7 Things I learned at TSW

A big thank you to all who came by the booth at TSW last week!

It seems that the conference was all about customer success (music to my ears!) While the field is still maturing, it’s great to see best practices emerging. Here are 7:

  • Segmentation is key. The top accounts get an assigned CSM and personalized updates, with ratios that vary between 1:5 and 1:20. Others receive ad-hoc updates, driven by data, with much wider ratios of CSMs to customers, 1:100 to 1:200.
  • Relationship mapping is critical: the CSMs should capture not just the org chart, but the map of influence at the customer site.
  • Onboarding needs to be structured with tangible gates from one step to the other. This both shows progress to the customer and helps scale the process. [My take: I like to share the onboarding sequence with customers, in a visual way to allows them to measure their progress.]
  • Find out what the value is for the customer. This can come from the sales team but should be revisited and confirmed during adoption. [I find that segmentation also occurs here, by use case. Onboarding could also be different by use case!]
  • Analytics are your friend.┬ámove from measuring basic usage data (e.g., how many people logged into the product) to data that shadows effectiveness (e.g. amount of memory used). Per the TSIA survey, vendors that measure consumption are much more profitable than others. [Challenge: find a way to measure consumption even for on-premise solutions.]
  • CSMs need 4 kinds of skills: technical, soft/relationship, process/best practices, and vertical/industry. It’s awfully difficult to find all four in a single individuals, so in more complex environments we see more and more a split between relationship managers and “value engineers”, responsible for the technical side. [We use a similar framework during our Customer Success training programs.]
  • CSMs are almost always expected to generate leads for sales, but vendors ask the sales team to close the sales, both because it allows for CSMs to keep their “trusted advisers” status with customers — and not to overload the requirements for CSMs to possess yet one more set of skills. CSM compensation is bonus-based, with lead volume alongside NPS and renewals as the top goals.

More on non-customer-success topics in the next post…

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