I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many world-class customer success managers over the past 12 months and the majority of them are working at some of the fastest growing SaaS companies. The importance of a great customer success manager has been known for a long time within Silicon Valley and has become increasingly important in the UK and European markets. Most businesses will often focus on the sales team to fuel top line growth however if the customer retention rate is low this will be a major drag on future growth and valuation. A well-funded Sass business will often consider bringing on board a customer success manager before they have the critical mass of revenue/clients. This is a shrewd move particularly given the investment often made within sales and marketing. One of the most important tasks performed will be the on boarding of new clients and generally the first 30, 60 and 90 days will determine the client satisfaction along with their likelihood of renewing their subscription. This is a critical time of the customer’s journey and a proactive approach to train and educate new users will increase the adoption of the platform and ultimately the value added delivered to the end-users.
Candidates are now increasingly finding the prospect of developing their career within customer success attractive and very lucrative. We have often discussed the skill set and traits that are required for this job role although it remains somewhat misunderstood and open to interpretation. In a number of companies the customer success is given to an existing department which incorporates the implementation team including technical account managers who oversee projects. Account managers are sometimes given the responsibility of customer success although this will often be a side consideration which gives way to the target of upsell and cross selling an increase in revenue in the short term.
A business’s reputation is often the ultimate determinant in success and companies with great products will get an increasingly large amount of referral business. A good customer success manager will generate more referrals for the sales team whilst building up good customer will. It may seem somewhat old-fashioned but face-to-face time with clients will prove invaluable especially as competitors may try to win the business without the organisation knowing. It also provides an opportunity to listen and understand the clients which can feed into each product development.
A key requirement of many of our clients who are looking to bring on board a key hire of a customer success executive or customer success manager is that the new hire has strong interpersonal communications. This means that they will look for people who come from a customer facing environment which may include face-to-face meetings and presentations. Some of the other areas that are often a prerequisite are customer services, account management, sales, project management, consulting and specific experience within a well-known/respected technology/Sass company. The advantage of bringing on board somebody who has worked in a modern customer success environment is that they will know and understand the best practices which can be implemented into the business that they join. A customer success program is often systemised and has a number of different elements to it to ensure it produces results which are measurable.
I expect many more companies to follow suit and implement well-funded and structured customer success programs will. The best teams will however not be living within the silo and the culture of looking after customers to ensure that they maximise the products and solutions is surely the only logical approach.
If you have done the hard work as a business and brought on board some fantastic clients you will be certainly well rewarded to focus more efforts on ensuring their ultimate success. Happy customers will always keep you in business and ensure you have a line of new customers wanting to get involved.