Get efficient or get fired? 3 strategies to streamline your customer success team

TLDR: “If you’re not getting more efficient every month, you should be fired!” said a Customer Success leader at a recent networking dinner.  He went on to assert that a Customer Success team should not grow in proportion to your customer base or revenue. Should we be following his advice?

This might be a controversial statement for those of us trying to establish the Customer Success function in our companies and fighting for new headcount.  But in the tech industry, an industry slowdown will affect everyone. Hiring is going to get harder because staffing expenses dwarf all other costs.

It’s a smart time to plan for the slowdown and define your strategy for team efficiency. Here are three things to consider:

Turn CSM communication into campaigns

Spend a day observing one of your Customer Success Managers and you will quickly realize they are communication machines. A huge percentage of their day is spent in email and in meetings. This large bucket of time represents an opportunity to offload some of the communication burden from them.

Here’s how:

  • Make email templates for messages that are sent time & time again. Examples could be onboarding, product updates, billing inquiries, escalations, renewal planning etc.
  • Source a tool like ToutApp or to house your templates
  • Hire a marketing person instead of another CSM to drive content and scalable communication programs. Think about the role of email campaigns, knowledge bases, communities, documentation, etc.

Tier and segment your customer base

Now is the time to direct your people resources to where they are most needed: the top customer tier.

Make your product do more work

I recently heard a product leader turned investor say, “Onboarding is the job of the product, not a person.” It’s a challenging statement that makes you consider how your product can make your customers successful without your constant intervention:

  • Can the “first use” experience be made easier?
  • Can the product be made more usable overall?
  • Can the product deliver in-application walk-throughs?
  • What type of knowledge content can be added to the product, such as tooltips and help content?
  • Can the onboarding process be further automated or streamlined?

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