It's impossible not to mention the Silicon Valley Bank debacle this morning, so I will.
The lesson here is about surprises.
Nobody likes surprises, whether it's a customer, an employee, a spouse, or an investor.
But especially investors.
By catching investors off guard with news of significant losses on long-term bonds triggering a hasty fundraising event, and botched communications that contributed to a run on the bank, SVB blew forty years of goodwill in the blink of an eye.
Just like that, it's gone.
For its customers, there will be short-term pain. But the federal government has stepped in to provide liquidity. Monday morning SVB will open its doors as Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara.
In the coming days, a larger financial institution will likely buy this troubled but valuable asset allowing the lucky bidder to enter the lucrative tech business banking market at a discount.
It's the circle of life on public display.
The lesson for business executives is about communications and the importance of minimizing surprises and maximizing the confidence of stakeholders, i.e., investors, employees, customers, and partners.
Will be an interesting week ahead. 🥸🍿
🔥 Customer success beyond CSMs
Your customers need more than a CSM to be successful.
Over the past 15 years, customer success managers have become the de facto owners and facilitators of the customer experience in many B2B tech companies.
There are a few challenges with this:
If either the customer point of contact or CSMs leave their job or get promoted, we lose the momentum we had in the relationship creating a dangerous single point of failure for each customer.
If everyone does repetitive, duplicative enablement, support, and consulting tasks, managing quality across all these interactions becomes nearly impossible. Everyone does things slightly differently, with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Of course, you can have playbooks, documentation, and systems supporting this work, but as long as the work is done one customer at a time, it won't scale well. It also creates another single point of failure, this time for the customer, i.e., if the CSM is ill-equipped for any reason, then the customer suffers.
Employing an army of CSMs to provide custom, one-on-one enablement and consulting becomes a drag on the P&L. Over the past six months, it’s become clear increasingly clear that customer success must add unique value (beyond that of the support and services teams), drive renewals, and demonstrably impact customer renewals, revenue retention, and expansion.
A better way?
Scale your customer success practice with customer programs and community.
Start by pooling insights from the CSMs, support, and services teams.
What's driving the workload for these teams? For example:
- repetitive support cases
- common training needs
- product feedback
- inbound requests for benchmarks and best practices
Review support case data, watch recorded customer calls, and interview individuals on these teams to discover opportunities.
Stack rank each type of interaction by the amount of work it drives for the teams.
Identify programs and resources that address each "expensive" type of interaction at scale:
- targeted content: knowledge base articles, product blogs, videos
- new user and best practices webinars
- product enhancements, etc.
Create a customer engagement hub where customers can quickly access these programs and resources and interact with their peers (i.e., the customer community).
CS Leaders: now is the time to think differently about how you deliver customer success.
Will there always be high-touch customers that need one-on-one engagement?
But the ability to scale specific, costly interactions across all customer segments will improve the customer experience, reduce workload, and boost net retention and profitability.
Scaled, community-driven customer engagement is now table stakes.
How are you changing your approach?
💡 Weekly Favorites
Here are some of my favorite podcasts, blogs, and videos from the week (all about writing):
- Building scalable customer success through communities by my friend Brian Oblinger. More depth on what I propose above.
- Outside the news of collapsing banks, the AI hype cycle continues to gain steam. Cory Doctorow explains why The AI hype bubble is the new crypto hype bubble.
- Special episode of the Prof G Podcast with Scott Galloway: Silicon Valley Bank Goes Bust. This has recently become one of my go-to podcasts.
Enjoy, and I'll see you next week.
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