Who are Customer Success Managers and why is it mandatory for SaaS Companies to have them?
Customer Success is a fairly new role, well that's because new business models have come up and for those business models to grow they need such roles that help them achieve their goals and beyond.
Customer Success is a combined version of Customer Service, Account Management and Inside Sales built into one.
SaaS companies make products easily, quickly and push them faster into the market. Competition is equally high and they need to do much more than just providing the product to keep the client with them. CSMs help clients realize the total value of the product.
We will look at the skills which a customer success manager should have and the impact these skills collectively have on helping the company.
Skill #1: Product Knowledge (For you and your client)
A CSM should not just have proper knowledge of its own product but also knowledge about the client's product. Only after having knowledge of both the worlds could one provide better solutions to the client's problems and show them real value.
Having proper knowledge of your own product allows them to explain your product properly, all it's functionalities, and when a customer reaches out to you you can navigate them properly building a great rapport in the process.
Now having proper knowledge of the user's product allows them to show examples in which they can achieve their goals using your product. The more examples and values they can provide the more problems you can cater to with your product or service.
CSMs need to have all this information on hand and be abreast of all the latest development of their product. They can get this information from the company's FAQs, help centers, knowledge base and can create their own database based on their interactions with multiple clients over time and practice.
Meetups with other CSMs helps with more knowledge as they learn from experiences from other people.
After having the knowledge they need, execution is equally important to convey it in a simple, concise, and detailed manner.
Tips to keep in mind before approaching the client.
Be updated with the client and client industry, this will help you build a rapport, and give them confidence that you are a good advisor. You can set up Google Alerts for the same.
Know the value of your product in the market, it's good points bad points, how it fares against other competitors. This will allow you to have discussions from a position of great knowledge.
Be aware of the latest updates and features coming to your own product and what won't come to your product anytime soon.
Last but the most important tip, isolating what problems are they facing and how your product can help them in solving those, this includes solving problems which they will face after a few problems are already solved. Always be a step ahead and think about what next problem they could face and have a solution/plan ready.
Skill#2: Change Management(For your product and for clients success)
What is change management?
Change management is a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organizations in making organizational change.
CSMs are the ones who start this change in the company. Changes will take place within the company when they constantly provide the feedback about the product based on the numerous conversations they have with the client. Changes will also take place at the client's side as they will switch to your product to achieve their goals.
Changes within are very important, they shape your product to the customer needs and demands. CSMs need to constantly communicate internally to help the company achieve this.
CSMs need to be aware of at least the basic changes the customer would be making in order to adapt to their product. CSM will have to provide help and support in onboarding the client, be there every step to guide them, almost spoon-feed them to make the switch as easy as possible.
They can refer to books or multiple articles on the web in order to gain these change management skills, they can even take a test here to understand what skills they need to work on.
The change would be difficult and is inevitable to achieve growth. Before they approach a change they need to know why it's needed, information and tools would be needed to bring in this change. They need to be on top of the progress in achieving this change.
The most important skill of a CSM is communication. Communication is a process where you listen, show the solution and let them know why it's the best.
Let's break this down.
Listening - Hearing patiently what the problems the customer has, how the problem is affecting them.
Show the solution - After understanding their problem they present them with a solution, presenting the solution is an art in itself too.
Make them understand - They communicate by making them understand how the solution will solve their problems and how it will help them achieve their goals.
After the above things are done, be prepared for constructive or negative feedback which the client may have and react to them in a positive manner.
Soft skills play an important role in how, how much and what knowledge is conveyed to the client which is one of the crucial steps while approaching the client while presenting the solution.
If the client is a senior, they give them a general idea as they wouldn't be interested in the details, if the client is someone who will actually be using it on a daily basis they mention every detail possible, it's also important to pause for some time to make sure they've understood everything said. Have a proper outline as to what is to be communicated and stick to it.
As I mentioned earlier, it's still a fairly new role. CSMs will have to constantly add more skills to ensure they keep providing services and have a meaningful impact on them.