Since the dawn of enterprise software, or any product for that matter that requires “care and feeding”, there has existed a need for post-sale account management. A support and/or service organization to tend to the technical needs of the customer.
While this type of account management is an absolute necessity, an equally important function within a vendor or manufacturer organization is one who looks out for the customer’s overall business success. Enter the Customer Success Manager or “CSM”.
Customer Success as a practice is a decade-old concept. But it’s gained exceptional traction among vendors that have moved to service models, particularly SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors. As the value of life-long, successful customers has become abundantly apparent, companies have established full-on teams to work with their customers to ensure that their business objectives—the reason that they chose to work with a vendor in the first place—are being met.
Here are 5 ways to leverage your Customer Success Manager to achieve your, and your company’s success:
1. Know Your Priorities
It may seem blatantly obvious but knowing your tangible business outcomes are essential. The WHY you are using a product or solution, and the results that it should produce. With this end-goal in mind, your Customer Success Manager can assist you in achieving it be developing a Success Plan.
Because every customer is different, your definition of success is unique. Working with your CSM, you should determine what success looks like to you. For example, success may be reducing expenses in a certain area, or mitigating risk (again a potential expense) in another. Or maybe it’s optimizing an overall enterprise-process in your organization. –Admirable, but not tangible. Your success should be determined by metrics or milestones.
The Success Plan should layout the WHAT and the HOW you will achieve your goal. It should set proper expectations for both you and your vendor. The plan essentially becomes you and your CSM’s playbook for success.
2. Keep in Touch
Maintain a regular schedule of contact with your Customer Success Manager. It is important for you and your CSM to hold a call on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. basis. By having regular conversations with your CSM, however brief, you have an opportunity to share your ongoing experience with the vendor’s product and progress toward achieving your goals.
The CSM maintains the voice of the customer. You should consider them your eyes and ears to your vendor. They keep your feedback and requests organized, communicating them back through the appropriate department(s).
3. Address Critical Issues
The Customer Success Manager’s primary purpose is to assist you in achieving your business objectives. Of course, on a day-to-day basis, technical issues can arise and take precedence. When established support procedures have been exhausted, or an issue requires a greater level of attention, the CSM can escalate a case and “rally the troops” so to speak to bring an issue to resolution.
Understand, however with great power, comes great responsibility. This extra attention is not a magic wand. The vendor’s support processes should be adhered to, tapping the CSM for only the more critical support issues.
4. Share Your Successes
Holding business reviews, commonly referred to as QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) give you, the customer the opportunity to review and share progress with a vendor to your team and management. QBRs give both the vendor and you the opportunity to go over:
What went / is going well
Go over the progress of the success plan, determining what has been accomplished thus far and what needs to be continued, improved upon or completed.
Update business value
Review the value that the vendor and the customer bring to one another. i.e. Savings achieved, or expenses avoided.
Discuss new or continued objectives
Make changes or updates to the success plan to ensure that the company’s business objectives continue to be met.
If it’s been some time since you have reviewed your efforts and accomplishments with the broader team, you and your Customer Success Manager should discuss setting up a QBR. Your CSM can draft a presentation, reviewing the material with you to ensure that key information is shared.
Note: QBRs don’t necessarily have to occur quarterly, but they should occur on a regular basis—based on the maturity of your implementation. (At least twice per year.)
5. Stay in the Know
The proactive nature of the Customer Success Manager will ensure that you stay abreast of relevant news and events. They are knowledgeable of the vendor’s products and services, and they can steer you toward valuable information to get the most out of your investment. Speak to your CSM and take advantage of webinars, practice guides, white papers and other training resources.
Weston (Wes) Maggio is a Customer Success Manager at Flexera Software. Flexera Software is a global leader in Software Asset Management and Software License Optimization solutions, enabling enterprises to gain visibility and control of IT assets, reduce ongoing software costs and maintain continuous license compliance. With over 25 years’ experience in the sales and marketing of enterprise software and hardware, Wes is a passionate champion for his customers. –My success is a direct result of the success of my customers.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.