The customer success team has become one of the most important departments for any customer-centric company. The demands of the customer and how crucial the customer experience has become for the buying process means that without a highly successful customer success team the growth of the entire company is at jeopardy. Hubspot’s recent report State of Customer Service 2019 found that 88% of customer success teams agree that their customer’s expectations are higher than in past years. And despite customer’s high expectations 74% of customer success teams are measured according to customer satisfaction. That seems like a metric for failure. Higher customer demands and expectations plus a team’s success or failure measured against those expectations— that seems like a dangling carrot that is constantly one step ahead of you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I spoke with Melissa Majewski, the Customer Success Manager at Collage.com, and we discussed the tactics, tools, strategies and challenges in successfully managing a customer success team.
The Tools Every Customer Success Manager Needs
In order to do any job right, you need to have the right tools, and a customer success manager’s job is no different. If you’re searching for the best tools to help you manage your team, Melissa shared with me her must-have tools that support the success of her team.
In order for your team to see success and feel supported it’s crucial for you all to be able to communicate in real-time. Collage uses slack for their team’s communication, but any real time communication app would work for remote teams. Melissa says, “As a 100% remote company we are unable to pop in to each other’s offices to say hello or ask a quick question, so we rely on Slack channels to get us through the day. We have a space to talk about general work things, food related topics, pets, kids, and other interest categories. This is incredibly helpful for building strong relationships throughout an entirely remote team.” If your team is centrally located, the issue becomes creating time and space for your team to share ideas and have 1:1 facetime with leadership. It’s just as important for colocated teams to have the opportunity to feel supported and support each other.
Schedule Your Team
Managing people’s time and availability is a never-ending challenge. Melissa uses the scheduling software Humanity which, “allows our team members to set their availability, allows the manager to set a schedule, and then uses an algorithm to help build the schedule. The results aren’t always perfect and require a human touch to perfect, but it’s a great jumping off point that has saved me a ton of time.” Something as simple as a scheduling software can give your team authority over their own schedule and can help tremendously in building team morale— as Melissa pointed out, it can also save you a lot of time.
Create an in depth knowledge base
A good knowledge base can act as your first line of support for your team and your customers. When you have a knowledge base that customers can access, navigate, and use to answer their own simpler questions it frees up your team to help customers with more complex issues. The Collage team has found that, “building a Knowledge Base, both for customer facing questions and for internal processes has been an incredible tool for our customer success team. Our Knowledge Base has allowed our customers to self-help, if they prefer, before chatting with us. Setting this up in our chat window has cut our chat contacts in half! We also have internal facing articles that allow our team members to reference more obscure things or help them answer difficult customer questions.” Having tools in place that allows your team members to vent, celebrate, and lean on each other for support helps create a more positive work environment. Also, empowering your team to make the decisions they deem best for the customer gives them autonomy and confidence to provide the best and most tailored customer experience.
The Most Important Thing to Remember When Managing Customer Success Teams
Because your success is directly measured against the happiness and satisfaction of your customers it’s important that you know what makes them happy and satisfied. The best way to know what really makes your customers happy is to listen to their feedback. And yet, despite the success of teams who listen to customer feedback, only 17% of customer success teams utilize hard data like NPS scores, and only 58% of teams receive any feedback from their customers. Without listening to your customers and their feedback, you’ll never know what makes them happy, annoyed,or frustrated, and those are important emotions to understand when you’re being measured against satisfaction. Melissa at Collage found the most important aspect of managing a customer success team was to listen to the needs of their customers. “It can also be useful to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How annoying is it to wait in a long call queue where you have to select 5 different options before you can speak to someone? For that reason, we train all of our employees to handle what comes in so customers can dial 1 number and get help (usually in under 35 seconds!)”
Combat Turnover Rates and Team Burnout
The recent data on turnover rates for call centers and customer success teams states that on average teams see a 49% turnover rate. That’s almost half a team leaving every year! That’s a huge challenge when managing a customer success team. It’s another dangling carrot— how are you supposed to get ahead, establish a culture, and build team morale if you’re constantly training and hiring new people? The Collage team has found a way to retain their staff and keep their employees happy, so they can build a great team. Melissa says, “we don’t have a high turnover rate (the average length of service on our team is 3-5 years).” They were able to accomplish such awesome retention because they, “empower [their] team members to make decisions. [They] don’t provide them scripts to read from, they get to be thoughtful and creative when resolving customer issues which leads to a happier experience on both sides.” When your customer success team is happy, they help your customers become happy— and happy customers leads to company growth and a successful customer success team. There will always be challenges when managing people, but when you implement the right tools and tactics managing a customer success team doesn’t have to feel like you’re chasing a dangling carrot.