Self-Service vs Personalized Support

Julie Fox
Julie Fox Member, CS Leader Posts: 5 Navigator
First Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper First Comment
edited May 13 in CS Conversations

I think we can all agree that customer success is evolving quickly. One topic that has been discussed quite a bit is the idea of self-service or "customer led". 

Candidly, I feel a bit conflicted. 

- As a SaaS buyer/user - I love the idea of a product and resources that I can seamlessly use without having to add more meetings/ trainings to my calendar.

- As a CS/CX leader - this is intriguing but also a bit terrifying.

With the rise of self-service options, how do you maintain a balance between empowering customers to find solutions independently and providing personalized support when needed?


  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 206 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Comment

    Hi Julie! Traditional CSM is commonly structured in three tiers: Enterprise, Mid Market and SMB. Often SMB is seen as the "tech touch" sector where the customer does not have a dedicated CSM but is directed to tools and resources that promote self service. I think this model has seen the end of its usefulness.

    All customers should be empowered with the tools and resources to self serve whenever possible. Start with scale and use digital touchpoints to provide the right tool and resource at the right time and to build your relationship with the customer. This last part creates tremors for many! (Build the relationship? On a bunch of emails?! It is a way to do it!) Few customers want more meetings. Toss the idea of a mandatory business review ever X period of time. Toss the idea that every customer in the Enterprise and Mid Market category need a dedicated CSM. Many don't care who the CSM, engage much, sometimes at all and are successful by all metrics. Listen to your customers.

    Scale first and then add the tools and resources of your CSM team. All customers have access to the tools and resources like Community, automated on boarding, adoption and renewal messages. Then some also have a dedicated resource who will keep a close eye on that customer and be a direct point of contact.

    Customers want to achieve business objectives. They do not care who with are how they do that. We spend a lot of time fretting over moving accounts around (What will they think? How will they react?) and think because we focus on that its important to them. Customers want responsiveness. Easy access to resources and explanations, even hand holding when needed. Make all of that easy and preach customer experience with a fervor to everyone who is on the front line. Dividing teams and "it's not my job" kills the experience for customers. Also, be prepared to iterate your programs and develop them as you go along VS. a straight line that follows a specific outline. This is another area I have seen programs wither and die. Someone comes up with a plan and despite there being problems, even gaping holes, or totally counterintuitive elements that create customer confusion, they stick with it because "it's the plan."

    Good luck!

  • Ola Ogungbemile
    Ola Ogungbemile Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    Name Dropper First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic

    @Julie Fox I think a lot about the right balance between self-serve and personalized support (guidance).

    I've found that as our product gets more complex (increasing customer needs) it's been really important to encourage vendors to self-serve their product onboarding. If not the CSM's role becomes solely focused on support if the vendor isn't able to self-serve.

    The more time the vendor successfully spends on self-serve the more time the CSM has to dedicate to the most important part of their role - strategic advisory. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by providing aggregated data on performance from your product that your vendors would otherwise not have access to. This data is power and will help drive very meaningful and personalized guidance.

    By comparing your vendor's performance to the aggregated data from their peers that you have access to across your product, they will have an idea of whether they are at the top of the pack, middle of the pack or bottom of the pack. Depending on where they are you can provide personalized feedback on how to improve performance both from inside your product and outside it.

    In summary, by delivering a self-serve product onboarding experience that works CS teams have more time to focus on a personalized strategic advisory that is grounded in data that your vendors wouldn't have access to otherwise. This is true value.