Are you in the 91% of customer success professionals whose team grew this year? Are your CS numbers now in double figures? 76% of teams have reached that point!
The big question is how you translate that growth into success in 2022. How do you onboard and upskill new reps effectively? Who do you collaborate with? How do you do it well? Where do you find customer advocates? How do you manage expectations?
There’s a lot to tackle! Our expert panel looked at the state of customer success and all the big trends for the coming year so that you can win in 2022.
Watch the recording: The State Of Customer Success Training In 2022
0:00 Introduction to the panel and session.
2:30 How to manage growing customer success teams.
6:58 How long does it take to get CS reps up to speed?
9:05 How are CS reps learning today?
14:44 Onboarding customer success staff.
22:25 Managing customer advocacy and creating fruitful relationships.
30:15 Who should CS teams be collaborating with and how?
33:56 Customer success in a hybrid working world.
35.37 Who’s responsible for customer expectations.
41:26 Using data to drive your customer success strategy.
52:25 Final thoughts and end of discussion.
Meet the panel
You’ll hear her, but you won’t see her in this session! It’s not a riddle, but due to an unfortunate camera issue, our Head of Customer Success, Lulu Dermeche, might feel more like a narrator at times. However, that means you can focus on our two wonderful guests…
Morika Georgieva, Customer Success Lead, Permutive
Morika Georgieva is Customer Success Lead, EMEA at Permutive and heads up the digital events team at The Customer Success Network. Her Customer Success career focuses on enterprise B2B SaaS start ups in a multitude of industries, including advertising, recruitment, and hospitality. She is passionate about Customer Success, not only as a key part of business growth, but also as a corporate philosophy that should guide not only how companies conduct business with their partners, but also how they approach their culture and employees.
Elise Marengo, Head of Customer Success, Userpilot
Elise is the Head of Customer Success at Userpilot. A classroom teacher with a masters degree in K-12 language education, Elise never saw herself working in technology, but when she was approached by Userpilot to consider a position as their first Customer Success hire, she saw an incredible learning opportunity. What she came to realize, was that while her “classroom” was now primarily comprised of Zoom rooms and her student´s age range had jumped up quite a bit, the pillars of her role still rested on the same foundation: Education.
Five customer success training takeaways from this session
How to manage growing customer success teams
In a recent Totango study, 91% of CS professionals stated their team had grown over the past 12 months, and 76% said it now consists of more than 10 people. Growing is good, but you have to do it right. We asked Morika and Elise which challenges they’ve found when adding Customer Success talent and what advice they’d give people who might be growing their CS team as we head into 2022.
Elise explained that CS onboarding is tricky because you’re not just training people on your product but also all of your processes and how they fulfil their day-to-day roles. So when you are hiring, you don’t really need to focus on a customer success representative for today. In reality, you’re looking for what you’ll need three months down the line because it takes that kind of period to get people up to speed.
Morika discussed the importance of understanding which qualities and experience you’re looking for before hiring but explained why that also means redefining experience. It doesn’t simply mean years spent in a particular position, but the day to day activities they’ve been responsible for in previous roles.
Being a customer success manager (CSM) in one business can be completely different to another. Think about what CS is like at your organisation, and then ask how the candidate has carried out those day-to-day activities. If you don’t, you might end up hiring someone with fantastic experience but no room to apply it at your company.
How and where CS reps are learning and picking up skills?
CS teams often work in industries that are forever changing, and it’s important that reps keep up to become experts in those fields. Morika explained the importance of being intentional with how you’re delivering knowledge to customer success staff. She also spoke about encouraging people to speak regularly with peers. Social learning that’s built around sharing successes and mistakes creates more learning opportunities over time.
Elise echoed that sentiment and reinforced the idea that reps should be sharing knowledge with each other. For example, at Userpilot, they ask individuals to attend webinars or conferences and share key takeaways with everyone else. This means that not everybody has to be in all places at once, and people get in the habit of disseminating great content between their colleagues. The same applies when people come across interesting podcasts, videos or articles.
Morika also pointed out that during onboarding, we need to consider the things people need to know first and give them the space to master that before moving on. The point is that we prioritise what people need to learn and give them the appropriate information at the right moment, which prevents them from feeling overwhelmed.
Ways of building fruitful customer relationships and creating advocacy
Customer advocacy has to start with regular communications because you can’t become an advocate for things you’re not aware of or familiar with. You also have to reciprocate and become an advocate for your team and customers throughout the business – represent their views and concerns in your interactions with stakeholders. Elise believes customer success is in a middle ground where we have to pass feedback between customers and the product team.
Those communications need to be clear too. It’s no use if feedback is just going into a void and customers hear nothing about it again – they’ll never feel like they’re being heard in that case. Instead, explain to them how you’re using that feedback to tweak and improve processes. But at the same time, not all feedback will lead to something, so try to be honest in those situations too. Customers will appreciate an honest no rather than being strung along for months waiting for a feature that never comes and there was no intention of creating.
Try to think like a customer. When was the last time you became an advocate for a business or service? Morika explained that we might approach advocacy in two ways: either someone fixes a crucial pain point for us, or we get such an excellent level of service that we build an affinity. This mindset can help us go above and beyond in customer success.
Who should CS teams be collaborating with and how?
There’s not a department in the company that CSMs shouldn’t at least be mindful of and open to communicating with. Elise explained that, in this role, we’re collaborating with everything and everyone in some way. Whether we’re working with marketing as they bring customers in or giving them access to current customers to build better content that catches prospects’ eyes.
It’s critical that we work with the sales team and understand the proposition they’re putting out there, as well as conducting handover with them as we onboard those new customers and meet the promises made. We also need to understand the product and work with that team to understand what’s coming or any technical issues so that we can report them to customers. Every department impacts our customer in some way or another and, as a CSM, part of our responsibility is to connect those dots.
Morika explained that we’re the eyes and ears of our customers and we need to be able to provide a view of our whole business – which we can’t do without collaboration.
How can CS teams work with sales to set and manage expectations as deals close?
If you’re finding this difficult, you’re not alone! Morika explained that she’s never met anyone who’s completely confident they’ve nailed this process. Because no matter how aligned we are, sales and customer success teams are motivated by different things. This means we all need to recognise our responsibility for setting customer expectations while acknowledging that CS teams are the ones accountable for orchestrating this and delivering on those.
One tip is to better explain why onboarding matters to your sales colleagues. From the outside, they might not realise that onboarding is the single most important thing for customers because a poor experience isn’t something we can simply rectify further down the line – even if it is a multi-year contract. We can and should recognise that not everyone thinks like us, and so it’s our responsibility to convey how and why CS views certain aspects of the customer relationship in certain ways.
Elise discussed the idea of creating a pre-onboarding survey. The Userpilot team offer three onboarding sessions, the first of which comes during the trial, and in that survey, they’re asked how they would understand or measure whether they’ve received value. It gives us a touchpoint as the relationship evolves and a record for both sales and CS to come back to as we try to find good fit customers.
Want to know whose CS and sales teams are wonderfully aligned? Ours! If you want to put all these great customer success training tips into action AND go through a smooth process where the sales team understands your goals, fill in this short demo form, and we’ll be in touch!