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Functional Roles of Customer Success

By Gainsight Team

Customer success plays an integral role in the success of any organization. CS efforts impact customer acquisition, upsells, expansions, renewals, and customer advocacy. Almost every business goal outlined by your company can be improved by someone in a customer success role.

Customer Success Roles

Because customer success impacts so many sections of your business, it requires a specific mix of CS professionals in order to be successful. To help you understand how to build an effective and impactful CS team, we’ve outlined the different customer success roles and functions, and what to look for when hiring for these roles.

Customer Success Management

In the past, Customer Success Managers (CSMs) were tasked with preventing customer churn and increasing retention. They monitored product use, flagged any unhappy customers, and ran Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) to maintain the current customer base.

Today, CSMs are responsible for so much more. Customers today require more engagement, more personalized consults, and realized value as quickly as possible. Not to mention the responsibilities they have to your internal team.

Sales relies on CSMs for opportunities, Marketing looks for customer advocates and helpful messaging to produce and attract more customers. Revenue teams rely on the information they have to predict company momentum and growth. It’s a much more involved role, with an immediate impact on your revenue. For this reason, CSMs often take on responsibilities for other functional roles.

Customer Support

Customer success is not customer support, but customer success can help with support. Often, we think that customers with the most support tickets are the ones struggling the most to understand the product and its value. Often, the opposite is true. These are your most engaged customers who see opportunities in your product to do more and help with other goals they have. CSMs should have visibility into these support tickets as well as their resolutions, even if they are not the ones addressing each issue.

Due to the nature of support, it is a reactive role. CSMs should focus primarily on proactive functions that help build relationships. Still, they should have visibility into support tickets for each account as well as their resolutions, even if they aren’t the ones addressing each question.

Customer Onboarding

Since the customer onboarding experience can make or break a customer’s overall adoption rates, it comes as no surprise that onboarding specialists play a critical role in customer success. These are the members of the team who help ensure customers get off on the right foot after they sign a contract.

To this end, they focus on provisioning, installing, and configuring new systems to ensure they’re operating efficiently and as designed. Simply put, Onboarding teams often focus on accelerating time to value, ensuring customers get ROI as quickly as they can.

Customer Training

Time-to-value is an essential metric for understanding the impact of your customer success efforts. High time-to-value rates rely on your customers understanding how to use your product to meet their unique goals effectively. As such, your CS team must provide personalized, simple training sessions, including those that are on-demand. You should also have CSMs that perform live online classes and in-person workshops. Best-in-class training teams are likely using all three of these mediums, and possibly even more, to ensure customers are educated about their products.

When companies lack dedicated Customer Training teams, CSMs usually assume responsibility for training. That said, even when Customer Training teams exist, CSMs often spend a good chunk of time training and retraining customers to set them up for success.

As products continue to evolve, training needs to evolve alongside them. Leading Customer Training teams are constantly developing new programs to ensure that customers can continuously improve their productivity.

Professional Services

Professional Services teams are those that possess an intricate knowledge of your products and know them inside and out. Typically, they work hand in hand with customers, helping build bespoke integrations or features designed to support specific workflows. For these reasons, Professional Services teams play a critical role in product adoption and growth because products become “stickier” as they are integrated deeper into a customer’s processes.

In most cases, Professional Services teams emerge after customers begin requesting the need for customization. Their results are measured based on how much revenue they help generate.

Renewals

All SaaS companies are laser-focused on renewals. As organizations scale, they create dedicated Renewals teams that focus on ensuring customers stay on board. In many cases, these team members are also tasked with upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Most of the time, CSMs are the first line of contact for renewals. But in the event they are unable to convince a customer to stay on board, the dedicated Renewals team is the next line of defense.

Ready to Take Your Customer Success Program to the Next Level?

While customer success plays an integral part in an organization’s outcomes, it’s a complicated endeavor with many moving parts that have to work in harmony. Still, with so much on the line, it’s a function you certainly can’t afford to overlook.

When you’re ready to take your customer success program to the next level, take a moment and download our guide, “How to Build a Customer-Centric Tech Stack,” and learn how to determine the appropriate software to center your customers and start thinking proactively about their success.

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