My Customer Success Journey - First 18 Months & Beyond
Hello, everyone. I’m Parv, a member of the Customer Success Team here at Fyle and I’d like to share my learnings over the past 18 months since I joined.
“Success is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day” – Rory Vaden
My understanding of Customer Success largely revolves around helping customers achieve their definition of Success through our product.
Starting a journey in Customer success can be exciting as well as challenging.
As water takes the shape of the container it’s poured in, you have to be exactly like that.
No customer is the same and you have to wear different hats while dealing with different customers. In this blog, I’ll take you through my journey and share my insights and key learnings from the early days to where I find myself now, after 18 months. From managing expectations to building relationships, you'll discover how customer success professionals grow and adapt to meet their customers' evolving needs.
Early Days/Starting Out
The first few weeks in the customer success role can feel like trying to take a sip from a waterfall. You’re introduced to a mountain of information and there’s so much to absorb and understand about the company, its product, customer base, and target audience.
When I started, I had a basic understanding of the role.
I knew it involved managing customer relationships, setting expectations, and ensuring their satisfaction, but there was so much more to discover. Here are some important lessons I learned from the early days:
Understanding the Product
The first lesson from the early days was to learn the product inside out. It’s not okay to just have an overview, you need to be an expert.
You should know about all the features, benefits, and Integrations, and also have a basic understanding of the allied software your product integrates with. I found out that I’ll be able to achieve this only if I invest time in product training and that’s exactly what I was required to do in the initial weeks.
The product was broken down into different parts and I was responsible for giving a demo of the working, features, and benefits of each. This helped build a strong base and eventually helped me guide the customers better.
Understanding the customer base/Target Audience
After you have a decent knowledge of the product, then comes the next step of getting to know your customer.
I quickly realized that every customer is unique. Each one has distinct goals, challenges, and expectations. It's crucial to actively listen and understand their needs, even when they might not be fully aware of them.
It's not just about hearing but truly comprehending and empathizing with their concerns. This was the foundation of successful customer relationships and the next step for me in my journey.
Shadowing different types of customer calls gave me a holistic view of the different types of customers, their needs, and how to handle them.
Building Trust with Effective Communication
Trust is the cornerstone of a lasting customer relationship.
I realized that delivering on promises and being honest about what our product could and couldn't do was crucial for building trust. Personalized interactions, remembering their names, and genuinely caring about their success can go a long way in establishing strong connections.
Customers are more likely to stay with a company if they have a positive relationship with their customer success manager.
Onboarding: A very critical process
A smooth onboarding process sets the stage for long-term success. Get it wrong and you are likely to lose the customer before 1st year renewal. But effective onboarding is hard and in many cases, churn can be attributed back to onboarding failures.
My initial interactions with customers were focused on setting expectations, introducing them to our platform, and ensuring they had the resources and knowledge they needed to get started. Some might say that onboarding is a continuous process and is never complete, it just has phases.
But if you had to define a successful onboarding, it could be when your customer achieves: First Value + Feels Confident + Has Established A Habit of Using Your Product
After spending 18 months: The Growth & Transformation
After 18 months in the role, you start to notice a shift in your mindset and approach. You come to know that customer success is a constantly evolving field and staying updated on industry trends and best practices is crucial. I too had formed solid relationships with my customers and gathered substantial experience over these months.
Here are some key learnings from this phase:
Realizing Customer Success is a continuous learning process
Customer success is a constantly evolving field. Staying updated on industry trends, competitor offerings, and emerging technologies was vital to providing relevant advice and guidance to customers.
Be prepared to adapt to changes and embrace new technologies that can enhance your customer interactions.
Managing Customer Expectations
Managing customer expectations is an ongoing process. As your relationships with customers deepen, their expectations can become more trivial. It's crucial to communicate clearly about what you can and cannot provide. Setting clear and realistic expectations is very important. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than to make grand commitments and struggle to meet them. Managing expectations helps in avoiding misunderstandings and disappointments.
Cross-functional team collaborations
Your colleagues and team members become your allies in delivering exceptional customer success. Collaborative work and knowledge sharing are essential for addressing complex challenges and ensuring a consistent customer experience.
Building strong relationships with the product, sales, and marketing teams proved vital. Collaborating with these teams allowed us to align strategies, prioritize customer needs, and deliver value consistently.
Dealing with Churn
Churn is an inevitable part of customer success, but it's also an opportunity to learn. It's how you deal with it that counts. Analyzing churn data helped identify common pain points and areas of improvement. It allowed us to make strategic changes to reduce churn.
Proactive engagement and regular check-ins with at-risk customers to understand their challenges, provide targeted solutions, and showcase the ongoing value of our product worked brilliantly.
Mentoring new team members
As a Customer Success Manager, mentoring a new team member has been a rewarding experience. Guiding them through the nuances of active client engagement, and emphasizing the value of personalized communication have collectively contributed to their rapid onboarding and success. It’s good to mentor a new team member as when you’re showing them around you get to learn their approach to things too and it’s always nice to have a new point of view. Having mentored one team member, I’m eagerly awaiting the next opportunity as the team continues to grow.
The journey of customer success is filled with highs and lows. From the initial learning curve to the 18-month milestone and beyond, it's a dynamic role that requires adaptability and a commitment to helping customers achieve their definition of success. As a customer success manager, every day presents an opportunity to make a positive impact and contribute to the success of both your customers and your organization.