This doesn’t mean that the customer success manager is all on its own. Like Oksana shared before, all teams are involved. As you can expect the customer success manger typically works closely with the sales, marketing and product department. Following up on upsell possibilities, identifying new features, customer feedback on the usability, success stories for marketing and so on.
To keep your customer success and the collaboration between teams structured and as effective as possible, it’s important to start with the segmentation of your existing customer base as early as possible - even if you don’t have that many customers yet. You can segment your customers by industry, geography, annual revenue, number of employees, budget, investors, or valuation. Whatever approach you take, it will help you with identifying vital customer trends and better understand what capabilities your customer success manager needs.
If you’re serving a large volume of small value customers you want to adopt a more data-driven no/low touch engagement strategy. Whereas a low number of high value accounts justifies a customized 1:1 high-touch strategy.
Measuring success, and no not just retention
Historically, customer success was particularly focussed on retention. Overtime there’s been a convergence between customers success and sales, making net revenue retention the key metric to success. “It’s my deep belief that if you work with a customer you’re supposed to help them grow. And fortunately, over the last few years, success teams are moving more towards net revenue retention. So, it's not only about retention of existing customer base or your ARR, but about how you have grown your existing customers.” shares Oksana.
Besides that there are other important metrics to track, and it’s important to know that every department focus on different metrics. You can focus on SQL’s - the number of opportunities you're surfacing to your sales teams from existing install base - or NPS - how happy customers are with your product, and if they would recommend your product within the industry. And you can look at engagement, for example: how often does your team engage with existing customers. But again this all depends on your strategy and segmentation.
The ideal customer success manager
It’s clear that customer success managers need many different capabilities, all depending on your product and customers. But what does it take to be a successful customer success manager? Oksana starts by saying, “I'm in client facing roles for the last 10 years, and at every company this means something different.”
For some companies the role can be oriented towards product adoption, and making sure the customer understands and knows how to use all the features. In this case the CSM is preferably a technical person. Whereas other companies focus more on building relationships with different stakeholders within the customer's organisation, they benefit from someone that’s good at establishing relationships. The ideal setup is different for every company. Although the ideal customer success manager diverse per company, Oksana does see a few trends.
Good business acumen: customer success managers tend to be people with good business acumen and great understanding of different business models and industries.
Technical aptitude: you don't have to be an engineer, but understanding your product, the integrations, API’s etc is important.
Interpersonal & project management skills: a CSM works with a lot of different people and stakeholders, from the customers side but also internally. That makes it absolutely crucial, to be able to communicate effectively and have great project management skills.
Prioritization: as a CSM you’re covering a large number of customers, being able to prioritise is crucial.
Final piece of advice
For those companies that want to start implementing a successful customer success strategy, Oksana definitely has some last tips:
1. Make sure that all teams are aligned
Like said before, as a CMS you’ll need support from other departments within the company. To make the flywheel concept a success, it’s crucial for all teams to be aligned on the operating model. And it’s not just about ‘handing over’ the lead from marketing to sales, it’s about being aligned during the entire customer success journey.
2. Start with segmenting your customers
Understand the importance of segmentation, as it can help you identify trends and set up a customer success motion that completely fits your customer.
3. Build a community
HubSpot has one of the highest NPS scores in the world. And this is not just because people like the product. Oksana shares: “HubSpot is not just the platform for business. We’ve an amazing blog where you can find a lot of information about growing your business, an annual inbound conference, and an academy. It's important to embed customers into your philosophy, build a community around your product.”
3. Iterate constantly
Don’t just set up your customer success strategy and leave it like that. As your business is growing, your product is evolving and your team structure is changing, you’ll need to make changes to your customer success strategy. So keep on experimenting and iterating.
Want to learn more about HubSpot journey and Customer Success? Listen to the full story on Spotify.