When the product team has built the best product, and the sales team has surpassed its targets, it is the customer success team that ensures customers stay loyal and continue buying.
Remember how you got a call from a customer success agent who introduced you to the product, answered all your questions, and encouraged you to continue with your monthly subscriptions?
If you feel a majority of customers leave you after some time, you need to build the right customer success team. One that knows how to ensure a smooth onboarding process, personalize interactions and persuade customers to buy more.
If you wish to learn how to build a customer success team, this blog is for you.
In this blog, we will understand the definition of customer success and see how it is different from customer support. Later, we will explore some top customer success team roles and 10 actionable tips to help you build a high-performance team.
Here we go!
What Is Customer Success?
Customer success is the process of proactively helping customers reach their desired outcomes while using your products or services. Customer success teams anticipate customer problems and challenges in advance and offer them the appropriate solutions to enhance the customer experience.
A well-defined customer success strategy can help your business increase customer satisfaction and retention. In addition, employees can be trained to upsell and cross-sell to customers to boost revenue. Some popular customer success metrics include customer health score, customer lifetime value, churn rate, renewal rate, etc.
What Is a Customer Success Team Responsible For?
If you are wondering what does customer success team do, this section will explain everything.
1. Onboarding New Customers
Customer onboarding is one of the central responsibilities of CS employees. They are responsible for educating customers about how a product functions, its various features, and how they can make the most out of it. The main goal is to get customers up to speed as quickly as possible to help them achieve their goals.
2. Encourage Upsells and Cross-Sells
Customer success team members are consistently interacting with customers to build better relationships. This gives them the opportunity to upsell higher-priced products and cross-sell complimentary products to customers. When done right, these sales strategies can help your business increase the average order value and boost revenue.
3. Improve Relationship Between Customers & the Support Team
While customer success teams can help with routine product or service-related queries, they are not the best choice when it comes to detailed support. For example, whenever a CS professional receives an issue that demands technical assistance, they can redirect the customer to the support team.
4. Increase Renewals
Subscription and service-based businesses are heavily dependent on renewals. Another key responsibility of customer success teams is to follow up with customers for renewals. This is a great strategy that can help your business retain your hard-earned customers and drive loyalty. After all, increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits by 25-95%.
Read More: How to Build a Customer Retention Strategy
5. Take Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is vital to measure your customer success efforts. For example, you can share a survey to understand if customers are happy with their onboarding experience. Similarly, you can share a CES survey to understand if customers find your products easy to use or too complicated. You can even share an NPS survey to identify at-risk customers.
How Is Customer Success Different From Support?
Many professionals use the terms customer success and customer support interchangeably. Both share overlapping functions and are critical to any company’s growth. But are they the same, or are there some major differences between the two?
Here are some points that will highlight the differences between the two terms:
1. Reactive vs. Proactive
As you might have guessed, customer service is more reactive in its approach. For example, a support agent offers a solution only when a customer shares a complaint or issue. On the other hand, customer success is more reactive in the sense that employees strive hard to minimize friction points and reduce challenges to help customers achieve their goals.
2. Transactional vs. Relationship-Oriented
Customer service interactions can be termed transactional as they begin when an issue is submitted and end when a relevant resolution is offered. On the other hand, customer success is an ongoing process that is more focused on relationship building. Customer success agents can leverage this relationship to share tips on using a product or practice upselling and cross-selling techniques.
3. Performance Metrics
The difference between customer service and customer success can also be highlighted with the help of metrics and KPIs. Customer service is focused on improving the speed and quality of support and considers metrics such as ticket resolution time, average ticket response time, etc, important. On the contrary, customer success teams focus on metrics such as customer retention rate, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and more.
10 Actionable Steps to Build the Best Customer Success Team
Managing a customer success team can become effortless once you have built the right team. Just like a great dish has all the right ingredients, your team should be composed of the right people with the right skill sets.
Here are some actionable tips that will help you build the right team from scratch:
1. Hire the Right People
Finding an employee who is the right fit for your company is difficult. But it isn’t impossible.
No matter where you operate, there are amazing customer success professionals out there who can prove to be your next best hire.
In addition to relevant work experience, ensure your potential candidates have great people and organizational skills.
Based on the particular position that you are hiring for, you can look for specific soft skills in the candidate. For example, if you are hiring a customer success manager, you can look out for leadership, problem-solving, patience, effective communication, and other soft skills. Similarly,
2. Know the Right Team Size
Even before you begin your hiring process, you must have a clear customer success team structure in mind. But how do you decide on the number of people you need?
A single customer success employee can handle multiple customer accounts. However, the number of accounts they can handle depends on the type of business you are into.
For example, if you are an architectural firm, an agent can handle around 5-6 accounts or projects. On the other hand, if you run an insurance company, an agent can manage anywhere from 30-50 accounts simultaneously. So, this will greatly help you decide your team size.
In addition to this, you must ensure that there is one manager for every 10-12 customer success professionals. The right manager can boost team morale, enhance internal collaboration, ensure timely reporting, and keep a tight check on individual performance.
3. Be Transparent About Expectations
You must set clear expectations for your team members as early as during the initial onboarding process. Even employees wish to know early on what is expected of them.
Whether you expect your employees to retain a million-dollar account or come to the office by 9 AM, it is your responsibility to communicate every expectation.
Now, different team members may have different roles and responsibilities based on their respective designations. The customer success manager must clearly communicate the roles to individual employees. Here are some common customer success team responsibilities:
- Answer customer questions during the onboarding process
- Educate customers about best practices and advanced features
- Encourage customers to opt for higher-priced products or subscriptions
- Persuade customers to buy complementary products or services
- Publish and share customer success stories
- Taking regular feedback to improve the customer experience
Clear communication of roles and responsibilities will ensure there are no expectation gaps between the team members and the manager. Moreover, it will lead to higher efficiency and help you avoid confusion.
