Does your Customer Success team extend your capabilities – or only sell you more software?
Lauren Riera, Customer Success Engineer, Switchboard Software
Editorial Note: In the current COVID-19 environment, more than ever, companies are laser-focused on cost-management and ensuring they are getting the most from existing resources. This blog post by Lauren is even more relevant today and highlights the value a strong Customer Success team brings to getting the most from your software platform. - Ju-kay
Your new data management software promises to revolutionize your ability to find insights and drive growth across your business. Your team revels in having rapid access to timely, error-free revenue reporting. But given all that's already being asked from them, taking precious time to learn how to tweak, tune, and optimize data streams feels all but impossible.
A proactive Customer Success (CS) team can help you get the best out of your software and eliminate the firefighting from the outset by 1. quickly identifying business-specific goals; 2. enabling teams to connect to data partners without engineering resources, and 3. delivering deep domain expertise throughout the relationship. But as ‘Customer Success Manager’ (CSM) becomes the sixth-most promising job title, it’s time to consider: is your team doing all of this for you?
As the volume of data facing business teams grows, so too does the adoption of subscription-based software to unify growing data silos. But even the most powerful data unification platforms cannot deliver optimum value without heavy engineering resources, or a robust CS team, to unlock the most relevant insights.
It’s true that CS has evolved over the decades from reactive call-center support to proactive close-knit collaborative support. But it’s more than that. Guidance from a CSM well versed in complex data issues – who has seen those issues multiple times through various use cases – can be the difference between business teams being able to use their software efficiently versus gaining no added value from their investment. The primary objective of a CSM should be to help teams uncover unique insights in their data, for instance to optimize campaign performance or create new products, rather than waiting until they reach out with a problem.
CS works both ways
At Switchboard, welcoming a new client is only the beginning of a mutual value exchange that helps us understand their data governance needs and helps them get the best out of our platform. By bringing regular customer insight into our platform, we can continually improve both our software, and our CS best practices, to meet our customers’ needs. To achieve this, we ask our customers to be transparent about their data challenges. As a recent HBR article highlights: “to get full value from suppliers and their CSMs, [business teams] need to do their part. [They] may be reluctant to share challenges and future strategies with a CSM … because they worry a sales pitch will follow. However, this transparency is critical for a CSM to have impact.”
We hear all-too often of business teams who lack the support needed to take control of their data and are instead left feeling susceptible to upselling or cross-selling campaigns. Rather than exploiting CS to drive further sales, “a capable CSM … deeply engaged with accounts … combine[s] product knowledge and domain expertise with an intimate understanding of each customer and their objectives”.
The right CSM is dedicated to helping you get the most from the software you have – not sell you the most software. After all, if your business needs are properly scoped in the pre-sales process, you shouldn’t need to worry about an upsell right after receiving your login. And yet, common pain points include a lingering sense of inaccuracy in team reports; basic reporting still taking up most of the team’s time; or continued uncertainty over pricing or sell-through strategy.
Putting CS into practice
In our experience, clients who haven’t received the right support from other providers often question what the CS team does that the software doesn’t. Others might question why they need a CS team if the software is as good as promised. Some might wonder if they simply receive the software and nothing further. In short, the software does a great deal – it’s a powerful tool that aggregates stupendously large sets of data. But it’s the CS team that helps the business team break through the friction to understand that data, keep using the software efficiently, and know they have a trusted data partner. This is achieved in three steps:
1. Discovery phase: Successful onboarding requires a combination of strategic planning and pragmatism. Our goal is to ensure a customer is not only confident utilizing the platform, but sees direct benefits from consolidated data sources, within 30 days or less. Close collaboration – especially during the first six weeks – is key in finding out what value means to the customer, depending on their business-specific goals, and creating a tailored plan to make sure that value is realized (i.e. critical data governance and unification challenges are solved), rather than wasting valuable time and resources revisiting these issues further down the line.
2. Connection to data vendors: As part of the onboarding process, the CS team ensures swift integrations – through pre-built connectors – to all relevant data partners for accurate and continuous reporting from the outset.
3. Ongoing domain expertise: Our high-touch CS program includes facilitating regular meetings with business teams, as well as consulting with stakeholders and C-Suite executives to review progress, and identify potential new wins. Within 24 hours of a meeting, we follow up with a clear, concise set of actions. Regular and proactive communication ensures teams can Be Data Strong throughout their relationship with Switchboard.
The importance of CS at Switchboard
Our founders – both highly-experienced data scientists who helped to launch Google BigQuery – are actively involved at pivotal points in the customer’s data journey. Apart from developing powerful data unification solutions, their mission has always been to transform the SaaS vendor-customer relationship. By delivering bespoke CS support, data source connections and domain expertise, we enjoy deep relationships with our customers, every day. Put simply, helping customers get more out of our platform helps us put more into our platform, and so the cycle of great data aggregation continues.
With these best practices in mind, is your dedicated CS team actually delivering on its promise of a two-way relationship?
Switchboard’s Customer Success team gets you up and running today, and enables you to #BeDataStrong tomorrow. Contact the Switchboard Software team at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.