Strategizing with C-level execs when investing in high-ROI products.
And what is the new CS/AM role at Microsoft and other companies? Dickey Singh
I recently asked several senior customer success leaders, their views on investing in automation products, as a learning exercise.
I am summarizing and categorizing the discussion into the following sections to improve readability. I'm also presenting the main points as an easy-to-consume bullet list.
Product Budgets in this economy
Tactical and Strategic Responsibilities of the CSM, AM, or the combined role: CS/AM
What CS execs envision to automate
How to convince C-level Executives to invest in purpose-built high-ROI automation tools
What's in it for the CS and AM teams
The "Customer Success/Account Management" or CS/AM combined role
Before I go into the categories, I must note that the CS execs all shared the following.
The CS Exec profile I talked to.
They all have revenue expansion responsibility.
They have focused on changing the Customer Success department to be more revenue generation and revenue retention focused.
They do not have the budget to hire more team members, except those that can significantly impact the bottom line.
They all recently laid off several team members to keep the business profitable or cut costs.
Although they are decision-makers, they consult with other team execs when bringing in new products. This is in contrast to the CFO being the primary gatekeeper earlier in the year.
They did not agree to merge the Customer Success Manager and Account Manager roles as Customer Success Account Manager, preferred to see a wait-and-see approach, although the position is starting to show up on LinkedIn.
Customer Success decision-makers are consulting with other C-level execs when bringing in new products.
Product Budgets in this economy
They have limited budgets for new products or can squeeze the budget, but only if
The products take advantage of AI in a predictable manner.
Can coexist with their existing customer-facing tech stack.
They can show the ROI math clearly and convincingly.
The tool is not too expensive to implement in terms of cost and time-to-value.
They want a tool that works without requiring several expansion levels or paid services after the initial purchase.
Unless the ROI supports it, it does not need them to hire additional administrators to get the most from the product.
Responsibilities of the CSM, AM, or CS/AM
To understand what can and can not be automated, let's first understand the tactical and strategic tasks of a Customer Success Manager and Account Manager.
Tactical Responsibilities of the CSM, AM, or CS/AM
Here are the tactical responsibilities of Customer Success and account management teams, according to execs.
Onboarding New Clients: Walking customers through the setup and initial implementation of the product.
Customer Training: Educating customers on how to use the product to its full extent.
Technical Support: Troubleshoot any technical issues customers face.
Account Monitoring: Keeping track of customer usage data and identifying upsell or churn risks.
Customer Communications: Periodic check-ins, status updates, and satisfaction surveys.
Issue Resolution: Addressing and resolving concerns or complaints.
Contract Renewals: Making sure that customers renew their subscriptions.
Upselling and Cross-Selling: Recommending additional features or products to benefit the customer.
Billing and Invoicing: Overseeing the financial aspects of customer accounts.
Reporting: Generating reports on customer health, churn risk, and other metrics.
Product Feedback: Collecting, organizing, and forwarding product feedback from customers to the product team.
Cancellation Requests: Handling all the logistics related to account cancellation.
Strategic Responsibilities of the CSM, AM, or CS/AM
CSMs and Account mangers share strategic responsibilities and here is a list of their strategic responsibilities.
Account Planning: Creating and implementing tailored success plans for individual clients.
Client Retention Strategy: Identifying churn risks and implementing mitigation strategies.
Revenue Optimization: Maximizing revenue from existing clients through upselling and cross-selling strategies.
Customer Segmentation: Dividing customer base into segments for more targeted interactions.
Long-term Relationship Building: Strengthening customer loyalty and establishing partnerships.
Customer Advocacy: Turning satisfied customers into brand advocates who will refer new business.
Market Analysis: Understanding industry trends to better serve current and future needs.
Feedback Loop with Sales and Marketing: Ensuring that insights from customer interactions are shared with the sales and marketing teams to help in targeting and positioning.
CS Exec Automation Vision
What CS execs envision to automate to alleviate what CS/AMs do?
Customer Onboarding: Automated walkthroughs and setup guides.
Technical Support: AI-powered chatbots for common troubleshooting issues.
Account Monitoring: Automated dashboards and alerts for upsell and churn risks.
Customer Communications: Automated emails for check-ins, updates, and satisfaction surveys.
Reporting: Auto-generated reports on customer health and churn risks.
Billing and Invoicing: Automated billing and renewal reminders.
Product Feedback: Automated collection and initial feedback categorization.
Cancellation Requests: Automated process for handling cancellation logistics.