If you’re leading a B2B SaaS company, you know that growth is directly tied to how confident your customers are that your product or services will help them achieve their goals. They need to see the value early and know your team will be there with solutions and answers in a snap. This is where a customer success (CS) team comes in.
From helping reduce customer churn and improving the user experience to identifying upsell opportunities and potential new features, a great CS team can help your company accomplish a wide range of goals.
In this post, we’ll look at how to scale your customer success team step by step, without losing sight of your customers’ needs or feedback. We’ll also go over vital CS roles and team qualities. Let’s dive in.
When to Build a Customer Success Team
Ideally, you’ll want to start building a customer success team as early as possible, even if you’re working with a single CS manager for a while.
For any B2B company, it’s important to start developing a positive reputation right out of the gate — and this is much easier to do when your first customers are seeing results with your product.
Onboarding plays a large role in how quickly your customers will unlock value and how long they’ll ultimately remain with your company. So, it pays to be proactive about forming a capable customer success team around your CS manager or other CS professional.
Breakdown of Key Customer Success Roles
There are a number of different roles within a customer success team, and each one will contribute to customer satisfaction. The roles that you will need to fill in order to develop the best customer success team possible for your company include the following:
Chief Customer Officer (CCO)
A CCO serves as the head of customer success operations and works with other executives and board members to create and approve customer success strategies. CCOs also work to champion a customer-centric mindset throughout the company.
Vice President, Customer Success (VP of Success)
A VP of Success works to oversee the development and implementation of customer success strategies. A VP of Success is also responsible for the overall management of a company’s customer base in addition to the overall management of its CS team.
A CS team lead is responsible for managing and supporting individual members of a customer service team in addition to helping track the performance of individual team members by monitoring SaaS customer success and growth metrics.
Customer Success Manager (CSM)
Customer success managers typically handle the customer side of customer success, working one-on-one with individual customers in order to guide them throughout their customer journey and work toward desired outcomes.
A CSM is in charge of understanding the unique business goals of individual customers and helping direct the CS team as they go about helping customers reach those goals.
An implementation manager is in charge of helping a CS team implement the customer success strategies that it develops. Implementation managers work closely with a customer throughout the implementation of a new product, solution, or strategy to ensure that it is implemented in an efficient and effective manner and to educate the customer on how to best utilize their new solution(s).
5 Key Elements of a Successful Customer Success Team
In order to create a customer success team that will boost customer retention and ultimately increase revenue, make sure your team encompasses these five crucial elements:
Diversity Across the Board
Any successful B2B company will work with a diverse range of clients. It’s important, therefore, to build a CS team that is equally diverse. This includes diversity of culture, creed, race, and orientation as well as diversity of communication styles and job experience. The more unique perspectives and skillsets you’re able to bring to the table, the more likely your CS team is to deliver innovative solutions and results.
A Results-Focused Mindset
Defining desired outcomes for your CS team helps ensure that your team’s efforts are aligned with the overall objectives of the company. In addition to serving as an important form of guidance, clearly defined goals also serve as a powerful source of motivation for your CS team members.
Example objectives might be reducing customer churn by a certain percentage or improving the company’s NPS score by the next quarter.
Strong Cross-Functional Communication Skills
Of course, members of a customer success team need to be able to communicate effectively both amongst themselves, but they’ll also need to team up with other departments.
It’s common for the CS team to work closely with the marketing and sales teams. Fully understanding new customers’ expectations, concerns, and needs often depends on data and insights from across teams. Assemble and train a CS team that understands the importance of cross-functional collaboration to create a customer experience, start to finish.
Agility and Adaptability
CS teams need to be able to respond swiftly and appropriately to whatever situation might arise. For instance, maybe your customer’s company has a new stakeholder that’s questioning the value of your product, or they’ve stopped making progress on their onboarding plan.
Customers can often be unpredictable, meaning that CS teams need to be agile and adaptable when it comes to developing creative solutions during the onboarding process and throughout the customer lifecycle.
Amazing Presentation Skills
Before a CS team can implement a new product or solution to help a customer reach their goals, they first have to convince the customer that it’s the right fit for their needs.
From walking customers through product demos to conducting quarterly business reviews, CS team members will need to frequently pitch and present ideas to customers. Since winning hearts and minds is an essential step in the customer success process, ideally, your CS team members will exhibit amazing presentation skills or a willingness to learn.
