CSM Team Specialization

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Deirdre Stenson
Deirdre Stenson Member Posts: 7 Seeker
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edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations

Hello GGR Community! 

I would love to learn from the group if anyone has best practices or suggestions for me. In our CS Department we are finally ready to tackle moving our CSMs from being in a generalist role, to being more specialized. It's an exciting milestone for us - as we are still a small team. Right now the CSM is responsible from the sales handover, to onboarding, adoption, expansion all the way to renewal! So being able to segment, and allow team members to own one area of the customer journey will be a huge step forward for us.

But theory is a little bit different than putting it into practice. I'm nervous to change the team org and structure, without first considering all my options and making sure I'm setting our CSMs up for success.

Would love to know if anyone has been through this before, what pitfalls I should be considering and just any advice in general. This change will include hiring for open positions, so there are a lot of moving parts and pieces.

Thanks in advance!

Deirdre

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Comments

  • Jared Orr
    Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited August 2020
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    Hi @Deirdre Stenson! Our team is going through something similar right now. Part of the sales process is onboarding the client so before a sales rep passes a client onto our team, they have already been set up and ready to go. I know this is not the case for most orgs but it works great for us.

    Something we are doing is creating an Enterprise CSM role where one or two CSM's will take on larger clients that need more attention. 

    How many many CSM's do you currently have? There's only 5 of us so we're in the very early stages of all of this.

    Jared Orr

    Customer Success Whisperer

  • Deirdre Stenson
    Deirdre Stenson Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2020
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    Small team as well -- 6 CSMs with some room to grow!!

    Right now we have them divided as 1 Low touch/tech touch CSM (think more playbooks than 1:1), 2 Mid Tier CSMs, 3 Enterprise CSMs (1:1 white glove experience). But the idea is to move towards having roles such an Implementation Specialists, Account Managers, Renewal CSM etc.
  • Leanna Castello
    Leanna Castello Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    edited August 2020
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    Hi Deirdre - I'm not sure how heavy your implementations are, but we've found huge benefits in splitting Implementation from the CSM role. The skillset of people who are exceptional at implementing our complex detail-oriented product tends to be different from the relationship building value savvy CSMs. The one downside is there's another handoff that can introduce complexity. For us, the tradeoff has been worth it. It's helped us scale and increase job satisfaction for the relationship-oriented CSMs.

    Question for you, do you have open support lines for your customers (email/phone/chat) and if so, are the CSMs responsible for support for their customers? Or is that handled centrally?
  • Jamie Wernet
    Jamie Wernet Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited August 2020
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    I'll plus-one Leanna's comment -- for us, splitting implementations away from ongoing relationship management has been hugely helpful. It has simplified capacity planning and increased job satisfaction. To Leanna's point, the skillset needed to manage multiple complex implementations is very different than the skillset needed to drive value and maintain deep relationships throughout the rest of the customer lifecycle. That said, our implementations are somewhat complex/customized, vs. plug-and-play, so your mileage may vary. 

    For potential pitfalls -- as you make changes to roles and responsibilities, some people may find that the pieces of their role that have shifted away are the ones they actually enjoy most. For us, it was important to be up front with the team that we would work with them to create a path from one role to the other if that's what they were interested in. That also helps you reinforce the "why" of the change -- the goal of helping the team specialize and focus on the things they do best. 

    Good luck! Happy to chat if you ever want to run through some ideas together. 

    Jamie
  • Will Stamatis
    Will Stamatis Member Posts: 9 Seeker
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    edited August 2020
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    Two big questions:

    1. How did you all manage the compensation component? For CSMs typically used to bonus based on their book of business's renewal rate (where they own every step in the process), how did you divvy that up?
    2. How heavy was the operational lift? Our SF/Gainsight, from account assignment to Customer Segmentation etc. is all based on one individual CSM

    Will Stamatis (He/His) Customer Success Team Manager  P: 305-677-5030 Ext. 2347  M: 908-477-7100     

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    -------------------------------------------
    Original Message:
    Sent: 8/21/2020 10:27:00 AM
    From: Jamie Wernet
    Subject: RE: CSM Team Specialization

    I'll plus-one Leanna's comment -- for us, splitting implementations away from ongoing relationship management has been hugely helpful. It has simplified capacity planning and increased job satisfaction. To Leanna's point, the skillset needed to manage multiple complex implementations is very different than the skillset needed to drive value and maintain deep relationships throughout the rest of the customer lifecycle. That said, our implementations are somewhat complex/customized, vs. plug-and-play, so your mileage may vary. 

    For potential pitfalls -- as you make changes to roles and responsibilities, some people may find that the pieces of their role that have shifted away are the ones they actually enjoy most. For us, it was important to be up front with the team that we would work with them to create a path from one role to the other if that's what they were interested in. That also helps you reinforce the "why" of the change -- the goal of helping the team specialize and focus on the things they do best. 

    Good luck! Happy to chat if you ever want to run through some ideas together. 

    Jamie