I recently published a book on the role that customer feedback should play when it comes to managing a SaaS product.
The concepts in the book are especially relevant for Customer Success Managers.
With a few simple tweaks to your process, you can help grow your company, reduce churn, and facilitate upsell. Sounds good, right?!
1. Two Ears, One Mouth
Rather aptly, this is the name of the book. It refers to a quote by Epictetus, who is credited with saying:
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
As you can see, he was quite a clever chap.
This is a key lesson for you to learn. You should be listening to your customers twice as much as you speak back to them.
Now, I’m pretty sure most CSMs worth their salt will already know how important listening is. You probably spend most of your day doing it.
But don’t forget about your mouth. Listening is only one part of the equation. You also need to make sure you communicate back to your customers. There’s nothing worse than contacting a company with an idea only for it to feel like it’s disappeared into a black hole.
Even a simple thank you note when a customer submits feedback will make all the difference. This is easy enough when you’re first starting out but once you have more customers to deal with, it’s easy to forget about it.
To successfully scale up your communication efforts, you need to automate. You can set up email notifications, and use plugins like Gorgias (incidentally the name of another philosopher!) to produce shortcuts for your replies.
Also consider having a public feature log and roadmap that you can point customers to. This will help clarify where your product is headed and give your customers the information they need.
2. Know Your Strategy
It can be easy for CSMs to be swept up by their determination to help their customers.
You might sometimes be tempted to promise a certain feature or workaround to a particularly demanding customer.
One thing I’ve learned during my time at Receptive is that company strategy is key to figuring out what to build and add to your product.
Even if a lot of customers want a certain feature, you shouldn’t build it if it does not fit your overall strategy and vision.
A CSM shouldn’t promise a certain feature to a customer if that feature directly contradicts the company’s strategy. If they do, one of two things will happen, and neither are pretty.
- The feature gets built and rolled out, undermining the company’s vision and identity. The product morphs into something different, alienating the majority of your customers.
- You don’t ship the feature, and you have a very unhappy customer who was promised the world but didn’t even receive a breadcrumb.
Instead, if a customer you’re dealing with mentions a certain want or need, and you know that it doesn’t fit with your strategy, don’t be afraid to tell them that.
Explain that you probably won’t be building that feature in the near future, and then work together to try and find an alternative that keeps the customer happy.
If a customer can see you take feedback on board, the fact that you aren’t building exactly what they ask for won’t ruin your relationship.
Imprint your company strategy on your brain and don’t feel you have to always say “yes”.
3. Collaboration Is Key
All that stuff about product strategy and what other customers are saying is great, but it’s not always information that you have access to.
Plus, if you don’t have a central database of this information, then you’re going to have to manually feedback to the Product team or the Sales team, or whoever. That’s a lot of wasted time and energy.
One of the key lessons that arose out of my book was the importance of developing a central location with up-to-date information and data.
Keep your customer insights and feedback in one place, easily accessible by the rest of the company.
This way, when dealing with a customer, you can see anything they’ve requested previously, or if other customers are faced with the same problem. You can see what your Product team is working on as it may help you solve a customer’s issue.
It also means that people don’t have to come to you for any information they need.
You might think that the responsibility for this doesn’t lie with you, but if your company doesn’t have this central set-up, then you need to sort it out. Tell your Management, or anyone in a position of power, and get it sorted.
It’ll will save you so much time and energy in the long run, and allows you to do your job far more effectively.
Remember the three lessons you’ve learned and try to incorporate them into your job and your company.
- Listening is twice as important as speaking, but make sure you do a bit of both when communicating with your customers.
- Be aware of your company strategy when talking to customers and don’t over-promise when it comes to feature requests.
- Implement a central storage system for all of the insights and feedback you receive, accessible by anyone in your company.
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve learned at least one useful thing today!
About the Author
Joe Daniels is the lead Content Strategist at Receptive. He regularly blogs about product management, customer feedback, and SaaS over on Receptive’s blog and his own Medium account. You can read his book on customer feedback here.More Content by Joe Daniels