In our previous blog, “Why Customer Success Teams are a Product Manager's Best Friend," Marc did a great job highlighting the importance of Customer Success engaging with Product Managers to create a win-win. Now let’s take it one step further, and look at three ways to put this into practice:
#1 Be mutually responsible for at least one KPI
The best way to ensure your two teams are aligned is being mutually responsible for a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that impacts both teams. You likely look at many of the same metrics already, so why not partner on reviewing their performance and discussing wins, challenges and opportunities to improve them on a regular basis.
Pro tip: Find alignment on which report(s) you use to measure the KPI(s) so you are both referencing the same information when analyzing performance.
#2 Create a systematic way to share feature requests
Customer Success can be Product’s best friend in terms of sharing feature requests and ideas with. However, this can often be done in a way that frustrates both teams and leads to friction. Try this process to create a mutually agreed upon way to share ideas.
To kick this process off, coordinate a meeting between your Product and CS leaders to determine what data points the product team would need to fully consider a new product feature. For example, do they need to know the risks associated with this idea? How many subscribers this idea would impact? How will we measure the success of the new feature? It is important to align on this, so they have everything they need to initially assess the request.
Second, decide how you will communicate these ideas to the product team. I recommend creating a form (see the pro tip below). Be sure there is a process in place to ensure Product sees these submissions. Does it go to a project board they track? Create a notification in a designated Slack channel? Find a channel that Product regularly checks and leverage that to increase success.
And last, work together with Product to determine how you will receive updates on these requests. Can they tag you in a Slack channel? Can they tag you in the project management board? Do you meet once a month to review them?
Note: This process can also be successful in how to report and track bugs.
Pro tip: Creating a form to share ideas doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many free versions out there and likely a system you already have could be leveraged (e.g. Google Forms, Notion Forms, or Project Management tool forms like Asana, or survey tools like Typeform).
#3 Communicate early and often
Customer Success often knows about a customer’s decisions to renew, expand or terminate before anyone else in the organization. If your CS team also handles customer implementations, communication with the product team is often imperative to the success of launch.
When you have a signal from a Customer that something is at risk or a big change is coming (i.e. 2x subscribers), it’s ok to communicate to the Product team early, even if you don’t have every little detail yet.
Ask your Product leadership, when they want to be communicated with (i.e. is it only when a customer is over a certain size, or only for terminations?) and how they want to receive that notification. This helps avoid them finding out about it once it’s too late for them to provide value to the situation and potentially find a solution in the event of a termination.
Kristin Haluch, MHA is customer success leader committed to implementing scalable operations that drive exceptional customer experiences. Currently, Kristin works at Age Bold as the Head of Customer Success and Operations, a digital health company using movement as medicine to manage chronic conditions amongst older adults.