility to issues so we can develop proactive solutions that prevent future issues.
- Expansion – If we have done these previous stages well, and our sponsor/mobilizer can show value to his/her executive team, then we have earned the right to have expansion conversations. This may include cross-sell (additional products) or up-sell (more of the same product). In larger companies this may mean accessing a different buying center, and as such may be a significant time investment
- Renewals – Efforts invested in other parts of this process create a tailwind for the renewal process, but at some point, we must go through the renewal cycle. Depending on the size of the customers’ investment, this can be a more complex process, engaging a larger buying decision team, and going through the Customers’ procurement process.
Key Customer Facing Tasks
The best in class benchmark for a remote based team is 70% of time invested in customer activities. This includes preparation, follow up, and the interaction itself. Of this 70%, an ideal allocation is:
- 25% Onboarding and Driving Utilization – This should be the largest investment of time
- 10% Communicating Value – This likely requires some 1:1 discussion, which may even be in person for larger accounts.
- 15% Renewals – There will be a seasonal pattern here, as many SaaS companies have a disproportionate number of customers who renew on January 1st.
- 15% Expansion – This reflects a mature team, where they are running expansion opportunities on their own. Companies lower on the maturity scale likely refer these opportunities to other resources.
- 5% Issue Resolution – If your team is consistently above this 10% threshold, you should consider dedicated resources to handle escalated issues.
Important Internal Tasks
Most of these customer activities require interactions with buyers and users. As such, we must consider the best times to reach them. There are some studies (Hubspot and Lead Response Study) that publish the best times to get people at their desk are Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 8-9 AM, 11-12 AM, and 3-5 PM in their time zones.
Of course, there are non-customer facing needs for Customer Success Professionals, as you can see those are scheduled during windows where it is challenging to reach customers directly. These enabling activities include:
- Coaching 1:1’s – Individuals should have a weekly coaching interaction with their managers. The Individual Development Plan is the basis of this interaction. It includes skill development, knowledge of core processes, and developing product knowledge.
- Weekly Training – These are team-based sessions run by the manager that supplement the training designed by your Enablement teams.
- Pipeline and Forecast – We have written extensively on this topic, but it is vital to monitor the expansion pipeline to ensure it is sufficient to cover the expansion target. We also want to do a bottom up forecast of which deals will close when.
By allocating your team’s time effectively, you are on your way to delivering the results your management team expects of you.
Download the Customer Success Time Management Tool. Leverage this tool to manage your time more effectively by allocating a week into 10 cells, one for each half day. Schedule your priorities rather than prioritizing your schedule.
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