Customer success teams play a critical role in connecting with customers, but their impact goes beyond that to be felt throughout the organization. When CS teams succeed, they help the company succeed and grow by fulfilling numerous roles.
Bridging the Gap Between Customers and the Brand
While the majority of the company is focused on creating products, making sales, and ultimately increasing the bottom line, the CS team is the only group focused solely on customers, understanding their needs, and guiding the realization of the value that meets their needs.
Because successful CS teams are so involved with customers, they are key players in their own organization and their customers’ organizations. They aren’t there simply to react to issues but to proactively build relationships and ensure customers are successful because they use the company’s products and services. CSMs and other members of the CS team act as points of contact with customers and connect them to the product and the organization.
But CS teams can’t do it alone. Successful CS teams stay connected with all areas of the company, including the product, sales, fulfillment, and engineering teams, to create an overarching customer focus.
CS Owns the Customer Journey
Many areas of the company are finished as soon as the product gets into customers’ hands. But for customer success teams, that’s when the real work begins. And that work impacts every aspect of the business.
The main reason customers leave companies in the first year isn’t because of sub-par products — it’s because of a poor experience. If a customer doesn’t get the services or product’s full value, they are more likely to leave it behind and move on to the competition. That’s where customer success comes in.
CS teams do more than just control churn. They lead upstream actions like onboarding and interaction insights to create a path to early intervention, expansion opportunities, and even co-marketing.
According to onboarding expert Donna Weber, “Deploying a successful customer onboarding program results in higher revenue, more satisfied customers and employees, and an increased customer lifetime value.”
Instead of customers dropping off because they don’t understand the value of the service or product, CSMs provide personalized service to answer questions, meet customers’ needs, and ensure they get the most value possible from the solution. If a customer has deeper questions or concerns about the product, CS teams connect them with the right people and ensure their voice is always heard.
CS Teams Own the Voice of the Customer
A primary purpose of a customer success team is to advocate for customer needs and bring their voices to the table. That happens by being with customers every step of the journey and making sure their needs are heard and met.
Classic research from Bain found that 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior experience. But customers say that’s true for only 8% of companies. Clearly, there is a massive divide between what companies think they are delivering and what actually happens. The CS team can close that gap by aligning customer needs and expectations with solutions and implementation from the company.
Customer success teams have an inside look at how customers think, shop, and interact with the product or service. Those insights are powerful for improving products and processes to make the company and its services more customer-centric. Using feedback from the CS team to improve processes and products has numerous benefits, including reducing the cost of customer service by improving the products and services, retaining valuable customers, and helping the company get ahead of issues and lead the industry. But to be truly successful, CS teams must also have access to data from the rest of the company.
Many successful companies invest in Voice of Customer (VoC) programs to build closed-loop feedback processes to quickly listen to feedback from customers, forward it to the right group, and act accordingly to either improve the situation or implement the suggestion. CS teams play a pivotal role in VoC efforts as they listen to customers and gather feedback and insights that can be used to improve other areas of the company and the overall customer experience.
Amber Oler, VP of Customer Success at Hatch, says VoC programs provide opportunities for CS teams to deliver metrics the entire company can use.
“We should be measuring our customers at every milestone during the customer journey,” she said. “That might be onboarding, three months after going live, or at renewal time. We should be listening and have a metric like NPS that we can always be weighing ourselves against.”
For example, if a CSM repeatedly hears about a specific question or issue customers have with a product, they can pass that information back to the product team to make adjustments and improve the product for future customers. When a customer’s contract is up for renewal, the CS team can provide the sales team with valuable insights into the customer’s needs and preferences to create a smoother renewal and upselling process.
CS teams act as the eyes and ears of the customers within the organization. Instead of making guesses or assumptions about customers, CS teams provide accurate, timely, and impactful insights.
CS Teams Foster a Customer-Centric Mindset
Within their organizations, CS teams have the opportunity and challenge to prove the value of customer success.
CS teams need the right tools and investments to serve customers successfully. But in many companies, C-level leaders see customer success as a non-revenue driver because there often isn’t a direct and obvious link between CS efforts and revenue growth. But research from Forrester found that a well-designed customer success program can yield a 91% return on investment over three years.
Successful CS teams and leaders must prove the business case for their efforts and show they are revenue-generating. One of the most powerful ways to prove the ROI of CS is through data. High-performing customer success teams leverage metrics that matter to executives like NPS, CSAT, and loyalty to show how the company has grown by investing in customer success. They turn those numbers into a story that shows where customers are and where they can go if the company invests in its CS teams.
Because CS teams often have to change mindsets multiple times in a day, they must have the right tools to build strong relationships and prove the value of their work.
While CS teams are the main point of contact for customers and are primarily responsible for their success, a customer-centric mindset should spread throughout the entire organization. It’s up to CS leaders to develop that mindset within their teams and the organization as a whole.
CS teams are critical advocates and partners of customers, but their job doesn’t stop there. By working with the entire organization, CSMs can improve the experience for customers and employees and create a solid customer-centric mindset.