A Day in the Life of a CSM Hero: a comic

August 9, 2018 Elakkiya Sivakumaran

Customer Success Managers are the superheroes of the SaaS world and face all kinds of challenges on a daily basis. How they overcome these challenges and keep customers successful is what sets apart a good CSM from an amazing one. So check out these tips to solve some of the most common CSM problems!

 

1. The CSM vs. Firefighting

The CSM vs. Firefighting

As a CSM, you’re the guide to customers on their customer journey and you don’t want to let them down. It’s easy to drop everything to put out fires and keep your customers happy. But this is short-term satisfaction compared to the long-term growth and success of your customers. 

To keep the two goals separate, you need to manage your time, leaving dedicated spots in your calendar for being proactive versus reactive. Creating useful resources in your knowledge base to common problems, and making sure customers knows what kind of questions can go to support (e.g. password changes) and what can go to the CSM will help customers put out their own fires, saving you valuable time.

 

2. The CSM vs. Unexpected Churn

The CSM vs. Unexpected Churn

To avoid unexpected churn, you should ensure that you’re providing value to customers in every step of their journey; don’t wait until it’s close to the renewal date to talk to them. You can keep consistent communication with them, such as with quarterly proactive outreach, QBRs, and updates on your product or company that will benefit them. Make sure their every interaction with you is valuable and outcome-driven. 

A vital part of your relationship should be working on a success plan with them and helping them achieve it. If they end up churning anyway, make sure you conduct an exit interview and create a periodic report of churn reasons that your entire company can look at and learn from. This will help you create a plan to address these churn reasons and improve your retention.

 

3. The CSM vs. Customer-who-vents-a-lot

The CSM vs. Customer-who-vents-a-lot

When customers call you to vent or complain, it may seem like a time-waste. But, at Amity, we believe this is a blessing in disguise. If you listen to customer problems with an empathetic ear (remember: you’re their advocate in your own company!), then you can learn a lot from them. The issues they bring up regarding your product can be ones that you’ve heard from others and already know how to address. For example, if they're feeling overwhelmed, help them through the processes that are troubling them.

Maybe their issues are something worth bringing up to your development team or saving as a feature request. Sometimes, however, customers just need someone to listen to them. What’s important is that you have an issue escalation process and know when to use it. Make sure customer complaints are taken seriously and they feel validated.

 

4. The CSM vs. Unsuccessful Customer

The CSM vs. Unsuccessful Customer

A common trap that CSMs fall into is believing that a happy customer is a successful one. Unfortunately, in reality, having happy customers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re achieving success with your SaaS. Happiness alone will not prevent customers from churning (even if they say lots of nice things on the way out). This doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to delight customers and their organization, but remember that happiness isn’t equal to success. 

A successful customer is one who is able to achieve outcomes using your product as their solution. This, in turn, often leads to a happy and loyal customer that won’t unexpectedly churn. Make sure you have an effective onboarding process in place so customers can sail into the adoption phase more easily. You should also create success plans with your customers’ teams during this stage. This way everyone will be on the same page about what goals they’re trying to achieve with your product and how to get there.

 

5. The CSM vs. Unrealistic Expectations

The CSM vs. Unrealistic Expectations

There are many issues that can arise if your sales team is misaligned with customer success. One of these is when customers are oversold to and have high or unrealistic expectations of the services you provide. You can prevent this problem, and similar ones, by communicating with your sales team during pre-sales or even having a CS member present for pre-sales meetings. 

Sometimes, however, it’s too late to prevent the damage because it’s already been done. When it looks like you can’t deliver on the promises made to the customer, you have to find alternative means of delighting them. Your product may not be able to fix your customer’s car, but how can it do something else that will be beneficial to the customer’s goals? Discuss the reasons they had invested in your service in the first place and show them practical ways you can make that a reality. 

 

6. The CSM vs. Radio Silence

The CSM vs. Radio Silence

When customers stop responding to your messages, it usually means that they’ve decided you’re not a top priority for them anymore. This could have been caused by a number of factors: champion has moved companies, the customer is unhappy with the product, the customer feels spammed by emails, etc. When customers are radio silent, it’s important for you to get their attention effectively and preferably with just one awesome email (check out this blog for ideas!)

To prevent customers from becoming MIA, it’s important to keep in touch with them, as you would when preventing churn. In this case, keep messages short and value-packed. Don’t overwhelm your customers with emails, or send them emails when a phone call would be much more effective. This way, they’re seeing value in not only your product but also in your engagement and collaboration with them. With this strong foundation, hopefully, they’ll tell you when you’re spamming them or when they’re unhappy instead of going radio silent.

 

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About the Author

Elakkiya Sivakumaran

Elakkiya Sivakumaran is a Technical Writer at Amity. She enjoys interdisciplinary writing (who said English, Classical Studies, and Psychology can't mix?) and learned almost everything she knows about English grammar from high school Latin. She is currently studying English and Classical Studies at the University of Waterloo.

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