Your Customer Success Manager Needs You to Know This!
[Based on actual conversations with CS Managers]
Author: Megha Poojari
If you have been following up with the industry trends, you would very much be aware of how customer-centric business approaches have been taking the enterprise SaaS industry by storm.
However, not all enterprise SaaS companies are able to adopt “Customer-Centricity at Scale” and the reason for this is simple; The absence of a “Single Source of Truth” platform.
When a customer churns, the ultimate KPI is mapped to the customer success teams, but is it just a failure of one team?
The answer is No!
Customer churns and negative or declining NRR cannot be a failure of one team but results from multiple failures in the information transfer from various cross-functional departments across various stages of the customer lifecycle journey with your product.
We have made a list of negative experiences faced by Customer Success Managers across all stages of a customer journey, and this might help you understand how a customer-centric business approach is not just a single team’s effort.
During the Pre-Sales Stage:
The pre-sales stage is the initial and crucial stage in the customer journey. This stage forms a foundation for your customer’s decision-making process where they are still evaluating other solutions while wanting to choose your product.
The sales team, usually handles pre-sales stage where-in their primary goal is to seal the deal with this particular customer, along with secondary goals like
- Establishing customer requirements and challenges and mapping them to the product
- Providing with realistic timelines for POC/POV
- Identifying stakeholders for particular POC/POV
- Documenting the list of use-cases that needs to be aligned with the product, etc.
The sales team can be successful in achieving their primary goal of getting the sale done, however communicating and documenting the results of secondary goals is where your business sees a lapse.
This, in turn, leads to the following issues for your customer success teams.
Incomplete Data Transfer
Since the sales team’s major focus is on converting the lead to a sale, there may be chances of them missing out on documenting all the necessary information from the client.
There might be a miss in use-case documentation, clarity on who would be the POC on this particular customer, and/or misunderstanding of a certain use-case or requirement put forth by the customer.
Usually, the back and forth of information is done via tools like email, slack, or google sheets and it then becomes a task for the onboarding and implementation teams to pick up data from all these sources to make sense out of the collected information.
Lack of clarity to the customer
When a customer is in the pre-sales stage, their main objective is to evaluate and make a decision on what could be the closest solution to their problems.
Hence, not much information is rendered by the customer as they are busy providing their details, such as their problem statement, their use-cases, etc to the sales team.
This could also cause your customers to miss out on important information about your product, POCs from your team, and understanding of various timelines on product deliverables.
Now, when the onboarding call kicks off, it is now the onboarding team or the customer success team’s job to take the customer through the entire process of clarifying customer doubts, thus delaying the onboarding process.
Manual tracking of data
Let’s start with initial emails by the sales team, then the sales kick-off call, minutes of the meetings, SOW document, contracts, use case document, and whatnot!
Now with a lack of a single source of truth platform, all these pieces of information are recorded and saved in different silos of tools like emails, google documents, CRM, or any other project management tools.
Every time a customer success manager needs to keep track of what was promised, what is being delivered, and what has been a successful delivery, they have to go back and forth manually to all these tools to seek the required information and present it to the customers or the implementation teams.
During the Implementation Stage:
After successfully yet painstakingly dodging the pre-sales and sales stage, the customer moves to the implementation stage.
Here the goal of a customer success manager in the implementation stage are as follows:
- Get handover from the pre-sales/onboarding teams and validate the scope of work.
- Identifying stakeholders for the internal teams and the customers.
- Obtain a list of prerequisites like data, configurations, etc from the customers
- Tracking a timeline of different milestones, delays, dependencies, support tickets, and resolutions.
Now that the goals are established, let’s look at the issues faced by the CS teams.
It can’t be stressed more on how customer success managers have to deal with collecting data from cross-functional teams and make sense out of it for each customer they handle.
Excel can be a nightmare for your customer success team as they have to collect data like daily progress reports, status from each team member, risks and delays, all manually where they end up spending hours and hours just to collect the information.
Sometimes the customer success team also has to add discussions from slack, JIRA, word, etc to the excel tracker that will help them create reports for the next meeting or the weekly calls with the customer.
Zero accountability from the implementation team
Usually, due to the misfit in the use case dependencies and the product roadmap, the implementation teams hand over half-baked implementations during the go-live stage of the customer journey.
The result of which is customer escalations and frustrations that need to be addressed by the customer success teams!
Mostly these implementations fail because the implementation teams are not able to map the use cases to the product or due to the information loss that happens because of different silos of tools.
By the end of it, when the customer leaves, it becomes a negative KPI for the CS team.
Due to the absence of a single source of truth platform, and the lack of transparency caused by it, the customers aren’t always aware of the delays that are caused by them.
This just leads to the CS teams constantly following up with the customer to close the tasks that are delayed on their end.
And the outcome of which is the delay in the next stage of the customer journey, i.e the go-live stage.
During the Go-Live Stage
Once the implementation stage is completed, the next step is to onboard the customer and hand over your product to them.
Here the goals of the customer success teams are:
- Drive constant usage of the platform
- Cover the use-case requested by the customer
- Discover potential new use-cases and bugs from the customer
- Work towards getting the ultimate goal: RENEWAL
So what can go wrong here for the CS teams?
The sole responsibility for failure
With hundreds of back and forth, information loss, delays, and hasty implementations, there can be no denying the fact that your customer has already made the decision to discard your product.
In the current enterprise SaaS setting the sole KPI of NRR, ARPU, MRR, NPS, etc are set for the customer success teams. Hence a failed go-live is ultimately going to affect the performance of the customer success teams.
Thereby, the CS team gets blamed, though it is usually the joint failure of the cross-functional teams and the customer.
With all attempts to make the customer-centric business approach and aspirations to scale customer success, what many organizations fail to solve is customer churn.
It could be any team’s fault, but ultimately is a loss for your business and a failure for the customer success teams, because even after thousands of attempts of solving customer escalations, prioritizing, and proactively helping cross-functional teams achieve the desired outcome, it is considered as CS team’s failure.
What’s the solution for your customer success team?
With the issues we’ve pointed out above, it is quite evident that the customer success team is important. However, they are also the team that is under constant scrutiny.
So how can your business achieve customer-centricity, when your customer success team itself is struggling to stay afloat?
The answer is simple!
Adopting a “single source of truth” platform that will help your business in the following ways;
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Provide Visibility & Transparency
- Help evaluate time to value w.r.t revenue risks
- Help with accountability
With this, your business will be able to achieve a truly customer-centric approach and make sure that your customer success team can achieve its goal of customer retention, positive NPS, and stable ARR.