“Customer Success — what’s that?” a friend sneered at me last week. Well, it’s a team that owns the customer relationship and helps them increase their happy use of a product or service. And for our team at Aha! Customer Success has even replaced traditional Sales.
The most successful SaaS companies have one team that owns the complete customer journey. That is why we believe that Customer Success is no longer optional for SaaS companies.
I am humbled to lead our incredible Customer Success team at Aha! today. And there are a few things that make our team unique: the type of people we hire and the daily habits that we follow.
First, we only hire experienced former Product Managers. That is because we take a consultative approach to helping our customers solve problems. So, I would recommend always hiring experts when hiring for your own Customer Success team. Do not make the mistake of thinking about Customer Success as merely another form of support.
Second, we look for specific habits in former Product Managers as predictors of how they will perform as Customer Success Managers. That is because not everyone is cut out to be a Customer Success Manager.
So, here are a few specific habits that we use each day. These habits have helped our team scale to supporting thousands of customers worldwide. And more importantly than that, we hear from our customers all the time how much they love Aha! — which is the highest compliment that they can pay us.
Ask anyone who works with customers: days are busy, time is precious, and there is no room for ambiguity. If you want to work in Customer Success, you need absolute confidence in where your organization is going. This involves knowing your company strategy as well as the goals and initiatives that you must achieve to fulfill it.
Customer Success teams have a lot to get done each day. And we often shift quickly from one task to the next. We cannot do this effectively if we are not inherently sure why each task matters. So, understanding why you go from answering support tickets to leading a group demo is the first step towards increased productivity.
It is easier to be strategic when you have a framework to guide your actions. Our entire organization uses The Responsive Method. It is based on the belief that “interactions with urgency are what propel people and organizations forward.”
In Customer Success, that means our goal is to answer all inquiries from trial users, customers, and colleagues as soon as possible. We know what our organization values — and why — so we are confident that this matters most. The result? We have an average global response time of under two hours.
It can be tough to balance being responsive with forming deep relationships. But answering quickly with “Yea” or “Nay” should never come at the expense of being kind. You cannot grow revenue if you have not proven to your customers why you deserve their business. Trust is not a given; your team has to earn it.
That is why amazing SaaS companies grow when Customer Success teams invest in building strong bonds. Staying kind — even when it’s hard — helps you keep perspective and stay in control. I have found many times that keeping your cool literally pays off. It helps you earn trust and new business where you otherwise might have lost it.
No matter how deep your knowledge is, there is always more to learn. At Aha! we work with businesses of all sizes, from one-person startups to the world’s largest multi-national organizations. Our Customer Success team members begin every interaction by asking how they can help. I am often surprised by the answers I receive — and humbled by how much I learn from their experiences.
If a potential or current customer shares some new insights with me, I always write them down for future reference. I often use these insights to help other folks down the line. This task reminds me that my own experience is valid, but not absolute. And it offers a sense of empathy for those who have different perspectives.
Working with hundreds of customers each week is energizing. But it can wear you out if you’re not careful. The workload is constant. That means you need to set your own boundaries to stay productive and happy. This requires a team effort so that one person does not get stuck with a heavier load.
We achieve this at Aha! by having different team members answer requests within different timezones. We also stagger vacations so everyone can take strategic breaks to refresh away from work. And if someone needs a break to stay productive, they can put it on their calendar for the rest of us to plan around it.
When everyone invests in each other’s happiness, you see the personal and business impact. Do not neglect the “team” in “Customer Success team.”
Customer Success is about so much more than providing timely support. It is a holistic process of providing value and building lasting relationships.
It is also a lot of work — which is why the right daily habits are essential. Our team at Aha! uses the five habits above to keep us focused, productive, and happy.
Which daily habits help you lead a strong Customer Success team?