Customer Success is so close to the customer voice. Having all of that valuable insight can be overwhelming, but it is that information that is crucial to the success of any organization.
Hillary, Director of Customer Experience at Guru, has personally lived the pain of trying to use outdated company information without a central place to find it. She shares the role Knowledge Management plays in Customer Success and Experience:
1. Customer Success folks have (and require!) endless amounts of information, but curation is still a pain:
I think one of the hardest things to do as a leader in Customer Success is make sure that you are accurately conveying the most important themes and trends from your customer voice when having internal conversations with other departments. To understand the current customer voice you have to stay on top of all the customer conversations that your CSMs are having day to day and make sure those are being codified and themed and stored in an organized and accessible place.
If your company is not caring about where knowledge lives, the feasibility of finding it, how quickly people can access it, and that it's up to date, it's going to be really hard to have success with it.
How do we tackle this knowledge challenge? We’ve found that once you have all this customer info codified and themed, it’s helpful to take this giant amount of information that your team is hearing from customers, and boil it down to a few actionable insights or stories. What learnings or themes feel strong enough or tangible enough that you can quickly share them with the Product team, the Engineering team, the Sales team, the Marketing team…. really, with anyone and everyone who’s interested, to help them improve what they're doing in better service of the customer? Hopefully this process of sharing routine customer insights is one that will continue to improve as your company grows, as it’s a critical component of long-term success. There's a ton of products out there that can help with various parts of the process, but I still think it's always a challenging one to solve, as it has to evolve with your company’s needs and size.
2. Customer Success is shifting toward customer outcomes; delivering on them encourages organic expansion:
CS is not just about knowing the features and what [the product] can do for your customers.
It's more about understanding what your customers’ challenges are and how you can help coach them toward solutions leveraging your product. How can you as the CSM recommend and tailor things to your customer’s specific scenarios and culture? How can you distill the nuggets of inspiration and moments of clarity from the hundreds of customer conversations in order to suggest even small improvements to a client’s workflows using certain features to really help them see business outcomes.
This noticeable shift in CS over the past few years, at least for our team internally, has been more around outcome-based success vs. product-based success. We spend more time focusing on how our (product) is actually benefiting them. And if it is, can we measure that impact in a qualitative or quantitative way?
What are their goals? How can I help them reach those goals? What metrics can they track to prove the impact of the product on their team’s day to day? To do this, we conduct a ton of brainstorming conversations with our champions around their goals and outcomes. For instance, if the customer is really trying to improve their internal search experience for their employees, how can we track that? Do they want to send a survey before and after we launch? Do they have any anecdotal or baseline data on the current challenge they are seeing and by how much they hope to improve? There's a lot of things you can do to help your client champions prove the impact they are having on their team and organization with your product. Capturing and sharing all of this data helps your product use case grow and makes organic expansion much easier to facilitate because people are already excited about your impact internally.
3. Transforming information into data-backed final decisions is a critical part of Customer Success:
While creating custom solutions is ideal, people often just want you to tell them exactly how to do things. They want it to be as easy as possible to implement, train on, and see the impact.
The more simple and direct you can make your explanations around “here's where you are, here's where you want to go, and here's the seven or so steps you have to do to get there,” the easier your customer conversations will be.
People are super excited by clear directions. That’s partly why they bought your product - to have an expert tell them what they should do and how.
In my experience it can be nice to give people options, i.e. A or B or C or D based on different things you’ve seen work, but you have to make sure it won’t overwhelm them. Change is hard for teams both big and small, and if a client feels like you’re not there to make it an easy change they’ll likely say they don't have time for this change right now.
Thanks to Hillary Curran for explaining the impact Knowledge Management has on our ability to deliver Customer Success!