7 Steps to a Top-Quality Customer Success Team
We’ve talked about the skills you should have top of mind when putting your CS team together. Now, we’ll go over seven practices that the best CS teams follow to achieve goals and maintain a strong connection with customers as the company grows.
1. Get Feedback From Customers
When it comes to creating an effective CS strategy, few things are more important than customer feedback. Before you start nailing down tactics, you first need a thorough understanding of your customer needs, how they’re using your product, and any obstacles that are standing in the way of their short-term and long-term goals.
Build in plenty of touchpoints to get to know your customers, using tools like notes from sales interactions, intake calls, customer surveys, and quarterly business reviews.
2. Talk to the Product Team
In addition to developing a complete understanding of the customers that they serve, your CS team also needs a thorough understanding of the products and features your customers are using. Without this firsthand knowledge, you’ll have a hard time helping customers utilize tools to their full potential.
Your CS team should work closely with the product team to understand feature adoption and usage, as well as common hurdles when using each feature. It’s also important for these teams to connect before rollouts and updates in case customers encounter issues.
3. Build an Onboarding Plan
Generating early successes for new customers is crucial if you want to keep them engaged and maximize customer lifetime value. Customers not only need to know how your product works, but also how to make it a seamless part of their daily workflow, whether it’s an individual using it or the entire company.
There’s a lot that goes into creating an effective onboarding plan, and actually, the best CS teams create different plans for each customer segment. Depending on your onboarding model, you’ll likely want to have an intake call, schedule check-ins, send out welcome materials, and highlight helpful features and how-tos.
Most importantly, give your customers a clear-cut timeline of how long the onboarding process will be.
4. Create a Customer-Centric Help Center
Any time customers are able to solve issues on their own without the help of account managers or a support team, it counts as a win for your company. It allows your CS team members to spend their time and resources focusing on more pressing issues and opportunities.
Creating a self-service help center that includes resources such as FAQ pages and product tutorials can be a highly effective way to free up space in your CS team‘s schedule. It also means issues can be resolved more quickly and with less effort (for your customer or your team), helping improve customer satisfaction.
5. Run QBRs With High-Value Customers
It’s important to maintain an open line of communication with all of your customers, but especially high-value customers.
One great way to ensure that your CS team is continually giving your customers the tools they need to reach their goals is to conduct one-on-one business reviews with them every quarter.
QBRs are your opportunity to highlight the successes and ROI of your product, back it up with concrete benchmarking data, and identify new goals for the next quarter. Offer specific guidance on how they can use the products that you offer to overcome their current challenges.
6. Work Closely With Marketing and Sales
Your CS team will need to collaborate with both your company’s marketing and sales teams on a regular basis. Working with marketing can allow your CS team to curate clean, well-positioned materials to send to customers and use language and messaging that’s been shown to work. Partnering closely with the company’s sales team, meanwhile, can help your CS team prepare for cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
In the end, empowering customer success requires the frequent collaboration of your sales, marketing, and CS departments, so be sure to foster an environment of ongoing collaboration between CS team members, marketing team members, and sales reps.
7. Send Out a Customer Success Report Card
Each week, you can provide your CS team with a customer success report card that tracks important your top-priority KPIs and provides qualitative feedback regarding your team’s performance. You can also do this on a monthly or quarterly basis to have it align with your team goals.
This report card serves to keep your team members aware of the results that they’re delivering, helps them identify any missed opportunities, and better capitalize on what’s working well.
With these seven steps, you’re on your way to creating a CS team that’s prepared to guide, satisfy, and support customers. But if you want to accelerate their growth, Sales Assembly can help.
Through our industry-leading Customer Success Certification Program, we provide your CS team with the expert training it needs to deliver results at the highest level. Your team members will join virtual classrooms with structured peer learnings and ongoing development activities throughout the year.
Create an Effective Customer Success Team With Help From Sales Assembly
A great customer success team is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success at a SaaS company. At Sales Assembly, we’re dedicated to helping SaaS companies train and develop CS teams that are fully prepared to improve retention and unlock opportunities for your business.
If you’d like to learn more about how Sales Assembly can help you create the optimum CS team for your SaaS company, contact us today.