Customer Success, or Client Success as we call it here at Passle, is the life blood of a SaaS business. Software as a Service products are sold through a subscription service and if the software isn't renewed continually, revenue stops. A SaaS product license is only going to be renewed if the customers are happy and get value from the product.
Sales are responsible for selling the software and for the renewal of the subscription (and therefore ongoing revenue generation). Client Success teams are a relatively new concept. Previously, businesses had a support function that sat mostly with the development or operations side of the business and Sales and Account Managers were responsible for upselling and renewals. Nobody had the role of delighting the client and making sure that their business was more successful as result of using their product. A happy client means they won't look elsewhere when their license is going to run out.
The role of a Client Success individual is multi faceted and it's interesting to consider the various responsibilities that lie within the role. Understanding this means that it's possible to attract people and make a strong hire. It also means that a business can offer the right training and development so that they can develop and retain their team.
A client success team member must have strong cross functional relationships across the entire business from end to end of the product lifecycle. They must understand the product in depth, they must be project managers, they must be product trainers, they will need to manage problems and they must be commercially orientated too. This is not an easy find and in addition to this, this variety of skills is so varied it may not be possible that someone's strengths lie in everything.
The scope of a Client Success role is very much dependent on how technical the product is, how much pre-configuration is needed, and how much technical support is required. For this reason many businesses have a team of solutions consultants, implementation consultants and technical support. Ultimately though, the client success person is the key contact and holds the relationship with the client. The client's satisfaction and success with the product lies with them. They project manage this.
Client Success teams are agents for change. By definition, they are introducing a company to new software and they need to be able to manage stakeholders in a time of change where there may be resistance. Influencing skills are critical here, to make the product 'sticky' and well adopted. Managing multiple clients throughout the day, and managing the various stakeholders requires strong organisational skills.
Alongside all of the external client management, internal stakeholder management is also critical. Communication with the entire business is key. What is not seen is not heard. Sales teams need to be communicated with and Client Success should also bear in mind that Sales formed the initial relationship, and they must ensure that they obtain all information on stakeholders.
Client Success in a sense makes everyone else's role in the company worthwhile. If the development team can develop a great product that the sales team can sell to clients who want to buy it, then the Client Success team must ensure that the clients are happy and remain as clients.
Customer Success teams need to have strong internal relationships with just about every other functional team and in turn manage all of the customer dynamics that surface cross-functionally.