Kalyn Lewis, Head of Customer Success at Visme took the time to answer our community’s customer success questions after her presentation 'How customer success can feed into product development’ at our sister community's festival: Future of SaaS festival.
Check out the replay in the OnDemand section of our membership area.
Q: How do you avoid customer success becoming a sounding board of product complaints?
A: "So when it comes to customer success, maybe you're not in a space where you have support. I’ve worked in previous companies where there isn’t a support team. When there are product complaints I think you need to look at whether it’s an opportunity. Is this a product complaint that I'm hearing unanimously across other users? Don't be afraid of those complaints. Just know how to give them a better view of the perspective, is this something universal that folks are running into or is this isolated to a specific team?
"My number one goal when I am working with any new customer is to find my ally. You have to have an ally, whether it's one person or two people. Maybe it's your power users, your SWAT team, or your champions. I always joke that customers can sometimes expect your platform to do everything for their job. And then they want it to cook them dinner, and fold their laundry. Isn't that the truth?
"One of the key things we talked about in that panel A couple of weeks ago is at the very start of your customer success relationship, create a customer success plan, create a customer success plan that speaks of their previous state, what the future state holds with the use of your product, what are their goals? What are metrics of measurement for improvement? Get as hard into numbers as you can, you can't go wrong with data and metrics when you have those product complaints coming forward and they're starting to nitpick and they're starting to drill further and they're going down a rabbit hole and you got to pull them out, that is your source of documentation, that customer success plan.
"Lean on that, bring it forward, and again, have those allies within the entire team that you're working with at that company to continue to advocate the folks that truly believe in the product. And those are usually kind of like your leaders in senses of authority that can reign their team back in and support you when you have those product complaints coming forward. Generally, product complaints or things that need to be reviewed in the platform for us, go to the support team. So customer success is buffered with support, but I fully respect that's not always the model at other companies. So always lean on your initial phase and your customer success plan in those cases."
Q: Have you ever been in situations where the developers or product managers do not take you seriously because you lack technical knowledge?
A: "Customer success might not be coders, but when you know the product inside and out, how can they argue with you? I think having development recognize you as an advocate for the product is good, you know, you're so deep in the product you find those potential bugs, glitches, gotchas, and you bring them forward before the customer even notices.
"I always make a point of knowing that product inside and out, every facet of it. If there is something that I see that's not right or if I get any element that doesn't seem to be working right, I get it investigated or I investigate it myself. I bring that forward to product to refine and fix that before customers do. This is, I think, how you can get the closest to demonstrating your advocacy for the product. I think product can take a little bit of an approach of, “oh my gosh, it's customer success. They have all these wise ideas and they don't really understand how that impacts the product. They don't know the code totally.” I mean, I get that we don't know how to code. We don't know how that code is going to impact other places. I think the best thing you can do is demonstrate your patience, demonstrate your knowledge, show that you are advocating for the product and not necessarily throwing sand on it, and really build a rapport with your support team and build that trust. I hope that's helpful."
Q: Do you have a template to get customer success insights?
A: "Patience, knowledge, and passion. Let that bleed through.
"Build that trust, keep your processes simple, keep your language and your message simple, but your process there. Even if you have one support person and that support is multifaceted, maybe it's not somebody that's just constantly getting in tickets because that's just not the product you have. But support blends into support articles and other resources.
"Our support team wears many hats and so do our resources, what I love about this is we go above and beyond. Essentially, if I have a customer that has a question about something, we should have a resource or a support article or a video on how to do that step-by-step for every single thing that comes in, if you don't have that library work on it."
"We use WordPress for our support, we engineer that. You can also use Zendesk, there's a lot of different platforms you can use to drive all of your support articles. You guys loom is a must-have for any customer success person, we have our meetings, we have our predesignated meetings and it never fails. You just had a meeting last week, your monthly meeting with your team, and then they ask you for a meeting next week. You have to maintain those levels with customer success. You’ve got a lot of customers to support. You have to manage those expectations of what you're there for, to support them. Loom has a great video capturing tool where you can capture those quick 5 to 10 minute videos of you in the product showing them how to do something, and you can send that off as a link.
"We have also been using them to supplement our support articles. So you got your step-by-step guide, but everyone likes to learn differently. Me, I love a good step-by-step guide. But if you can record a video along with it and insert it in your support article, voila! You have that shelved and ready-to-use resource that you can send your team any time."
Q: Do you have a set form to harmonize customer insights from customer success plans?
A: "One of our customer success leaders said they use a platform for that handoff from sales to customer success. Whether you use that CRM or you have an extension and another product you use off of CRM, that creates that transition in terms of how you create that customer insight universally across all of your teams. I think first and foremost if it's as simple as an online forum, it's maybe a space that's available that everybody has access to.
"If you're in the Google suite, you can use a Google Sheet. If you have Asana create a board. First and foremost, though, you have to appoint somebody that is the overseer of that information, otherwise, it can become a mess. Maybe you have a gatekeeper, somebody that gets that information, maybe it's as simple as having a Slack channel where information is placed. You have that gatekeeper that grabs those pieces and puts those out into a repository where everything is tracked, making sure you don't have duplicates, making sure that you're adding tally marks next to the things that are presented.
"Again, there might be platforms and tools out there, folks, but we tend to just lean on good old-school spreadsheets and tracking for our use cases, especially for internal collaboration. "