As a long-time member of the Customer Success family, I've witnessed various approaches to the practice in different environments. The flexibility in defining customer success, its foundation, and the roles of Customer Success Managers has led to differing opinions and responsibilities.
However, one constant remains: businesses increasingly recognize the value of fostering strong customer relationships. In this blog, my goal is to share the concept of specialization within customer success teams and how it can lead to an option for scaling your team with added benefits of improved efficiency, expertise, and customer satisfaction.
To delve into the topic, let's consider four essential focus areas:
- Customer Success is a methodology that proactively manages customer relationships, driving positive customer and company outcomes. It surpasses traditional support by engaging with customers throughout their journey, ensuring their success.
- The primary objectives are to enhance customer satisfaction and foster long-term loyalty.
- A Customer Success Manager's key responsibilities are guiding the process of onboarding, relationship building, adoption/engagement, value creation, risk management, and advocacy.
- Customer Success is an evolving practice that requires continuous improvement (like products and services), metrics, tools, and a commitment to delivering value throughout the customer journey.
I piloted a specialization model within my team when managing a growing customer base. With the approval of my management, we repurposed roles and specialized in three areas: Onboarding, Adoption & Advocacy, and Risk Management. Here's what I learned:
- Efficiency and expertise: Each team member focused on their specialized area, fostering deeper knowledge and skill development. By overcoming obstacles in their domain, they provided efficient solutions and simplified workflows, reducing duplication of efforts.
- Onboarding specialists ensured a smooth customer transition, leveraging in-depth knowledge of implementation processes, lite-technical expertise, and relationship building.
- Adoption/Advocacy specialists drove adoption and engagement, aligning customer outcomes throughout the project lifecycle. It also called for identifying when things changed, realigning, and publishing new goals.
- Risk Management Specialists were dedicated to identifying and managing potential risks, ensuring proactive conflict resolution, problem-solving, and relationship management.
- Throughout the pilot, I engaged a third of our customers to receive feedback. Customers' satisfaction increased as this "tailored" assistance and strategic guidance became the norm. Customers appreciated personalized conversations rather than a "cookie-cutter" approach.
- This model also facilitated scalability, allowing us to cater to a larger customer base while maintaining high-quality support. One important note here. Remember to encourage cross-functional collaboration and leverage expertise with your team. While specialization may not work for everyone, where it may be an option, it harnesses expertise development and cultivates customer satisfaction, paving the way for overall success and growth.
To finish up, specialization within customer success teams offers immense benefits. Businesses can build strong, long-lasting customer relationships by focusing on efficiency, expertise, and tailored support, ultimately driving their success and growth.
Bernadette Risley (Bern), CPC ELI-MP is the CEO of My Berning Words and a highly experienced professional in personal development coaching and consulting within the corporate sphere. With over 30 years of expertise in Customer Success and Sales, Bern brings a diverse skill set that encompasses selling tech Software as a Service, leading operational teams, developing customer journeys and implementing retention strategies. Her coaching approach guides clients through transformative journeys, helping them define success and make a meaningful impact in their lives and careers.