Implementation Stories

What it takes for CS and Product teams to collaborate successfully

Learn tips and best practices to help your CS and Product teams collaborate towards shared success from this Implementation Stories session
November 29, 2022
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Aswinchandar M

In this episode of Implementation Stories, Jennifer Chiang, Head of Customer Success at Seso, and author of The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success, shares with us what it takes for CS and product teams to work together successfully.

Jennifer discussed the following topics:

  1. Why a strong product/CS relationship matters
  2. How to cultivate a strong Product/CS relationship
  3. How to align on visions and bring teams together

Key takeaways from the session

Customer Success <> Product: A key relationship

Think of some of the most successful product companies: Salesforce, Microsoft, Hubspot, Twilio, Atlassian, etc. They have something in common: their Product Management and Customer Success teams have a really strong relationship for a variety of initiatives, both strategic and tactical. They understand that if their product isn’t adopted successfully, the product isn’t valuable and therefore, the company will not meet its business goals.

The strategic advantage of having a strong Product-CS relationship

1. You can delivery transformative value to your customers

The Product team can work with the CS team to gain complete visibility into what customers want. This will help ensure your products are actually addressing the key pain points of the customer, and learn how to communicate your value proposition to your ICP. The CS team can increase loyalty, decrease churn, etc, if they have full visibility into the product roadmap, which they can get from the Product team.

2. You can accelerate operational efficiency

Both Product and CS teams have infinite workload, and its very easy for folks on both sides to burn out. When CSMs are overwhelmed or burnt out, they’re unable to create deep relationships with customers. Likewise, overwhelmed or burnt out PMs are unable to deliver on product roadmaps and visions. Ultimately, the business suffers. 

A tight and empathetic partnership would mean understanding that both CS and Product are the same team, which in turn can lead increased transparency, improved shared context, lesser firefighting and internal friction. Ultimately, this improves the operational efficiency for both teams.

3. You get to reduce customer churn and throwaway work

A strong relationship between CS and Product leads allows for quicker and more effective brainstorming and strategy planning for customers. Shared context (you don’t have to start from scratch each time) would mean the following for customer relationships:

  1. More effective solutions
  2. Better expectation-setting
  3. Reduced likelihood of preventable fires

Five principles to help cultivate a strong CS-Product relationship

  • Share the same customer narratives: E.g. get on the same page on how the customer should use the product.
  • Communicate using a shared language: Understand each other’s processes, decision-making frameworks, priorities, etc.
  • Eliminate barriers to collaboration: Don’t just collaborate when it’s convenient. Simplify your communication and collaboration—eliminate complicated processes and information silos, for instance.
  • Hold each other accountable: Leaders from both organizations need joint accountability. They need to commit to high deliverability, shared metrics, common goals, working sessions, open communication channels, etc.
  • Build empathy for each another: At the end of the day, communication is most effective when people have empathy for each other and trust each other. Use team building activities, informal coffee chats, etc. to build both.

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories from Preflight
  2. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding

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Kirthika Soundararajan
Head - Content Marketing @ Rocketlane

All things content at Rocketlane. I run on coffee and cat videos. Follow me on Twitter @kirthikasrajan

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