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Maranda, SVP of Customer Success at Swiftly, explains why you should leave this myth behind:
“Customer success managers that are really doing their jobs well should know everything about the account. The budget cycle, whether there are any risks, and whether there are any products they’re not using that could be beneficial for them. Thinking through renewal, expansion, upsell, all of that. While the lens through which they look at this as CSMs is partnership, howd oes that not play into a number at the end of the day?”
Having CSMs own a number that isn’t a “pure sales number” isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Dziekonski elaborates on this. “The customer success team needs to focus on building relationships and making sure that customers get value from their investment. When we do our job as the customer success managers, the net result should be a high gross renewal rate, a high retention rate, and a high NPS score".
Maranda points out that these are numeric KPIs that are best left to CS, “but I also don’t want them to start thinking that they have to upsell X amount of dollars or else they will be on the chopping block”. “I want CSMs to do more than make customers feel good about the product. I want them to think strategically about ‘How can I ensure my customers are getting value out of our product so they would be willing to invest in us and deepen the partnership’. I think the only way to get there is if the CSM owns the renewal KPI”.
In many B2B companies, the sales team owns the renewal KPI and the customer success team owns adoption. Maranda does it differently. “I’ve inserted a renewals manager within the customer success org who does the contract conversation, negotiation, to keep the customer success team ‘pure’. He attends team meetings, sits on EBRs, so customers see him and get it”.
Maranda recommends companies who are just starting out with defining the CSMs KPIs to start thinking about segmentation.
“When you’re early-stage, CSMs own everything. From renewals to cleaning the fridge. Write down the different responsibilities they hold, and determine when it's time to specialize them so that your team can start growing and scaling. As an example: we started with peeling out implementation & onboarding and now we have a team exclusively focused on that”. Swiftly is gradually building specialized teams for each core function. As Maranda sums it up, “once you do that, the sky is the limit”.