How Customer Success teams can communicate more effectively across departments

Customer Success teams can communicate

A core responsibility of Customer Success teams is to communicate and interact with cross-functional teams internally and within their customers’ organizations. People know intuitively that to connect with others we need to adjust our approach based on who we’re talking to. No doubt the terms and lingo you use texting with your friends would leave your grandparents feeling completely and utterly confused. Similarly, the way Customer Success Managers (CSMs) speak with someone on a Sales team shouldn’t mirror their conversation with an Executive. As CSMs we need to adapt our communication strategies to be more impactful depending on our audience.

Know your audience

Before you can tailor your messaging you first need to know who you’re talking to. What team are they on, what do they care about, and what’s important to them? Consider their core responsibilities, challenges they face, and metrics they’re measured against. Think about what value you can provide to your counterpart during this interaction. If you go into a conversation with requests that will exclusively benefit you, the other party is less likely to feel inclined to provide assistance. Is there something you can offer them in return? If you need help answering these questions, check out the examples below.

Make Customer Success applicable to every department

Customer Success is often the face of your company, but that doesn’t mean CSMs should work alone. Reach out cross-functionally when you need help and co-opt every department into assisting your customers. The success (or failure) of your customers is important to your company’s current and future revenue and long-term viability- which makes Customer Success applicable to every department. Find ways to bridge the gap between the day to day work CSMs do with company-level goals and initiatives.

Keep commitments to build trust

Relationships built on trust will stand the test of time, while those built on shallow niceties and broken commitments are the first to go. Deliver on what you say you will do and live up to your promises.
One trust-building tactic is to prepare for the conversation. Before your meeting make sure you create an agenda to stay on topic. Recall that you should have a goal for every interaction (you’re never ‘just checking in’- right?). Try to anticipate the other party’s positions and prepare responses ahead of time so that you’re never caught completely off-guard with the direction a conversation takes.

Sales

  1. Responsibilities: bring in new customers and upsell existing customers
  2. Challenges: high pressure to deliver revenue; not enough time to engage on activities that don’t translate into sales
  3. Metric: new ARR
Additional resources: Creating a post-sales process for customer success link; Sales to Customer Success knowledge transfer link

Account Management

  1. Responsibilities: manage renewal and expansion process with existing customers
  2. Challenges: managing at risk accounts; needing to be up to date on customer’s status
  3. Metrics: renewal rate; net ARR
Additional resources: Hunting vs farming customers — A virtuous cycle between Sales and Success teams link; Customer Success isn’t just a Feel-Good Name for Account Management link

Support

  1. Responsibilities: resolve customer issues
  2. Challenges: dealing with dissatisfied customers; high volume of tickets; limited context into customer’s organization
  3. Metrics: number of tickets closed; time to resolution; customer satisfaction score
Additional resources: Where Customer Support and Customer Success Goals Overlap link; Leveraging Customer Support for Customer Success link

Product Management

  1. Responsibilities: build and improve the product
  2. Challenges: managing deadlines for product and feature delivery; prioritizing bug fixes and feature requests on product roadmap
  3. Metrics: quality of product; ability to hit release deadlines
Additional resources: The Key to Happier Customers? Customer Success and Product Management Alignment link; How to Get Product Managers Excited to Work with Customer Success link

Management/ Executives

  1. Responsibilities: deliver on business goals and objectives
  2. Challenges: waiting for insights into issues or opportunities that could impact business; time limited due to broad responsibilities
  3. Metrics: success across people, operations, revenue, and customers
Understand the responsibilities, common challenges, and metrics departments are measured against to adapt your communication to be more impactful to them.
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Want more information about how Customer Success teams can communicate more effectively across departments? Visit CustomerLink to learn about training modules designed to provide Customer Success teams with the necessary practical skills and knowledge to effectively support a recurring revenue business.