This is the third blog in a series that explores the Customer Success value proposition and ideas for how to operationalize and optimize the role: 

The Urge to Converge: Understanding the Customer Success Value Proposition 

The Urge to Converge: Exploring Customer Journey “Swim Lanes” for Sales, Service and Customer Success

The Urge to Converge: Designing Customer Success Competency Maps

Customer Success Competency Maps

Phil Nanus, Vice President of Customer Success at Technology Services Industry Association, states In The State of Customer Success, “It is important to align the right talent from the beginning so that you aren’t fitting that square peg into a potential round hole.” In a TSIA survey of 3,000 members, best practices for creating customer success capabilities and key performance indicators for customer success led the list of business challenges.

Miller Heiman Group recommends a talent audit to assess employees currently performing in the Customer Success Manager role (whether that is their title or not). The next step is to build a profile that can be used to assess current customer service employees to determine who has the motivation and raw material to expand into a CSM role, and to compare potential new hires against.

The talent audit and job profile should measure the following three areas:

  • Product proficiency and technical knowledge specific to your company
  • Competencies, skills and behavior specific to the customer success role
  • Performance metrics used by your company to measure customer experience and satisfaction (usage, TTV, NPS, CSat, customer health score, retention/churn, renewals, upsell and cross sell.)

Miller Heiman Group helps companies sell more and service better, so our area of contribution is the second bullet.

Customer Success Manager Competencies

To design a data-driven competency model, begin by asking the following questions:

  • What are the behaviors that differentiate high performers in the CSM role?
  • What do high performers in the CSM role do that others do not do as well?
  • What does good look like for the CSM role?

We found, in answer to the questions above, that the competencies, skills and behavior required for optimum CSM performance can be categorized in the following three areas:

  1. Passion for building long-term relationships and contributing to successful customer outcomes.
  2. Ability to listen to underlying meaning and emotion as well as content, ask questions to clarify and develop needs, and express ideas clearly and simply while seeking agreement to foster feelings of understanding and partnership.
  3. Insatiable desire to understand the customer, achieve initiatives and solve problems utilizing your company’s entire solution suite.

The third competency is what separates customer success from customer service. CSMs are mandated to expand customer usage and adoption of additional products while simultaneously influencing product improvement and future product development based on early access to customer needs. This competency merges the best of service and sales.

“The Customer Success Management organization has a direct line into how customers think and talk about their goals and how they’re using your product to reach those goals. This is invaluable in every aspect of the business, from attracting good-fit customers, accelerating the sales process and creating a product development road map.”

— Lincoln Murphy, 16 Ventures

Interested in learning more about how you can help your organization deliver an end-to-end positive customer experience? Visit our booth at the Technology Services World event in October.

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