Why a CRM should not be your team's core customer success tool.
Your best opportunity to eliminate the specter of churn, turn renewal decisions into foregone conclusions, and create brand ambassadors
Everyone knows that Customer Success Managers wear many hats. You're ultimately responsible for customer retention but at the same time, you are the customer's first port of call for feedback, support, product advice AND the interface between the customer and your business. That's a lot of juggling to do!
It can often seem like there aren't enough hours in the day and optimizing your workflow for consistency and productivity is key. Thanks to the booming SaaS market, there are a lot of tools out there that are designed to help you here. Building Hugo and talking to customer success professionals every day has given us insight into some of the tools, processes, and products in play today - the helpful and the not-so-helpful. One common offender is the CRM.
Because Customer Success is usually setup later than sales in the company lifecycle, a CRM has often been implemented already and it contains customer data that CSMs need during the sales handover process. Whilst CRMs are an important part of your software stack, let me tell you why a CRM should not be your team's core customer success tool.
Customer Success is FOREVER and that puts a focus on relationship building. Understanding the needs of your customer is the only way to know if they are satisfied today and what opportunities exist to help them tomorrow.
A CRM has a degree of discreteness that is inherent in its use. Sales development and account executives are driven to convert leads into new customers, so they require tools designed to optimize a process that for closing deals.
Customer Success is not a sales strategy. As it's your primary goal to drive feature adoption and customer retention, a CRM lacks the depth of data and functionality needed to provide a personalized experience to those you're responsible for.
It's important to have a process that allows you to capture the data required to understand your customer intimately, to capture their feedback for other teammates like bugs and feature requests, and ultimately to provide continuity. This requires picking up from the last conversation and following up on previous requests or discussion as required.
This leads me to the next point...
Every single interaction with a customer results in work that needs to be scheduled - information that needs to be shared and then a follow-up action for each item when you're able to report back.
The best companies integrate their customer success managers cross-functionally so that they know exactly what the product team is shipping next or can provide critical information back to the team like bugs and feature requests.
You're probably using a suite of productivity apps like Trello, Asana or whatever pops up next. The one thing they all have in common is that CRMs don't know they exist! Communication between apps is key to a productive, cross-functional team and when this doesn't happen information falls through the cracks. When information falls through the cracks, you create more opportunities to fail your customers!
Most CRMs are pretty expensive, and the free ones are still on lockdown because the sales team needs to ensure data hygiene for their pipeline. This means that most people in the company who need access to the insights you're generating don't have access.
It's critical that tools used by CSMs allow for the sharing of qualitative insights. Without customer feedback getting back to the product teams, they will never be able to plug the gaps you're compensating for in the field.
In order to be successful in the long run, companies need to ensure that their CSMs are rockstars at two things - helping customers solve problems with the product, and helping the Product Development teams unlock new opportunities.
That starts with recognizing that you need more than your CRM to be a great Customer Success team.
For more on how CSMs can provide additional value to their companies, check out this piece on why we think analytics are overrated!