Communicating Customer Support VS. Customer Success

How does a customer success manager not become the catch-all for every support/sales request?

After working closely with a customer, it’s easy for the customer to feel like you (the customer success manager) are their contact for any need they have with your solution.

It’s not unreasonable to think this way. It’s easier for the customer to keep track of one contact at a company than to keep track of three or four.

But problems can arise when a customer keeps reaching out to customer success for an issue that is better handled by customer support or sales. Depending on your bandwidth the customer could experience a delay in their response while your stack of tasks continues to pile up.

So, how do you prevent that?

Educate the customer on the difference. Customers may be reaching out to a customer success manager about a support issue because they think that the customer success manager is actually customer support. Customer success is understood pretty well in the SaaS industry, but not so much everywhere else. The easy way to fix this is to educate the customer during onboarding about the different teams that the customer has at their disposal. Explain what kind of inquiries should be directed to what individuals and provide the relevant contact information.

The differentiation needs to be simple and clear. Anything dealing with technical issues or questions regarding you solution can be directed to support, questions about upgrading or purchasing new products should be directed sales, and any questions dealing with utilizing your account should be directed customer success. The biggest advantage to the customer is speed. If you receive a support request but have a bunch of onboarding calls that day, then it may be a while before the customer hears back from you. You can help a customer understand the difference by saying…

“For any questions or issues related to our solution, you’ll want to reach out to our support team. They are experts on the system- I’m usually conducting onboarding calls doing the day, so the support team will get back to you sooner and have a better pulse on the current issues.”

This is all fine and dandy in theory, but people are still going to reach out to you about unrelated requests. So what do you do? Simply redirect the request to the correct contact and explain why. You don’t need to be abrasive, but help the customer understand why you won’t be taking the lead on their request…

“Thanks for reaching out! I’ll pass this onto your account executive, John, since pricing is more up his alley.”

“Thanks for letting me know about this issue. I’ll forward this to our support team- they are much more familiar with these types of issues and have a better pulse on current bugs.”

Another key aspect is to be as quick as possible in your response- reading and forwarding an email like this should take at most 2–3 minutes. The customer usually has already built in a delayed response since they reached out to the customer success, but your want to minimize that bottle neck as much as possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve handled these kinds of requests and what you’ve seen works.

Thanks for reading.

Customer Success

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