Customer Success is about putting your customers at the center of everything you do. Anyone in a customer success role understands it’s their job to be an advocate for the customer. We work for them.
What exactly does it mean to be a Customer Advocate?
Customer success teams are typically involved in the customer’s journey from pre-sales through post sales. Throughout this cycle they develop strong relationships with the customer team. They understand the customer’s business; understand their pain points; have intimate knowledge of the product that was sold; and most importantly, know how that product solves their customers problems.
What is Customer Success’s role in product development?
In a typical SaaS company, the product development team has minimal contact with the customer. Depending on the type of software, there may be some upfront work that’s done and potentially customizations when the solution is initially delivered. However, following the delivery this firsthand contact wanes - as it should. This is where customer success comes in. Remember, the customer success manager is intimately familiar with their customer. Because of their relationship, they will be the ones who hears and understands what the specific customer needs are. This is especially true as the customer’s journey progresses and their needs change over time. It’s the job of customer success to bring these needs to the product development team, often facilitating enhancements in the product.
Is your customer using the product?
Often times a customer will only use a small subset of a products functionality. Perhaps that subset contains the features that are most important. However, what they aren’t using may be just as important.
Customer success is in a unique position when it comes to understanding a customers’ needs. They are able to help make the recommendations and determine new functionality that can help. Too often customers develop frustrations with products simply because they are unaware of its entire set of capabilities. This is where a good customer success team adds incredible value. They know what features will help and the impact they will have on the business. Customer success is at the core of awareness and education of your solutions which results in a dramatic increase in customer lifetime value.
Is your customer satisfied with your product or service?
Customer success teams who want to make an impact on the business, continually seek feedback from their customers. Good and bad. Both are critical to the success of the business and should feed directly into the product team. Good feedback tells them where the product is on target and working well. And bad news highlights inefficiencies or lack of functionality that can damage the customer relationship unless improvements are made. Sometimes bad news requires product changes or enhancements, while other times it points to product misuse or lack of education. Both can be remedied when the lines of communication are open and transparent.
What is my return on investment (ROI)?
How many times have you been asked this very question by a finance team? When it comes to demonstrating value, impact and return on investment of your product, the customer success team should take the lead. It’s the foundation of what they do - demonstrate the value of the product that was sold. They understand the lay of the land. The customer’s requirements, what they need to achieve, expected benefits and how they will measure success. Remember, once a customer starts using your product successfully, they quickly forget their prior life. It’s important to remember, no matter what a customer buys, they will always want to see a demonstrable impact and the resulting value. Great customer success teams make sure that their product or service’s value is always top of mind and they get buy-in from the customer. This helps them deliver the anticipated ROI and, more importantly, allows them to respond with immediately with concrete data when they are asked. There’s nothing that finance likes better than a quick and confident answer.
If you truly want to delight your customers, you need to have customer success fanatics in your organization. When you recognize that your customer is the center of everything you do, your business is on the road to success.
Joe Santangelo is Zylotech’s Director of Customer Success, and winner of the “Zylotech Gourmand Award” for his famous homemade sandwiches. If you are interested in learning more about Customer Success check out more Zylotech Blogs here.