Interview by Lucy Xu -Navigating Customer Success with Georgia Tsiamanta
Creating and selling your product is the first step in building a business. The next step — a vital one that is often overlooked as businesses map out product launch plans or lead generation KPIs — is Customer Success. The role of Customer Success in your overall company’s success is a fairly straightforward one — managing and fostering good relationships with your customers will improve their lifetime value (CLTV). This in turn drives more business. It’s a simple equation. Customer happiness + loyalty = profitability. Customer success can either make or break your business.
To learn more about tools and best practices for Customer Success, we sit down with Customer Support & Operations Consultant Georgia Tsiamanta. Georgia has experience starting and scaling Customer Success teams across businesses of different sizes and industries. In this #ThoughtImports, Georgia shares with us why effective Customer Success is vital for every business.
Tell us a bit about your background, experience, and what inspires you.
I have a background in Mathematics and Computer Science. I’ve worked for several tech companies and startups. Earlier on in my career, I was a startup’s first non-technical hire. In that role, I had to build everything from scratch — both the Customer Success teams and Customer Support operations and tools. Experiences like this have helped me build a solid background in understanding all the tools and strategies for building out an effective Customer Success department. Today, I’m working as a Customer Success freelancer , and I try to help companies without structured departments build and implement strategies for customer success. It is very inspiring to build something from the bottom up and leave my impact on the company.
What is Customer Success & why is it important?
Churn is expensive. For SaaS companies, it is expensive to acquire new customers, but it is far less expensive to keep current customers. You cannot afford to lose recurring customers that are paying you monthly, annually, and for life. Because of this, you have to make sure your customers are satisfied and happy with your service. This way, they bring you more value, can be your advocates, and can bring more awareness and growth for your product.
What is one common misconception of Customer Success?
When people hear “Customer Success,” many think of a call center. Phone reviews and 1-to-1 meeting are an important component of a full Customer Success strategy but an effective Customer Success department requires a full team, an internal strategy, and additional systems in place. The impact of Customer Success departments is high-value. Companies must invest in this path by training high-skilled people who can help you improve your retention rate and effectively upsell your product.
How does Customer Success work with other teams in an organization?
Customer Success works closely with the Customer Support team because the inquiries that come to Customer Support are often account-related questions that must be handled from the Customer Success Team.
Customer Success also works closely with the Product team, because we are the ones who are closest to the customer feedback. All feedback we get from customers — after some reviews and reporting that take into account product KPIs — goes back product owner to inform new features, R&D planning, and the overall product roadmap.
How do you build a good customer relationship from day 1?
In the beginning, you must be more responsive and interact more with the customer. The first three months are crucial because you must make sure the customer is really onboarded with the product. Then, you have to make sure the customer is actively using the product, and using as many features as possible. After this, check that the customer’s health inside the product is okay and the customer doesn’t have any indication that he is going to churn. If you see something irregular, act quickly and proactively.
For startups, how do you know when your company should be investing in Customer Success?
You should be proactive. Once you have a lot of customers, it’s too late. You must be proactive and have a concrete plan for how to react when the customer base increases. A lot of people think that scale and rapid customer acquisition is “a good problem to have” — but if the first customers are unhappy, that will have a negative impact and reputation for your new company.
You always need to be thinking ahead in terms of Customer Success because if and when you scale, then you need to be able to support it.
What is the secret to strong/effective Customer Success?
Have empathy and care about your customers. Simple as that.
Being able to place yourself in the customer’s shoes. The Customer Success manager must understand the customer’s pain points, be able to measure those pain points, and , find workarounds for the customer to make the customer’s life easier. On the other side, the Customer Success manager must set reasonable goals for how the product can absorb the needs of the customer.
What are some good tools resources for Customer Success?
For resources, I highly recommend a great Customer Support and Success community on a Slack Channel, Support Driven. The community includes customer support and success professionals and enthusiasts from across the world from any company (Basecamp, Github, Zendesk, Intercom,Zappier). They have chapter across the world and I run their local meetup in Athens. For tools, it depends on the business needs, budget, and scale. A lot of people start with Intercom, but it depends on your need.
Any other advice/tips for the entrepreneurs of Greece and the world?
Be true to yourself. You should care both for the customers and for the team in order to succeed.
Three Key Takeaways for Great Customer Success
1. Start early, plan ahead, be proactive. A great Customer Success strategy starts before you even have customers. It’s important to plan ahead to anticipate customer needs, questions, and complaints to keep your customers happy and loyal with your product
2. Customer Success ties into core business objectives. It’s more than just a call center, or a Zendesk subscription. Effective Customer Success is the glue that holds together strong customer relationships, all customer feedback is vital for informing the future of the product and business.
3. Be human. Georgia said it best, “Have empathy and care for your customers.” At the end of the day, we’ve all been a customer and know what it’s like to feel truly special and cared for as a paying customer. You won’t go wrong if you always remember that it is a human at both ends of the line.
This interview has been first published on the blog “The Port” here: https://www.totheport.com/insights/customer-success-best-practices-for-happy-customers-with-customer-success-manager-georgia-tsiamanta