You what mate? Customer Success Managers shouldn’t care about looking after the very thing that’s in their title? Before you scoff, hear me out. Notice those inverted commas around “tracking” in the title? That’s the key word in this opinion piece right here. I promise that if you read right to the end of it you won’t only understand what I mean, you’ll also agree with me. Well, maybe not the last part, but I’ll do my best.
As a refresher, let’s consider the standard responsibilities of a CSM:
- proactive outreach (as opposed to reactive) to check customer health, shorten time to value, etc
- assisting or managing renewals as the contract approaches the end,
- product demos, training and generally showing the SaaS off to prospective and current customers.
This list is not exhaustive, feel free to read my post above if you want to find more. The point I wanted to make is that a CSM has enough on their plate. Amongst all this, there is an assumption that the CSM is also tracking all their communications with all customers.
I mean, they should be right? You call a customer, the phone rings out, you leave a voicemail and you make a note that you call them back within a few days to a week unless they get to you first. It’s common sense.
Only problem: the note might never get written. You could be in the middle of doing it when one of the following happens:
- the new guy swings around the corner and asks you something about the onboarding he’s doing,
- you get a Slack call that pops up over the screen from your manager you have to answer,
- you get a phone call from an important customer who you’ve been trying to get through to for weeks,
- you say “oh shit!” and remember you’re 10 minutes late to another meeting that you’re meant to be running,
- your toddler who’s stuck at home with you because of COVID-19 has thrown another tantrum and breaks your train of thought.
All legit, right? If I was able to magically bring every CSM in the world into a stadium and ask them if they never forgot to follow up a customer to put their hand up, I’d expect to see not one raised limb.
Following up is literally one of the main things that CSMs do, but that little extra step of having to record the action after you finish the interaction, i.e. tracking it, represents a vulnerability in customer success process.
In a perfect world, a CSM comes into work in the morning, pulls up their CRM, scans the list of people they’re going to follow up with that day and gets to work. As they’re sending emails, making calls, sending texts or presenting to customers, systems are talking to each other, making notes as to who to follow up with, send a one-pager to or reach out to. The CSM just does the work while their efforts are automatically recorded.
We know of course that the world is not perfect. There’s a good chance you’re a start-up founder if you’re reading this, so your world is particularly imperfect. You might not have a CRM. You might just be using a Google Sheet. That’s fine.
All I’m saying though is that the systems in place that support your CSM have to be a priority as you scale. If you are unable to get SaaS in your own tech stack to talk to each other, that in itself requires developmental capacity and/or a CS ops manager who’s able to set up rules and automations that fire when specific tasks are completed in the Customer Success CRM.
Until you get there, here are five tips to make your CSMs life easier:
- make sure that the tracking the CSM is as easy to do as possible.
- They don’t have to track everything, it just has to be good enough.
- Be clear about what metrics matter most.
- Give them space to fail, because they will forget.
- If there’s additional information they don’t know, record it down as well. Not knowing what they don’t know is the biggest killer of customer success.
I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.