In my previous article, I talked about the numerous quality indicators related to Customer Relations: we discussed produced quality and perceived quality. I would now like to take a more detailed look at perceived quality with a key player of this theme: the Customer Success Manager (CSM).
This profession is specific to companies providing a service or a technical solution. It is mainly carried out in a B2B context. The CMS is also sometimes called the Customer Care, Customer Angel or Customer experience manager.
The CSM can work in ‘low touch’ (major portfolio with few customized communications) or in ‘high touch’ (restricted portfolio with numerous exchanges between the CSM and the customer). In the remainder of the article, I decided to focus on the high touch vision of the CSM’s role.
The CSM is the customer’s privileged contact. He helps the customer to use the product. He ensures that the product is used in the best possible way to first develop user satisfaction, then customer loyalty towards the product. He works across the organization with all the internal teams.
He communicates with:
- the sales teams, by acting as customer interface,
- the technical teams as regards support and even onboarding aspects,
- the product teams, by transferring customer requirements and feedback to them,
- the marketing department to develop the community of ambassador customers.
He can be a member of any one of the services mentioned.
While the CSM’s approach is specific to each company and each product, it generally concerns the main steps in the customer’s life.
- Deployment of the solution or onboarding: the phase following the sale. Its duration depends on the complexity of the product and/or of the project. The CSM may be responsible for implementing the solution on the customer premises. He can therefore contact the customer at a very early stage in the Customer Journey. However, this is not always possible and in this case, the CSM must collect as much information as possible from the technical project manager who managed the onboarding.
- The adoption phase: a continuation of the previous phase. At this stage, the CSM validates with his customer that the onboarding matches the requirements. He also ensures that the solution is understood and that the features are controlled. During this phase, the Customer Success Manager gives his customer customized success keys adapted to its context, requirements, objectives, business problems and ensures that the customer is satisfied.
- The monitoring phase: lasts throughout the customer’s life. During this phase, the Customer Success Manager must be proactive with respect to a customer which is already familiar with the solution. The risk, in fact, is that the customer only speaks out in case of problem. The CSM must therefore exchange information regularly with the customer, keep in touch and take best advantage of the relation which has been set up. This relation must allow the CSM to act as the customer’s voice internally and allow the customer to become the product ambassador externally.
On a daily basis, the Customer Success Manager may take several actions. This involves a customized and privileged relation with his customer based on listening:
- Visits to the customer premises to discover its business, daily life, teams and thoroughly understand its environment to provide the best possible support.
- Regular meetings at a frequency agreed by the customer and adapted to its maturity with respect to the product.
- Audit and advice regarding the product as well as its interfacing in the customer context, in which it is only a single part.
At the same time, the CSM develops and organizes a community of ambassador customers through collective actions:
- Organization of round tables, focus group or workshop with various customers around subjects concerning the product. A collaborative digital platform may also be set up.
- Satisfaction measurement via regular surveys.
- Creation of webinars and tutorials on how to use the product.
The CSM therefore plays a key role in a company. He increases the knowledge of customers and users. This knowledge is valuable in order to develop a product matching customer requirements and uses.
Leader of a community, he federates around a product and builds a network of ambassadors. He contributes to the product reputation and to user satisfaction and loyalty. A true pillar of customer relations, capable of exchanging with all the internal departments, the customers’ advocate and voice, the Customer Success Manager is the guarantor of the customer experience.