We’ve gathered great insights shared by top CS leaders during one of our Success Quest Forum events.
The topic: Implications of the tech slowdown
We cannot ignore the growing impact of the market downturn. CSMs, the CS organization, and our customers are all affected in one way or another. As a result, we chose to discuss this topic at our latest "Success Quest Forum" event, where Customer Success VPs discussed the business implications of this massive change.
No matter what kind of business you're in or what impact you're seeing already, it's time to plan ahead. In order to remain competitive, customer success methodologies must be modified. From redefining the role of the individual CSM to how senior management should approach the topic, here are the best practices that were presented during the event.
“CSMs need to be great storytellers”
Hiring freezes becoming more and more common, CS teams need to be structured in a way that optimizes capacity without increasing headcount. In light of this, what factors contribute to the most effective CSMs? How do you achieve that high-value efficiency?
"The CSM characteristics that are most relevant to your company depend on the stage the company is at", says Kobi Malka, Director of Customer Success and Account Management at SeaLights. "If we look at a company with a mature product, we’ll notice that customer education in the industry is less relevant than when hiring a CSM for a company with a product that has yet to penetrate the market".
In the forum, participants shared how challenging it is to find CSMs who are both highly technical and possess the soft skills necessary for a CSM and also sales pros with skills relevant to owning renewals and upsells.
"A key component of a good CSM", according to Yair Bortinger, Head of Customer Success Operations at ControlUp, "is the ability to share the company's technological story with empathy while knowing and understanding all the nuances of the product. It doesn't matter whether you come from a technical background or not; if you have that, you can succeed."
Who owns the expansion? Who gets commissioned for that?
In an era when "new business" is becoming less prominent, the importance of NRR and expansion becomes more apparent. There were many different customer success and sales partnership practices shared by participants during the forum. The idea of dedicating a VP Sales to accounts expansion was shared by some leaders as a valuable approach.
As a result, the question becomes - who is commissioned for what? What is the commission allocation if the CSM, the technical account manager, and the sales leader all contributed to the expansion?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. There are different models that work for different organizations. Recognizing that there are different approaches and re-thinking existing models that do not work for your company at the moment is important.
Transparency is key
The recruitment freeze has resulted in increased workload and burnout for many customer success professionals. Ensure that you are as clear as possible about the company and leadership plans. Communicate the market situation to the team. Make your team feel secure so they can continue to give the best service they can.
Transitioning to a tech touch
As you need to become more efficient, transferring low ARR customers to a tech touch service would allow your CSM to invest the right attention in high ARR accounts, devoting more time to strategic planning, which is of particular importance during times like these.
When you have thousands of customers, most of whom are tech touch, you’ll need to find ways to share important content automatically, in bulk. There are several ways to accomplish this. During the forum, participants discussed the facilitation of a customer community and the use of customer-facing hubs. EverAfter's, can provide "Red Carpet" treatment to these types of customers and prevent churn.
Implications for the Business
NRR and the fight against churn become vital when the market is slow. In the forum, attendees shared best practices for preventing churn:
- Identify customers at risk in advance. Understand that they are facing the same struggles as you are. They need to be more efficient and get more with what they have or less. Support that cause.
- Show them how you and your product can help exactly with those needs.
- Put a special focus on QBR- Do not ignore those meetings, and convey tangible value. If your KPIs are more focused on efficiency your customers' KPIs probably are as well.
On a personal note, remember that efficiency is key in 2022.
As I listened and learned from this great group of CS leaders, one quote came to mind, no it’s not “Sharing is Caring ''😉 even though having the option to share and learn from others is irreplaceable. But rather a quote by Napoleon Hill “Every Adversity... Carries With It The Seed Of An Equal Or Greater Benefit”.
Turn your focus to the opportunities ahead. Gaining more with the same or less is a golden opportunity to sharpen the service you give. Forge new relationships, find new tools, teach new expertise and come out stronger on the other side.