CSM Supporting New Product Launch

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Matt Myszkowski
Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
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edited August 2023 in Strategy & Planning

Hi All,

A new one for me so looking for some help & guidance here - what role does your CSM(s) play with new product launches, both in terms of pre-launch (identifying correct customer fit, etc.) & launch?

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  • Marco Innocenti
    Marco Innocenti Member Posts: 18 Thought Leader
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    edited July 2020
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    We make sure our CSMs are trained and prepared for the launch.  Product Management/Marketing will typically determine the target, then we have the launch communications come from the CSM via our campaign automation tools.  Customer responses then get to the CSM to help with delivering additional details the customers may have.  For our high-touch customers, there will often be more engaged delivery around planned product release and demo calls.

  • Anna Alley
    Anna Alley Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    For us, it depends on the type of launch. We don't typically introduce completely new products on our side, but for major feature changes or process changes, etc. Customer Success is involved from the beginning. We help identify any potential pitfalls or risks, what customers might be more sensitive to the change and need additional hand holding,etc.

    For the actual roll out, we would be involved in the communication for high touch customers and often training as well if needed. We always provide the team with training and internal FAQ documents beforehand as well.

  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Since product feedback is continuously funneling from our clients, CSMs are tied in with our product and product marketing teams supporting updates, feature requests and new product requests. We'd be a secondary stakeholder and supporting arm to product market fit, pricing, launch, onboarding and creating the playbook to drive customer success with this product. We'd also arrange any early beta testing, interviews or feedback with our current customer base in partnership with our product and customer care teams. 

    At the end of the day, since I'm in a B2B as a service" offering, we're driving the ideally never-ending customer lifecycle, which continuously allows us to be a voice of the customer to influence the above. Also, I'm too excited about product not to insert ourselves into the conversation.

    Company Size: Medium-sized company with SMB size in US market

  • Deirdre Stenson
    Deirdre Stenson Member Posts: 7 Contributor
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    edited July 2020
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    2nd on this one Laura! This is eerily similar to how our business approaches new product launches. 

    I'd also strongly recommend enablement training ahead of the launch for your CS team - focus on both the technical aspects and the value drivers behind this new launch. 

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Matt Myszkowski 

    Having done a been through 10+ major feature releases and platform launches and some real new product releases. This is a great opportunity to partner with the Dev, Product, and Support teams.  Maybe 5-10% of your staff should be engaged early on.   

    The question I would have today is in an Agile world,  When do you declare to be an Alpha or beta build?   Do you have managed betas?   I ask this as in my Lotus/IBM experience there were great opportunities to add product value between an Alpha milestone and a Beta 2 milestone these stages with your customers that may be involved.  After a beta 2 milestone (unless you have product challenges), you are in the end game, it's about fixing what's broken or minorly incomplete. 

    Support generally, will be doing product enablement after Beta 2 comes out.  Some CS should be trained via Support Enablement and while building more specific CS appropriate training.

    On the product side, Beta 2 is where ultimately the VOC for the next feature builds are laid.  Ask what are they missing that they wanted and get in the face of your PM teams.  

    More complex products V1 is a set of product partners and your technology leaders.  V2 getting more key customers on board.  V3 all hell breaks loose and you hope you can enjoy the ride and this all happens faster today.   

    Some other thoughts if you have TAMS and/or more technical CSM's they might serve as liaisons to customer deployments of your product during the Alpha/ Beta cycle and manage the dev interactions to solve real problems, assuming they aren't already 100% time booked.  

  • Britt Hall
    Britt Hall Member Posts: 11 Contributor
    edited July 2020
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    Our CSMs are involved throughout the entire product launch lifecycle. It's a lot of work up front, but this level of involvement saves us a lot of time later. (Better customer relationships, fewer communication mismaps, etc.)

    • participate in planning sessions to shape roadmap development
    • participate in early requirements gathering
    • recommend customers for and support customers through beta programs
    • evaluate and provide feedback for enablement materials pre-launch (and thereby learn the new functionality)
    • communicate customer-specific value to all customers and encourage adoption post-launch
  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Britt Hall,   Some of what you are doing is what our support product introduction team was responsible for.  Beta support is always a challenge, but it's a bridge builder.  I had kind of a unique position as getting IBM adopted meant other customers would begin there adoption, so understanding what features or bug were later items was extremely important. Also, it was a product with client and server the wants of each side of functionality were different.   Our early adopter servers ran daily builds during the alpha and beta, and then at gold build the first wave of quote early servers were added.  Then finally after so many days of uptime full distribution.  Until the deployment went to the cloud in 2014.     

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
    First Comment Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited July 2020
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    Thanks everyone for your feedback & ideas. 

  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Hi Matt,

    No doubt, a new product launch is a time for heightened cross-functional teamwork in the company.  Can you talk a little bit about the core/existing product your customers use, and how closely the new product complements it (if at all)?

    My gut reaction is you'll want to partner with Product Marketing as closely as possible.  Pre-launch, you can identify customers who participate in focus groups, testing, etc.  Post-launch, assuming the product is ready for wide distribution, you can pivot more to Marketing to send coordinated campaigns.

    If the new product fills a different niche than the existing one, and your CSM team is not sales-focused, I'd also encourage partnering with Sales because their talents lie in surfacing pain points and displacing an incumbent solution. 

    Russell 

  • Alex Farmer
    Alex Farmer Member Posts: 62 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Great question Matt - this is something we do quite often as its a pretty efficient way to build community, increase adoption, and get better-connected with customers (as you know we're a start-up so efficient is what we need).  For major new features (usually one in each quarterly major release), we run formal early-adopter programs run by CS and Product Marketing.  CSMs will identify a few early adopters with a particular interest in the functionality, give all Customer Advisory Board members early access if they want it, and also position it as a bit of an olive branch for customers struggling to be successful.  We run the feedback from the EA program through a private group in our customer community, which helps with adoption of the community/the middle school dynamic of those customers not selected wanting to engage and learn more.