Building a Customer Success team? Start with customer feedback

TLDR: Building a Customer Success Team? Start with Customer Feedback

The genesis of a customer success team is often “ready, fire, aim”.  Somebody has to manage the growing customer base, and quickly.

But the team should start with a purpose, or else you risk mismatching your hires to the needs of the job. How do you define that purpose? Use customer feedback to create the team charter.

One job, infinite variety

Customer success can be described in general terms as managing the post-purchase phase of the customer lifecycle.  Beyond that, the role can come in many, many variations.

Consider the factors that can influence the role:

  • Your product’s complexity
  • Your sales model
  • Customer types
  • Onboarding ownership
  • Revenue responsibility
  • Customer support responsibility

This adds up to a lot of permutations of how the role can be defined.  Which begs the question,  which permutation is right for you?

Customer feedback helps define the team charter

So much of the impetus to staff a customer success team is driven by internal needs.  Somebody needs to manage a growing customer base and their renewals.  Somebody has to “own” customer escalations instead of borrowing time from salespeople or product managers.

These are important reasons to build a team.  But what about the customer?

At a minimum, customer feedback can help you prioritize the issues that a customer success team will manage.  At a maximum, customers will tell you about issues you weren’t considering at all.

The easiest, fastest way to collect customer feedback? Run a Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS®) survey.  Send it to as many contacts as you can to paint the most complete picture of customer feedback.

Match the charter to the people

Getting the charter right, as informed by customer input, is essential for hiring the right people for the job.  Consider the differences in these examples:

  • Customers that really want access to deep product expertise. A product expert might come out of your engineering team.
  • Customers requiring domain expertise.  A domain expert might come from hiring a practitioner or a consultant.
  • Customers who need to be shown how to expand their usage. A “farmer” salesperson who likes working with existing customers might be the right person for the job.

Lather, rinse, repeat

You’ll outgrow the initial team charter at some point. The factors I shared above will change over time as your business and your product evolves.  Like your business and product, your customers will evolve too.

Consistent customer feedback can help you re-visit the charter and refine it as needed.

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