Many startups must begin their journey as an agency oriented company. Offering a service to be completed for the client. Over time this migrates to a SaaS model, putting the power and control in the hands of the client.
This method works to varying degrees depending on your product, the customer lifecycle and how you approach the transition. But if handled poorly it can be fraught with problems that your Customer Success Team will have to face.
One of those problems is the implied obligation for Customer Success Managers to over-service their clients as a means to prevent churn. Jump to section “Why It’s Your Fault“.
How We Got Here
While your company is an agency it does everything for the client, they’ve become used to this and have expectations to have it done. When you move to a SaaS model much of these services are reduced or removed entirely and put on the client to perform. Usually without a reduction in costs and fees.
This can leave a sour feeling for your customers, telling them you want them to continue paying what they have been, but you’ll do less for them.
Customers may feel like you’re telling them to pay full price for their sugar-free vanilla, non-fat, extra hot latte, but they need to get behind the counter to make it themselves now.
Moving From Agency to SaaS
Ensure you have all your t’s crossed and your
It’s your job to make sure things go smoothly, it’s your job to ensure you’ve thought of everything, leave nothing to chance and prepare for combative customers that will put up a fuss no matter what you do.
Engage with your Customer Success team early and often. Understanding the issues customers are having and their general mindset towards the change will help you uncover problems which means you can work towards solutions.
At no point should a room full of VPs, Directors and C-level people assume they know fully what’s going on. Your Customer Success team is your direct line to your customers, include them every step of the way.
Warning & Delivery
Do not simply make a switch
Start as early as possible, as long as you have details and confirmations, your customers will have questions so don’t announce anything until you can answer as much as you can at that time.
Make sure the announcements come from an authoritative figure, ideally, your CEO. When you ask your Customer Success Managers to send a templated email explaining a fundamental change in your product and service, it shifts any negative feelings the customer may have towards the CSM.
Do you agree or disagree with the above? Let us know in the comments and why.
By sending this correspondence from the CEO or VP of something you allow your CSM to maintain a partner relationship with your customers. Giving your CSMs the opportunity to work with and for your customers to find solutions instead of putting them in the hot seat, and having to defend the changes directly.
Engage regularly with your customers about the changes and how they’re managing them.
Some customers may need to bring on new employees to handle additional work that you’re no longer doing for them or they need to hire an agency to fill in the gaps.
That’s fine, and in some cases encouraged. Just remember that the more money they spend elsewhere may mean reduced funding for you so it’s super important that your Customer Success Team demonstrates value left, right and centre at this crucial time.
Since it will be vitally important that your CSMs showcase the value of your product during this change, make sure you’ve identified what your new value proposition is, what the new deliverables are, and if things are happening behind the scenes that your customers may not see directly but receive value from, make sure you’re showing them those things you’re doing.
it’s Your Fault
Well, it may not be your fault directly. Depends who you are reading this. The point is to not put undue pressure on your CS team to perform, and to look out for signs that it’s happening but no one’s telling you.
A primary purpose of a Customer Success Manager is to prevent churn. When this is emphasized too much a CSM can feel like they need to take whatever actions they can to keep a customer around, this often means over-servicing.
If you are a Director of Customer Success or a VP of Customer Success or anyone running a company that has a Customer Success team – make sure you’re having a good look at the priorities of your CS team and how conversations are being had.
Open dialogue and creating an atmosphere where employees feel safe to express their real feelings will result in you actually knowing what’s going on.
Keep an eye on CSMs attitudes and outlook, being over-worked to provide service they shouldn’t be will almost certainly result in a disenchanted outlook, decreased productivity and eventually churn of your employees and customers.
Signs Your CSMs are Over-Servicing
- A look of dismay or lack of enthusiasm when they take on a new client suggests they’re already on the road to burnout, find out why.
- Lack of participation in other office events. Your CSMs are likely some of the most personable people in your organization if they’re not at least excited about free food for a team lunch you should be asking what’s wrong.
- The phrase “I don’t have much time this week, but I’ll try and fit it in…”. This could just be a line, but it could also be the truth, what
areyour CSMs doing that is eating up their day? If it’s things they should be doing, great, but if not you need to know.
- Mild to severe frustration when there should be none. Do you find some of your CSMs getting frustrated over little things? This could be a sum of the parts, and the latest tiny task is just straw that broke the camels back.
Other Reasons Over-Servicing is Bad
Besides over-servicing being bad for your Customer Success
- Over-servicing is really just giving away things for free.
- It creates additional stress on your employees, potentially resulting in higher turnover, and increased costs.
- Over-delivering leaves less time to learn and grow.
- Over-promising increases the likeliness you will under-deliver.
- It makes it difficult to price-increase or change your deliverables, increasing the likeliness of churn.
How do you set expectations with your customers? What methods do you use to ensure your Customer Success Team is not doing more than they should and headed towards burnout?