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Customer Success (CS) as a business function has seen enormous growth in the SaaS industry within the last decade. With an evolving need of mutually beneficial relationships with their customers, companies are investing more on building a customer success team. These teams are dedicated towards c
Customer Success (CS) as a business function has seen enormous growth in the SaaS industry within the last decade. With an evolving need of mutually beneficial relationships with their customers, companies are investing more on building a customer success team. These teams are dedicated towards customers achieving their goals. They help customers realize the value of the product which in turn results in achieving customer retention.
For the customer to succeed in deriving value out of your product, your product success is crucial. Product success is different from Customer Success. In fact it is the precursor to customer success. It is purely logical that to achieve success in your business, the product or service you are offering should be flawless. It is the core of your business and all other success parameters are built upon this.
To go with the topic of this article, which is to achieve product success through great customer success team structure, let us first understand what product success is. The success of your product mainly depends on these three criteria:
The performance of your product is the most important aspect upon which its success depends. The architecture used in the product design should be agile and simple for minimal loading and processing time. It should be able to make heavy calculations through short but intelligent algorithms. And all the functionalities should be well encapsulated.
The UI must be easily comprehensible and should present well all the insights gleaned from the collected data. The users should not be concerned about the back-end computations. Most of their time and focus should be on fulfilling their business goals rather than technical engagement with the product.
Companies are using multiple software these days to meet their various needs. They need a CRM software like Salesforce to mostly manage customer data. A customer servicing software like Freshdesk, an internal communication software for the team and what not.
Your customer success platform should be such that it integrates easily with all of these tools. If it can provide just one platform to use these multiple tools then it is a big time saver. The more software it can integrate with the easier it would be to blend with your client’s business ecosystem.
While designing the product you might be enticed to use various metrics because of your access to different kinds of information. But out of all, you must settle with one metric that clearly defines the customer’s business goals. It should give you the gist of the whole business through just one measure.
Most efforts of your customers must target only that metric and on how to raise it. For example, in a customer success platform, a customer health score is something that gives you the complete picture of a customer account. Through this you can actually measure your progress and identify how much effort you need to put to make it green.
Having seen a few aspects of product success, let us now dig into the customer success team structure that can facilitate it.
The team you design for this purpose in your organization should have a structured and plan. You should prepare a proper KRA for each team member well in advance and communicate it clearly. Although the broader objective of the whole team is helping the customers achieve their business goals, each member contributes uniquely towards that.
Mentioned below are a few key roles in the team along with their responsibilities.
A CSM is the main point of contact in your company for the customers and the most visible role in a customer success team structure. Their main responsibility is to keep the customers engaged and help them achieve business goals. In doing so, they ensure that the customer is deriving maximum value from the product. If not then their job is to take every measure to help the customers adopt the product over a certain period.
They should have a keen understanding of the customer’s business objective. Based on that they must prepare a success plan, set expectations and communicate them to the customer in the beginning itself. Aligning multiple stakeholders in the client side is also needed of them. Transparency between the two parties on service level agreements (SLA), if applicable, must be maintained to avoid any future disagreements.
These individuals are the key players for guiding the customer through their renewal or upselling decisions. They demonstrate the value gained from the product in the past for them to realize the need for renewal. And for upselling they have to show how much more can be achieved if the customer decides to switch from a basic to advanced plan.
They work with the customers on their assessment of ROI over a certain period of product usage. They help identify white space by analyzing the key information about the customer, industry, stakeholders and competitors. Based on this they help expand further revenue to the business.
Large enterprises have a seperate role of onboarding project managers which is usually overseen by a CSM in smaller ones. They help ensure the customer has completed the initial training required for them to start using the product. They also design the content and structure of the training material.
The configuration of the product in the customer’s technical environment is also their responsibility. They help in the proper transition of the customer from the pre-sales to post-sales teams that manage the customer in their further journey. Hence, it requires them to conduct meetings with the sales team and CSMs in which they make sure that everyone is on the same page with respect to knowing and handling the customer.
Technical support is a crucial role in a customer success team. They are the ones who handle the customer inbound queries related to technical issues they face during configuration or in later stages. They have to make sure that the queries are resolved within the least turnaround time (TAT) and to the customer satisfaction.
There is no one-size fits all structure for every kind of SaaS organization. But these are the fundamental roles that different employees take or sometimes they overlap. Depending upon the size of your organization a CSM manages this whole team or there could be a CS leader who is overseeing multiple CSMs along with these individuals.
If your organization is evolved enough to consider the customer success at C-Suite level then you can appoint a chief customer officer or chief success officer role as well. They can help in allocating different resources in the Customer Success team from one account to another. 21
It is advisable to have an affordable percentage of the buffer resources as well to meet the customers’ needs on time. No doubt, the product success mostly depends on the design and performance of the product. But it takes the cumulative efforts of the whole team for giving a great experience to the customer and maximizing the value out of it.
Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.
Published 5 Jun 2020, Updated 6 Jan 2021
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