In the past, providers of IT products regarded a product or system as successful if it offered an immediate solution to the client. Few companies followed up with their clients to determine whether they were still satisfied with the product over time. They rarely kept track of the impacts of these products within their clients' organisation.
It was customary to develop hardware, software and systems according to a client’s requirements, and when a product had been delivered to the satisfaction of the client the provider would only get involved again when the client encountered problems or needed another product.
However, over the last few years, this mind-set has changed. Ongoing interaction with the client after the original product or system has been provided is nowadays part of the selling agreements and procedures of successful companies.
This ongoing interaction is needed because providers now deem a project or system only successful if it keeps on complying over time with the original expectations. It has been proven that with regular and ongoing communication between the provider and the client, a provider can detect possible malfunctioning and make adjustments before the client has any unexpected downtime. Ongoing client satisfaction is nowadays just as important as providing an excellent product or system.
Customer Success Teams and CSMs
To provide ongoing interaction between the company and clients, more and more companies are creating Customer Success Teams, or at least employing a Customer Success Manager (CSM). The purpose of these teams or CSMs is to communicate on an ongoing basis with the company’s clients.
(In this article “CSM” refers to both “Customer Success Team Member” and “Customer Success Manager”.)
Main Advantages for Clients when Dealing with Companies with Customer Success Teams
If you deal with a company with a Customer Success Team in place, the company will allocate a specific team member to you with whom you can build a long-term relationship. This has many benefits:
This CSM is your advocate at the company and will speak on your behalf to every department or person in the company.
As this relationship strengthens over time, you can discuss any product or system problems with the CSM, and also use the CSM as a soundboard for new developments you plan.
As a result of your regular discussions, the CSM often detects possible problems with your product or system and takes steps to rectify them, before you experience unforeseen downtime.
CSMs also keep clients updated on new developments and products/systems. They’ll facilitate demos and training regarding products or systems you might need.
Differences between Companies with CSMs and Companies with Sales Reps only
Traditionally, sales reps only react when you, as an existing customer, encounter problems with a product or need another product and you contact the company in this regard. You have to take the initiative and contact the sales rep.
However, if you are dealing with a company with a Customer Success Team you will build a trustworthy relationship with the allocated CSM and this person will advise you regarding other products or upgrades as soon as you’ve mentioned your foreseen problem or expansion. As the CSM will be familiar with your strategies and goals, tailored proposals will also be suggested for you to consider.
Sometimes, if you want to and allow it, the CSM can be part of, or even lead, your planning team to develop innovative products and systems specifically designed for your business. The CSMs can do this as they are experts in organising and visualising new goals and strategies. The CSM allocated to you will also have a good general knowledge of your industry.
New Purchasing Trends
Many economists predict that by the middle 2020s most software and IT systems will be acquired from subscriptions. The trend is shifting from one-time purchasing to repeated purchases or ongoing subscriptions.
With this in mind, the sooner you start using a company with Customer Success Teams in place to provide you with IT solutions and products, the easier you’ll be able to become part of this new trend. If you have a trusted relationship with a member of your current company’s Customer Success Team you will always be advised in time of new developments and products.
As the CSM knows your business and has insight into your data and work procedures, your time will not be wasted on looking at products and systems that are not suitable for your business. The CSM will only discuss applicable products with you and if necessary, discuss possible custom-made products and systems with the company’s developers.
There are definite advantages for clients to deal with providers following the new trend and using CSMs. Ensuring that you become a key advocate for your clients business, gaining valuable data on what is impacting your clients users and freeing up your sales team to focus on new business. If you aren’t yet investing in your CSM strategy, we would suggest you start TODAY.