This week's featured perspective is written by Brett Andersen, VP of Client Success at Degreed.
Note: This piece is a follow-on to this blog post on Creating a Rubric to Level-Up Your Success Team
One of the first activities VPs of Customer Success need to do when building or joining a new Customer Success team is to define what CSMs need to do their job well. That way, the VPs can either hire Directors of CS that have experience creating the systems and environment necessary for CSMs to prosper, or coach new Directors to develop those skills.
At Degreed, there are four organizational dimensions we recognize as necessary for CSMs to prosper:
- Organizational alignment around the company’s ‘why’ and the expectations of their role. Do CSMs understand where we are going as a business, what our business priorities are, and how they specifically can contribute in a meaningful way to those critical priorities? This dimension is about focus and clarity.
- Operational infrastructure is about providing CSMs with the tools, data, processes, and documentation they need to do their job well. The objective here is to build what CSMs need and then get out of the way so they can do what they do best. Too often, leaders invest so much into these activities that it distracts CSMs from their core responsibilities. Keep it simple and focus on making improvements of high impact. This dimension is about efficiency and scalability.
- Team enablement is about equipping CSMs with the right messaging and content, training, and tools and templates to do their job at the right level of quality and consistency.
- Relational engagement is all about leaders building authentic relationships with CSMs and a culture of what we call “total teamwork”. We are social beings and teams are more than just groups of people; teams are groups of people with a shared purpose and interconnected roles that are designed to collectively achieve that purpose. Total teamwork is co-creation, collaboration, co-operation, and co-achieving. This dimension is about loyalty and longevity.
High-performing teams need their Directors to consistently evaluate how they’re doing across all four of these dimensions (via 1:1s, surveys, anonymous feedback forums), and to consistently find ways to improve. That’s why it’s critical that we deliberately hire and coach Directors on their skills across those four dimensions.
Mapping your existing Directors’ skills across the systems and environment you’ve identified as “necessary for the team to prosper” can also help identify ‘skill gaps’ that can be filled with new hires. In our recruiting process, I emphasize looking for ways every candidate could elevate the team, and filling one or more of the team’s skill gaps is a great way to do that.
Top resources this week:
This week's newsletter features posts on:
- Building Healthy Competition Into Your Team
- Measuring Customer Engagement
- Converting a Support Team to a Success Team
- Manager Handoffs
Building Healthy Competition Into Your Customer Success Team
Aoife Sheridan, Manager - Corporate Customer Success at HubSpot, with a reminder to identify the specific behavior you’re looking to encourage or reinforce before building competition into the team. For example, “we want to encourage compliance” can be carried out with competitive initiatives like gamification, whereas it might be better to overtly incentivize individual goals with compensation in performance if you have the goal of reinforcing a competitive culture.
Measuring Customer Engagement With Marketing and Sales Data
Here’s a LinkedIn post from Jeff Breunsbach of Customer Imperative on how he’s finding new ways to measure customer engagement with existing data. Tracking around customer activities like reading a blog, engaging with an email, speaking with a CSM all exist—this information becomes actionable to CS leaders when we can see the recency of these interactions and the frequency that customers are engaging with different programs.
Converting a Support Team to a Customer Success Team [Podcast]
Boaz Maor, CCO at Talech, explains how he’s building his Customer Success function for scale.
He explains how he’s thinking about hiring and designing processes to shift the team from being reactive to proactive, his thinking around charging for training, and more.
This post by Lara Hogan was originally published a few years ago and is still just as useful and relevant. If you’re a manager switching teams or if you’re getting a new manager, use Lara’s framework (the “1:1:1 Manager Handoff”) to ensure the transition is as seamless as it can be.
Success Happy Hour is a weekly newsletter for Customer Success leaders. Each week we feature one digestible piece of advice or a framework from top Success leaders, plus four of the best resources from that week. Subscribe here.