Customer Success Managers: Challenges and Solutions

Customer success managers juggle many responsibilities, leading to frequent challenges. Get actionable tips on overcoming the top 5 customer success manager challenges.


March 7, 2022

Table of Contents

    In today's competitive market, satisfying your customers is critical for your company's customer success. This blog delves into the essential insights and best practices that can assist you in developing a solid partnership with your customer success manager and achieving your business goals.

    If you have been following up with the industry trends, you would know how customer-centric business approaches have taken the enterprise SaaS industry by storm.

    However, not all enterprise SaaS companies can adopt Customer-Centricity at Scale,” and the reason for this is simple; The absence of a “Single Source of Truth” platform.

    When a client churns, the customer success teams are connected to the ultimate KPI, but is this just one team's failure?

    The answer is No!

    Customer churns and negative or declining NRR cannot be a failure of one team but results from multiple failures in the information transfer from various cross-functional departments across different stages of the customer lifecycle journey with your product.

    We have made a list of negative experiences Customer Success Managers face across all stages of a customer journey. This might help you understand how a customer-centric business approach is more than a single team effort.

    Customer success manager challenges

    During The Pre-Sales Stage:

    The pre-sales stage is the initial and crucial stage in the customer journey. This stage forms a foundation for your customer’s decision-making process, where they are still evaluating other customer success solutions while wanting to choose your product.

    The sales team usually handles the pre-sales stage, where-in their primary goal is to seal the deal with this particular customer, along with secondary purposes like

    • Establishing customer requirements and challenges and mapping them to the product
    • Providing realistic timelines for POC/POV
    • Identifying stakeholders for particular POC/POV
    • Listing use cases that need to be aligned with the product, etc.

    The sales team can successfully achieve their primary goal of getting the sale done; however, communicating and documenting the results of secondary purposes is where your business sees a lapse.

    This, in turn, leads to the following issues for your customer success teams.

    Incomplete Data Transfer

    Since the sales team’s primary focus is on converting the lead to a sale, there may be chances of them missing out on documenting all the necessary information from the client.

    There might be a miss in use-case documentation, clarity on who would be the POC on this particular customer or misunderstanding of a specific use-case or requirement put forth by the customer.

    Usually, the back-and-forth of information is done via tools like email, slack, or google sheets. It then becomes a task for the onboarding and implementation teams to pick up data from all these sources to make sense of the collected information.

    Lack Of Clarity To The Customer

    When a customer is in the pre-sales stage, their main objective is to evaluate and decide on the closest solution to their problems.

    Hence, only a little information is rendered by the customer as they are busy providing their details, such as their problem statement, use cases, etc., to the sales team.

    This could also cause your customers to miss out on important information about your product, POCs from your team, and understanding of various timelines on product deliverables.

    When the onboarding call kicks off, it is the onboarding team or the customer success team’s job to take the customer through the entire process of clarifying customer doubts, thus delaying the onboarding process.

    Manual Tracking Of Data

    Let’s start with initial emails by the sales team, then the sales kick-off call, minutes of the meetings, SOW document, contracts, use case document, and whatnot!

    Without a single source of truth platform, all these pieces of information are recorded and saved in different silos of tools like emails, google documents, CRM, or any other project management tools.

    Every time a customer success manager needs to keep track of what was promised, what is being delivered, and what has been a successful delivery, they have to go back and forth manually to all these tools to seek the required information and present it to the customers or the implementation teams.

    During The Implementation Stage:

    After successfully yet painstakingly dodging the pre-sales and sales stage, the customer moves to the implementation stage.

    Here the goal of a customer success manager in the implementation stage is as follows:

    1. Get handover from the pre-sales/onboarding teams and validate the scope of work.
    2. Identifying stakeholders for the internal teams and the customers.
    3. Obtain a list of prerequisites, like data, configurations, etc., from the customers.
    4. Tracking a timeline of different milestones, delays, dependencies, support tickets, and resolutions.  

    Now that the goals are established, let’s look at the issues the CS teams face.

    Data Collation

    It can’t be stressed more how customer success managers have to deal with collecting data from cross-functional teams and make sense of it for each customer they handle.

    Excel can be a nightmare for your customer success team as they manually collect data like daily progress reports, status from each team member, risks, and delays, where they spend hours and hours just to gather the information.

    Sometimes the customer success team also has to add discussions from Slack, JIRA, Word, etc., to the Excel tracker to help them create reports for the next meeting or the weekly calls with the customer.

    Zero Accountability From The Implementation Team

    Usually, due to the misfit in the use case dependencies and the product roadmap, the implementation teams hand over half-baked implementations during the go-live stage of the customer journey.

    The result of this is customer escalations and frustrations that need to be addressed by the customer success teams!

    Mostly these implementations fail because the implementation teams cannot map the use cases to the product or due to the information loss that happens because of different silos of tools.

    By the end of it, when the customer leaves, it becomes a negative KPI for the CS team.

    Customer Delays

    Due to the absence of a single source of truth platform, and the lack of transparency caused by it, the customers aren’t always aware of the delays they cause.

    This just leads to the CS teams constantly following up with the customer to close the tasks that are delayed on their end.

    And the outcome of which is the delay in the next stage of the customer journey, i.e., the go-live stage.

    During The Go-Live Stage

    Once the implementation stage is completed, the next step is to onboard the customer and hand over your product to them.

    Here the goals of the customer success teams are:

    1. Drive constant usage of the platform
    2. Cover the use case requested by the customer
    3. Discover potential new use cases and bugs from the customer
    4. Work towards getting the ultimate goal: RENEWAL

    So what can go wrong here for the CS teams?

    The Sole Responsibility For The Failure

    With hundreds of back-and-forth, information loss, delays, and hasty implementations, there can be no denying that your customer has already decided to discard your product.

    In the current enterprise SaaS setting, the sole KPIs of NRR, ARPU, MRR, NPS, etc., are set for the customer success teams. Hence a failed go-live will ultimately affect the performance of the customer success teTheby; the CS team gets blamed, though it is usually the joint failure of the cross-functional teams and the customer.

    Customer Churn

    With all attempts to make the customer-centric business approach and aspirations to scale customer success, many organizations need help solving customer churn.

    It could be the fault of any team. Still, the result is a loss for your company and a failure for the customer success teams. Even after thousands of attempts at resolving customer escalations, prioritizing, and proactively assisting cross-functional teams in achieving the desired outcome, the CS team is considered a failure.

    What’s The Solution For Your Customer Success Team?

    With the issues we’ve pointed out above, it is evident that the customer success team is essential. However, they are also the team that is under constant scrutiny.

    So how can your business achieve customer-centricity when your customer success team struggles to stay afloat?

    The answer is simple!

    Adopting a “single source of truth” platform that will help your business in the following ways;

    1. Cross-functional collaboration
    2. Provide Visibility & Transparency
    3. Help evaluate time to value w.r.t revenue risks
    4. Help with accountability

    With this, your business will achieve a genuinely customer-centric approach and ensure that your customer success team can achieve its goal of customer retention, positive NPS, and stable ARR.

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