Scaled CS - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Heather Wendt
Heather Wendt HLAdmin, Member Posts: 285 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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edited May 2023 in GGR Cafe

When thinking about scaled programs, what are the pro's and con's of scaling Customer Success? What are some successes and/or failures you have experienced in the process of implementing a scaled program?

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  • Michelle Wideman
    Michelle Wideman Member Posts: 54 Navigator
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    Hi @Heather Wendt, big topic! The pro's are definitely being able to customize a customer journey based on the type of customers so you can optimally support their unique needs. The concern is the cost to support the customer. Successes definitely revolve around putting the right technology in place that provides as much user information as possible. The more insights we have into customer usage that enable us to put triggers in place to identify churn(not using tech) or upsell opportunities(over deployed) the better! Playbooks can be put in place to respond to the automated triggers, enabling the humans to scale and keep our costs down. A lesson I learned in rolling out a community is hire a community specialist, in startup mode we often try to do more with less, but I learned it is a special skill set that requires a dedicated human for it to really take off.

  • Heather Wendt
    Heather Wendt HLAdmin, Member Posts: 285 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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    Great information, @Michelle Wideman! Really appreciate the insights and reminders about how important it is that we track product usage and have a customer journey that allows for that customization! And I COMPLETELY agree that without that community specialist, you are not going to see the results you hope for, and if you spent money on community tech, it is going to be very disappointing!

  • chrisdishman
    chrisdishman Member Posts: 9 Navigator
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    @Heather Wendt this is a hot topic, that truthfully I love! A Couple of thoughts to add to what @Michelle Wideman commented:

    Pros: Scaled programs provide consistency for our customers. Done well, and well planned, it can meet them where they are in that journey, and not only help drive adoption, but point them in a direction of healthy growth. It does take some thoughtful planning, but through that, you can develop a strong map for them to success. Another benefit to that, is that a well thought out scaled CS Program benefits your larger "managed" accounts as well. You can leverage much of the same processes to help improve efficiencies to better support the CS Team.

    Cons: If it is not well thought out, you can lose the personalization, lose touch with your customers, and put large groups of accounts at risk. Like was previously mentioned, having the right visibility of data and metrics on a customers "health" can help prevent those situations.

    But the key is planning. Lots of great tech out there to help facilitate a solid scaled motion, but without a well thought out approach...you run the risk of creating gaps in how you support your customers.

  • Heather Wendt
    Heather Wendt HLAdmin, Member Posts: 285 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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    Great additions @chrisdishman! It is all about planning well...leaving things to chance or not bringing in all stakeholders is worse than the damage that can occur due to an overloaded team. Appreciate your input!

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 199 Expert
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    You point out a key lesson: resources have to be allocated and that team member(s) has to have strong CSM consultative skills, the ability to pivot and the ability to be creative in ways to keep customers engaged and help them find value in the software and quick, smooth follow ups to all needs.

    Example: seeding community engagement. Customers used to emailing can be responded to via email with a link to thread that has the answer. or tagging users to "introduce" them to other users with an issue they have solved who you suspect might be very similar.

    I see a lot of myopia that can prevent that or, an atmosphere to tied down where there is a list, that you check, and never vary from. That will not work.

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 199 Expert
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    There is no reason digital cannot be warm and personalized. That is a myth. When done carefully and with thought, it can be very personal and warm (not just a bunch of emails, as I so often hear from naysayers) and engages the customer exactly like a one off direct message or engagement. It may not be identical but it can have the same power and results!

  • Chitra Madhwacharyula
    Chitra Madhwacharyula Member Posts: 20 Contributor
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    Scaling CS is inevitable as you grow your CS practice. So the sooner you set the foundation stones in place, the better. That will help avoid costly re-orgs at a later date. 'Scaled CS' is also a mindset that needs to develop in the entire CS org where any process or best practice that is introduced should be viewed from the lens of scalability along with other efficiency parameters.

    The successes in scaled programs are many like, improved efficiencies, building repeatable modules for efficient scaling, leveraging digital CS, more bang for your buck from your CS teams etc. The failures occur when you try to do this transformation without proper planning and buy in. When scaling CS, it is important to analyze the existing state and maturity of your CS to prioritize the low hanging fruit and get quick wins. Then you can use those wins to get the required buy in and investment to implement a full fledged scaling methodology

    Chitra Madhwacharyula

    Customer and Partner Success Executive

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/chitramadhwacharyula

    Author of 'Scaling Customer Success': https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4842-9192-4

  • kmcmullen
    kmcmullen Member Posts: 13 Navigator
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    So much great advice here! I'll just add in a few more things that I've learned while trying to create a scaled CS org:

    1) Have clients tell YOU how they want to be communicated to. Often the first thought is the smaller clients go digital/scaled, but some larger clients may also prefer this. As long as you always have a way for them to "raise their hand" for direct interaction, ask them how they want to engage in your partnership. Especially considering the workforce mentality (millennials, gen z, etc.) and how many CSMs they have through other vendors. This could actually set you apart meaningfully.

    2) Scaled/digital (whatever you want to call it) does not mean robots. It's still all created by humans with direct intent. I think CSMs often get scared this will replace their job, instead of enhance it. And clients often think they are just getting sent to a void. Be intentional about letting people know who is behind this scaled approach & that this is truly a benefit to them.

    3) As someone mentioned, this mindset is very different than a traditional CSM, who typically equate their value to direct 1:1 relationships & relationship building. Consider different candidate types/backgrounds for your scaled CSMs.

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