Over the past week we released a series of short clips from an interview with Amy Friedman, a four time customer success professional with over fifteen years of experience in the SaaS industry. She has worked in customer success for Informatica, Fundly, Rearden Commerce and LucidEra (and is about to embark on a new adventure).

I thought it would be useful to summarize the entire series in one post so here it goes: Amy’s six secrets on how to build a killer customer success team. This is not meant to be a definitive guide, just one woman’s tips from the front lines.

1. Why be a customer success professional?
“If you roll with the punches this could be the most rewarding job ever”
It is clear Amy derives a lot of satisfaction from helping customers. She always has the customer experience top of mind. She shares how customers are often very really keen to hear from a customer success manager and desperate for help and information. Of course customers want to get the most out of the solution the bought. But most of all Amy values the relationships you build with customers: “The relationships you build are priceless.”

2. What is a typical job description for a customer success manager?
“As a customer success professional you are the project manager in charge of driving usage and adoption.”
The first and foremost task for customer success managers is to be the customer advocate always and to drive usage and adoption as well as customer satisfaction as a whole. You should make sure that customers take full advantages of all features and services that your company has to offer. CS managers are often the first to identify up-sell opportunities, though Amy recommends that CS managers should not carry a quote. Customer value and satisfaction come first, revenues will follow.

3. What makes a good customer success manager?
“You need to be a problem solver who is fanatical about customers.”
The best customer success professionals come from a from any customer facing role: Amy herself comes from Marketing but she recommends that customer support staff tends to make excellent customer success managers.

4. What are the biggest challenges in customer success?
“It feels sometimes like sales is throwing customers over the fence and customer success is there to catch them”.
The biggest challenges for customer success teams are: 1) the handoff from sales (understanding the commitments made during the sales process), 2) the fact that the buyers are not the users of the solution (and users may not have bought in and may not be properly trained) and 3) under utilization of features (end users may not be aware of all that you have to offer).

5. Metrics for customer success
The most important is to have all customer data in one place accessible to all customer facing personnel. Things to include in your “centralized customer repository” are the number of logins, features being used, renewal percentages, churn rate (number of customers, revenues per customer), and whether or not customers have paid their bills on time. Amy recommends to use a commercial vendor like Totango to create your central customer engagement repository.

6. The ideal customer success team
Since Amy worked in customer success at four different companies so far we asked her what was the best company she worked for in this regard and what made the team so effective. She relates her experiences at LucidEra where onboarding, support and customer success teams worked very closely together. All information about customers was always available for all customer facing personnel and there was tremendous executive support: at LucidEra there was a weekly meeting with the CEO to discuss account status.

Here are links to the videos of the interview with Amy:

Part 1: Role & responsibilites
Part 2: Challenges
Part 3: Metrics
Part 4: LucidEra case study

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