The Customer is Always Right

The “customer is always right” has been an integral philosophy of almost all customer-centric businesses. While the focus has always been on setting off on the right foot with the customer and establishing the right chemistry between the business and customer, this may not always be the case. Simply put, there exists a misalignment between Customer Success and the customer – one that demands to be addressed; if a business wants to nurture long-term relationships with its clients.

1. Unclear Customer Data

Onboarding is all about setting up your product correctly to get your customers started on your product. It includes training customers so that they can use the product on their own. The main cause for churn is often the customer onboarding process. Whether the experience is painful, or expectations are simply mismanaged, the “seeds of churn” can be traced back to onboarding.

Oftentimes, customer data isn’t so refined or updated, which puts CSMs at a disadvantage, because then they have to spend a significant amount of time and effort refining and migrating data. If nothing, this particular aspect of onboarding can delay the time till the customer can start using the product.

2. Support vs Success – The Role of a CSM

A CSMs role, by definition, is a proactive one, wherein they are expected to help their customers excel in their business while using the product. More often than not, they are fighting fires, resolving customer issues – in other words, doing the job of a Customer Support Representative. Since CSMs are the constant point of contact for the customer, the role of a CSM becomes confusing to them as well.

An effective way to deal with this would be for CSMs to clearly communicate the scope of their job, at the time of onboarding. CSMs can assign customers to a designated Support rep, so that they know exactly who to contact, in the case of an issue. This will enable smooth sailing and will prevent complaints and issues being piled up for the CSM.

3. Picking Your Battles

Customers tend to demand quite a few feature requests from CSMs. Being their advocate and trusted advisor, as a CSM, you can’t say no. At the same time, you can’t fulfill all of their feature requests – that would take up a great deal of your and your Product Team’s time and effort. It is essential for CSMs to put their foot down for requests that might not be too helpful, or might even be too hard for them to pull off (given scarce resources). CSMs should use strategic and tactical ways to say no, either by logically stating how a particular feature request might not be so helpful or by suggesting one that would be.

4. Customer/Product Fit

Oftentimes, salespeople, in an attempt to close deals, bring on board customers that do not have a great fit with the product. In other words, after the Sales-to-CSM handoff, and during customer engagements, CSMs realize that a customer was actually looking for something which your product or service does not cater to. In order to attract the right-fit customers, the marketing team has a crucial role to play. They have to be very specific about the words they pick and the clarity with which they present the details of the product and services offered. Not only that, getting the right customers on board calls for a greater sync between CS and Sales – so that the salesperson targets the right kind of customers.

The importance of the relationship between the customer and CSM cannot be stressed enough. For both to thrive and prosper, it is important that they understand the unique dynamics of their relationship. CSMs should learn how to tackle customer issues and feature requests – the ultimate goal here is to develop a mutual bond of trust and loyalty and fix the misalignment between Customer Success and the customer.

Shreesha Ramdas

CEO & Co-Founder, Strikedeck