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Success with Strategy

A strategy provides unified direction for your actions, guiding decision-making and ensuring success for your customer success (CS) team. Whether your team is big or small, old or new, having a well-defined strategy adds value to your efforts. In this post, we will explore the significance of strategy for CS teams and provide practical steps for building an effective strategy.

Sometimes, you may already have a strategy in place without even realising it. For example, promoting team members with the best Net Revenue Retention (NRR) can be a strategy to maximise revenue retention. However, it's crucial to assess whether this strategy aligns with your overall goals and customer satisfaction levels.

A good strategy enables different departments to work cohesively towards shared goals, reducing conflicts and achieving objectives more efficiently. It is essential to communicate the company's vision, mission, and strategy to all departments, ensuring that efforts remain synchronized. It is common to confuse strategy with efficient operations, while efficient operations lay the foundation for successful strategy implementation or changes, even a highly efficient and well-functioning team may require a strategy update. Efficient operations alone cannot provide the necessary guidance and direction needed for a well-functioning team. 

Significance of strategy for CS team

A strategy holds particular significance for CS teams as they handle most of the existing business and perform multiple roles, such as customer advocate, relationship manager, support, project manager, delivery head, and customer marketing. They manage service level agreements (SLAs), delivery dates, conflicts, and brand image while also addressing customer expectations. Each role comes with its own set of responsibilities, and a good and clear strategy helps team members make informed decisions independently, escalate issues when necessary, collaborate with other teams, and better understand their primary performance metric.

CS teams encounter diverse situations, with each client having different needs. One-size-fits-all solutions rarely work, and new challenges emerge regularly. A clear strategy ensures that the team can make appropriate decisions and focus resources where they are most needed.

For example,

  1. Should the team aim to solve every technical problem for a client or deliver only what aligns with the product roadmap? 

  2. Should the focus be on securing long-term contracts or maximising revenue through upgrades? 

  3. Do we want to segment our clients based on revenue or potential?
     

The right answer depends on understanding the problem you're trying to solve. While one team might prioritise longer tenure, another might aim to maximise short-term revenue to compensate for a challenging quarter.

A good strategy makes your team more efficient in every possible way, handling more accounts/customers, understanding customers better, focusing on right metrics, meeting objectives, innovation, healthy competition, consistent performance, accurate forecast, collaboration with other teams. 

Your Goals, KPIs, incentive policy, daily dashboards, product roadmap are reflection of your customer success strategy. Here are a few steps to help you get started on building strategy and plans for your CS team

  1. Internal/External Audit – To understand your team’s current performance level and missing pieces of the strategy (Customer data, Goals, objectives, playbooks, plan of action).
     

  2. Data – Gather customer usage and team performance data from the past 6 months to 3 years. Analysing this data will help you understand what has worked in the past and what hasn't.
     

  3. Customer Journey Mapping & Segmentation – Prioritize understanding your customers and the challenges you face by mapping out their journey and segmenting them accordingly. If certain segments require more attention than others, adjust your goals accordingly. Combining previous years' data with customer journey mapping can provide valuable insights, especially if this exercise is being conducted for the first time. While you can go into detail with this step, start with a basic understanding of your customers and refine your plans and objectives as you gain more knowledge.
     

  4. Aligning Goals – Ensure that your team goals align with the company's goals. This alignment is typically straightforward for CS teams since their goals directly impact existing business. However, as a CS team, it's crucial to emphasize both value addition and NPS equally. Define your goals for the next 3-5 years accordingly.
     

  5. Dynamic Plans and Objectives – Once goals are established, create a plan that includes playbooks, dashboards, engagement reports, and CS tools to achieve those goals. Based on the timeline, team performance, sales forecast, and annual budget, set milestones and objectives (KPIs). If needed, seek external assistance to develop these plans.
     

  6. Ongoing Process – Remember that strategy is not a one-time endeavor. Continuously validate your plans, review objectives and results, and make changes accordingly. The initial playbooks you develop may not be sufficient as you encounter different customer types, segmentations, or product-specific challenges. By staying up-to-date and continuously evolving, a clear strategy will guide your adaptations and implementation of plans. If you require assistance during the implementation of a new strategy, tool, or changes to existing plans, our team is available to help.

 

While having a clear strategy is crucial, it doesn't guarantee goal achievement. However, continuously working on and evolving your strategy based on customer responses and involving your team at every level can significantly enhance your chances of success. Internal communication and collaboration often pose challenges when strategies change frequently. It's important to understand that CSMs strive to build client relationships that go beyond the product and current needs. Planning ahead, sometimes months in advance, allows CSMs to adapt ongoing plans for all their accounts. By ensuring that the team is aware of long-term goals and achievements, they will better comprehend changes made to current plans. Implementing a new strategy, adopting new tools, or modifying plans may present some difficulties, but our team is available to provide support and assistance. Reach out to us  to discuss your concerns, and we'll be there to help.

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