Say you’ve built a career supporting customers. It’s what you enjoy, or in the least have fallen into. Now, you are continuously hearing buzz about Customer Success, and you are wondering, “What does it take to make that jump into that world?”
If you were to draw a venn diagram on what makes a Customer Support and Success Professional effective, there would be a definite overlap, so it is not unprecedented to think this could be a natural career move.
Even with that overlap, there are a few key differences between the two functions.
Let’s talk about what makes each group successful, what each area tends to be measured on, and some simple things you can incorporate in your day to day to help make the transition more seamless.
Let’s first dive into a few attributes or skillsets that make someone effective in either a Success or Support role.
What makes a Customer Support Professional successful?
- Positively reactive --- When a customer reaches out for help, Customer Support Professionals are the superheroes that will always swoop in to save the day and bring clarity to situations that are confusing.
- Masters of de-escalation --- Customer Support Professionals are the rockstars of adversarial moments. Upset or dissatisfied customers are viewed as an opportunity to turn that frown upside down. They love a good challenge and view it as a personal victory when they have successfully addressed the customer's concern.
- Patience --- To echo the great words of Axl Rose, “All we need is just a little patience.” Well, a Customer Support Professional at times needs a little more than that. And that’s okay. They make it look so easy. I’ve seen reps spend hours on the phone helping someone navigate a website and do so with the utmost grace.
- Strong communicator --- Delivering a message whether it’s a tough one or great news requires skill.
- Works well under stress --- Needs no explanation and yes, supporting customers can definitely be stressful.
What makes a Customer Success Professional successful?
- Proactive --- Customer Success Professionals are great at anticipating future needs and customer trends.
- Analytical --- They love looking at data to understand what is making their customers successful and not successful.
- Extreme Owners -- Customer Success Professionals own the customer relationship for good or bad (and sometimes it gets really bad).
- Competitive --- These professionals love a good challenge and thrive in an environment where there are lofty goals.
- Great Presenters --- This may seem odd (or maybe it doesn’t), but Customer Success Professionals spend a lot of time presenting information. Information to the customer, information to management, and information to the company. They need to be comfortable taking the information they learn from both customers and the internal teams and disseminating that information across different audiences.
Goals. We all have them (or at least we should). It’s how our success is measured. Let’s dive into the potential goals in Support vs. those in Success.
What are the goals in Customer Support?
Goals in a Support Group typically revolve around the Customer’s experience during their interaction with the particular support agent. Typical goals that are heavily measured in support are:
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) --- How happy were customers with the experience of their current interaction?
- Average time to response --- How long did it take Support to initially respond?
- Average resolution time --- How long did it take to resolve the issue/concern?
- First contact resolution (FCR) --- How many customer concerns do you resolve in the first contact?
What are the goals in Customer Success?
Goals in a Success Group typically revolve around the customer’s overall experience with your entire organization, including your product. Typical goals that are heavily measured in success are:
- Time to First Value --- How long does it take from the point of sale to help the customer achieve their first value? The longer it takes, the higher the churn risk.
- Churn --- The ugly five letter word the plagues us all. How many customers break up with you at or before renewal?
- Expansion Revenue --- How you demonstrate value (as a product and CSM) directly impacts customers' buying decisions. Want them to buy more? Become sticky and invaluable in their workflow.
- Overall portfolio health --- What actions should (and do) your customers take within your product that would put them in a healthy state therefore achieving the most value possible with your product?
- NPS --- Net Promoter Score Survey simply asks them if they would recommend you. Low NPS scores tend to mean that the desired value is not being achieved.
So, from a practical standpoint, how do you as a Support Professional build a toolkit to help make that transition to Success? Here are some easy processes, tools, and resources to incorporate into your life that will help make this transition easier.
- Start thinking in a proactive manner. When a customer reaches out to you, anticipate their future needs. What tools can you provide them that’ll allow them to be self sufficient in the future? Did you learn something from that customer contact that could benefit other customers? Share that information with appropriate individuals within the org.
- Stop thinking in the moment and really start shifting your mindset to a long term strategic thought process. What causes customers to cancel? Is there something that you see on a daily basis that could be improved in the customer experience and could potentially mitigate that churn for others?
- Start thinking in terms of customer growth. When you are helping a customer, is there another tool that your company offers that they could benefit from? Are there features that they aren’t currently using that would make your product more valuable? Are there other areas in their organization that would benefit from your product?
- Start reading and tapping into all of the available resources. There is a plethora of information available about Customer Success. A few online resources I personally find helpful are:
A couple of great books to get you started are:
- Farm Don't Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success, by Guy Napriz and Fernando Pizarro
- Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue, a collective effort by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy.
You can also attend Customer Success Meetups! Talk to other Customer Success Managers and learn about their perspective on success.
And last but not least, shadow your local friendly Customer Success Manager. If you have a CSM in your company already, set up time to watch them in action (prepare to be wow’d).
As with most things, think of this is a journey and not a sprint. Having a proactive mindset is something that can be learned, but does take practice. But once you get it down, you will start looking at every situation through a new lens. You will view every issue that comes up as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, an opportunity to create an advocate, an opportunity to add value.
About the Author
Maranda Dziekonski is the Vice President over Customer Operations at HelloSign. In her current role at HelloSign, Maranda oversees Customer Success, Support, and API (Engineering) Support. Maranda has almost 20 years experience working in customer facing roles in various industries and also does operations consulting primarily in the start-up world. When not building teams, process, infrastructure, you can find her either with her family or escaping the hustle and bustle hiking in the mountains.Follow on Twitter More Content by Maranda Dziekonski