Arming Customer Success Managers with Knowledge

Customer Success Action plan

In this article we'll explain how Customer Success software like Natero help arm Customer Success Managers with the information they need to effectively respond to customer alerts.

We'll also cover how CSM solutions present critical information including why a customer alert was triggered, historical account information coming from various back-office systems, and guidelines on how to handle alerts.

Given a key goal of any CSM solution is informing the CSM team as to which customers need attention, its important that CSM solutions also provide Customer Success Managers with the information they need when its time to engage the customer.

Being armed with comprehensive knowledge of an account can greatly increase the Customer Success Manager’s chance of, well, success when responding to an alert.

This vital information includes 1) alert details (understanding why it triggered), 2) account information and history (product usage, CRM data, support incidents, billing history, recent interactions, etc.), and 3) a plan or guide on how to handle the alert, often referred to as a Playbook.

Understanding Customer Alerts

Getting a churn alert is helpful, but lacking an understanding as to why that alert triggered can result in an awkward conversation between the vendor and the customer. Knowing what’s behind an alert can help Customer Success Managers guide the conversation toward what really matters.

It's easy enough for alerts that come from rules to show the rule that triggered the alert. But it's more difficult to determine the root cause from predictive analytics, which evaluate hundreds or thousands of factors.

In the latter case, the CSM solution should identify the top factors that are most relevant in a prediction (e.g. activity level, late payments), which can be useful talking points for the discussion.

Customer Data Aggregation

A core function of CSM solutions is "data integration" — the collection of data from a variety of back office systems including 3rd party and/or home grown solutions.

CSM solutions vary in what data they collect, and how well they organize it for quick access by Customer Success Managers.

Some provide advanced interfaces, such as graphical timelines showing recent customer activity (e.g. alerts, interactions, support incidents, invoices/payments) thereby providing an intuitive overview of what’s been happening at each account.

If the Customer Success Manager can’t quickly and easily get to the information they need, they’re not as prepared to communicate with the customer as they should be.

Responding to Customer Alerts

Handling customer alerts is a process performed by the CSM team and, as with any process, ensuring consistency across the team while sharing best practices helps to improve this process, and thereby, improve the outcome.

When it comes to responding to alerts, Customer Success operations should include Playbooks, which allow the SaaS vendor to provide detailed steps or guidance on how to handle different types of scenarios.

Playbooks should be incorporated into each alert, and can include things like questions to ask, suggestions to make, ideas on how to address customer objections, or even approved offers or discounts.

Playbooks should be fully customizable, and the best include direct links to relevant documents (e.g. how-to cheat sheets) or even let Success Managers share notes with each other on techniques that they’ve found work best for particular situations.

Ensuring consistent quality in how customer alerts are handled is a vital function of any CSM solution. But CSM solutions that incorporate advanced analytics go even further — helping to measure and improve this and other CSM team practices.

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In the next installment, we'll look at how CSM solutions can measure the impact of your Customer Success practices, and help you improve them.

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