Org chart - high touch, enterprise with complex product

Petra Makaremi
Petra Makaremi Member Posts: 10 Contributor
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
Hi All,

Curious to hear any and all thoughts from leaders that have built Success orgs for complex product that required a heavy implementation - I'm just putting together an org chart and see quite a few different possibilities. Our roles will likely include Solutions Architects, technical onboarders/TAMs, a CSM and perhaps an account executive still. Most of my concerns lie around designing a smooth customer journey and not overcomplicating roles/responsibilities. Given the complexity of our implementation, I do however think that CSMs will never fully merge with their more technical counterparts, nor do I think it's necessarily desirable. Would love to connect with someone that has gone through this process - thank you all you gurus out there!


  • Jarren Pinchuck
    Jarren Pinchuck Member Posts: 38 Expert
    edited August 2020
    Hi Petra,

    I've worked in a SaaS business and set up the complete retention piece for quite a complex product. Although ours was "cookie-cutter" it was very customisable for each customer or even market segment. The difference for me was we didn't need solutions architects or engineers because CSMs had the ability to customise parts of the product for the customer.

    I have however had a few colleagues with more complex solutions and extended onboarding and implementation periods. A challenge they often bring up to me is that customers feel disconnected. This is even more evident if the business adopting the product has multiple stakeholders being trained on multiple pieces of the product. 
    An important message I stress to every company I work with is consistent customer experience. 

    There are many ways to slice this of course but one idea is to view your CSMs as "Project Managers or Coordinators". So they would take the handover from sales and spend some time getting to know the customer. They would, of course, need a technical understanding due to the complexity of the product but then they would coordinate the entire roll-out as a project. They would introduce the customer to the architects, support engineers etc. but the CSM would be the one point of call and always know where the customer is holding in their lifecycle. 
    In being this "lead" they would be able to drive the process and improve adoption as well is ensure a consistent experience for the customer. Without them as your leads, who owns the customer and is responsible for lack of adoption, slow implementation, risk etc.

    Hope this makes sense, would be interested to hear your thoughts as you develop this out.

  • Ashton Liu
    Ashton Liu Member Posts: 29 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    Hi Petra, 
    While I did not build my company's org structure in the beginning, I am happy to provide my experience as we dealt with the preexisting organization and how we've worked to change it. We also have a highly complicated product as well as highly complicated integrations that our product is dependent on. Previously, we had the CSMs act as the single constant point of contact overseeing every post sales step (handoff, onboarding, coordinating integrations, troubleshooting, training, ongoing CS engagements, etc.). The biggest downside to this was that as the business grew, CSMs were overwhelmed with the scope of the work resulting in burnout. Furthermore, CSMs weren't doing CS work (proactive engagement, customer health, business reviews, etc.) and we weren't upselling into our existing customer base at the rate we had hoped. To echo a point made by Jarren, this approach was highly dependent on each individual CSM and did not result in a consistent approach, which could cause confusion both internally and externally when accounts were shared or transitioned. 

    As a result, we are now structuring the team so that different roles take on dedicated tasks similar to what you were suggesting, however we have also run into same question of how to ensure a smooth process as well as some reluctance of moving away from a single point of contact. So far we've found it effective to be clear and up front with our customers during the post sales handoff who they will be working with and what their roles are. For example, we'll put this in clear writing: the Onboarding Manager is here to coordinate the setup, onboarding, and integrations, the Data Manager will get the data quality aligned, the training manager will train you, and then we introduce the person's CSM as the ongoing point of contact for best practices, adoption, etc. Since implementing this structure, we have not had major push back from customers and most feel positive about it because expectations were set clearly. The challenge in transitioning from a single point of contact is to ensure that that the relevant information is communicated internally at each handoff. Right now, we're a small and close-knit team and share notes via email, Slack, etc. so this is not a challenge at this point but may be in the future. 

    Hope this helps!

  • Russell Bourne
    Russell Bourne Member Posts: 61 Expert
    GGR Blogger 2023 GGR Blogger 2021 First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
    @Petra Makaremi, great question.  

    Is it only the implementation that's complex, or does using the product continue to be complex post-installation?

    I see that Spectrum Labs is a fairly young company.  Given that, your org structure is going to have to evolve over the next few years as your company grows, and as your first group of customers progress through your customer journey.  

    For now, if you have the headcount in place, I would focus on giving each customer a technical account manager (probably whoever did the implementation) as well as a CSM who owns relationships with business outcome stakeholders.

    The TAM is probably the most familiar person with the customer.  Especially in the first year after a complex install, and especially as your technology is new, I think it makes sense for the implementation people to continue serving as TAMs.  Later, when you scale up, you can segment the implementation people away from the post-implementation TAMs.

    The CSM would be focused on non-technical relationships, preferably with someone like a COO, CRO, or Sales officer, to make sure your customers are recognizing business gains from having onboarded with you.  As your CS org grows, then you'd be able to segment between CSMs, AEs, etc.

    Hope this helps - I like your mission a lot and would love to learn more about it.
  • Petra Makaremi
    Petra Makaremi Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited August 2020

    Hi All (and I 100% feel like I'm failing at replying to all:)

    Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful responses! Indeed, it is the consistency and customer experience I'm mostly concerned with.

    I do love the idea of a CSM being the project manager that proactively keeps an eye on the account throughout the entire journey, including implementation. One risk I see is, as Jarren points out, the time CSMs spend basically shadowing TAMs and/or Implementation Engineers while not actively engaging. Burnout is real and this may not be the most optimal use of their time. Vice versa, if customers exchange too many hands, will they have a solid relationship with the CSM once they finally make their way to them as the primary contact if we also want them to lead renewal? I don't necessarily think there is a right answer, we'll experiment and see what works best for us for the time being and report back as we iterate.

    Thanks again!