What Product Wished Every CSM Did

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I started in Product Management 2 years ago. From the very start, it was clear that Customer Success plays a critical role in the development of any product. As CSMs you are the face of the company and understand the customer better than anyone, Product included.

And only when Product and Customer Success work together to understand the goals and challenges of our customers, can we develop a solution that solves their real needs.

So, on behalf of all the Product Managers, here is a list of appeals for Customer Success on how we can work together to make a brighter future for our customers.

Learn the product top to bottom and inside out.

Knowing your product deeply and the value it brings (Jobs to be Done) helps you think creatively when customers have questions or issues.

Here are ways to grow your product mastery:

  • Adopt and use the product. If you can't use the product yourself, implement your customers’ use cases. Live the life of your customers and understand the product from their point of view.
  • Scour your company’s internal documents (Slack, internal wikis, Zendesk, etc) to absorb any shared knowledge or FAQs.
  • Use Product as a resource when you have questions.

Share desired outcomes instead of ad hoc feature requests.

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We solve problems that deliver outcomes for our customers. But if we don't know the ‘why’ behind new feature requests, we can become a feature factory.

When customers request new features, ask clarifying questions. Dig deeper, investigate, and report back with your findings. Be our designated Sherlock Holmes and discover their underlying pain point or need.

Ask customers to prioritize and set clear expectations.

We juggle a lot of requests and even small changes require extensive research, coding, implementation, and testing. In the end, a “Go Live” date can range from days to sometimes months, depending on the fix or feature build. So distinguishing between what’s nice to have vs. what’s important vs. what’s on fire is a challenge.

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Help us determine the most important requests by asking customers to prioritize and share with them:

  • How Product prioritizes requests.
  • The product roadmap.
  • The time/resources required to build new features.

Avoid making promises we can’t keep (it’s OK to say no).

If we can’t commit to a feature request, avoid giving false hope. Tell the customer no and explain why. If the customer becomes angry, listen and empathize. Oftentimes airing frustration and feeling heard is enough.

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In rare cases, customers may demand a feature that isn’t on the roadmap or within our product scope. Custom solutions are sometimes possible but can carry an additional cost for the customer. Be upfront about these costs.

Communicate varied customer use cases.

We don't know all the customer’s use cases. And sometimes, customers use the product in a way we never expected. If you discover a customer using the product in a way we haven’t anticipated, learn about this use case in detail. Here’s why this is helpful:

  • This will help us discover new pain points we haven’t considered.
  • The use case for one customer can help others. Use this as an opportunity to educate customers around new ways of using the product.
  • If the customer is using the product incorrectly, this is helpful for everyone to know. And a little help from you in correcting this can go a long way.

If in their customer journey there are times when they don't or can’t use the product, let us know. This can be used as an opportunity to enhance the product and drive more adoption. This is how Zoho, Freshdesk, Gainsight, and Salesforce evolved — They started with one product line and expanded to others.

Learn which features drive retention.

Many times customers renew because of the most valuable features instead of the most usable features. So, identify which features drive the most renewals so we can enhance them to drive retention and attract more customers. Learn how to use analytical tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude to help spot retention drivers.

Inform customers when we take action on their requests.

Close the loop, always. If you don’t customers might think this is what happens when they request something from us…

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Here’s how to close the loop and make it impactful:

  • Call or email them personally to explain how we incorporated their feedback and made the product even better! They'll love it and you’ll get 100 smiles that day :)
  • Host a webinar with the product team and ask customers to join in our new feature unveil.

Always close this loop no matter how busy you are. It will help strengthen your relationship with the customer and make Product very happy.

Ask customers for reviews.

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Potential customers look for reviews and case studies during their research and decision-making process. Who better to help them decide if your product is a good fit than current customers?  Since you have a rapport with the customer, ask them for testimonials or for their help in a case study when you feel the timing is right.

Here are ways you can leverage customers for reviews and referrals:

  • Ask for reviews on G2.
  • Ask for testimonials for your website.
  • Ask for referrals with a simple question - ‘Who else do you think can benefit from using our product?’

Help us improve our survey response rate.

Product Managers CRAVE feedback. But sadly, getting responses on any type of feature or happiness survey is really difficult. Often this is because customers don’t think their feedback will make a difference.

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Tell customers we’re listening and that even their smallest piece of feedback helps us improve their experience.

As you regularly speak with customers:

  • Help them understand the value of feedback.
  • Assure them that we are listening.
  • Highlight detractors for Product to investigate.

Help us automate repetitive tasks.

You’ve most likely created onboarding guides, FAQ lists, product training videos, and other forms of documentation. When possible, let us know what we should automate for you and the customer to drive the biggest impact across the board.

We have a lot of tools at our disposal to help the customer navigate and use the product more effectively. Some things we can work together on creating are:

  • Guides
  • In-app messaging
  • Product training videos
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In addition, we know that onboarding requires a lot of data transfer and configuration with the customer. Help us prioritize what we can automate to onboard customers and get them to value quickly. Let’s work together to give our customers a more frictionless experience so they won’t need to come to you for needless help, giving you time back to work on your biggest priorities.

That’s all for now. Is there anything am I missing? PMs, please comment below and let us know what YOU need from the Product. Leave a comment

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Tanuj Diwan is a Product leader who loves to dig into customer problems and create a mix of innovation, design, data, and technology to build solutions that customers love.

In the process of gaining 10+ years of experience in customer-centric roles, I realized that my real passion lies in helping customers and providing them with adequate solutions. I believe that great products are not built by accident—it involves passion and commitment to constantly sketch new ideas and execute them to drive the product forward.

At SurveySensum, I thrive at engaging in opportunities where I can add value and learn new things to make feedback more actionable for the Product and CX teams. My focus also lies in delivering key outcomes by working cross collaboratively with teams and instilling them with a ‘customer first’ mindset.

My teammates would say that I am highly inquisitive and love to make things happen

I enjoy meeting new people and hearing new perspectives. Outside of work, I love to spend time reading books and playing football. You can connect with me on LinkedIn