Customer success managers: Why you want them

Rodolphe Goudin bio image
November 29, 2023

Customer success managers support today’s “technology as a service” subscription models to address customer business goals.

Customer success managers: Why you want them

As the world moves rapidly toward digitalisation, enterprises are changing the way they acquire technology, as they shift from purchasing hardware and software to subscribing to “technology as a Service”. Ensuring your customers are on the winning side of this evolution has opened the door for the Customer Success Manager (CS Manager). And while this role may be relatively new, the concept of supporting customer success is definitely not.

A CS Manager can act as a liaison to help customers optimise their use of technologies to increase business benefits and reach their goals. They can manage the success criteria agreed upon in the planning stages, and initiate activities together with the customer to improve their experience and ensure they benefit from the technology.

Ahead of the game

CS Managers offer a new way of working compared to traditional customer support and customer service. A proactive, criteria-driven approach puts CS Managers on the front line delivering what customer’s need, when they need it, based on their business goals. In addition to offering a novel approach to managing customer requirements, there are a variety of ways CS Managers can contribute to an organisation’s growth. For example, they can:

• Provide guidance on a customer’s business model

• Identify new opportunities specific to the business model

• Use KPI data to assess and address strategy issues

• Recommend new technologies to enhance current operations

• Assist in transitioning to new technologies

7 Steps to an effective Customer Success Team

Creating a solid team will depend on the technology provider’s focus, target markets, customer base and business goals. And while there’s no single approach to creating a team, we’ve identified seven key steps we think can help providers as they build out their Customer Success team to support the shift to technology subscriptions.

1. Create a strategic roadmap: Building a team will depend on how quickly subscription models are introduced, whether specific industries or customer types will be targeted, and how much revenue will come from subscriptions in the short and long term

2. Define the customer journey: Set expectations for the CS Manager’s role at each touchpoint of the customer journey

3. Coordinate internal processes: Defining the CS Manager interaction with post-sales teams, such as training, technical support and professional services is key

4. Establish the subscription offerings: Different levels of subscriptions with different levels of services will determine how the CS Manager’s role is monetised

5. Assess investment priorities: If the program is a high-touch model, investing in regular, face-to-face visits and analytics platforms will be a priority. In a high-volume approach, investing in a customer success automation platform will be important.

6. Identify success metrics: Qualitative feedback can help guide the program. However, metrics are the only quantifiable way to be sure the program is meeting business objectives.

7. Select and train resources: Training requirements may include customer success management best practices and tools

The technology shift: A real-world scenario

Let’s look at a case where an enterprise is transitioning from desktop phones to unified communications and collaboration software with built-in softphones. In this scenario, the CS Manager guides the organisation through each stage of the transition to ensure the transformation is efficient, and everyone at the customer organisation has a positive experience.

It’s important to note that even before the transition gets underway, the CS Manager helps lay the groundwork by communicating to employees about the changes, explaining what the new technologies mean for them and outlining the rollout.

CS Managers are familiar with the technologies and transition process. They know what information employees need and can anticipate questions and concerns. As the technology rollout begins, a CS Manager can help ambassadors understand the solution and their role in helping co-workers make the transition. Additionally, CS Managers train employees to use the solution based on instructions specific to the business operations.

After the transition is complete, the job is not over. CS Managers continue to monitor the enterprise’s use and feed that information back into the organisation. This helps ensure the technologies are being used to their maximum benefit and to prevent issues before they negatively affect the business or employee usage.

A tailored experience

CS Management roles will vary depending on the enterprise. However, there are two primary approaches. The high-touch CS Manager is dedicated to a single customer or a few strategic customers. This focus lets them understand the business/industry, provide solutions to achieve specific goals, visit sites as required and participate in regular reviews. The high-volume CS Manager is responsible for many — sometimes thousands — of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. With this approach, customer communications, tasks and processes are typically automated, yet personalised for each customer.

Creating a customer success management team is a long-term activity from a financial perspective, so it’s important to balance return on investment (ROI) expectations with the speed at which the team grows. If the team gets too big too fast, profits may suffer. If it grows too slow, customers may not get the attention needed to increase loyalty and minimise churn. Whichever approach is chosen ― high-touch or high-volume ― customers must always be the number one priority.

Download our Grow your business with technology subscriptions and customer success teams whitepaper to learn more about ALE’s customer success initiatives.

Rodolphe Goudin bio image

Rodolphe Goudin

Head of Success Management

Rodolphe has two decades of experience in the telecommunications industry, ranging from systems engineering and consulting to business development. Since the advent of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), he has specialised in change management, delivering digital transformations success for his clients. Rodolphe is currently leading the global expansion of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's success management practice ensuring continued growth and excellence.

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