The 10 Roles of Customer Success
When your customers thrive, everyone wins. Your customers have a good experience, and your company builds lasting relationships that drive your reputation and minimize churn.
Your customers’ success is your company’s success, and Customer Success Managers can play a key role in putting this idea into action. Their job is to make sure your customers are getting the most out of your product or service.
Doing so requires wearing many hats in order to flexibly respond to customers’ needs. Here are 10 roles that effective Customer Success Managers take on.
Getting off to a strong start increases the chances of success. Customer Success Managers can help customers start from a position of feeling confident about using your company’s product.
Holding webinars and demos is one effective way to get new customers up to speed. To improve your onboarding process, put yourself in your customers’ shoes by asking yourself: do customers have all the tools they need to be productive from the beginning?
To set customers up for success, make it as easy as possible for them to take advantage of your product. This could involve visiting customers and scheduling conference calls so they have customized training in how your product can be used to meet their particular needs.
It also means making sure customers are aware of the resources available for learning about your product. It’s important that customers have access to tools that will let them take advantage of everything your product can do, and that they know they have access to these tools!
Gathering customer feedback
Promoting customer success isn’t about telling customers how to be successful as much as it’s about engaging them in a dialog. Another role of Customer Success Managers is to regularly check in about how your company’s product is meeting customers’ needs and whether there are areas for possible improvement.
When gathering feedback, pay attention both to feedback on the product itself and feedback on the overall experience of using the product – whether the documentation is easy to use, whether the transition to using the product was smooth, and so on.
Managing communication infrastructure
Maintaining the infrastructure your company uses to communicate with clients is a process of ongoing improvement. This role of Customer Success Managers entails reviewing the knowledge base, tutorials and training videos that your company presents to clients as well as checking any text included in the product itself.
Incorporating customer feedback is part of this process. For example, if multiple clients have the same point of confusion, the knowledge base may need updating to clarify. Also important is making sure clients are aware that these resources exist.
Being a customer advocate
As the one most in touch with the customer, it makes sense for the Customer Success Manager to represent the customer – for example, in meetings. In this role, the Customer Success Manager is responsible for ensuring that customer feedback is heard.
There’s a reason Customer Success agents are sometimes called “Client Advocates.” Part of helping customers succeed is giving them a voice in your company.
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The most challenging aspect of this role is mediating between your customers’ requests and your company’s vision. It’s likely that you will receive more customer requests than your company will be able to realistically accommodate. For example, requests might conflict with each other or with your company’s plans for the product. The art, then, is in finding the best way to represent customers in the context of the company’s overall vision.
One of the tasks of Customer Success Managers is to create ongoing relationships, being aware of customers’ individual needs and experiences on an account-by-account basis.
Account management is especially important in maintaining relationships with the big accounts that drive your company’s sales. Keeping the big accounts happy will keep your company thriving.
Because they are in touch with customers’ experiences, Customer Success Managers can be especially effective in persuading customers to upgrade to a higher plan or to consider complementary products offered by your company.
Identifying opportunities for your company to offer additional services to customers means understanding those customers’ needs. Customer Success Managers are in an ideal position to bring these opportunities to customers’ attention when they are aware of how plans with more features or additional products intersect with customers’ particular demands.
Dealing with customer complaints is one of the most important parts of being a Customer Success Manager. It’s also one of the least predictable: it requires being adaptive and responding to unexpected situations.
The exact solution will of course be different for every customer complaint. In general, though, the process entails listening to the customer’s experience, remembering the Customer Success Manager’s role as client advocate, and then finding the best resolution.
Many of the roles of a Customer Success Manager are about taking a proactive approach to churn management – that is, making sure customers are happy so they don’t leave in the first place.
When customers do leave, though, the Customer Success Manager is responsible for following up. Customer Success Managers reach out to churned customers to gain an understanding of why they left.
Part of this process is about trying to win churned customers back. However, even when you aren’t able to bring these customers back, learning what happened is important for minimizing future churn.
When it comes to maintaining a strong, ongoing relationship with customers, letting them know what’s new can help. This includes keeping them in the loop on changes to the product they’re using, new features, and new products that are potentially complementary.
It also means keeping them apprised of how their requests are being addressed. In general, customers will be more successful when they feel they have an open line of communication regarding what’s happening and changing with the product they’re using and with your company.
One way to give this process a personal touch is to collect feature requests from customers, then follow up with customers when these requests are implemented. Even if the feature was already in the pipeline, this is a great way of breeding loyalty because the customers feel the change was made for them.
As you can see, Customer Success Managers take on many roles. Customer Success Managers have to be able to juggle distinct, but complementary, responsibilities.
That’s because helping customers thrive requires being in touch with their experience at every stage, from the time they begin learning to use your product to the moment they decide to stop using it (if ever!). Understanding the factors that drive customer success or act as barriers at every step along the way makes it possible to continually improve customers’ experience, which ultimately allows you to be proactive about minimizing churn and maximizing customer satisfaction.