Customer Success is from Venus and Product is from Mars. Customer Success Managers and Product Managers usually differ in their personalities and skill sets, so it’s no wonder there might be some friction between the two teams.
At the end of the day, however, it’s important to put your customers first which means Customer Success and Product need to work together for the advancement of the product, success of your customers, and growth of the business.
In an effort to bring both teams together, here’s five common misconceptions Product usually has about Customer Success…
1) Customer Success Managers Are Yes People
A Product Manager might think of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) as being a “yes-person”, as someone who listens to customer complaints and placates them maybe too often.
The truth is, while CSMs are bound to be a conduit for customer feedback (and they should be), that doesn’t make them a yes-only person. CSMs aren’t just order takers or ticket triagers. They talk to customers on a regular basis and they aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty to try and find a solution on behalf of the customer, as opposed to just escalating an issue to Product every time to handle.
A good CSM will know when to push back on unrealistic expectations from a customer, all while offering a consultative approach.
2) Customer Success is on Customer Success Managers
Customer Success is a company-wide mindset, not just limited to a department. Although the Customer Success team are the ones to champion the customer journey, every person in the company plays a part in helping to make customers successful, whether they are in a customer facing role or not.
If teams put all of the onus of customer retention on CS, while ignoring other factors that play into the overall customer experience (hint: product), you are most likely going to experience a churn problem.
3) Product Usage Equals Value
Product Managers often look at product usage as a key indicator of success, which is no doubt an important metric. However, that doesn’t always tell the whole story. What is missing there is - are they actually receiving value from the product and are they happy satisfied customers?
This is important to consider when gauging customer loyalty and knowing if an account is likely to churn or not, and an area where Customer Success can help shed some light.
If a customer is using your product everyday but hates every moment of it and only does so to meet some sort of business objective, guess what’s going to happen if a competitor comes along… they are going to churn.
So, it’s not safe to make the assumption that just because customers are logging in that they are receiving value from your product.
4) Customer Success is the Same as Customer Support
Sometimes Customer Success can get mistaken as re-branded Customer Support, which isn’t the case. Customer Success is a newer discipline, but it is not the same as Support.
The main difference is in the engagements. Customer Support is all about fixing issues that a customer is having with a product or service, so by nature this is a reactive engagement. On the other hand, Customer Success focuses on the long-term success of customers by building relationships and helping them realize the full potential of your product or service. It’s a big job.
The other way that Customer Success is not the same as Support is that Support is often seen as a cost-center, whereas Customer Success actually focuses on not only retaining customers but driving account expansion and growth. For that reason, Customer Success should be seen as a revenue-center for the company.
5) Customer Success is All About Hands-On Service
When we think of Customer Success, we immediately picture a customer-facing role that is focused on relationship building, but that doesn’t mean that CSMs are in constant communication with customers.
Although having a dedicated CSM as a resource is proven to be beneficial, sometimes customers just don’t want to talk to anyone. They want to find answers to their questions effortlessly, and sometimes that means without even having to send an email to, chat with or call anyone. Also, customers tend to hate when reps send an email “to check in and see how things are going”.
That’s why it’s all the more important to have comprehensive product documentation, a thorough on-boarding process, on-demand training resources, and even automation tools like walkthroughs and in-app messaging to help guide customers through the journey. This all falls under Customer Success’s remit.
Team alignment has become essential for SaaS businesses to tackle users’ needs and drive growth proactively. Although Product and Customer Success teams might not initially understand where the other is coming from all the time, it’s important to take time to improve the working relationship for the sake of the customer.
Customer Success and Product teams should maintain a united front to articulate reasonable timelines and deliverables clearly to the customer. Siloed conversations only produce confusing and frustrating customer experiences.
So, as you kick off the new year, think through how each team can bring something valuable to the table to help drive a collaborative working environment.