Accelerate your speed-to-value by building a stronger customer success function

So, how do you do it?

Margo Diewald
Jan 20, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Customer success is the business function which is responsible for ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your company’s product or service. A customer success function exists in most B2B SaaS organizations. Other industries are taking notice and implementing their own customer success functions.

The customer success team typically takes over the client account relationship from the sales team after the contract is signed and the integration and configuration processes are underway.

Customer success is responsible for a few business outcomes and the associated key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Customer satisfaction, especially at critical moments of truth throughout the contract lifecycle

Those moments of truth include:

  • Ensuring clients get onboarded and set up correctly

In short, the customer success function is a hybrid of training, troubleshooting, and account management.

To deliver their business objectives, customer success teams need strong relationship management skills, deep product knowledge, and a pragmatic, get-things-done attitude.

Customer success people sound kind of amazing, don’t they? Of course, they are! There are only so many people in the world who innately possess all of the attributes of a great customer success professional: warmth, empathy, customer-first attitude, product knowledge, pragmatism, and so on.

So where do you find great customer success professionals?

It comes down to the classic “build vs. buy” decision.

  • Buying talent, by hiring from the outside.

As you already know, highly qualified folks are hard to find, and talent is at a premium.

If your organization needs the bench strength to support rapid business expansion (which every VC-funded tech company is striving for), you should implement or expand your cross-training program. Cross-training provides benefits such as:

  • Better speed-to-value. Your company can’t scale if your employees aren’t flexible.

I reached out to Patty Bavuso to get her insight on how to build a stronger customer success function. After all, she’s built and grown the customer success and professional services functions at multiple Bay Area SaaS companies over the past 10+ years. And as I see with my clients at Adeptation, a healthy customer success function is essential to achieving a great customer experience.

What do you get when you bring customer success and customer experience expertise together?

An action plan to build a bulletproof customer success function:

  • Send engineers and developers to do a rotation in customer success. A stint in customer success provides engineers and developers with context for the set of intangibles that matter to customers. It increases customer empathy and understanding of a wider range of users and use cases. These lead to the “aha” moments which allow your team to ultimately make better products.

A great customer experience ultimately hinges upon customer success. If customers cannot accomplish what they set out to do, then all the other elements of the customer experience are for naught.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Patty a key question. How does great customer success happen? She replied:

Customer success is a combination of rigor and magic.”

That magic is impossible to quantify, but magic in both CS and CX is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That magic, then, occurs when there’s resonance across key business functions. The intentional cross-training program outlined above is how you can create that magic in your company.

Patty Bavuso is currently driving customer success initiatives with Slalom Consulting, leveraging her expertise to serve Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley startups.

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Margo Diewald

Written by

Market and customer strategist. Results-oriented coach. Curiosity + empathy to discover consumer insights and accelerate your growth. Find me at Adeptation.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

Margo Diewald

Written by

Market and customer strategist. Results-oriented coach. Curiosity + empathy to discover consumer insights and accelerate your growth. Find me at Adeptation.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +789K followers.

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