Keeping Support and Success in Sync

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By Steve Schwartz

When last we met, the topic was Supporting Success in an Early Stage Startup. Now that you’ve made it through those early days of scrappy firefighting, the team roles have begun to specialize and you should be getting ready to scale. You probably have a Customer Support team and a Customer Success team, each with different day-to-day jobs, and it’s definitely hard to keep the teams’ goals aligned. How do you ensure these two critical groups are working in lockstep to constantly deliver value to your customers?

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

As a Customer Support professional, it’s often easy to get caught in the dry brush fighting fires without feeling connected to customers at a deeper level. It might seem like a never ending reactive battle to keep up with the queue, but it’s extremely important to be proactive whenever possible. Remember, you are the first line of defense and will often see trends earlier than others.

Here are a few things you can do to boost your super powers:

  • Stay in the loop on big customer launches or expansions which may result in higher than normal ticket volumes. A constant communication channel between Support and Success will only help here.
  • Look for trends across tickets where a product enhancement could help a large subset of clients. Your Product team will thank you for helping current and future customers.
  • Don’t be afraid to raise red flags with your Customer Success team when issues are trending negatively for a particular client.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

As a Customer Success professional, you’ve successfully launched your customer and now they’re in a relatively steady state. You’re keeping a close eye on the relevant customer health or customer maturity metrics, but are there things you might be missing? It’s important to maintain a connection to your end users, even when they might not be influencers, champions, or otherwise involved in purchasing decisions.

There are a number of ways you can easily do this, but here are a few that I’d recommend:

  • Periodically review support tickets and reach out to individual users to ask for more in-depth product feedback. This helps users to feel more connected and your Product and Customer Support teams will appreciate the reinforcements.
  • Take a look at the product enhancement backlog and see how you can advocate on behalf of your customers. If you can expand on the frustration that a user is having or anticipate a growing pain, it can help drive product change for the better before overwhelming the Customer Support team.

SUPPORT AND SUCCESS TOGETHER

While Customer Support has historically been reactive and Customer Success has come into being to fill the proactive gap, they cannot and should not exist in a vacuum. Each team member should be equipped and feel empowered to guide customers through their ever-evolving journey, while removing roadblocks along the way. Just as a customer’s business changes over time, their needs from your product will also change. The best companies keep in close contact with these transformations utilizing the skills and experience of their Customer Support and Customer Success teams, and you should too.

Are you a customer success leader who needs ideas on creating roles, structuring your team, and hiring the best? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CS Leadership Program designed to give you the models and tools you need to create a top performing customer success team. For more information visit the Leadership page at TheSuccessLeague.io

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Steve Schwartz - Steve is a customer success leader who enjoys starting and building high-performance teams at early-stage startups. He has worked in energy startups for the past 10+ years in a variety of customer-facing roles. By engaging with customers during the sales cycle, he ensures customer expectations are fully understood and can be exceeded. When not writing for The Success League, Steve is leading Customer Success at FreeWire Technologies. He holds a BS from Tufts University and an MS from Virginia Commonwealth University, and spends his free time with his wife and two kids exploring the Bay Area.