How to Structure your Customer Success Team

What makes a sports team successful? Excellent athletes who work together on both offense and defense to win the game. A good pitcher alone won’t win a baseball game. He needs a good catcher and good infielders and outfielders to support him, good batters to score points, and good coaches to make strategic play calls. Having the right members and the right structure is key to the success of any team – whether that team is on a field or in a conference room.

When it comes to the structure of a Customer Success (CS) team, there are many factors that need to be considered, from the makeup of the team to the technology that will be used. Let’s break down these factors and take a look at what components are needed to structure an efficient and successful CS team. 

Who Makes Up a Customer Success Team?

In baseball, the success of the team starts with the right coach. In CS, the success of the team starts with the right leader, which, depending on the size of the company and team, could be the Director of Customer Success, the VP of Customer Success or the Chief Customer Officer. This leadership role is responsible for establishing and cultivating relationships with top-tier clients, and understanding customer needs and how the company’s products or services can meet them. Next up, the team needs an Operations Manager who can help to manage and support individual members of the CS team, manage the team workflow and oversee the management of customer portfolios. Finally, the team needs Customer Success Managers (CSMs) who are responsible for monitoring and communicating with clients frequently and promptly. Below is a breakdown of these key roles and their primary responsibilities:  

  • Chief Customer Officer: The highest-ranking member of the CS team, the CCO works with the executive board to create and implement CS strategies, champions a customer-centered mindset within the company, and unifies customer data to create a comprehensive, 360-degree view of customers that is accessible to all team members.
  • VP of Customer Success: This person oversees the development and implementation of CS strategies, manages the existing customer base, and handles the management and growth of the CS team.
  • Director of Customer Success: The director helps to build and maintain customer relations by anticipating and advocating for customer needs, and oversees the management and support of internal team members.
  • CS Operations Manager: This person manages team workflow and internal processes to ensure efficiency, supports team members in improving individual impact and goal progress, and establishes an early warning system.
  • Customer Success Manager: A CSM works one-on-one with customers, guiding them through the customer journey and fostering a positive connection. They also advocate for the business goals of customers, and anticipate how to meet those goals and how they will change over time.

How is a Customer Success Team Structured?

 To properly structure a CS team, it’s important to first figure out how many people the team needs. This is determined by how detailed customer-representative interactions are and by how frequently they occur. Teams that are very hands-on and have CS representatives frequently checking in with customers will need more team members handling fewer accounts, whereas teams that follow a one-to-many approach can have fewer team members handling more accounts. In Totango’s 2021 State of Customer Success Industry and Salary Report, 26% of respondents stated that the typical CSM at their companies managed between 51-100 accounts, while 17% of respondents stated that their CSMs managed more than 200 accounts.

 How customers are segmented can help with the division of labor and the CS team structure. By dividing customers into groups based on shared characteristics, such as account revenue, geography or product line, the CS team can give more customers greater levels of personalization. Plus, it allows the team to deliver targeted, contextually relevant content based on each segment’s unique CS needs.

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In a recent survey, Totango asked CS professionals how their teams are structured and found that the most popular way is by account company size (64%) followed closely by the account or contract revenue (63%). Other popular methods include lifecycle state (46%), geography (24%), product line (23%), and the industry or vertical (22%).  

What Technology Does a CS Team Need?

Just as a baseball team needs the right equipment (bats, balls, gloves, helmets) to win games, a CS team needs the right technology to help its customers succeed. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work mandates highlighted the need for, and value of, a digital-first CS approach. By utilizing data-driven CS technologies, teams are able to gain a holistic view of each customer account, provide hyper-personalized interactions, automate repetitive tasks, and efficiently scale their businesses without having to scale their teams.

The 2021 State of Customer Success Industry and Salary Report found that CS teams use a wide variety of technology to interact with clients and capture data across channels, including CRM systems (64%), Excel or Google spreadsheets (55%), help desk tools (51%), survey or customer experience tools (49%), and customer success platforms (42%). When a number of different, disconnected systems are used, however, it can be difficult for CS teams to determine the root cause of issues like customer churn or engagement. But when a CS platform, like Totango, is implemented, teams are able to pull in key customer metrics from across all data platforms into a single dashboard in order to gain a holistic understanding of customers and seamlessly integrate customer and operational insights.

No matter how many people make up your CS team, consider adding a quality CS platform like Totango to the squad. Totango’s robust CS platform is results-oriented and goal-focused, giving CS teams the power to set goals, create actionable steps and get results. Plus, it’s free! Learn more about how Totango can help your team reach its CS goals and sign up for free today!

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