4. Equip Your Team With the Best Tools
To achieve customer success goals, human efforts are simply insufficient. You need to embrace the right technology and software tools to automate repetitive tasks and avoid human errors.
Customer success teams need a powerful help desk tool to track all conversations in one place. For example, with the shared inbox feature, you can access multiple inboxes such as contact@company, info@company, etc., in a centralized place.
A help desk ticketing system helps team members access past conversations to personalize every single interaction. In addition to this, you can interact with online shoppers via live chat or build powerful chatbots to offer uninterrupted, 24×7 assistance.
You can even adopt an online survey tool to monitor CX metrics such as CSAT, NPS, CES, and more. The NPS or net promoter score is a powerful metric that can help you identify your at-risk customers along with your brand promoters.
5. Create the Right Compensation Structure
Your CS team helps you retain customers and drive your business forward. If they are meeting their targets and keeping customers happy, it’s wise to compensate them for their hard work.
Here are some top ways to compensate your employees in addition to their salaries:
- Commissions: You can allocate a certain percentage of commission to CS employees. They can get a commission for upsells and account renewals. This will further encourage them to put their best foot forward and boost your company’s revenue.
- Employee Stock Options: ESOPs are another great option to retain your best and the most-experienced talent. You can offer ESOPs to the customer success professionals who have been loyal to your company for 3-5 years.
- Work Flexibility: Right from the onset of the 2019 pandemic, more and more companies have been offering flexibility in the form of work-from-home options, flexible timings, and so on. If your CS team members can deal with customers over the phone or email, you can offer them the flexibility they need. In fact, according to a study by Buffer, 90% of employees have a positive outlook toward remote work options.
6. Give More Power to Your Team
Customer-success teams are directly client-facing. This means that they often encounter situations where they have to take permission from their immediate seniors or the supervisor.
Give more authority to your team to initiate product refunds, cancel or renew subscriptions, upsell, and perform other necessary actions.
Granting more power and authority to team members would mean that an appropriate solution can be provided at the earliest, and the customer does not have to wait for long.
For example, imagine a situation where a customer isn’t happy with a SaaS product and demands a complete refund per your policy. If the concerned customer success employee seeks permission from the manager, it could take a couple of days or weeks to get the desired approval. Such situations can hamper the customer experience and make them lose trust.
7. Capture Customer Feedback on Performance
How well do your team members meet customer expectations? Are customers happy with their interactions or the suggestions offered? There is only one way to find out – customer feedback surveys.
Your existing customers probably know more about your employees than you do. Any feedback they offer or changes they suggest have the capacity to improve individual and team performance.
You can use the feedback to improve customer success procedures, inculcate new strategies, recognize top performers, or identify training gaps in your process.
While gathering feedback is a great first step, you need to follow up on the feedback to show your customers you’re always listening. On the other hand, you must acclaim and recognize staff members for what they are doing right. You can share examples of email or phone interactions that received positive feedback.
8. Teach Employees to Deal With Rejection
Customer success employees are consistently dealing with rejection. You pitch a client to use a higher-priced product, and they simply hang up the phone. You arrange a client meeting, and they never turn up.
Whether it is sales, customer service, or customer success, rejections are inevitable for client-facing teams. However, how you deal with such rejections can make all the difference.
Teach your employees to reframe rejections as opportunities or a call to action. They can always alter their perception and use the rejection to improve performance, work habits, and customer relationships.
Avoid taking rejections personally and move on to the next opportunity. There are multiple opportunities to sell more to existing customers and enhance their experience with your brand.
9. Focus on Your Purpose When Things Get Challenging
If you are a customer success manager (CSM) or agent, you need to revisit your purpose from time to time.
Just remember why you chose this profession and what makes you great at your job. For example, your professional purpose can be to help customers make the most of your products or to drive the business toward a sustainable and profitable future.
The same goes for your team. You must collectively define your team purpose and lay down your mission or vision statements. Have a mutual understanding of how you can support each other when challenges arise. For example, identify how you can support a CS representative who had a rough day with a client.
Since customer success is a relatively new field, not many departments know how it functions. Due to a lack of clarity, many interdepartmental conflicts can arise, leading to confusion and lowered productivity. Therefore, it’s best to focus on your purpose during times of turmoil.
10. Build a Customer-First Culture
Your business is alive today because of customers. And if you wish to sustain your business in today’s fierce competition, you must look to embrace a customer-first culture.
“Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.” – Clare Muscutt
Here are some strategies you can adopt to build a customer-first culture:
- Focus on quality over quantity: Most customer-obsessed companies have one thing in common – they all prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of giving your complete attention to growing your customer base, you should be concerned about the relationships you foster with your existing customers.
- Wear the customer’s hat: Ask your employees to wear the customer’s hat (figuratively). This way, you can better understand the challenges that customers might face with your products or services. Try to view things from the customer’s perspective to understand what frustrates them or what ignites their interest.
- Innovate & adapt: To become a truly customer-centric brand, you need to merge human capabilities with the right technology. Monitor the trending technology in your industry and embrace it to enhance the customer experience.
Make Miracles Happen With the Best Customer Success Team
In the last couple of years, entrepreneurs have realized that the only way to make customers stay is to make them taste success with their products or services.
While you can acquire new customers with a great sales team, you need the best customer success team to ensure they stay loyal and engaged to your business. A powerful CS team can help you improve customer onboarding, encourage upsells, increase renewals, and strengthen customer relationships.
To build a high-performance team, you must start by hiring the people who are passionate about helping customers achieve their desired outcomes. Be transparent about your expectations, offer them the right tools, such as ProProfs Help Desk software, and teach them how to deal with rejection without giving up.
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