If there is one thing Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are good at, it’s answering questions. That’s just the name of the game when your job description includes various aspects of training, onboarding, troubleshooting, and support. While every customer account is different and has different goals, it is possible to bucket certain questions to create a general outline for customer success management. Most SaaS customers just want to get up and running on a platform as fast as possible and know how to use the product effectively enough to be successful. Thinking about customer success through this general lens of value can help your CSMs stay out of the technical weeds (although these weeds are sometimes important) and approach projects from a high-level of success.
Here are five general questions every CSM should be able to answer with any customer account.
1. How long will this take?
Questions about timelines and deadlines are incredibly common in SaaS onboarding because people are, in all honesty, impatient. Once they’ve invested in a new product or service, they want to start using it as soon as possible. If a 6-month activation is standing in their way, they’re going to be a little antsy throughout the process.
As a CSM, you should always have a clear answer to any question related to timelines or deadlines. This is a part of being completely transparent and honest with your customers. If the question is about a specific project, be as honest as possible (“this will be done by Friday”) to keep your customers in the loop. If the question is more ambiguous or relates to the entire onboard process as a whole, try to answer based on timeframe. It’s okay to break down your onboarding process by 30/60/90 days to give your customers a better idea of where they stand.
2. What is the value in it for us?
This type of question is all about the value your product will deliver to your customer. No matter how many customer accounts you’re responsible for, a CSM should be able to specifically address specific business cases and articulate product value for individual accounts. To make this easier, work with your sales team to ensure you have the most up-to-date SOW on hand for every new account.
In other situations, the actual end-users of a product who are going through onboarding exercises with your customer success team aren’t the ones who were involved in the buying process. This means they might not know why your product was chosen or what the value is from the get-go. It’s up to you as a CSM to articulate this value, answer any speculative questions, and soothe any lingering doubts.
3. How will this work with our other platforms?
As much as you may wish your product was the only one in a customer’s mind, that is never going to be the case. According to Siftery, today’s organizations use an average of 37 different software platforms and tools on a day-to-day basis. In order to ensure your solution is adopted correctly and used on a regular basis, integrations with a customer’s current tech stack should be top-of-mind. Because platform integrations are so important to today’s customers, CSMs should be well prepared for these kinds of conversations and have answers prepared in advance.
4. Will this help us get [this] done now?
When it comes down to nitty-gritty CSM conversations, it’s things like uploading data files, explaining new features, and going through extensive training exercises that bring new questions to the forefront. While a customer might have purchased your solution for one use case, actually seeing the platform in person can open up a whole slew of new opportunities. If a customer asks if they can do a specific action or see something specific on your platform, we’d hope the answer would be a resounding yes! But, if that kind of functionality requires an additional add-on or expansion product, then have that information ready to capitalize on the excitement of your customer in the moment.
5. Who else needs to be involved?
It’s not uncommon for CSMs, product teams, administrators, and end-users to be the only ones involved in new product onboarding discussions. But, in order for maximum user expansion and customer dependency, you might want to get other people in the room. When your customers ask who else needs to be involved, or if other team members should be included in a kick-off meeting or call, see if you can bring in other resources like the c-suite or executives. Just be careful that if a customer executive joins your meeting that there is an executive representative from your team available as well. While a CSM could do a great job discussing the specific use case and the product, customer executives will appreciate the respect and personal touch another executive’s presence can deliver.
Ready to learn more? Check out these other resources for more customer success best practices and to learn more about delivering amazing onboarding experiences to customers: