By Marie Giesbert
The following article is brought to you by B2B Rocks, made possible thanks to our partner Salesforce.
Less churn, more revenue, constant product returns, customer testimonials: who are the stars of the organization who can generate such an impressive number of entries in their organizations? The CS team. How to structure such a team? How do you automate customer scaling? Customer Success or Customer Support, what’s the difference?
Here is a series of questions we answered with the most thoughtful experts in the B2B SaaS industry: Jordi Gudiol Hulth, COO @Qonto, Laura Edery Customer Success Senior Lead @Algolia and Thomas De Clerck, Founder @ Cumul.io.
Customer Success, contributing to revenue in many ways !
- Creating direct value: churn reduction, upsellIt’s no secret that Customer Success and Customer Support teams have a central role in the organization. While some could think their role is about caring for customers, it is before all a revenue-driven role which they can play in many ways. No matter your startup’s business model, there is one thing you want: retaining the clients your sales team spent so much energy winning. The retention rate is also a key metric for investors, especially when getting into more mature investment rounds such as Serie B or Serie C. As a startup founder, you need to demonstrate the stickiness of your product and you can count on your CS team to help your clients use it everyday.Depending on organizations, Customer Success Team can be in charge – or at least involved – into the upsell process, working hand in hand with the sales team. Their understanding of the customer’s custom needs, the way he uses your product is a golden nugget for the sales team to negotiate additional features, or for CS to sell it himself.Thomas @Cumul.io “Throughout the customer journey, we have three steps: The Trial, the sales team ensure that the customer gets the most out of our plateforme. The Joint Executive Program: Proof of concept phase limited in time to have a viable result to end with the annual subscription. When this transition is complete, there is a transfer of the Customer Success Team start stepping in. We reiterate the objectives of the POC but we also look to the future.”There is an obvious synergy between Sales and CS teams as they are both revenue drivers. However, the CS team is also creating indirect value by educating management teams, contributing to Marketing campaigns (case studies, loyalty programs…) and nonetheless working hand in hand with the Product teams to feed the product roadmap and get the client voice right into the R&D teams.Jordi Gudiol Hulth @Qonto shared the following “You need to bring together every week or daily all the teams at all levels, the customer success team, a product manager, someone from technology and someone from growth. So that they work on a client case or pain point, watching client activity on the app, listening to calls or reading transcripts to try to understand what went wrong, then think and solve the problem”Thomas De Clerck shared the following “At Cumul.io the CS team collaborates closely with the product/ engineer department so that in some cases where we receive technical questions, they can provide those answers. CS also works with the sales team and provides them with information about customers”
Customer success, a metric-driven position
Working in the SaaS industry, Customer success / support teams are pretty analytics – looking at their client base data; working with them to optimize their performance; analyzing gaps and opportunities in the way the platform is used…
As a matter of fact, their impact on the organization is pretty rational – as we saw in the direct revenue generation contribution – so is the way their performance is measured.
According to Laura Edery @Algolia “To maximize your retention, you need to help your CSMs act as a sports coach to your customers, to guide customers to do their best with your solution”
Implementing a CS strategy: rationale before all
Customer segmentation, a necessity for growing companies
The CSM team, like the sales team, has a great interest in addressing the issue of customer segmentation.
When a startup starts growing rapidly, the number of customers multiplies and it becomes very difficult to process all customer requests in the same way. In this sense, it is essential to establish a segmentation allowing the CS team to adapt and prioritize their interventions according to the customer and the integration phase..
Laura Edery @Algolia shared the following “Segmenting a customer base helps to prioritize our activities and ensure that we provide a high-touch engagement with many proactive touch points to must strategic customers and a low-touch engagement like training and webinaire for other customers”
Yes to automation, but keeping it human
The management of all incoming tickets is extremely time consuming and the processing of recurring tickets with low added value can be painful for the Customer Success team. Automation saves astronomical time, it allows the Customer Success Manager to focus on tasks with high added value for the company and for the customer.
Customers also prefer to look for some information in QnAs or videos instead of calling the Customers Success Manager for each question.
However, it is important to prioritize actions before implementing an automation strategy. We should determine which tasks with low human added value where Customer Success Manager is not essential and ensure that automation of these actions does not impact our relationship with the customer.
According to Jordi Gudiol Hulth @ Qonto “As a customer, I prefer to solve my problems myself through an FAQ, a video or a chatbot.But companies need to invest time, money, and energy to have a great Customer Success team behind the automation that can take care of their customers”
Encouraging a Customer Success teams culture
From our experience working with B2B tech startups, we’ve seen how much Customer Success teams have a strong culture, inherent to the content of their role and their position at the core of the organization.
For Laura Edery at Algolia: “You need to drive a strong customer success culture and you need to realise that it shouldn’t stay in the customer success team, but the whole organization needs to have à customer-centric mindset”
Customer Success employees develop a strong expertise by deep-diving so much into your product’s value and usage. They can quickly become some of your most valuable assets – close to the business reality and client expectations; and technically advanced. Retaining those employees should become a priority for the HR and Management teams.