Product SMEs for Customer Success

If you offer very complex products, CSMs will have the same issue as sales reps: keeping up with the technical side. And it’s worse if you happen to have a wide range of products.

Sales teams have long ago come up with a solution for this: they pair sales reps with systems engineers, who handle the technical aspects of the deals, sometimes including all the product demos. Wy not do the same for CSMs?

  • Think big and think shared. Instead of creating yet another corps of technical specialists, who will need training, and an avenue to interact with the Engineering team, why not join forces with existing teams, in particular SMEs that already exist in support and professional services? Yes, you will need to adapt the staffing model, but unless your customer success team is very large indeed, you will likely get deeper expertise by leveraging one team across all functions.
  • Define rules of engagement.  When can CSMs engage the SMEs? How are requests evaluated and assigned? How do we balance billable and non-billable work? This is particularly important if SMEs are shared across multiple post-sales functions.
  • Don’t allow the CSMs to become completely ignorant. If they know they can get an assist from a SME, some may abandon all attempt to learn the product. This will only create a heavier load on the subject-matter experts, and decrease the CSM’s ability to deliver meaningful assistance to customers. At a minimum, they should fully master use cases and be competent users of the products.

How do you provide CSMs with the technical assistance they need? Please share in the comments.

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