• Read Time 5 min
Championing the Customer Success team’s role in a way that other teams can’t ignore
This is a guest post by Todd Eby, co-founder and CEO of SuccessHACKER.
Those of us who work in Customer Success know just how vital high-powered Customer Success teams are for organizations. Customer Success teams are essential for retaining customers, improving the customer experience, reducing churn, and boosting other crucial metrics. But the question today is: does the rest of your organization understand exactly how important your Customer Success department is to the business?
The fact of the matter is, oftentimes Customer Success teams find themselves in a position where others in their organization don’t actually understand the importance of their work and don’t appreciate the value they bring to the table.
So how can we work to bridge the gap between Customer Success and other departments in an organization, and why is it important?
The importance of advocating for Customer Success
Picture this scenario: you’ve just met a stranger, and you explain to them that you work in Customer Success. More often than not, you might be met with a slight head tilt and a quizzical expression. That’s because to many people outside of the field, Customer Success is still a bit of a mystery. While this is more understandable for the “stranger on the street” scenario, it’s far less understandable for our organizational colleagues in different departments.
And yet, this too is often the case. Many people in the Customer Success community find that their peers on other teams (but within their own organization) don’t understand the impact of the function, and just how valuable it is to their own work.
A lack of knowledge about the importance of Customer Success is more than just inconvenient. It can lead to massive miscommunications and misunderstandings both within the organization and with customers. Sales might close a deal with a customer who has wildly different expectations than reality. Marketing might develop a customer persona in a silo, without ever consulting a customer-facing team, and it might be completely off-base.
In order for the rest of the organization to be aware of Customer Success and to work in tandem with it, Customer Success leaders need to be vocal champions for their team’s role, and they must take steps to ensure that it really advocates for itself.
Ways Customer Success can advocate for itself
There are several key ways that Customer Success can champion for itself, where it is seamlessly working with other departments to consistently showcase its value to the rest of the organization.
Tie the Customer Success mission into the corporate mission
In order to create uniform buy-in for the work of Customer Success, leadership needs to take steps to first and foremost ensure that the mission of their department is fully aligned with the corporate mission. When that’s the case, it is very difficult for other organizational leaders to see Customer Success as anything other than something that’s vital to the business.
To create awareness about this alignment of missions, Customer Success leaders can become experts on communicating how the work of their department aligns with the company mission, tying that work to key points, and communicating it in a way that resonates with other organizational leaders.
Be empathetic to your leadership peers
Of course, leadership comes with a lot of responsibility. It can be easy to get “tunnel vision” and focus solely on your own department. But in order for others to fully understand the scope of your team’s work, Customer Success leaders should be empathetic to their peers in other organizations, who have similarly critical missions to accomplish, to gain allyship with leaders.
These mutually beneficial allyships help you better understand how other Customer Success organizations run, what goals they’re after, and how you can best work to achieve your own mission.
Use your mission statement to your advantage
Your Customer Success department should have a high-functioning mission statement that has a few powerful leverage points that you can use to really drive that mission home. It can refer to metrics and individual performance, for example.
Ultimately, your mission statement should clarify why your department exists and what you’re there to contribute.
Most of all, your Customer Success mission statement should advocate for the value of your department. This mission statement can be a functioning policy, and as your department scales, it will work as a guiding light.
Know what other leaders expect of your department
What exactly are your counterparts in sales, marketing, engineering, and product expecting from your Customer Success team? In this type of business ecosystem, we all have interdepartmental needs from one another, that help us complete our own duties, and ultimately help us extend the lifetime value of our customers.
It’s important to understand what these other leaders are expecting from your department, and what you can do that contributes the most value. That way, they’ll have a clear picture of precisely how the Customer Success team contributes to their own accomplishments.
Become a vocal advocate for Customer Success (and get your team to do it too)
Leaders and individual contributors all need to be vocal advocates for Customer Success. Let’s start with leadership. As the leader, you are probably going to be the primary champion for the team, evangelizing the Customer Success mission in a way that simply can’t be ignored. And how exactly can you be the best advocate possible? Through Customer Success education, which leads you to become the subject matter expert in your company.
When it comes to advocating for your function’s mission within your company, Customer Success education is your most powerful tool. This goes for everyone in the department, from individual contributors to leadership.
That’s where individual contributors come into play. When your entire team is well-educated on Customer Success best practices, understanding the how and the why of their work, you can all be the best advocates possible for your department.
Customer Success training as a tool for advocacy
When it comes to creating awareness in your organization about the power of Customer Success, education (likely in the form of Customer Success training) might be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. If someone is a complete subject matter expert on all things Customer Success, they’ll be incredibly well-equipped to connect the dots for others in your organization, work most efficiently in tandem with other departments, and demonstrate their value time and time again.
Why is it that training can be such a powerful tool for advocacy in this way? It’s important to remember that not only is Customer Success a relatively new field when compared to departments such as sales or marketing, but also that people join this profession from various backgrounds. The Customer Success career path is anything but linear. This means that many Customer Success employees have various degrees of training in different areas and many of their skills are learned on the job.
What comprehensive Customer Success training does is give its professionals the uniform skills, knowledge, and expertise they need to not only excel in their jobs in a predictable way, but also to be those ultra-important advocates for the Customer Success mission within your company.
Comprehensive Customer Success training hits all of the key skills and competencies that your people need to become subject matter experts, and proud advocates for their work. But it’s important to note that not every training is equal, and it’s key to have a program that delivers proven best practices based on real-world experience. For example, when Customer Success professionals complete our CCSM Certifications, they gain the foundational skills and competencies they need to be incredible CSMs and powerful internal advocates for their work. These CSMs know the field inside and out, are top-tier performers, and share wins with others in their organization.
High-performing CSMs are highly trained CSMs
Here’s the thing: at the end of the day, if your Customer Success team is high-performing, then it’s safe to say that everyone is a subject matter expert in the field. When that’s the case, the work of your Customer Success team is going to advocate for itself. Everyone else in your organization will see just how integral they are when churn is reduced, when clients are happy, and when retention is through the roof.
But it all starts with training. To have a high-performing Customer Success team that advocates for itself, your team needs access to industry-leading CSM training and certificate programs, to help them get there.