Guest post by Tara Thomas from Nudgespot, who were recently featured in a Business Showcase here

9 out of 10 SaaS companies today are making it a point to hire Customer Success managers. This fairly new role has proliferated with the growth and success of the SaaS model. Customer Success is now integral to a user’s journey with a company. From when they sign up, until they get value out of the product or service. It isn’t always easy to understand what a Customer Success officer does. It is often confused with customer support, which is only a small part of this challenging role. Essentially, a Customer Success person is someone responsible for the health of every customer he/she works with.

To explain the journey of Customer Success better, we can compare it to a hospital. A place to which your clients come to become healthy and improve themselves. Going to the hospital could be for something as simple as a patient getting preventive care like a booster shot or vaccination. The visit could also be to address symptoms of something more serious. All these are parts of the Customer Success Journey as well. Clients could need a booster, or there may be something more serious to address. All this must be done while taking steps to prevent churn.

Customer Success Officers/Managers: The Doctors

In an organisation, the Customer Success Officer is like a Doctor. A general physician if you will. Someone who checks in regularly and examines all your faculties and functionings before they give you a clean bill of health. Doctors are around to check on you, keep records of your activities and behaviours and make recommendations about ways to treat you. They call you up to remind you when you need to schedule an appointment, and they keep you updated about your results. Customer Success officers and their clients aren’t very different. Just like patients, a customer and his/her organisation need to be healthy and successful to grow. A Customer Success manager is the one who keeps a check on every customer from the time they get on board, until they get value out of the product or service.

Onboarding: Triage and Emergency

One of the most important roles a doctor plays is that of first response in an emergency situation. A doctor knows how to handle triage, and make sure the patient is given a full work up without leaving out any essential details. This is essential when you get a new client as well. Onboarding is a crucial step, where the client needs to be assessed, and assisted, Understanding basic customer metrics are like checking heart rate and pupil responses: they give you a quick assessment of a customer that can be used to mitigate key pain points, and start off the customer journey to help them change their metrics.

Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Content: Specialists

When a doctor, isn’t sure what is wrong, there is always a specialist to turn to. Someone who understands the pain points better and can take a more specialised approach to solving the problem at hand. That is where roles like Sales, Marketing, Engineering and Content come in. When a customer or potential customer is facing a problem in some part of their journey, it is upto the customer success officer to look into the problem, understand where the hiccup is and find the specialist that can help. A customer success officer may often have to turn to different teams like sales, marketing or engineering for the assistance to solve a customer issue.

Diseases – The Number One Enemy: Churn

The diseases no one wants to see spread are unhappy Clients and Churn. For a Customer Success Manager, Churn it is a sign that some part of his process has gone horribly wrong, and is at an irreversible stage. Fighting and preventing this ‘disease’ is an essential of the Customer Success process.

In-Depth Metrics and Tools: Surgeries and Drugs

Surgeries delve deep into a patient’s body and make changes below surface level to create a healthier patient on the surface. Drugs accelerate healing and help a patient recover. This is what in-depth, metric-driven analyses and implementation of changes with tools can do. Metrics help you understand a customer’s the root problems below the surface level. Here is where you make changes, wait and measure again to see better outcomes. Tools help you track these changes and implement them faster.

Let’s say a customer is using a SaaS communication tool to send out their marketing communication, but are reporting low open and engagement rates. A customer success and marketing team member would step in here to identify core issues with marketing collaterals, email sending patterns or target audience to ensure deliverability reports and engagement improve.

Recovery and Observation time – Experiments for Growth

In a hospital environment, a doctor turns to observation and metrics again after a surgery. How is the body reacting?  Are the drugs working? All these are measures to identify whether the procedure was successful or not. This isn’t very different from making a change to help a customer and seeing whether it made a difference or not. The change could be as simple as adding or improving a feature in your product, or changing your service to suit the customer better. These are experiments and processes that a Customer Success Manager has to do continuously in a growing SaaS environment to yield great results.


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