Its All About the Customer’s Outcome
In today’s blog post I dive deeper into the concept of “Serving your Customer” as the fourth of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.
Put your customers first
Every job role requires employees to make a choice about what they focus on at any given time. Being a Customer Success Manager is no different. There are internal requirements, paperwork, reports and the myriad of non-customer facing tasks that are part of the job. But, when we are working with our customer, it’s all about them. We need to stay focused on successfully guiding them toward their desired business outcomes. To do this, we have to find the most efficient and effective way to get them what they need.
We all want to be helpful and do our best for our customers. But being helpful doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers yourself. This is a lesson I’ve learned throughout my career. I haven’t always responded in the best way. I used to feel like I should know the answer to every question that came my way. As Customer Success Managers, we have to recognize when we are the best person to take action on a customer issue and also when it’s best for us to connect the customer with someone else who can help them reach their goal. We are the playmakers. We play a role in initiating the “outcome,” but are not always responsible for the direct delivery, and that is OK.
A classic example of this in a software company is when a customer asks a Customer Success Manager a question that is highly technical. CSMs have two choices. They can seek the answer, or they can facilitate the dialogue. For simple questions with a single answer, the former is a perfectly valid way to respond. When the need is complex or may require follow-up conversation, it’s best to facilitate a discussion with the expert in that area to allow the customer to gain the answers they need. The CSM’s role in such an exchange is to introduce and facilitate the discussion and then confirm that the result brings the customer to a positive business outcome. Doing this is an excellent way to show you value your customer – and even though you might not have personally delivered the good news, you are the reason they now have it.
While this is a great tactic to drive results for our client, there is a fine line between facilitation and avoidance. It remains critical that the customer views the Customer Success Manager as an additional value to any discussion. If every question, need, or interaction is only facilitated or redirected by the CSM, the customer will lose their confidence in them as their trusted advisor. How do you know if you are adding value to your client? If they are requesting you to be part of their meetings, discussions and planning sessions, you are adding value. When they don’t, it’s a sign that there is more work to be done to show how you can better deliver value to their experience.
Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind. Ask yourself “Am I the right person to respond to this request?” If the answer is no, seek guidance. Once you have made that choice the next question to ask yourself is, “Will this issue likely come up again?” If the answer to that is yes, the best tactic may be facilitation for this first interaction but not for future ones. As you gain more knowledge through these discussions, you not only serve your customers well, but you increase your knowledge so you can continue to serve them even better in the future.
This post was originally written for the Working Smarter Cafe Blog