How to Be an Advocate for Your Customer

October 7, 2016 Akhila Iruku

How to Be an Adocate for Your Customer

Helping customers get the most value out of your product is a top priority for most customer success teams. In order to do that, CSMs must be the strongest advocates of your customer’s needs internally as we are the cornerstone of client-facing interaction.

Here are some ways your team can become strong advocates for your customers:

Encourage cross-functional communication

Cross-functional participation and/or active listening in meetings across all teams helps everyone better understand first-hand how the external world perceives our product. Encourage everyone on the team to have open calendars, making customer and sales calls easy to join.

  • Sales calls: Listening in on sales calls helps CSM to understand how our product was pitched and how customers evaluate the business value. It also allows CSM to hear first-hand what objections prospects have to our existing product and where we can improve on the product front.

  • Customer calls: Being present on other CSMs customer calls allows faster learning on what users want, what new and tricky questions to watch out for, how different companies formulate a strategy around your product.

  • Product calls: Sitting in on meetings with our product team provides a better understanding of your product roadmap. This allows you to more naturally share the story for your company with your customers and keep them in the loop when new features and product updates are released.

Prioritize customer support as the backbone of our organization.

Providing phenomenal customer support should be every customer success team’s #1 priority. We use Intercom to manage customer support and absolutely love it because we prefer the casual nature of live chat that allows us to establish closer ties with our customers and because it provides transparency across the company issues our customers are facing.

Provide a report of customer issues and how bugs were resolved weekly to your entire team. This creates a metrics-based customer support organization that can speak to Engineering / Product and show what our customers are experiencing over time.

Get on site with customers early

The most valuable way you can spend your time in customer success is face-to-face. If it’s possible to get in the same room with your customers, you’ll kick-start your relationship right from the start.

For each onsite:

  • Be prepared: Get a data dump from the AE about who is who prior to arriving so you know who to meet and your introductions are spot-on.

  • Be effective: Make sure you get time to meet the deal sponsor and any other decision makers while at the office.

  • Be bold: Ask your customer to block off at minimum 1/2 a day per team to work with you. Carving out enough time to walk them through the product and allow time for them to ask questions is essential to setting them up for success.

  • Be ambitious: Set up trainings for other teams that may not currently be using the product directly — but whose workflow may be may be affected by the introduction of your product. Get them excited about what you’re bringing to the table!

Share customer feedback with the whole team

The customer success team is the voice of the customer within the company. To be successful, you must both understand how is the product actually being used and what would enable your customers to gain even more value from it in the future.

You will hear a lot of concerns, complaints, suggestions, and advice on where to take the product. Learn to differentiate the signal from the noise and take steps to ensure that the team is staying up-to-date on how customers are evaluating you. We send a weekly customer success team update to the whole company with a recap of the feedback we received from customers the week prior, and what we are planning to do about it.  

At the end of the day, every team member must have a vested interest in keeping customers happy and seeing ROI. Customer success plays a huge role in pushing the customer agenda internally, so it’s your responsibility to keep your company up to speed.

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About the Author

Akhila Iruku

Akhila hails from the East Coast and moved to the Bay Area to pursue one of many loves including working in fast-paced environments with amazing, creative people. From experience in massive tech companies to pre-series A startups to the non-profit space, Akhila has learned that investing in others is the most fulfilling way to see any community or organization grow and found that passion through Customer Success. Currently, Akhila is a Customer Success Manager at RainforestQA. Feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn or at akhila.iruku@gmail.com

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