No Relationship With Product

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

Everywhere I have worked in CS leadership roles the relationship with product was imperative to the success of our customers and the CS organisation (and I hope product!) . Currently in my new role there is a very large disconnection - partly due to it being a US dominated product team with seemingly no relationship with the UK/EMEA. I am trying to build that relationship but there is a real apathy from the product team to enage and listen.

Does anybody have expereince of this, and how they turned it around? I will of course stick with it and I am sure I will get there but any ideas to accelerate it would be appreciated!

Thank you!
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  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 133 Expert
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    edited January 2021
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    Hi @Matt Myszkowski -- Do you have "trustworthy" evidence (data that adequately represents the financial value of the cohort to Cision) that shows how the lack of listening from the product team is hurting company financials? That's the ticket IMHO and needn't be a large undertaking. Even better, if you don't have the data, is perhaps to build a partnership with the product team around a small-scale pilot of a "demonstrated listening" program where you seek feedback from your intended segment and persona and engage them in helping define the problem with root-cause... And, unless you're 100% sure that product is the concern, you may want to include other key internal stakeholders in this small starting effort to see what you learn and have the support of all the key stakeholders as partners.
    /Steve
  • Jordan Silverman
    Jordan Silverman Member, CS Leader Posts: 109 Expert
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    edited January 2021
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    I think @Steve Bernstein hit the majority of main points.

    One thing I would add is just connect on a personal level.

    My last two roles have been with US companies with EMEA product teams. I learned early on to slow down in communication with them and not just jump to work. For example, don't just slack a question but say how you doing - how was your weekend - etc.

    Perhaps schedule a call with your VP of Product and talk about 0 work just get to know them a little bit. And slowly build a personal relationship. I think that will pay off big!

    I struggled early on with this exact issue and when I transitioned my mindset to getting to know them vs talking about work all of a sudden they started helping with work.
    Jordan Silverman
    jordan.silverman@usestarfish.com
    (914) 844-5775
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordansilverman/
  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
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    edited January 2021
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    Hey Matt, 

    Working for SoftBank Robotics, it was key to have global influence, and it took time to build relationships. It's reverse, and I know how challenging US product teams can be in their prioritization, but I'd focus on the following...
    • Local Champion: Who can be a champion in the US to support your efforts? E.g. I setup a Global CS call, and it helped me get intel on global efforts and obtain advice on how to influence other market leaders and understand what they need to achieve. We were ahead in our market progress so I also was able to extend expertise and help them build out their programming. I also had my local product team escalate and advocate for me in conversation with the product in Japan. e.g. Cross-functional partnerships are the sweet spot of Customer Success, and they go a long way in impacting product. 
    • Data: What the revenue opportunity of your region's needs and how does that propel the company forward? I've had product teams really push back on me unless I had strong business cases. This might go above the product team to require a partnered approach with Growth/Revenue owning leaders. Additionally, highlight the costs of ignoring your market's needs is another approach. What is the churn potential or what is the customer feedback (in surveys or from 1:1s) that might showcase any risk? Also, how are your client's needs helpful for global customer growth? It's an executive question - do we really want to lose _____ customer because teams aren't collaborating?
    • Put time on their calendars: Introduce yourself, your expertise, how your value can help them meet their goals, etc. Oftentimes, product and engineering need to understand your expertise and value for them to give time. How do they engage with customers? How do they manage roadmap conversations? I even go as far and call it out. "We historically haven't had a relationship between EMEA CS and US, what would need to change to make that possible? What would need to happen for that to be valuable for you?" I think being blunt can go a long way sometimes in identifying and even laughing about the elephant in the room with the product team. 
    • At the end of the day, it's no different than a customer that goes silent. As a Bay Area resident for the past 7 years, US Product teams are often told and financially rewarded that they are the best resources in the company. Take the same tactics you might with a customer - what's of value that creates a sense of urgency, and what champions can support you in your efforts? Aligning with their incentives and helping them be and look successful goes a long way.
    Happy to get more specific and chat about your company dynamics.