You’ve hired your CSM, handed over all the accounts that you’ve been looking after so far and turn your attention to other matters in your start-up. The CSM had strong referrals and relevant experience with other SaaS. So why is it that the numbers and metrics in the spreadsheet you’re using to track the CSM’s accounts aren’t reflecting the instances of poor customer health?
A spreadsheet is a great tool to get off the ground when the organisation is small. However, it simply won’t scale once things really start growing. You need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that’s purpose-built to help CSMs to do their job better. Here are five things a good customer success CRM should possess:
This one lives right at the top of the list. If there’s only one thing the CRM should do, it’s send triggers to the CSM to attend to a specific action. Think of all the most common scenarios that you might want to contact a customer:
- they haven’t logged in for “x” number of days,
- they haven’t done a key action in your SaaS for “x” number of days,
- they are a detractor according to the latest NPS survey,
- you haven’t outbound contacted them for “x” number of days,
- you haven’t responded to an inbound email from them for “x” number of days.
The list goes on. Triggers are the first line of defence to prevent poor customer health and require back-end set ups with your product, as well as rule writing, which doesn’t work very easily with spreadsheets.
If you’ve done any sort of customer success work, there is a good chance you’ve used a variety of different software to track your actions. The ones I’ve used are:
- in-house ones.
It’s never been my responsibility to make these CS repositories talk to other software, but on more than one occasion, I’ve suffered as a result of this not happening. When information is siloed in different SaaS and is difficult to get to, there is inherent risk that can affect the customer relationship. A software with well documented API integration saves a tonne of effort and can help scale with the business.
This one is also huge. Communication is 80% of a CSM’s job. If they aren’t able to quickly communicate and track and record these comms, it can slow down the CSM just enough to make their job difficult.
Sure you can open up your CRM, copy and paste the email you’ve just written and sent to your customer and record it… or you could take advantage of the BCC email address that some CRMs have that let you log the email directly to the CRM at the same time as when you send it. Similarly, the CRM might have developed a plug-in or module that downloads into Gmail or Outlook so that you can press a button to log an email to the account automatically.
The first thing I do when I log-in for the day is open up Slack and Gmail. Communications flow in and I sort them out. The necessary part is prioritising activities so I can attend to the “biggest fires” first but not forget to put out the smaller ones before they get bigger. This is particularly important when I’ve left something burning last Friday.
The dashboard in a CRM can help me summarise the timeline and history of a specific account so I know qualitatively how they’re going. It should also contain quantitative information that’s updated based on APIs and other metrics so I can pick up on things the customer hasn’t mentioned yet and kill two birds with one stone on my next call (and appear to really care for them).
One of the most important for all the founders reading this one is reporting. Eventually, you’ll move further and further away from the customer success side of things as you focus on the bigger picture and getting your company to profitability. You want to be able to pull out up-to-date reports from the customer success CRM to get a gauge on whether everything’s tracking nicely and whether the team needs any back up.
If the dashboard serves the CSM, the reporting capabilities serve the decision makers and senior leaders. There’s no shortage of metrics to look at in customer success, so having a CRM that houses them all and allow you to pick and choose the ones that your investors care about depending on the phase of the start-up is priceless.
So there you have it. Five things I think are necessary in a good CRM. I won’t lie: the good ones aren’t cheap. But don’t let the ticket price of the solution stop you from making a critical business investment. You just need it to save one five- or six-figure ARR customer from churning and it’s paid itself off. Trust me, it’s worth it.