Entering 2023, practically every customer success leader has the added stress of what’s happening in the market – these pressures and creating more eyes on gross and net retention are creating a need to reframe some of what has been done in the past.
Given that, we’ve been asking leaders “What’s a key initiative that you are working on right now”.
Some critical areas were quickly identified.
- Relationship with product to improve the product in ways that can increase gross retention.
- Building dedicated teams to go after customer success related items as part of sprints – really showing the other parts of the business that we are focused on improving the experience for our current customers.
- The CS team is very aware of customer frustrations with their product, but that sense of urgency is not always felt by the product team.
- Everyone talks about driving value for customers but it’s hard to make it tangible and feel real.
- How to quantify value for their customers. This moves beyond just “ROI” which often can be too fluffy and can have holes poked in it.
Critical for success in 2023 is the ability to drive clarity and focus on initiatives that are impacting retention.
Questions to Discuss
- How to get product/engineer teams to prioritize customer implementation needs ahead of their desired product features they want to work on?
- What’s one engagement metric you present to your leadership team?
For both questions, awareness and strong relationships and communication is a necessary component. Focusing on the needs of leadership and the product team when building out reports and requests is going to be critical to success.
In order to work effectively with your development team, here were some suggestions:
- Work directly with your CTO
- Include a risk assessment for requests you would like to make prior to bringing it to the CTO
- How will NOT having this feature impact our customer retention?
- This includes number of customers who have request this feature/enhancement
- Create Tiers for customers and share which tiers are making the ask (combined NRR/ARR represented in each tier request)
- Record customer calls so snippets of the recording can be shared in the words of the customer
- Identify the benefits of the ask. How much time will be saved on the product team side?
- Recognize that the product team is at capacity. Work to build some time into their schedule for your asks rather than expecting immediate attention.
- Create a ticketing category or dedicated slack channel to help track requests
- Discuss need to focus on bug fixes over new features with product leader
- Tie your requests into their CS metrics (such as NRR and ARR). This makes it more likely that requests will be prioritized.
- In a perfect world, have a developer dedicated to the CS team for a portion of their work week.
- Make sure you are bridging the communication gap with your customers and product.
- Road maps can help customers see where their requests fall in the slated enhancements list. Work with product team to identify what items already on the road map might resolve or reduce the pain point for the customer
- Bring the product leader in on some customer calls for understanding of ask (or record and share)
The topic metrics attendees use when communicating with leadership are:
- Strong ICP developed with CS– sales must be targeting best-fit customers
- Growth in NRR
- Completion of QBRs and stakeholder engagement
- Bring customer stories that share the value of the work CS is doing
- % of customers onboarding versus % that should be there using success criteria timeline expectations.
- Are some customers not moving through their onboarding in a timely fashion? Why not, and how are you helping fix that
- Annual (or biannual) plan for customers that can be shared out
- Need to define engagement first, then work to build the data collection needed to share effectively