We hosted the incredible Rebecca Nerad, VP of Customer Success at FourKites, at our Chennai office for a discussion on the best practices for onboarding, implementation, and other post-sales teams. The Monday was sure a great start to our week and a fantastic way to kick off our in-person event for 2023.
Here are key takeaways from the discussion.
Your customer-facing team members will really thrive when they get coached on the not-so-technical aspects of connecting with customers. These skills give them the confidence to handle challenging customer situations. At the end of the day, there are human beings behind the product, the process, or the value our customer-facing teams deliver. Here are some things that'll help your team excel at their work:
Here is what clear communication with your customers looks like:
If you really want to put your customers first, try to get a better grasp of how they interact with your product and the experience your team has in supporting them. Being a leader who cares means taking into consideration your team's needs and coming up with solutions that are tailored to their requirements.
For instance, support consultants are often swamped with tickets at the end of the day. In this scenario, it's a great idea to spend some time getting to know the personas of those who are using your solutions. This means understanding what they expect from you and how any issues can affect them. It's important to put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective.
You will get insight into the minute details which would otherwise have gone unnoticed, like knowing they must report to their boss by Wednesday. If you understand the urgency, you can communicate accordingly. Your internal teams will be empowered to be empathetic and respond with, ‘I know the importance of getting this report to you on time.’
Empathy is a powerful tool in a leader’s arsenal!
Customer centricity is when your customer-facing teams help your primary users look good at their org by helping them fully utilize your solution. A great starting point is to conduct joint executive business reviews on how they're successfully using your product. You're making them look like a winner at their organization. This will turn users into champions of your offering!
Implementation is more than just helping your customers transition from spreadsheets to software. It is essential for CS and Onboarding to have more visibility into why the customer purchased the software in the first place. Determine what information and knowledge transfer will help the teams the customer will be passed on to. Even if a CSM is only responsible after implementation, they should be listening, learning, and asking questions about why the customer purchased your product.
Onboarding isn’t all!
Train your teams to be culturally sensitive if your customers’ teams are spread across the globe. Work with partners who know the space and have experience transitioning different segments from legacy software to a more comprehensive and sophisticated solution.
Often, when we ask a customer about their goals (so we can measure and show how we help them create an impact), they might not have an answer. But it’s best to devise a strategy for success planning.
If you're just starting out on your journey to unlock value for your customers, here are a few pieces of advice that can help:
Your customers have certain expectations for tracking visibility. Be sure to provide accurate, tangible numbers to back up your value propositions in every discussion. Keep releasing more information to give your customers greater insight into your solution. Have a health dashboard tracking the metrics you and the customer have identified together. It provides a quick snapshot of your solution's impact whenever they need it.
There might be times when the customer asks you why certain things are not being tracked the way they wanted them to be tracked. Plan your improvement process to ensure you meet your customer’s expectations of visibility into how your product or solution is helping them.
One of the most common reasons CSMs are stressed is that they do not own a large part of the customer journey. We get an angry customer coming at us, and we allocate the best resources in our CS teams to deal with them. During these times, it is essential to stand up for your team. Internal relationship building is as important as your relationship with the customers.
Have some guardrails around who's escalating what to whom. One of the most frustrating things about being a CS leader is when everything has to be escalated from every possible point of contact. Make it clear that the CSM is your customer’s first point of contact. Give them the next best option or a few options just in case the resource you have allocated isn’t available at that time.
Show your customer-facing teams some appreciation, and encourage them to spread the customer love to the product, marketing, and other teams that don't have the same level of exposure to external validation. It will remind everyone of just how invaluable your product or service is! Building relationships, trust, and appreciation are the most obvious ways to build better teams.
We host in-person events with exceptional leaders like Rebecca in cities worldwide. If you want to join the conversation, apply to be a part of 2300+ leaders and practitioners in the Preflight Community. Share your thoughts and ideas on customer and post-sales leadership with the community. Watch out for our next in-person session in a local city chapter near you!