There is nothing more frustrating for customers or for Customer Success Managers (CSMs) than a product that doesn’t produce results, or doesn’t have the buy-in it needs to be successful. This of course impacts the customer’s ability to do their job effectively, but it also affects the CSM, their quota, and the company’s overall ability to scale and grow while maintaining successful customers
Product challenges can come in many shapes and forms, and the degree of the issue may vary from customer to customer. For instance, a product may be so complex that it’s difficult to onboard (and retain) customers. Another product may not get adoption from the users simply due to an unsupported mandate from the executive level. Yet other challenges can include no perceived value, friction-filled experiences, and significant product bugs or product failure that can interrupt important business processes. All of these are challenges that CSMs have to manage both internally and externally in order to ensure their customers—and company—are set up for long-term success.
While the concept of product challenges can seem like a simple internal fix with the product team, CSMs are on the front lines and have a significant responsibility as it pertains to resolving issues and gaining loyalty and buy-in.
4 Product Challenges that Stop Long-Term Customer Success
Here are 4 ways that product challenges can stand in the way of long-term customer success:
1. Product Complexity
Perhaps the most common product challenge that CSMs must overcome is product complexity. If a product is difficult to use and not intuitive, it can pose many problems. First, if a product is too complex, CSMs may have a difficult time onboarding new customers and ensuring that they are trained and are setup for success. Onboarding and training is especially difficult for CSMs that have to conduct training or answer questions via phone calls or emails instead of in person.
In addition, most customer accounts experience at least some turnover on their teams and end users. Many times these users leave without training their replacements, creating an opportunity for product failure due to it’s difficulty to learn and use.
2. Product Buy-In
It’s a recipe for customer success failure when a product is selected (or in many cases, mandated) by an executive who has used the product in a prior role or has a strong relationship with the company. While the product may have a beautiful UI, may be simple to use, and may be well positioned to create success for the company, without proper buy-in from those that will be using the product, then it’s destined to create challenges for the CSM. While the company may use the product so long as it’s integrated into the process and is mandated by the executive team, what happens when the executive leaves? If the CSM hasn’t built relationships high and wide across the customer account, then they likely don’t have the traction internally to prove that their product is the best solution before renewal time rolls around.
3. Product Time to Value
Some customers will purchase a product, will be successfully onboarded and trained, but won’t see value in years to come. Executives and teams invest in solutions and products that are tied to ROI—whether time savings, cost savings, or revenue-related. If customers don’t see a direct correlation between the solution they purchased that was intended to solve a specific problem and the results that they are actually seeing (or not seeing), then there is likely a disconnect that the CSM must address.
CSMs might als ohave customers who never get buy-in from their teams and therefore, don’t see the value of the product. This scenario can happen even if the CSM did everything in their power to onboard, train, and build trust within the customer account.
4. Product Friction
Lastly, another common product challenge is the result of a product taking too much effort from the customer—whether in terms of onboarding, training, or process issues—then they may believe the product isn’t worth the effort that it takes. If a product doesn’t get immediate buy-in and the customer experiences too many friction or failure points internally, it can be very difficult to restore confidence and work with the customer to try to get adoption again.
Companies also have to consider employee’s time and the overhead that it costs to have employees complete training, work with a product that’s time consuming, or add more unnecessary steps to an internal process. If this is the case, then CSMs have to work hard to show value early on and help the customer adopt the product as seamlessly as possible—and ensure it works within their internal infrastructure and process.
How Does Your Organization Reduce Product Challenges?
Reducing product challenges is easier said than done. It takes an entire organization coming together to solve issues that are directly related to the product. From customer success to marketing to sales and of course, product, all teams must communicate and learn from what customer issues are occurring as it relates to product. Most of the above issues come down to the value that the customer believes the product will solve compared to the actual results and workflow that are realized.
It becomes the job of the CSM and the entire company to come together and learn what customers expect from the product and then work to ensure customer success. Afterall, customer success should be the culture of companies that want customers to grow. Every product will have challenges, but the true colors of a company will shine when they work to solve those challenges with the customer at the center.
Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can put customers first:
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