The impact of customer success in the B2B SaaS industry is prolific. It is not a mean feat when you look at how far customer success has come from the days of its evolution. Today customer success has become inevitable for the success of a B2B SaaS company. Customer success leaders have already spoken highly about the impact of customer success.
It is great news for the CS community to see the progress in the customer success field. In fact, according to Sue Nabeth Moore, customer success is no longer a churn buster but has evolved into an earn buster.
But still, certain concerns keep customer success leaders up at night in 2023. I am here to discuss those with you and help you understand what is at stake now for the CS community as a whole in 2023.
So, let us straight away get to the point and discuss the different things that are keeping customer success leaders up at night in 2023:
Should I consider customer success as a culture or as a department?
Since the evolution of customer success, there has been a lot of debate amongst various trade pundits on whether to consider customer success as a culture or a department. This is a major point of concern for the customer success leaders. Until and unless, as a leader, a customer success leader does not take the onus of understanding the concept of CS, it will become difficult to ensure that their subordinates take this subject seriously.
We are seeing many B2B SaaS companies today that have become quite serious about adopting customer success in their work environment. This is where a customer success leader needs to determine whether they need to treat customer success as a culture or a department.
Since the entire organization buys the idea of customer success to excel, it is imperative to consider customer success as a culture. Right from sales to marketing to implementation to onboarding, everyone should understand the concept of customer success and align it with the desired outcomes.
The right way to approach this as a customer success leader is by speaking with each and every departmental head and looking at how to align customer success objectives with the company objectives. A prime example of that is, from the sales department’s perspective, they can consider how customer success can aid the company gains more commercial mileage with the way they pitch products. Salespeople can also aid customer success with clients who have stopped engaging with them.
There are different ways, considering, customer success as a culture can work wonders for a B2B SaaS organization. It can certainly introduce a give-and-take relationship with other stakeholders. For example, the product team might present a product roadmap to the customers. The customer success team can then assist beta customers to comprehend the new features and even set up customer interviews for the product team to accumulate feedback.
Aligning with all the departments in the organization to establish customer success as a culture within the organization is key to success. Each team can work to achieve the objectives and measure against the key performance indicators.
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Is there a way to rethink customer engagement?
This is a big question that gives the customer success leaders sleepless nights in 2023. Customer engagement is primarily built around the customer journey, a customary practice for the last five years. Now is the time to evolve it further. You can add content-based programs to your organization and leverage real-time channels. For example, it has become imperative for B2B SaaS companies to have a talented content writer on CS staff that can bring newness to the CS process.
We have often seen CS teams shying away from real-time engagements. They perceive it as a wastage of time or even fear that the customers will use the channels to abuse them. It is the right time to change this perspective as a customer success leader. Having proactive check-ins alone will not work; you also need to have meaningful interactions with the customers. You can only make that happen by producing high-quality content for different scenarios. Have GIFs, memes, use cases and case studies to showcase your point and inspire your customers to take the necessary action.
Can sales and customer success work as a partner to align CS operations?
In the year 2021, CS operations got mainstream approval. This was a major hurdle crossed in the history of customer success as a function. Today, CEOs have understood the importance of allocating budget so that CS leaders can have adequate staff at their disposal. The worrying part for the customer success leaders is that the organization’s marketing, sales, and customer departments get unified revenue disposal. This is what makes customer success leaders stay awake at night.
It is said that customer success leaders and sales operations leaders need to have a healthy relationship. But that hardly happens in today’s time. There is still a possibility for such a relationship. For that to happen, the revenue function needs to mature. There is a need for a working relationship between the sales operation’s heads and customer success leaders.
The significant thing is that both customer success and sales have their own records systems. But both require an established CRM to create a precise executive dashboard. As the CEO and CFO of an organization take the CRM as the ultimate source of truth, it is important for both the departments to work with a clean dataset.
Both the teams need to record significant factors that need to be revealed in the CRM. However, both the teams’ objectives are quite distinct. The sales aim to create opportunities, while the CS must maintain a healthy relationship with the customers. This is where the CRM needs to explore the end-to-end customer journey.
The only workaround solution for this problem is for the CS operation to continue their focus on CS enablement tools encompassing board KPIs, customer success book of business, and productivity metrics. They also need to work with sales for smooth sales-CS handoff, tooling interaction, and growth metrics.
How can I expand the customer success team with the right specialization?
Gone are the days when only hiring CSMs would work wonders for the CS team. With technological advancements, it is time for CS leaders to think differently. Hiring a leader is important, but if that leader cannot justify all the functions of CS, it can become very difficult for the organization to survive. An all-rounder who can do bits and pieces of everything is not the order of the day. You need someone who specializes in a particular domain of customer success and take things forward. This is where there are new positions that a customer success leader needs to be open about.
A prime example is that hiring a customer success manager will not give you the desired results if you want a person to look specifically after renewal accounts. You need to hire renewal specialists. Customer success leaders need to show openness towards others too. These include onboarding specialists, adoption coaches, etc.
To grow as an organization, you need to take the right steps by hiring specialists for vacant positions. This will give undivided attention to the product and provide the necessary push towards maturity.
In the B2B SaaS industry, we see a major activation problem. The only way to resolve this is by properly onboarding the customers and retaining them. You can do this by hiring specialists for these functions.
How can I train the CS team more effectively?
There was a time when you could ask your customer success team to self-train themselves by using the available product information and knowledge base. But the problem with this was it did not change the attitude of the CS team.
Training the team is not just imparting the information to the team. It is all about imbibing the customer success culture. This is what keeps the customer success leaders awake at night. They probably think about the more effective ways to train their CS team.
This is where there is a need for the organization to hire a specialized trainer who can provide adequate information about the product and also introduce the best practices to the team. If you expect CSMs to discipline the team daily, it is quite a challenging task for them.
As a customer success leader, there is always a thought at the back of your mind to retain existing customers and grow your ARR. Remember, keeping the existing customers happy and growing your clientele will drastically impact your organization’s revenue.28
At the end of the day, B2B SaaS is always about providing people with a product they love to use to resolve their problems and keep existing customers happy. If you do both, the chances are that it will keep you in a sound sleep at night as a customer success leader!
Dattatraya Shetty is an IT Professional with 2 Decades of experience in areas of Product Development, Implementation & Service Delivery Management. As the Head of Implementations and SOC Compliance in Smartkarrot he is on a mission to provide relishing customer experience.
Published April 26, 2022, Updated April 19, 2023