How involved is your Customer Success team in product launches? Chances are they could be doing more. Customer Success brings a deep understanding of customers’ needs and pain points. And when this is harnessed, it can empower Product teams to make better decisions that ultimately lead to more successful launches. Here are a few ways to maximize collaboration between CS and Product teams.
Step 1: Understanding what goes into the release
Within your organization, customer feedback is likely being funneled across different functions—product, marketing, sales, customer success, etc. Building the right product starts with having a clear view of your customers’ needs. Your CS teams should be your ears to the ground to communicate what your existing customers need and how the product is resonating with them.
When gathering these insights, be sure to build a framework around capturing high-quality feedback to get a clear understanding of the customer’s problem. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Recognize that customers may be inclined to share the solutions that they want, we recommend teams leverage a framework like the 5 Whys to uncover the customer’s true need.
- Train your Customer Success teams to apply the same framework when collecting feedback from customers.
- Have a central repository of customer feedback to get a complete view.
Once you’ve captured high-quality feedback, your Product teams and customer-facing teams can align on the key themes your customers surfaced and the prioritization decisions you make as a result.
Product can also work with the CS teams to understand what else should be factored in before a feature is released to make sure that the customer has the right structure and support. CS teams generally have the most in-depth understanding of customer readiness and journey. They can work with the Product team to determine potential obstacles and identify what needs to happen first and why.
Step 2: Enabling and preparing your CS team
This step involves enabling the CS team so they can effectively onboard, teach, or advise customers about the new feature. The CS team needs both the appropriate education and collateral they can share with customers.
Preparing your CS teams for an upcoming release is crucial to ensure that they bring awareness to your customers and the Product team has a partner who can help measure adoption.
Ensuring visibility into your product roadmap and building a communication channel will keep your CS teams informed on what’s coming and what they should expect. For example, at Productboard, there are weekly Product Calls with the entire organization where each tribe shares updates to their roadmaps and demos upcoming capabilities slated for release. Not only does this provide transparency into their plans, but it generates a shared excitement that rallies the teams together for upcoming product launches.
Before launch, the following tasks will enable your CS teams:
- Have an internal release before your official launch so your customer-facing teams can validate your solution, find potential edge-cases, and ensure that the solution is solving the customer problem.
- Seek alignment between your Product and CS teams on how to measure the success for the feature release. What’s your target activation and adoption rate?
- Outline which metrics can be tracked to measure if your customers are engaged with the new features.
For certain product launches, some features may be more complex and require more attention for your customers and CS teams. In these cases, there should be more dedicated enablement sessions and office hours between Product and CS teams to ensure that they understand the upcoming release.
Product teams should make their collateral available to the CS teams so they can easily share and communicate with their customers. CS teams can then leverage these materials as part of their regular communications and meeting cadence such as QBRs, monthly progress reviews, etc.
Step 3: Launching
Ready to launch the new feature? A sound communication strategy will help your customers gain awareness and accelerate adoption.
When communicating with customers, here are a few strategies and considerations to keep in mind:
- Be respectful of people’s inboxes. Generally, people are more amenable to pop-up messages like in-app notifications vs. emails.
- Plan your content around who the feature audience will be and what would be relevant to them. By doing this, you can narrow your messaging to make it more enticing for their needs and better influence their call to action.
- As much as possible, track the impact of your messaging—how many messages did the user get? How many unsubscribes did you get at each step?
- Follow up your releases with a bundled newsletter to resurface all of the minor and major releases that happened in a given time period.
- Product marketing can curate email templates for CS teams to streamline communications to customers and ensure that new features are being described correctly.
Step 4: Post-launch
The new feature is out there in the world. That’s great, but your work is not done yet. Consider how the CS team can collect and provide feedback to the Product team. This way you continue to listen to and learn from your customers even after the feature is released.
Capturing high-quality feedback should be continuous, especially during the post-launch phase to get a pulse on how adoption is going. Here are a few tactics to try out:
- During meeting cadences with customers (e.g. monthly progress reviews, QBRs, etc.), CS teams should dedicate time to collect feedback on recent releases to gather customers’ reactions to the recent release. Use the metrics you agreed on to guide these discussions.
- If customers say it’s not what they expected or did not meet their needs, dig into the “why.” This is also a great opportunity to connect the Product team with the customer directly so they can do more discovery and understand the gap.
While the CS team is a major player here, don’t put all the burden on them. Look for ways your Product team can engage your customers more directly. For example, you could:
- Implement a tool or channel that allows your customers to react to or comment on your upcoming or released features (e.g. Productboard Portal, dedicated Slack channel, etc.) so that your Product teams can directly access this feedback.
- Invite your customers to company events like fireside chats. Not only does this fortify customer relationships, but it also provides direct exposure to customer needs and feedback.
Remember that data is your friend—after launch, actively track the metrics you’ve defined to measure the success of the launch.
This is just the beginning
You now have plenty of ideas for promoting better collaboration between your CS and product teams. Customer-facing teams bring the insights about customer needs and pain points while Product teams have the technical knowledge of what’s possible and which changes are being prioritized. Better communication and collaboration between these two areas of your company will ultimately lead to customers who feel more informed—and heard. And when that happens, everyone wins.
To learn more, watch our joint webinar with Productboard, focused on data-driven product roadmaps.