Confident Customer Success Managers
When we ask clients what they most want to have as an outcome from Customer Success (CS) training, they often indicate that they wish their Customer Success Managers (CSMs) will become more confident when working with customers.
They want customer success staff to be more proactive, deliver a great experience, and make sure the client achieves their goals.
What is interesting is that when we ask them about what their staff is like now, they are often far from this mark.
They tend to be reactive.
They tend to be "pleasers" - that is, they want to deliver everything a client asks and not push back.
They tend to be experts in the product, but not in how to help the customer get their internal staff to use the product in a way that delivers success.
And they often tend to be intimidated or uncomfortable when working with senior leaders on the customer side. Oh, and many of them to tend to be early in their careers without tons of professional experience (or life experience).
So, if this is your situation, where do you need to focus? How do you start to develop your team? Here are some essential items that will help you develop your team.
1. Develop their ability to build trusting relationships
There is a broad spectrum of proficiency when it comes to knowing how to quickly establish solid, trusting relationships that enable people to collaborate effectively. This is especially true when it comes to external staff (e.g., CSMs, consultants, etc.) trying to work with new clients.
Spending time teaching CSMs the skills, processes, and techniques on how to develop these relationships will significantly enhance their ability and confidence when working with clients.
2. Develop the ability to focus on mutual business success
CSMs need to learn how to help clients identify the business outcomes they hope to achieve through the widespread, consistent, effective use of your technology.
CSMs need to help the client shift from the features and functions of your product, to instead focus on the business outcomes they receive from the use of it.
We have found that when we teach CSMs how to discuss client and vendor outcomes in the context of mutual success, they gain the skills and confidence to "push back" effectively and professionally when the clients may ask for things that are outside the scope of what your CS team can provide.
3. Build their subject matter expertise in software adoption techniques
For CSMs to guide customers with confidence and authority, they need to have advanced knowledge about the actions that customers need to take to drive effective software adoption that will deliver the business outcomes that customers need.
If CSMs don't know the activities that will make customers successful (and which ones to avoid that prevent success), then they will never be truly confident in leading customers.
By giving CSMs advances skills in this area, you increase both their ability to drive customer success, and their confidence to lead customer discussions on this topic.
4. Provide ongoing coaching and support to CSMs
While providing training is a great way to jumpstart CSMs knowledge and confidence, training alone is not enough.
We have found that what CSMs need is ongoing coaching and support after the initial training to help them apply what they have learned and continue to advance their skills and confidence. Based on the results we have seen from working with clients on a post-training basis, we have added this ongoing coaching and support to our training programs.
We have trained numerous customer success staff members in techniques around developing relationships, discussing success, managing client expectations, and methods for accelerating and sustaining effective, long-term user adoption of software.
We are constantly impressed with how quickly CSMs can grow and develop with focused training and support in these areas. If you are looking to advance your CS capabilities, we suggest you focus on these areas.