Whether people realize it or not, customer success teams function as the heart of many companies. With a great customer success team, things simply run more smoothly. Customers know you have their back, so they stay longer, speak highly of the product, and usually spend more money.
But when a customer success team routinely falls short? It’s hard to ignore. Customers stop asking for help, get frustrated, and take their business elsewhere. (And who would blame them?)
All things equal between products, a customer’s experience learning a product, getting help, and succeeding determines whether they keep paying.
So, better make every customer’s experience the best it can be.
Customer success directors want to hire and work with customer success managers, account managers, and customer experience specialists who are…
1. Fanatic about follow-up
As the link between customers and your company, CSMs need to prioritize fast and consistent follow-up. A stellar CSM never leaves a customer hanging.
If customers feel neglected or forgotten, they will switch to a competitor. Maybe not immediately, but eventually, if it becomes a pattern of not feeling heard, they will leave.
Perhaps the most important related skill for crushing follow-up? Superb time management.
You always need to be aware of who reached out to you, when they first reached out, and how long it will take you to respond. And you do that for every single customer who might be in the queue to talk with someone on the CSM team.
So, always close the loop. Build customer loyalty through efficient and thorough follow-up and people will keep coming back.
Ways to be fanatic about follow-up include:
- Providing multiple channels for people to contact you
- Focusing on more personal communication methods, such as text messaging
- Automating and scheduling responses for the most convenient times
- Building a library of detailed explanations and answers for everyone to reference
2. Clear communicators
The ability to speak and write clearly to different customers makes you unstoppable in a customer success role. This includes having a clear understanding of various communication styles to ensure the best customer experience.
Maybe you excel at writing out step-by-step instructions. Someone else on your team may love doing screen shares. Other people know exactly how to direct a phone call. Play to your strengths, but always be prepared to communicate how a customer needs. It doesn’t matter if you want to send them a one-minute explainer video if they’d rather read how to do it.
But before you even write a response, make a video walkthrough, or respond on a call, you must listen and truly understand the problem and identify how best to communicate the answer. In other words, focus on active listening.
Ask clarifying questions and avoid making assumptions about someone’s problem. Your job is to help them succeed, not preempt everything they say because you “think” you know what to do.
Customer success situations where communication styles matter:
- Building tutorials: Some people love watching videos; others simply want to read how to do it. If possible, provide both options.
- Responding in real-time to requests: You have to be fast but also detailed. Certain customers will want phone calls and others to chat or text. Clearly outline what type of help and support customers receive.
- Consulting 1-on-1: Video chat and screen sharing are great assets, but don’t discount the simplicity of a basic phone call. Sometimes people just need to hear someone else’s voice.
People want to feel heard and understood. If you understand a customer’s issue and their frustration, they’re much more comfortable in the resolution process. That makes them more confident in you and your company.
In other words, if you’re on their side, they’ll be on your side.
So, really focus on how you can understand their needs and communicate that you genuinely care about helping them succeed.
Empathy in customer success looks like:
- Not blaming customers or shifting blame about a problem
- Avoiding defensive responses when something goes wrong
- Using active listening skills
- Hearing customers out instead of jumping to conclusions
- Openly asking customers for honest feedback and ways to improve
- Accepting and acknowledging when you or someone at your company messed up
- Being quick to apologize
4. Transparent about not knowing everything
Sometimes you don’t have the answer and that’s okay. You’re only human, after all.
And nothing is worse than giving someone information that you’re not confident in. Proceeding to give an answer when you know it may be wrong doesn’t help you as a clear communicator.
The faster you get them the answer, the better off you’ll be of course. But a fast answer is never better than the right answer. Though it may be frustrating for a customer to hear you say “I don’t know”, everyone benefits when you take time to give them the best answer.
In those situations, let the customer know that you will get them the correct info and confirm with them how they’d like you to deliver it. Maybe they want you reply through email, reach out via text, or give them a call. Whatever it is, just remember to follow up with them!
Embracing your natural customer success strengths
Time management, clear communication, empathy, and transparency aren’t developed or used by every CS professional in the exact same way. And that’s a good thing! Customer success teams and companies prosper through diverse problem solving.
Start looking at your own strengths to see ways in which you can improve in these areas and creatively help your customer success team offer better experiences.