Knowing what your customers want and need immediately puts your company leagues ahead of your competitors.
Customer success forms a fundamental part of any organization - after all, when your customer isn’t happy, you’re leaving yourself susceptible to increased customer churn rates.
So, how can you establish a customer success team that’ll ensure your customer retention rates remain sky-high?
Rupal Nishar, host of CS Build welcomed Laura Lakhwara, a Senior Manager of Customer Success at UiPath. Laura shared her unique insights on building the CS organization, her top tips and tricks learned along the way, her toolbox, how to show and deliver value quickly, and more.
Laura’s been working in client management for the past 13 years, and most recently, she built a customer success function from the ground up for SoftBank Robotics and is now part of the customer success team at UiPath.
She’s particularly intrigued by the growing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) within customer success, evaluating how AI technologies improve the workflows for everyday work for the enterprise.
Laura explained that the principles behind customer success – the elements that CSMs practice on their clients – still apply to CS as a product when you're building out the department or managing it at a company. This requires executive support, sponsorship, and buy-in on a cross-functional level.
As a CS leader, your team must adopt the best practices to ensure that the end customer is engaging with the product, and they’re benefiting from their investment in your product.
To start off, you need to ensure that your outcomes are met and that they’re unequivocally transparent. You need to consistently advocate customer success’ merits for the company, how it aligns with wider business objectives.
Ensuring user adoption and enabling your customer’s success with the product ought to be a company-wide initiative and like avoiding churn, is something that should be a cross-functional priority.
When you’re crafting your CS team, education is paramount on two levels:
- Internally, you need to help different teams understand what customer success looks like
- Externally, the customer should be aware of what your customer success team can do for them by implementing a bespoke framework
Expert customer success advice
Throughout her career, Laura has been an advocate for technology in customer success and it’s something she’s intensely passionate about.
Laura’s CS experience runs from the ground all the way up, and the sophistication of your tech will mirror the scale of your organization.
For example, when you’re sculpting out your CS function from scratch, you can decide what software to implement as you build out; you might start with a basic-level CRM, but can then start building out your pieces.
If you’re at a startup then you could be working with a system completely stripped back i.e. tracking performed in Google Sheets. Ultimately, the fundamentals do not change: as your team grows and the company grows, your tech should evolve too, with CRM and AI tools.
Who are your customers
Firstly, remember the customers you already have.
While it’s likely that you'll be onboarding new customers, you have your existing customer base too. So, remember that they too will need to understand the processes of adoption which will (hopefully) generate product and service advocacy, leading to revenue growth.
That's just the first step – listening to customers and then performing that process.
Then you can ask yourself what outcomes are your company selling? And are the customers getting that value from it? Once you’ve got this information, you can familiarize yourself with your customer’s profiles by finding out their broader goals within their own market landscape.
Back to customer success basics
Secondly, you need to master the basics.
It goes without saying that user adoption is critical – if they’re not using the product effectively, then you’re in a bit of a sticky situation!
Then, you need to understand the revenue and gain a strong understanding of financial perspectives. For example, is your customer retention rate healthy? If not, are customers churning voluntarily or involuntarily?
Similarly, if they’re sticking around, what are you doing right, ‘cause you need to carry on incorporating these techniques into strategies moving forwards.
These are the questions that you need to be asking yourself as you sculpt out customer success within your organization.
Hiring your customer success team
If you're building a CS team from scratch, you’ll need to consider recruitment. In some cases, you may recruit internally from different departments and provide internal training. In other cases, companies opt to seek new recruits from external sources? It’s worth noting that both of these paths are very different, and there’s a lot of work involved.
You could recruit team members internally from customer support and potentially someone with a technical skill set from the product team; there's a lot of people that end up supporting CS in the early days and become the first CSM hires.
This is probably one of the cornerstones of your early CS setup to guarantee the right level of support from the organization and the stakeholders to essentially accelerate some of the CS programs.
It probably will come up higher in terms of your list of priorities, as wherever you work, you'll work closely with marketing, sales, customer support, and product.
Interdepartmental collaboration is essential to the overall success of your CS function, especially:
- Ensuring the customer experiences ROI on their initial buy-in (your revenue)
- Driving customer retention
- Making sure that the product itself evolves with its customers
Be on the pod!
Do you have a thing or two to say about building customer success from the ground up? Do ya fancy joining in on the conversation? Then get involved and share your thoughts on the industry, your own career journey, and the tips & tactics that have brought you success?